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  • Writer's pictureelmarfleet

October: Champagne Supernova

"How many special people change

How many lives are living strange

Where were you while we were getting high?

Slowly walking down the hall

Faster than a cannon ball

Where were you when we were getting high?

Some day you will find me

Caught beneath the landslide

In a champagne supernova in the sky..."

It's right to give October this song. Oasis was Tom's favourite band and he would often listen to their albums at weekends. I used to think that Oasis was my emperor's new clothes moment and I was the only person to see how bad they were. I was certain that they didn't deserve all the accolades and attention for musical genius that they received. I was wrong. They're still not top of my music list but I like their songs because they remind me so much of Tom. There are many things one half of a couple introduces the other to and these things become part of the couple going forward and no longer exclusive to one member. For me, that's Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, organised fun, countryside walks, city breaks, fish suppers, curries and so much more. Oasis, olives and endlessly watching cricket are purely Tom. Three things I couldn't get into, and now three things I love because of their connection to Tom.

I chose Champagne Supernova to play when we said our goodbye to Tom at his cremation. I wanted him to be him for that moment. He was a wonderful son, brother, friend, work colleague, husband and father. The best. Top of the premiership! Top of the world! He was a powerful and luminous stellar explosion - a supernova! But he was also just Tom. Just Tom who liked Oasis, olives and endlessly watching cricket among so many other things.

The internet says that a supernova happens during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star. It is a cataclysmic explosion of a massive star at the end of its life. Noel Gallagher said in '95 that his song, "means different things when I'm in different moods" which gives me the freedom, and his permission if you like, to make it mean something personal to me. I don't see the psychedelic connection, drugs and alcohol aren't for me, but I like the idea of a champagne supernova. It sounds like the best of all supernovas that could ever be. For me and my boys, that was our Tom.

"...Some day you will find me

Caught beneath the landslide

A champagne supernova in the sky..."

And so I like to think that one day I will find him again in a champagne supernova in the sky. I don't know what happens after we die, but I know that what I had with Tom transcended other relationships. It felt bigger and it filled me up when he was alive and I still feel it now that he has died. My feelings are as strong and as true as they ever were. They have not died. I love Noel's words:

"...Wake up the dawn and ask her why

A dreamer dreams she never dies

Wipe that tear away now from your eye..."

There's no point in waking up and asking the world why this has happened to us. I know that. I still ask it though to be honest, and I know that I'll never have the answer. This happened for no good reason but it is what it is. A dreamer dreams and never dies. I have to wipe the tears away from my eyes because my feelings haven't died and they were real and true. Tom and me happened and I will always have that. I carry that with me in every moment of every day and it's my comfort. I want this to be the boys' comfort too and this month read No Matter What by Debi Gliori to Sam. It's a picture book about unconditional love with the message that I really will love you, no matter what. At the end, Small asks Large, "But what about/ when we're dead and gone,/ would you love me then,/ does love go on?" Large's answer is to look out at the night with Small, to look at "the moon in the dark/ and the stars shining bright." He says, "Small, look at the stars -/ how they shine and glow,/ but some of those stars died/ a long time ago./ Still they shine in the evening skies/ love, like starlight, never dies." However large or small we are, starlight is comforting. Love, like starlight, never dies.

Like June, October is a month of triggers. My birthday, Tom's birthday, Matthew's birthday, extended family birthdays... and Halloween. I focus, prepare and take time to plan what we might do to mark each one. I don't want to stumble through them and regret not doing my best to meet our needs for them all. I thank Noel for his apt lines of poetry:

"...Slowly walking down the hall

Faster than a cannon ball..."

Each occasion works well this year and I'm pleased I took time to consider each one. Matthew turned 9 and I'm reminded of Daniel's 9th birthday so soon after Tom's death. But I'm here and I have all the love I can give as well as Tom's. I have double the love and I will give it to these boys. I will take time to make things as good as they can be and I will carry Tom with us too. My incredible Active Birth Centre pregnancy yoga teacher described how she saw love for your newborn being like a bubble. She regularly met new mothers who worried when they became pregnant with their second babies, how can I share my love for a second? She simply told us that you don't. She explained that a new bubble of love grows just when you think it can't be possible to have any more love to give. I have grown three of the hugest bubbles of love for my three babies and now they are even bigger. Just when I thought they couldn't be, they grew and are the love of both Tom and me. I feel that the boys need that now. They need to talk about Tom and they are still trying in their individual ways to process and understand what has happened in their worlds. On Tom's birthday I gave them each a memory bear made from Tom's shirts. Each one is beautiful and very much needed. One of them moves his from place to place, just sitting and watching while he's in his bedroom - being together. One of them hugs his as he goes to sleep and has done every night since I gave it to him (he's never had a comforter before, even as a baby). And one of them has his on his pillow, lying just above his head at night time. One night I went into Sam and he was sleeping next to his bear with his "Daddy book" in his hand. He's 5. I will never never underestimate the extent of my children's grief. I will be present. I will listen and I will hear. I will provide space and opportunities for an ongoing relationship with their daddy because they are loved, no matter what.

But like everything to do with grief, it's hard and it's messy. There aren't any rules to make this easy or boundaries to work within which fits all. I turn to the words and experiences of others to help and reassure me, and this month look at the incredibly brave writing in Michael Rosen's Sad Book illustrated by the equally brilliant Quentin Blake. Michael wrote it after his son died at 18 of meningitis and he describes all the messiness and craziness of his grief. As I read it with Daniel I notice that we yoyo in our emotions from stomach clenching sadness to laughing out loud as Michael describes what he does to try to make himself feel better. Grief really is that crazy.

And yet I see as I reread this book that Michael and Quentin have structured it so carefully with their words and illustrations that I almost feel their hands on my shoulders. I like it that they tell it how it really is and in so many ways allow us to feel validated to be and feel all these different things. Towards the end I find that I'm smiling as he relives all the happy happy moments he has had with his son and all that the things that he, Michael, still likes to do. Even when you're grieving you can feel contentment in a moment, and you can laugh and smile, but grief is always there. There is always someone missing now. The final illustration follows a double page spread of a birthday, with cake and candles and people, lots of happy people and it's lovely. You turn the page to a simple illustration of Michael sitting at a desk. He's looking at a candle burning brightly in the dark around him. His head is in his hands and he's looking at a picture in a frame. We can't see what or who the picture is of but we know. Love, like starlight, will never die. No matter what. So one day I will have my turn to find you again, in that champagne supernova in the sky. I like that thought.

" and I, we live and die

The world's still spinning round

We don't know why

Why, why, why, why."


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