Puddles

I was shopping for a gift for my soon to be eleven year old nephew on Saturday (I failed miserably) – a surprise he said when I asked what he wanted – I suspected as I held up the nostalgic board game ‘Game of Life’ that had I bought it this may well have been a surprise for him – a surprise that it wasn’t a)Money or b) Football related or c) Electronic in some way. I put down the game that held many fond memories of earlier years with my kids when board games had been semi forced upon them but almost always entirely turned out to be the best times! I’m sure my nephew too would enjoy the game once he got over the shock of a, b & c but confidence was not on my side as I replaced it and left the toy shop for the safety of something far more appropriate with ‘sport’ in the shop title.

I veered off my initial shopping track slightly, ending up in (of course) a clothes shop eying up another pair of skinny jeans and internally wondering whether the dark navy high waisted pair I held up were in fact any different to the … dark navy high waisted pair I was currently wearing…. along with contemplating whether I was now too old for said skinny jeans. Opting for a couple of casual tops (in the sales I might add!!) I queued up to pay.. trying to divert my eyes away from those items placed purposefully near the counter – did I need a new pair of gloves or a pack of five black socks perhaps?

A child ran past and I hear her mother raise her voice. Come back, she said. The child of about seven had long dark chocolate brown pig tails, huge brown eyes. Defiant, she took a seat away from her mum and her smaller sister followed suit. Mum was clearly exasperated and this was probably the nail in the coffin after no doubt a tiresome day out shopping with her two young daughters. She’s so naughty said (I presumed) Gran. Right, fuelled by this fire…. that’s it, mum shouted. This is going back. She held up a purple and pink unicorn shaped pencil case and tossed it on the shelf behind her. Fake wailing came from the pig-tailed child along with much pleading. No, insisted mum. And then she said something that I thought was just a bit odd to be honest. She said.

You are acting…. You are acting LIKE A CHILD.

I’m a parent and I’ve been stressed with my kids… so I am not in any way judging mum but to accuse the child of…. acting like a child was totally perplexing. Not least to the child, who was looking at her with huge confusion.

Mum didn’t give in. Unicorn shaped pencil case stayed sadly behind. I heard the (now real) cries rise as they left the shop and I stepped up to pay.

As I continued to walk around the shops, searching… the mums words echoed in my head – acting like a child. What did it mean to act like a child and how did we learn to stop acting like a child? Was it wrong to act like a child? Even now?

I don’t know who made up our education system or parenting rules but looking at our adult population I’d say something has gone drastically wrong with most of us who are now ‘grown ups’. We’re mostly anxious, rushing about, no time to talk, not eating properly, drinking and smoking too much, depressed, always looking for something better, discontent, materialistic. In competition.

I wondered what would have happened had we not gone to school and not been boxed off to be just like everyone else? Or if we had still gone to school for our education but… had not been boxed off like everyone else.

My brothers at school were always referred to as daydreamers. I remember this vividly. I was the ‘good’ one (rather ironic now!).. I knew looking out the window was not the behaviour expected at school. How I wish now that I had spent more time day dreaming about my future rather than doing what I thought was right. I was told by my careers teacher that I’d possibly ‘make a secretary’. As a good pupil that is what I went on to do. Shit. I wished I had spent more time day dreaming instead, I may have actually planned out the stuff I really wanted to be and do… an actress, a writer, a singer, a painter, a photographer. Instead I went with expectation… I signed up to a YTS course (yes I am one of the few!) and I worked for £27.50 per week, learning how to do office work.

I can’t pretend that I have not done well out of it, I’m in a good job (I’ve worked bloody hard for it!!) but what if I had allowed to be a child…. and day dream?  What would we do if perhaps we hadn’t had the ‘childish’ behaviour knocked out of us?
We might still jump in puddles. We’d laugh a lot more. We’d play fight. We’d tell jokes. We would use our imagination, a lot. We’d make up stories. We’d draw pictures. We’d learn from each other and from our environment. We’d keep trying new food and we’d say what we didn’t like. We’d pick up sticks and look under stones. We’d still have amazing instincts learning what was good and bad. We’d read what we want. We’d seek out to learn about subjects that interested us. We’d run when we aren’t ‘supposed to’. We wouldn’t be defined by stereotypes. We’d still write down the lyrics to songs. We’d fall in love and out of love and wouldn’t be shackled by the expectations put on us by society. We’d say what we saw without being embarrassed. We’d talk about our feelings without thought. We’d be expressive. We’d embrace difference. We’d be truthful. We’d be ourselves.
It might seem far fetched that we could be adults while holding on to our innate instinctive child behaviours but I for one would rather walk down the road and be able to jump in the puddle, laugh out loud and be in awe of the water jumping in globules around my legs…than be what we have become – avoiding the puddle, sensibly walking on, quietly. 
I’m off to get my wellies!
Happy Sunday to you xx

