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The Cleaver

09 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Kate Cleaver

A bit of writing about being neurodivergent, disabled, ethnic and a widow in Wales.

Kate Cleaver

This month has been tough, not the toughest but the one that I have questioned most. Roland died of natural causes, but I hate the fact he is gone. I should go back in time to explain this.

Before Roland, I lived on a smallholding I shared with my parents.

My life moved with the seasons; in the winter we ate what we had grown, and, in the spring, we planted more, in the summer we grew what we needed, and, in the autumn, we harvested everything we could.

Life had a gentle step and I moved through it quietly. I drifted without really realising where I fit. Then Roland walked into a pub, and everything turned on its head.

I remember being home after visiting Roland and telling mum he wasn’t doing so well. That he was depressed and not eating well.

“When I’m there it is fine,” I said. “I look after him.”

Mum paused and smiled and said quite simply, “then you need to go.”

I went and that was the start of me moving in with Roland which led to us getting married and building the most special life together. We laughed and we cried.

We did argue but most of all we said I love you every day. Every day.

I never thought about the fact my life was full of supermarkets and cars. That the cityscape had replace the hedgerow and trees. I heard lawnmowers and engines instead of sheep and cattle.

The morning chorus was quieter, but I was in love and never really took much notice. Then Roland died.

It was quiet in a way I hadn’t realised it would be. Not only was Roland’s voice missing but so was the sound I expected to hear. I visited my parents and stood in the fields with my new dog, and it was like hearing home.

Don’t get me wrong, this house in Swansea is my home but it feels off, as if I am out of pace with everyone. I am disabled with carers.

I watch the sun rise on the front of the house and set at the back and sometimes I don’t leave or see another soul.

I don’t get lonely, but I crave contact. I crave my Roland to suddenly pop a tea next to me, give me a hug I didn’t know I needed or tell me about some political idea that I hadn’t realised I needed to know.

So, what do I do?

I can’t go back to the life I had, my body is not what it was, that quiet life bent over a potting bench or weeding in a field is no longer for me.

As I look to my future though I can’t see what it looks like. Do I stay in the in the city or return to rural areas? I am the shadow that stands in the back of the room, not because I hate where I am, but because I love the shadows.

Only with Roland was I happy to shine. He was the rock I anchored myself with. Without him I crave the quiet and anonymity I once had.

I want to walk in the grass with nothing on my feet and no one to notice. I want to spend all day working on writing or drawing and not feel like I ought to be doing something else. And that is the thing.

My life with Roland was so different than the one I lived on the smallholding and so filled with friends and social events that I feel I am simply turning in circles trying to work out what I want.

Do I head back to that quiet life in the country, or do I stay in the city?

What does the country have? Well, my family but I won’t be near my stepchildren. It has noises I know and wine at my sister’s kitchen table, but it doesn’t have any of my friends. It doesn’t have laughter over a curry I have cooked or taking the dog for a walk with my stepson.

It does have dozens of teas with my mum and listening to a dawn chorus. I won’t have live music every week and raising a glass in a gin club with friends.

I feel that I am stood in the middle of a seesaw. One side the country and the other the city. Neither show a huge advantage, neither show a huge negative. They are good but in different ways, and I am simply watching the seats, a version of me in both.

I think I know what I need but for the minute I can’t see how to get it. The best version of me stands exactly between the two.

I want to have one foot in the city, but I want to have one foot in the country.

Now I just must work out how to do that without a Tardis.

Read more from Kate Cleaver here.


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Paul Luckock
Paul Luckock
21 hours ago

I loved reading this, lots of levels of thoughts and feelings, thank you….

Glwyo
Glwyo
27 minutes ago

Thank you for sharing your words

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