When we look back on a year it is usually the extreme lows and highs that we remember. We seem to forget the small things. This isn’t surprising given how much the big events and occurrences affect us. 2018 has been punctuated by loss after loss and it feels likes there has been no respite since the day Jeremy died in July 2016.
I still grieve for Jeremy everyday. Every time I think of him the tears well up. I miss him with every fibre of my being. I am still so very sad at my loss. Losing Jeremy meant I also lost my identity, my confidence, my self-esteem and myself. I lost the very essence of who I was.
I needed to somehow find myself again and find a way to move forward. I also needed to find a way to mitigate each loss with a gain; each negative with a positive; each sad event with a happy one. So, over the year I worked really hard at creating some highs – because without them life would just be so very tough.
So here is a summary of the highs and the lows of my year – many of which you have already been privy to.
In January I laid the foundations for Jezza’s Cabin – a beautiful log cabin at the foot of Mount Kenya in Nanyuki. Built in memory of Jeremy, the cabin is situated on land bought by him. Had he been alive we would have both moved to live there permanently in May this year. Shortly after starting construction, my father Ashok passed away from cancer. He was 69. The cabin construction continued after the funeral, and now my mother has created a beautiful garden around the cabin – and I feel that it is dedicated to my father, whose ashes I will be spreading there in January 2019. And so, I feel that the cabin and the garden are a beautiful and fitting tribute to the two men that I loved – my darling Jeremy and my lovely Pop.
In April I decided that I needed to start getting some of my life back following Jeremy’s death. I needed to live again, I needed to laugh again and yes, maybe one day, I would want to love again. So, after much soul-searching, numerous discussions with friends, my sister and my dance students (Jhoomers), and with reassurances that I wasn’t betraying Jeremy or the life we had had together, I decided to embark on the interesting, complicated and sometimes murky world of online dating. Over the course of seven months I would chat to over 50 guys, date 21 of them, and against all odds fall in love with one of those men and have my heart broken too.
In May I announced that I will be closing Just Jhoom! and over the course of the last few months I have re-evaluated what I will be closing and what I will be keeping. All the instructor training and support is being phased out and all that will remain are the online training courses, my Just Jhoom! and mindfulness classes, my book sales and in 2019 I will begin to offer my End of Life Doula services.
Getting in front of a camera after Jeremy died was almost unthinkable for me! He loved taking photos and over the 19 years we were together he took thousands – and many were of me – both at work and play. But, in June I needed a new author photograph for my upcoming book and so I turned to my talented, portrait photographer friend Sian. I was very apprehensive about the photoshoot. But I had nothing to worry about. With Sian’s guidance, support, love, friendship and talent I not only got through the session but had fun, gained confidence and began to open my heart to new beginnings. It was a huge turning point for me as we worked on three very distinct looks – one as a tribute to Jeremy, one for the book and one for my online dating profile. Over the next few months I was lucky to model for Sian a couple more times – one with a professional model (a really fun experience) and one as an Anniversary Tribute to Jeremy. I think I now have the modeling bug as Sian and I plan a really special photoshoot in 2019.
In July I lost my friend Paula to cancer. She had been a neighbour and a friend and a really big support for me in the months following Jeremy’s death. As I sat with her at her death bed I was reminded once again of the fragility of life. That week I booked on to my End of Life Doula training. I felt that the life and death experiences I have had over the last couple of years equip me well for this new vocation and calling in my life and I wanted to start training as soon as possible.
Less then a week after Paula died I self-published my memoir “Always With You – a true story of love, loss…and hope”. The book is about Jeremy’s and my love story, talks about mental health issues, in particular depression and bereavement and grief, and explores Indian culture and spirituality. I had written this book at the end of 2017 – a cathartic process, and spent much of Spring 2018 editing it – an arduous and torturous process. I was so glad when I was able to launch it at the Cranleigh Arts Centre in front of an invited party of 70 people.
