Thursday, 8 June 2017

And on..

So I've woken up this morning to an unexpected situation. Another drama. Ain't that the truth. I'm surprised that I have so many Tory voting friends or am I? I don't care how people vote, I do care that people vote for what they truly believe in not what they feel they should believe in.. A hung parliament. Apt words indeed. Let's hope they make the best of the situation we have put ourselves in. Ludicrous. 

This is the first opportunity that I've had to sit down and tap away at my desk. I have a new desk too. An old table actually. It's perfect. I hope. It seems to be perfect so far. Life works like that doesn't it. Throws things at us that might appeal so we grab the opportunity, the chance. It's all about making the effort. Stepping forwards to embrace a possibility and doing the best we can. I guess that's how I see life anyway. I know others might disagree with me, a few certainly will but in my humble opinion, you have to make life what you want it. With kindness and empathy.

I had my cards read many years ago and while clearing out my old desk to make way for the new one, I came across the notes I had written down. It was at a time in my life (isn't it always?) when everything felt upside down. I had just left London with my baby and had no idea what to do. I certainly hadn't found my purpose or my path. Not then. But I had determination. Thank God. That was 11 years ago. I have walked a few roads since that day and taken more turns that I expected. I have held a few hands, I have laughed, cried, screamed, kept quiet. I have fought for change and I have accepted things that I can't. I have lost my mother and my sister. And then having lost them, life was taken away from them both. I have friends who understand that I don't need understanding and I then have friends who don't.

Some little thing is shouting out, "Mummy" from his cot upstairs because I have unsuccessfully sneaked out for a quiet cup of coffee and some time alone. My life has changed. I have been thrown an opportunity which I have grabbed. With both hands and my heart.

"You will have three children"..

That'll do. Thank you very much.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Time goes on.

Ain't that the truth? Quite unbelievably too. Death is natural, normal, common, universal. We all experience it. What I have found to be unexpected was the shock that sudden death brings with it. Not even like the rug being pulled from under your feet but more like a giant's fist being smashed into your chest and then pressing down daily. It becomes difficult to understand even the most obvious logic. You are vulnerable, fragile (although I have disliked that word since someone used it against me as an insult- he was right to use the word, not right to insult me with it) and exposed. Death makes you public property for a time (not sure how long) where loved ones hold you, make you tea, bring you food that they have made especially and run you a bath but also to those that probe, ask intrusive questions, expect detail, question your final decision and take your curveballs personally. Death is over-powering. Death is quite simply a shocker. It doesn't matter what age or what circumstances, it is point blank final and that alone is suffocating.

An old friend came to see me yesterday. I met her when I was 14 years old (so when I say old friend, I mean a friend who I met a long time ago) and the effort she made in doing so did not go unnoticed. She has a 2 year old boy too. They ran along the track together as we snatched a conversation as mothers do. Mutually understanding that a broken conversation is as good as it gets but it didn't matter. The time we spent together was precious and I appreciate her love for sacrificing her saturday afternoon. Not many will do that. She hugged me and I hugged her back. True friendship that had grown apart over the last 3 decades but was still deep rooted. That's another thing about Death- the friendships you think you've lost through time or distance, surprise you. Fundamentally and luckily for me, people really care. Thank you.

Granny, Nanny or Mum? She was asked in the London playground last week. I laughed because I can. She is beautiful and youthful but her eldest son is 19 years old, so she could actually be a Grandparent. Intrusive questions that we all feel we are entitled to ask. Why are we so rude? I have been asked the most unbelievable questions recently. I will try and create a smile by remembering some.. I have a third book title which is "Don't say that!" and I am looking forward to writing it.

"Are you coping?"

"Are you joking?"

"Did she die as soon as she hit the road?"

"Did she die alone?"

"Can you afford to look after her son?"

"Do you really want to look after her son?"

"Has he had the snip?"

(this was when I realised the human being has very little control over what words are used in an uncomfortable situation and took the opportunity to find humour)

Maybe I should title the third book, "Has he had the snip?" instead although I don't want to encourage  the inappropriate questions. We are all so silly. Not one of us knows the right words at the wrong time. It's awkward and it's completely normal to feel uncomfortable in an unexpected and alien situation but somehow we all need to learn what NOT to say.

As my mother used to say, "If in doubt, don't do it".
As my sister used to say, "Don't tell me, show me".
And as I am now saying, "Say nothing, just hug" because the power of a hug lasts a very long time but stupid words last forever.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Change.

Funny isn't it, how often people admit to not liking change. I love a good shake up. Something to get my teeth into, a challenge, verging on a struggle.. maybe that's a step too far, but in general, I think it's healthy to have an alternative idea, plan, a project on the horizon. I did not expect for a single second to ever inherit a son. I am still in shock that my sister isn't alive. Can I write 'dead' yet? I don't like it but that's the truth. My sister is dead. Fuck, the sentence is ugly. It makes me stop and take a breath. At least I can?

