The forecast

The weather forecast is saying it’s clear blue sky and no rain today.

The clouds and the showers would beg to differ.

Another inaccurate weather forecast. It’s clearly the forecasters fault that it’s raining …. It always is. I remember going to a Test Match (Cricket) between England and India. It had been a good weather forecast. But it was chucking it down and play was suspended. With perfect timing the main TV weatherman came onto the pitch to do a weather forecast. I’ve never heard anyone get so many boo’s. It was his fault that it was raining.

To be honest we get many incorrect predictions. Leaders saying a pandemic will just go away. Those pension salespeople saying that you will be able to retire at 50. Being told that Betamax and V2000 would be the best video recording formats. No one would be daft enough to vote for Trump or Boris. My Dad saying Status Quo wouldn’t last as they can’t sing or play. Brexit was easy and could be sorted in days. The Sinclair C5 was the vehicle of the future…..

Basically life is to unpredictable. You just never know what will happen. What’s round the corner.

I know this all too well. One day your talking about the next family trip to Switzerland. Discussing trying for a second child or adopting. Then 3 weeks later I’m leaving the crematorium with my partners ashes. A broken single parent. That wasn’t in the forecast or the plans.

We often learn this lesson far too late. I did. Don’t assume there will be a tomorrow. Remember to hug those you love today. Start ticking off those bucket list items, right now. If something special to you is broken, then try and fix it today. Today, speak to those you care for. Make sure you live today.

Lecture over…. And yes it’s still raining here. I blame it on the weather forecaster.

Life and a bag of sweets

A beautiful cloud but wow does that hedge need trimming….

You take a photo of a cloud and it ends up giving you another job to add to the list. Everything is connected. Yin and yang. My parents always talked about good stuff and bad stuff being linked. If something good happens to you, immediately prepare for the kick up the backside. Or if something bad has happened, remember to look out for the rainbow.

About a year after my partner died, I was asked to speak to someone who was in a similar position. Spouse had died and was now a single parent. I remember he asked me to think of one positive from the whole bereavement gig. According to my parents something good must have come after the bad. I could think of four positives

  • You get to spend more quality time with your kid(s). Your not sharing responsibility anymore,
  • It can make you into such a better parent,
  • It shows how much you loved your partner (so easily forgotten),
  • We got a pet dog…

So yes good and bad stuff must be linked. So why do I keep forgetting that…

Yesterday I got the munchies. A real bad case of the munchies. I needed something full of sugar and bad for me to eat. Nothing in the kitchen cupboards, so off I went into the garage on my desperate quest. Then a RESULT. I found an opened bag of my favourite sweets. I should have immediately remembered that where there is a good thing then bad is lurking close by. As I walked out of the garage I just couldn’t wait to tuck into the sugar filled heaven. So I started to open the sweet pack on the move. The bag ripped asunder. Bad stuff lurking. The little bits of sugar filled heaven suddenly became Exocet guided missiles. Only one target. The cat litter tray. Yep every single sweet hit it’s target. Only one word can describe that feeling. Bugger…..

I most admit the sweets are proving quite an effective absorbing material for the big boy cat. But once again good and bad are linked. Happiness is intrinsically linked with life farting in my general direction. So that beautiful cloud has gone and left a hedge that needs cutting. Life……

Judging yourself through your grief

I am so thrilled that Katie and Evee have been so kind enough to write another post for me. I know from all the comments that the last one they penned was so loved. Please checkout their blog (The Grief Reality), it’s such a wonderful source of love, human spirit and hope. You might also come across another post from me there today as well.

I know how tough this post would have been to write for them. I have been feeling similar emotions about my Partner as well. They set these out so beautifully.

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Mum was always so protective of her daughters. If we came home from school crying about being bullied, she’d be straight on the phone to the headteacher even if we begged her to just forget it. She said her fierce protection was something we’d only understand when we became mothers ourselves – perhaps that is true. 