After

I used to have this saying, BC, before children. For example I’d say I used to have parties in Huw Chics house in Corwen with my friend (we’ll call her S) and we would play all the tracks by Queen while drinking beer. Some of the boys would come back and one or two would usually have a fight and we would put frozen peas on their swollen eye. We would pass the postman on the way home in the morning.

BC we’d go to the club in Corwen currently known as the DiY shop. We’d fake ID to get in and forget what year we were supposed to be born when they checked and subsequently be thrown out.

BC I travelled for 12 months to Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand. Visiting Bondi, Sydney, Auckland and Bali. Kayaking, visiting glaziers, getting to work by driving over the Sydney bridge and spending weekends on Manly beach.

BC I left school and wasn’t fussed about education. I got a job, I paid my mum keep, I went out late and I ate curry for breakfast when I stayed in Manchester with friends who HAD gone to Uni. no care in the world really.

That was BC. Before children.

Got me thinking, that statement. Before and after. Now I’ve started thinking, before and after Tes. Before she died I mean. Things are different before and after Tes. I hear music and think this was before Tes. A film, this was before Tes. Before and after. As times goes on, after Tes becomes more prominent.

After Tes. I get sad sometimes making breakfast on a Sunday, not every Sunday but like today, it hits you. Making breakfast for one. It was one of my favourite things, taking her breakfast in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.

After Tes. The walk I’ve done for years becomes different, sadder, not as light. I have to walk past where we lay your blue casket, the blue of the Dr Who tardis, exact. It can’t be her I think as I walk past. My brain shouts, it can’t be her. But it is. And I’m silent as I peek slyly over the grey wall, and I keep on walking.

After Tes. Sitting down for a family dinner. She isn’t there. Still. So where is she you think. When is she coming back? Where is she? When is she coming home? The one thing that stops me saying this out loud is Jean from Eastenders. Because I think people will see me as Jean from Eastenders. Next I’ll be making sausage surprise. So I don’t shout.

After Tes. Seeing her friends. Once you spent time with her friends, laughed with them, told them to stop talking so loud because it’s 4am. Gave them lifts to sleep overs, tried to find common ground and desperately tried not to appear an idiot or ‘un cool’. . Now I meet them and more recently have seen friends watch over where she lays, searching for words. An image that shouldn’t be. An image that makes you face reality. An image you wish wasn’t happening for the friend and you so wish wasn’t true for your daughter. There’s also an element of hope, of having the ability to create a stronger relationship through loss with those close to her.

After Tes. Watching TV. A random one. Like X factor. Each week. I’m quietly weeping, I would be anyway at the silly stories. But – that you know, she’d be here, entertaining my poor choice of tv watching. We’d be critiquing. We’d laugh and we’d cry together at the crazy sob stories. Girls appear singing with wavy hair and thick set glasses and I cry because she’s like you.

After Tes. Your room. Once a place of mess, of fun, of you. Now quiet and still. And quiet. That quote on your wall. The one that says you should make the best of life ‘because you’re a long time dead’. Written in your own handwriting. I shiver at it but then remember that’s how you lived. Thankfully. Packing the life you wanted in. With enough determination to do it. Brilliant.

So maybe that’s it now, there was the saying I had, ‘BC – before children’ and now there’s a new saying – ‘after Tes’.

I don’t much like the after Tes.

I wish there wasn’t an after Tes.

I wish there was Tes.

But I prefer an after Tes to no Tes at all.

Xx

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To the future

I had a message a couple of months ago from another family who had lost their son, a few years ago. In it they said – now they always think of him smiling and laughing. It terrified me. My overriding images of Tes were not laughter but ones without life, ones with pain at her loss and sometimes one with never ending angry questions of why you, why us, what have we done? Why wasn’t I having all these nice memories?