Her son, my boy, is quite the most delicious species of male human being I have ever met. I'm not a huge fan (sorry but it's true) and I haven't had the greatest experiences (bad choices maybe) with those of the opposite sex. I think (in general) they are stupid and selfish and so self- satisfying that it really bores me but OH MY GOD, I am completely in love. He is way more handsome than any other 2 year old that I have ever met and he might be a little 'delayed with his speech' but my god, he can drop kick a ball. He is sociable and funny and so, so loving. And he isn't biologically mine but he is completely and absolutely a part of my family. He is the boy I never had. He is the one that calls me "Mumma" and with out-stretched arms says "Up" for me to scoop him up and hold him close. I adore him with every breath in my body. Exactly the same way as I do my girls. Sometimes more so and is that a terrible thing to admit? How can I love a child so much without having given birth to him? But I do. Completely. Without any effort and without thought. Fuck, I really am the luckiest woman alive. 

And then the reality of the change hits me. I clear out her home, her knicker drawer, her shoes, the kitchen bin.. A word of advice to anyone out there, chuck out what you don't need but most importantly, those things that 'might be useful' almost certainly won't be so don't hoard them.

The bulbs you plant will still appear as flowers in the spring. Your children will have manners and respect their elders and remember to do their teeth at night. The bins will get emptied and someone will open the curtains. The changes that life sometimes throws at us are manageable even when we think life is out of control and too much. Friends will appear from nowhere and they won't be the ones you are expecting to knock on your door. It's not an insult, it's because the ones you expect to know better, don't and aren't capable of dealing with the change in your life. It scares them. Death is terrifying. It is so final that until it actually smacks you in the chest, you cannot imagine the power it holds. Forever. And ever. And breathe if you can and are lucky enough. Amen. Be thankful for the ones that hold your hand. Hug the ones that show you love and accept the loss as a gift otherwise it will destroy you. 

Love you. Always will. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Happy Mothers Day..

And it will be. For too many reasons to list. It will be a beautiful day filled with complete love (and a few irritations I'm sure) but for the main part of it, I will celebrate (internally and quietly) that I am a mother. I will remember how I got here (even more quietly) and respect my mother for giving me my life. 

Many comments have been made to me over the years that I have taken incredibly badly (way too sensitive I am told, yawn) but it is the other comments that have enabled me to stand taller, appreciate that I am allowed to feel happy and given me an inner strength to keep going forwards. I have absolutely no intention (ever) of allowing specks (or buckets) of doubt seep into my certainty and make me question the choice I have made. Absolute and completely right. 

The birds are singing to start this earlier than early Spring morning. I have a cup of coffee and three children in bed inside. The house is clean (enough) for me to leave it today and the dogs were walked for hours yesterday and bathed so all is well. I am going to my favourite shop (with three in tow) to buy some scent and a pair of jeans. Wish me luck..

If I could change the circumstances of how I got here, to this point today, I would in a instant but I can't. Truthfully, I still cannot believe that my sister isn't here. She's with Mum and I guess that's the next best place she could be on Mothering Sunday. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Just for a second, I sit.

I have left the dishwasher open and half-emptied. I haven't yet fed the cats. I haven't made my bed. I haven't even turned on the radio to hear the early morning calm from Clare Balding on Radio 2. I will do, shortly. I haven't changed a nappy. I haven't cooked scrambled egg. 

I have, however, made a cup of coffee and lit a few candles. I have decided that even if it's only a few minutes, I will pause here and allow myself a slower than normal start to the day. 

I was meant to be in Bath running 13.1 miles. Geographically, I could still get there before the klaxon sounds but it isn't possible. I have no help with the children and even with so many wonderful and generous offers, looking after 3 children for a fair few hours is my job, no one else's. I will run it next year. Anyway, it is pouring with rain so that can only be a good thing.

Sunday. My favourite day of the week. My good friend tells me that I'm crazy and on my own loving this day. More so, loving this evening. I enjoy Sunday nights more than any other and if I'm going to be outed as a complete freak, I may as well admit right now that Monday morning is my favourite part of the week. Truthfully. What's not to like? It's the start of another week. That's a positive thing right?

My best friend from school has posted something on social media that is bloody brilliant. Of course it is. It is written by Stephen Hawkins. 

"Remember to look up at the starts and not down at your feet. Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

Wise words from a brilliant brain. A brilliant post from a wonderful woman. The ones that live honestly and openly are the ones that experience and tell the true story. It is always about truth. I have never had a problem with the truth but I do have a problem with people who think they are entitled to lie. For whatever reason. 