 

However, as time went on and we understood our mum’s growing fragility, we too stepped into a more protective role, that perhaps only children in our position would understand – we don’t know for sure. Eventually, simple things such as birthday parties became hazardous as they opened the risk of Mum becoming neutropenic with her compromised immune system. 

 

We miss our mum every single day and there is so much we have not been able to share with her over the last 18 months. Yet, with the current world events that are unravelling, quietly, we have both admitted to thinking “Thank goodness Mummy isn’t here to see this”. For the pair of us, this thought hasimmediately been silenced by shock, guilt and self-judgement: “I can’t believe I just thought that”. And it took a while for both of us to open up to one another to talk about this guilt. We were afraid to voice this utterly shocking feeling; about someone you physically ache to see again.

 

The fact that we can miss someone so much, but not want them to be here to bear witness to all the wrong in the world, is an unexplainable feeling. When we were early on in our grief, we thought it unthinkable when a counsellor told us we will one day consider that our mum is ‘safe’.

 

Well, we guess we are finally there. Mum cannot be touched or hurt anymore; and she is more protected than we could ever make her. We thank goodness that our mum is safe now and she does not need to worry about delayed chemotherapy treatment due to Corona Virus, or what we’d do if she needs to go into hospital. 

 

It is a conflicting emotion for us as this fear no longer lingersabove us. Yet, we still cry for the families who are living through it. 

 

Underneath everything, we know, no matter how far we come, all we will ever want is a cuddle from our mum, to be told this will all pass, and we will be okay. Isn’t that all anyone ever wants?

 

Go gently, 

 

Katie & Evee

Grieving during quarantine

As much as I like writing (well my version of writing), my favourite part of blogging is getting to read other blogs. They can make you laugh, cry, think and fill you with renewed hope. One of my favourite blogs is by Katie and Evee. It really captured me as like my son, grief often hits when we are far too young. They talk about it so beautifully. It’s grief with hope, loss with the desire to live again.

I’m really excited as today Katie and Evee are here on my blog. They have also rather recklessly allowed me to write on their wonderful blog today as well.

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Grieving During Quarantine

Hello, our names are Katie and Evee. Gary has kindly shared his platform with us today to write a little about our experience with grief during quarantine. 

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Sometimes, during big events where the whole world is grieving such as the time we find ourselves in today, our own personal grief can feel small, detached and forgotten.

Evee: We lost our Mum 18 months ago, on the 9th of September 2018. We still feel it every day, but recently, the want for our Mum during such chaos, is deafening. For example, when I was at university trying to work out how to get home before lockdown, everyone had parents on the phone to call for comfort, or to pick them up. I felt the loss of my mum then.

Katie: Over the past 18 months I have been learning what grief is and how I can fit it into my everyday life, and our blog has been a great means of doing so. When life shifts, as it tends to do, I try to bend with it. I try to shape my grief to fit the big hole where Mum used to be. Before quarantine, I was working on allocating time to fit grief into my fast-paced life; 05:45 start, the commute, work, the commute home, cooking, exercise, writing for the blog, sleeping, and amidst that, trying to maintain friendships and socialising and trying to find time for me. Each of these parts were like spinning plates.

With this global transition, I now work from home. I think I speak for the whole nation when I say that this is a hard adjustment. We are all confined to the house, yet working towards the constant harsh deadlines. This, alongside the anxiety, fear, and sadness that the whole world is feeling right now has been intense and hard to escape. For me, something has had to give in the last couple of weeks and a couple of my spinning plates have fallen down – grief being one of them. 

Getting to grips with my new quarantine routine, I have not been able to dedicate any time to reflect on my grief or to sit quietly with my thoughts at all. But grief doesn’t stop just because our lives seemingly have, and as Evee mentioned, we both miss our Mum more than ever right now. 

Evee: On the other hand, I have a lot more time than Katie, because all of my exams and most of my assignments have been cancelled. I haven’t been able to do work because it feels like the minute I do, I get an email saying that the module that I’m working on has been abandoned. This week, the only thing I have been able to count on, is my home exercise routine. 

