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The Cleaver

08 Jul 2024 5 minute read
Kate Cleaver

Kate Cleaver

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

What a difference a month makes. Still not sure whether I am staying in Swansea or moving back rural, but I have decided to move on with the house.

The renovations are strangely easier than I thought. My husband was as against change as I am, so a lot of jobs that have needed doing since before the extension, and a couple have been sitting for eight years.

Finally, I have taken down the wardrobe in the bedroom, with the help of family, and exposed the hole in the ceiling that has been there since I moved in.

Photo: Kate Cleaver

I met Roland back in 2016 and quickly I moved in, at the time I thought it was going a bit fast but now, looking back, I’m glad I moved that fast. We had such a short time together, so I am so glad we didn’t take our time. One of the very first nights I stopped over I remember hearing a steady drip.

“Is that inside?” I asked.

There was silence for a moment.

“Yes,” he said in his deep voice I miss so much.



He chuckled and said it was coming from on top of the wardrobe and that he was in discussions with next door to get the dormer roof fixed running across both properties. I could see the ideal solution being that there isn’t a join of roofs in the middle. Unfortunately, it never came to be. Instead, they stayed with patching their felt roof and we went with fiberglass.

Roland did want rubber but the face we have seagulls that avidly peck at the roof meant rubber would have had a short life. The fiberglass went on but the hole in the bedroom ceiling stayed. To fix it we would need to remodel the bedroom.

We put it off.

Photo: Kate Cleaver

Then Roland was no longer there, and I had a plasterer doing work so I asked him if he would fix the problem. He looked and said it was an easy fix. So, I did something I have been not looking forward to, I took the plans Roland and I had made and threw them out the window.

I had already had to get rid of our bed, it had been a leaky waterbed and unfortunately too much for me to maintain alone. The bed was gone so why stick to the massive wardrobe with bespoke doors. It just seemed a huge expense for just me.

So, I hunted around and found a rail. I bought two. My clothes fill them both and I can see them. This has had a knock-on effect. The simple fact is, because I can see my clothes, it means I am wearing a more varied wardrobe. I’m guessing that is it part of the autism. My choice now includes all my dresses, tops and trousers, not just the few I could see through the broken door of a broken wardrobe.

The ceilings downstairs are plastered, the bathroom is complete, and the bedroom is fixed. My clothes are getting used and I ought to be okay. I know I should be. I understand that I am desperately sad, but there is a creeping paralysis that was been entering my days and not leaving. If he were here, I know that Roland would smile and sit with me until I was able to pull myself out of it. We called them shutdowns. I simply get so overwhelmed that I can’t move forward. I stop.

I’m in a shutdown.

Photo: Kate Cleaver

The house is getting sorted because the trades are booked in, but I am not progressing much with anything else. I am crafting and crying and missing the person who I see as mine, but the simple fact is that on occasion I am depressed. I know I am allowed, but it has taken me a week to work out that this shutdown is not going away like the others have. I’m not snapping out of it.

My solutions? Well, I could go to the doctor but thanks to the Conservatives there are no counsellors that could see me in the next six months (if not longer), so they would just offer me anti-depressants. This depression is not always here though. Why would I want to take a pill to give a blanket response when I only need it sometimes? Instead, I have had to promise my mother that I will call her when I need to and if I ever have dark thoughts I am to go to the doctor.

That isn’t really a solution though. What I need to do is to allow myself time to heal and think about the future. I need to find my own way forward. I never wanted to be in this situation, living without my soulmate, but that is where I am. So, what will my future look like?

I think I am asking too big a question, especially one only six months after Roland died. No, I can’t think so big. Instead, I will get the house finished. I will pick colours for the walls, and I will complete the extension. I’ll put one foot in front of the other. And I will try my hardest to not shut down, but if I do, I will allow myself to simply be and accept that it is happening because I do need to slow down.

Thank you to 360 plumbing and Diamond Property Services for all the help and the continuing help getting everything sorted.

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