My time to sit has been interrupted so I cannot continue. I will sit again today. I am determined..

I didn't sit again!

24 hours have passed and I find myself thinking, 'Have I got time?' The answer is almost certainly 'No' and yes, I understand that I should 'make time' but with my new adjustments, there isn't the possibility of such an obvious solution. I have had to change everything, almost. I squeeze everything, like everyone else into each day. Selfishly, I try and find a slot for a run but it hasn't been straight-forward. My choice yesterday was to lie on the sofa with the papers or run a quick 5 miles. I chose the latter. Mental health versus physical. I have to tread carefully. With others as well as myself. I'm vulnerable right now and I need support. But people have moved on. Of course they have. 

I get asked, "Are you coping?" 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Baby in the corner.

My big girl had her first school social last night. It was a hall full of pre-teenage children and a disco (sound system I presume not a duke box or ghetto blaster) but it seems that when it comes to the party scene, nothing much has changed in thirty years. It was agony. She didn't tell me that but I could see from her face (and the expressions of others as they opened the doors at 9.15pm) when they  all spilled with relief into the open air and clutches of us parents. Why bother? I thought to myself. Is it really necessary to put our youngsters through the situation where we can guarantee that peer group pressure will begin and the feelings of inadequacy are ignited. 

"How was it?" I tried with the jolliest of voices as we walked back to our car.

"Terrible" replied my furious, disappointed, irritated and humiliated girl.

"Oh Darling" I stupidly patronised, feeling helpless, "At least you know for next time?"

"Yes", she stated, "because there won't be one".

I had hoped that she might go, make some new friends, gain confidence, dance a little and laugh a lot.  Wishful thinking I know and highly unlikely but it is every parents hope that life is easy after all. 

Ridiculous of me to wish for such a positive outcome when the world we live in delivers us into situations of complete craziness so often without any warning. It's a pity and a shame. But I am glad that she went because she learnt how utterly absurd it is to expect an amazing evening without much effort. To get self respect, happiness and that all round good feeling we crave, we need to begin by loving who we are. My girl might have written off the opportunity to make new friends by being simply asked for her mobile number but she will have learnt that it takes effort to form friendship. And that we can choose who to be friends with and who to trust. 

"Did anyone ask for your number?" (Same meaning as 'Did you dance with anyone?' from back in the day)

"Yes" she said quietly, "But he walked around the hall asking for everyones number".

Another disappointment ticked on her list which can only be a good thing, I'm hoping. 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The uncertain certainty.

Sometimes I cannot believe how much my life has changed. Since when? Since my sister died? Not just that but yes, I guess that was the biggest turning point in my life so far. There have been a few. Mum dying was pretty enormous. I won't bore you with more details but it was emotionally life-changing and monumentally a huge shift in dynamics. I was able to be me, at last. Well almost. I never thought that my sister would trump my mother. I am not trying to be flippant (cross my heart) but there is no other way of saying it. My sister has blown my mothers departure out of the water and left me with a mind-blowing yet so obvious way forward. Sound complicated? I hope so. I would hate to fail them both.

Here I am, having been out for a birthday drink with my running friend. I left my three children at home. Nothing unusual there except a fortnight ago, I didn't have three, I had two. We are now a family of four and nothing or nobody can change that. He is simply delicious. I am so proud of my girls for being so naturally accepting and warm. They have shown me that (so far) I have done the right thing by them and given them not only a voice but a choice and both decided quite naturally that  my nephew should (without hesitation) join us. Phew. In my gut, I knew that from the moment I heard it was fatal. I can still hear the machines as I close my eyes at night and the thought of my little sister lying unaware is awful. But unaware she was. Never woke up. Somehow and somewhere, she is now able to watch over me. I am completely certain of that. I knew her boy before I had even met him. Thanks to how much I loved her. I hope she knew that. He does. He is fast asleep upstairs surrounded by love and with a family who instinctively and naturally adore him. Lucky thing.

What is it all about? Is it as simple as your time is up when it's up? Absurd risks and bucket lists that we all make but maybe there is always a time limit? I am dead certain that I will be 96. I have said that for years. I might be wrong (unlikely) but if I am, my girls will know what to do. It's in the gut. No complications and no fuss. Simple and straight-forward. Just do it. I made the decision to take on my nephew without even knowing that I was making a decision. That is exactly how it works, how it should be. We all get chances. We have to make decisions. We have opportunities and we can walk by or take a few chances. At some stage not so long ago, I realised that my life was more valuable because of the lives I am responsible for. More so now than ever. So I won't be doing any free-falling or bungy jumping. I won't be climbing Everest or Kilimanjaro and I won't be entering the NY Marathon until all three of my children are old enough to join me. I will, however, be counting my lucky stars that I have been given three children to love. I am fully capable of running on English soil and my bucket list can still remain but might have to be extended for a decade or two. My life  has changed unrecognisably in the last few weeks but I am capable of turning this unexpectedly shitty situation into an opportunity for love, connection and peace. It really is that obvious to me. 