The gym used to be a huge part of my life; it would often be a place where I think about Mum and process everything. I enjoy the feeling of my body being spent, and of stretching my aching muscles out. For some reason, while my body is active, my mind can chug away slowly and think about everything that is happening in the world, and its impact on my small world. 

When the gym became a breeding ground for the pandemic, I began to create workouts at home. I have created a hard work out for myself to do during the day. I find this gives me a sense of normality, and enables me to have that time to myself and for me to think about Mum. Like what she would say and what she would do in this situation. My one hour outside I use mainly for cycling or walking.

I also spend a lot of time cleaning, tidying and making this house cosy and homely for my little family. It is things like this that make me feel like I am helping out, and easing the pressure off of my sister and Uncle.

It is in these moments where I can clear my head and remember happier times, and think of who I have, and what I can do to get through this period. And that also involves a lot of blog writing! 

Writing has always been a big part of my life, but particularly now, I find it indulgent and wonderful to log onto our online community, talk and feel less alone.

Katie: Thankfully, the clocks went forward recently which gifted us with an extra of sunshine in the evening. I use this extra hour of daylight to take my walk and I’m truly grateful for it. Evee pointed me to the direction of a nearby, beautiful church. It has become a wonderful addition to my newroutine. I go there to stop. Sit, think and reflect. It is an hour dedicated to being still and quiet. I close my eyes and reflect upon life and our Mum. I use this time to ground myself during such pandemonium.

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This is a challenging time for us all. We constantly receive intrusive breaking news notifications on our phones. Our head is clustered full of worries, anxieties, and fear. It feels like at any moment our spinning plates will fall. Dedicate time to yourself. Dedicate time to reflection. Dedicate time to processing. In a little while, you’ll be able to pick these plates back up.

Stay safe, sane and smiling, friend.

Today we leave you with a song from one of our favourite and happiest artists; Newton Faulkner. 

 

My best-laid plans are washed away

No time to make ’em all again

Sometimes life gets in the way

We’ve got to keep on breathing

Look how far we’ve come

Look what we’ve made

Started from nothing, building

Brick by Brick – Newton Faulkner

 

Katie & Evee x

Parallel Universe

I set my decrepit laptop off on a relatively simple task. But again it went on a go slow. So I foolishly turned on the tv while I waited. A quick bit of channel hopping ended up with me in a parallel small screen universe.

The programme I stumbled on appeared to be about parents talking about modern day life. It’s certainly a different life to mine:

  • One Dad complained that he had been forced to cut back on his golf due to his kids. He now only played golf Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Really. I haven’t played golf in 7 years.
    A couple talked about having to make economies as the second child was just starting private school. They had been forced to cut the number of overseas holidays down to 4 per year. How many holidays did they have before they cut back.
    Another couple talked about parenting being a lot easier than they expected. They did then mention a small fact. They paid for a full time, live-in nanny.
    Another couple admitted that they had accidentally left their new born baby alone three times in various pubs and restaurants – only realising when they got home. They said it was just like accidentally leaving a bag on a bus. Unbelievably our last Prime Minister did this once – and we trusted him with the nuclear codes….
    One mum argued that parents should stop moaning about lifestyle choices. Apparently parents should just pay for babysitting. She would often have 3 or 4 nights out a week as babysitters were so cheap. That’s good to know.
    Another couple complained that they had been forced to buy a new family car – the families third car on the drive. Apparently baby seats or a pushchair would not fit into either of their two sports cars. Not sure 3 cars would fit on my drive….
    Then a Dad talked about how he had stopped his son from playing football and rugby because it was getting his new car muddy. Thank god that Dad has never been in our house. We don’t have much money but my goodness we got inside mud a plenty to show him.

Thankfully for my sanity my laptop found a couple more horse power and completed its task. So I quickly turned the TV off. I must admit that I did not particularly enjoy that brief visit to the parallel parenting universe. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway I’m off to buy a massive Hummer vehicle as I can’t fit all our son’s old Peppa Pig videos in our one car.