In July I went back to Kenya to mark Jeremy’s 2nd death anniversary and stayed at the log cabin. It was a time for me to refresh, rejuvenate and relax in the beautiful and peaceful surroundings. I came back and immediately embarked on a training course to learn to ride a motorbike, one of the hardest, yet most exciting things I have ever done. And, following my 43rd birthday which I celebrated with a group of my friends at the local pub, I treated myself to a beautiful Honda Grom motorbike.
Exactly one week later I was involved in a horrific car crash on the M4 caused by an uninsured, unregistered driver. The beautiful car that Jeremy had bought for me was destroyed – but it had done its job protecting me and I walked away fairly unscathed considering the seriousness of the crash. Yes – I had whiplash, back, knee and ankle problems and burns across my face and arms – but it could have been a lot worse. I then had to buy a new car – something I had never done without Jeremy by my side. And so once again I found myself embracing a new experience – looking for a car, test driving it, buying it, arranging finance and insurance, picking it up and driving it home on my own. I know I was on my own – but all the time I felt I had someone looking over me, guiding me.
On 9th October I endured another huge loss in my life when I had to put my darling cat Tabasco to sleep. Tabasco had been a present from Jeremy just over 15 years ago as a way to help me combat my depression. He became our baby and the centre of our world. When Jeremy died he became my comfort and constant companion. He was put to sleep the day before what would have been Jeremy’s 62nd birthday. I like to think that I was sending Tabasco up to Jeremy in time for his birthday. Now Tabasco and Jeremy can spend time together before it is my time to join them. On 10th October, Jeremy’s birthday, my memoir Always With You became an Amazon No 1 Bestseller in America. It was a bittersweet day as I mourned the loss of my lovely husband and cat and yet celebrated the success of the book.
In November I had the last loss of the year. I had met a man through online dating and over the course of two months I was to fall for him. He brought fun and friendship, laughter and intimacy into my life. But in November he decided to walk away from what we had – and I was left completely bereft. The heartbreak, pain and angst motivated me to write about my online dating experiences – and in seven days I wrote an ebook which will be published on 28th January 2019 to mark two and a half years since Jeremy died. Watch this space for more info in the next few weeks. The loss of the relationship and the shortening days and colder weather triggered off clear signs of depression, and so I was glad to be able to fly to Kenya for a six week holiday – to spend time with friends and family, as well as take time to write, read, dance, exercise and meditate.
In Samburu, Kenya, on 14th December we celebrated the 2nd Awards Day for the Jeremy Lucas Education Fund (JLEF) – which was started at the beginning of 2017. 12 children and their parents attended – and I am so happy to announce that we will be taking 3 more children at the beginning of January – taking the total to 15 children being funded through secondary and tertiary education by JLEF. This has got to be the highlight of my year as I see young minds being nurtured, challenged and motivated. This is perhaps the best legacy that I could have created in Jeremy’s name and I hope that it will one day be my legacy too.
The last few days of the year were spent on the Kenyan Coast – just a few miles away from where Jeremy and I had our last holiday together before he passed away. It was poignant and yet a positive time for me.
Sometimes moving forward is a choice like the building of the cabin, the online dating and the motorbiking. And sometimes, the choices are thrust on you – like the car crash, Tabasco dying and the ending of a relationship against your wishes.
There is a lovely Samburu proverb:
Keata nkishon larin
Life consists of seasons
Life is not one long season, one smooth journey. Rather, it is a series of chopping and changing times, both happy and sad, serene and tumultuous. Each of these seasons brings with it experiences – good and bad, and through these experiences we learn the lessons we need to in this lifetime. And so, as the seasons change, so do we. We learn, we grow, we live…and so inevitably we move forward.
As I write this blogpost two young friends of mine have just been diagnosed with cancer. They end 2018 with this certain knowledge of the disease in their body and begin 2019 with the uncertainty of what this will entail. John and Declan – it won’t be easy but you have the love and support around you to see this through and overcome your respective cancers. To both of you I dedicate this post – and send you so much love and light and hope for a positive 2019.
And to all my friends, family, Jhoomers …Thank You once again for all your love and support this year.
To each and everyone of you I wish you a wonderful 2019 ….
made of many changing seasons.