Oh and if you were ever in any doubt, don't question my loyalty. I am stupidly protective. I am, and always will be, the big sister.


Saturday, 4 February 2017

Grief is greedy.

A dear friend of mine made this statement when Mum died 4 years ago. I didn't really understand it, not until my sister died last month. Now I get it. I wish I didn't but fuck, do I get it. Just a couple of 'best friends' (relatively new friends let's be honest) who are outraged, appalled, concerned and livid. Unable to control their feelings, not thinking of the little minds who pick up on their bullshit excuses and reasons. Truthfully, anyone can be upset and all of us can grieve but no one has the right to claim anything when the only person who could tell the truth is dead. Fact. 

But to cause trouble by calling social services? That's absolutely not what my sister would expect. To wish for any one of the four children to go into care rather than be with family? Regardless of what this malicious person thinks, trust me, there is no better option than for each child to have the chance of true, family love. Luckily, the law agrees with me so we are safe. It is with great sadness that my sisters death has created such nasty emotions in a couple of human beings that typically taint a very private time. The memories of this sudden horror will fade but I will never forget unfortunately. 

Top tip to all of us- be very careful what you say when someone dies. Bite your lip and think twice before an expletive, a suggestion or a joke comes out of your mouth. From experience, certain remarks are very hard to forget. 

Thursday, 26 January 2017

For you from your big sister.

You're still my little sister
blond curls, big smile, blue eyes.
The beauty in the family
brains too, so often wise.
A chin of determination,
set-fast. Head up, held high.
Strong minded and so full of love
yet I'm left here asking "Why?"
A lioness so proud and strong,
a will so fierce and true.
Each smile they give forever more
will remind us all of you.

X

Saturday, 21 January 2017

And then..

My sister died. 

She wasn't unwell. It wasn't expected. We hadn't spoken for years. Four years she had written in a message to someone else. I'm not convinced it was that long but we certainly hadn't spoken for a while. I saw her a fortnight before Christmas. She saw me too.

A break from the every day tasks, stress, strains of being a parent, a grown up woman, the responsibility of life, pressures of every decision, the decider of each turn, which road to take..

I got a call. She was in Thailand (I had no idea) and had been involved in a head on collision on a moped. It didn't look good. I can't imagine for a second that it ever might. 

As I stood on the grass outside my home on Boxing Day having just been for a run, the world seemed a very unusual place. It was spinning too quickly, everything looked a blur, I couldn't focus or hear clearly. 

"I'm so sorry for you" I remember hearing.

But it wasn't me lying there away from home, hoping to have a rest. By that evening, I was speaking to the doctor at her bedside and listening to the reality. Machines beeping. It was heart-breaking.

Life is so completely unpredictable. Each day is unknown. Not one of us is secure or safe forever. Regardless, we always think our way is the right way but it can turn out to be completely wrong. 

I loved my sister. I'm not sure that she loved me but I will never know. There is something I have to do. I am pretty sure that I know the road I have to take but truthfully, I have no idea if what I think to be right, is entirely wrong for her. I will do my best. That's all I can do after all. If I could ask her, I would.

Am I back? I have never left. I am still exactly where I was when I took the decision to be private. I was peered at and felt violated. It was an invasion of my privacy. I was judged and criticised. And now my entire life has been turned upside down. Rather than find something to criticise or question, take a risk and turn up at my home with a cake and make me a cup of tea. I almost certainly will smile at you.

My door is always and has always been open. Sadly, the one person I believed would walk back through it one day, now cannot and I have to accept that. Somehow.  

Amen. Please don't judge too harshly. You just don't ever know..


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Still nothing?

I'm afraid so. I have so many words that I could use, the joy of the english language, poetry of using one particular word when no other will do but I've been violated. It's been stolen from me. 

That sounds a little dramatic, even for me but it's true. It has only taken the wrong eyes to peer in at my stories with the agenda of tripping me up and I can write no more. Not on here anyway. Oh, didn't you know? 

Has anything changed? Much but of the same.  

Oh, do you want to know what has changed? Ask me. Use your voice.

I can tell you that I'm massively disappointed that people can be so unkind just because they feel like it. The difference is that I am not opening my door to it. Not anymore. It floods my home if I do and we are all affected by the unkindness and the spikey comments. 

Boring but true- do as you would be done by. 


And on..

So I've woken up this morning to an unexpected situation. Another drama. Ain't that the truth. I'm surprised that I have so many...