Grief is a mind altering process, some thoughts I wouldn’t share because thankfully most of you won’t understand how your once sensible mind becomes temporarily twisted with questions that have no answers. Why her? That’s one of them of course. Why anyone, I suppose.

It’s not 4 months yet, but it is almost 4 months. The Summer holidays will be over soon, then it will be Christmas. Sometimes I’m annoyed that time still sweeps by so quickly, how can time just tick along like nothing has happened? Another daft question, with no answer.

So, I was terrified as I read the card, I wracked my mind for memories of Tes laughing and I couldn’t, the more I thought, the worse it became, I thought all my memories would be gone and replaced with these black ones, the more I thought, the worse it got, wanting something so badly got in the way.

The thing is, you can’t force a memory. When you first lose someone so special, loved, so yours, happy memories are brief and distant, but importantly they are there. Now and again, more often already I’ll see a picture or read a word that will trigger such a powerful image of Tesni laughing that I can actually hear her. The other day i saw her pink cowboy hat, we bought it at a Girls Aloud concert when she was about six. It rained so we made a ‘den’ out of the chairs, put our coats over the top and sat underneath watching Cheryl et al in our pink cowboy hats eating ice cream, giggling in our makeshift tent.

Laughter, it’s what you make isn’t it, it’s what life should be about, if we all lived to make people happy and therefore laugh, what a great world we’d have! I spent a lot of time trying to make Tes and Morgs laugh. Easier when they’re little of course, stories of how the teletubbies had secret tea parties in our garden always brought a smile, joining in with the imaginary shoe shop that Tes had in the garden made her beam. The food fight chaos that Morgan began as he sat in his high chair is sill one of my favourites, we all laughed until it hurt, Tes’s eyes like mine would involuntarily fill with happy tears as she threw her head back giggling.

Tes kept on laughing, she made the most of everything, she was who she wanted to be. So, it’s early days but through the difficult hours a happy thought or memory appears and I have no doubt now, like the card said, one day all my memories will be ones of smiles and laughter at the wonderful life Tes had.

X

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Peek-a-boo

Hope hides in the smiles of others,
in the warmth of a slight touch,
in one word, or many
and in the depth of a glance.

Hope hides in complex lives,
in your continued passion,
in a picture of happiness new
and in tiny feet yet to be born.

Hope hides in lush rainbow fields,
in small spontaneous plans,
in young adventurous laughter
and friendly persuasive voices.

Hope hides in black musical notes,
in stories relayed with glassy eyes,
in the closeness of dancing
and in the willingness to hold.

Hope hides, but has to be found.

Peek-a-boo.

by Dwysan Rowena

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Small smiles….

teletubbook

On my blog I’d started a thing where I wrote about what made me smile last week.  The last one included a bit where ‘i’d bought someone a birthday present’.  That was for you Tes, it’s so hard to read and know that a few days later everything changed.  The pain of your loss is so massive I actually can’t put it into words or feelings, I feel like you are sitting on my shoulder every day.  Sometimes you sit there and I get on and do some work and sometimes you sit there and I despair.  You were almost as tall as me and you would come for a cuddle and sit on my knee and you’d be as big as me and I miss that, the weight of you sitting on me and cwtching up, I miss all of you.

Yet, for some unknown reason, there have still been things to smile about Tes and sometimes I feel guilty about that but I keep telling myself that you would want us to smile, you would want us to laugh, you will want us to dance again one day in the kitchen.  I know what you would want.

So to help me really, to help me focus on the future and to keep me holding on to hope, this week I need to dig deeper than before, but these are the things that have made me smile….

  1.  No surprise here that number one on the list is Lolly my new puppy Jackapoo! I’ve always wanted a handbag dog (and wow are there some great handbags!).  My idea was met initially by a resounding nooooooooooooooooooooooooo wayyyyyyyyyyyyy on Friday at about 3pm, by 8pm we were planning on where she would sleep and by Saturday we had found Lolly.  Can’t wait to pick her up at the weekend J
  2. Ffranc – my lovely nephew, he made me smile and hold back the tears all in one go when his i-spy letter was T, he described it as being far away and you couldn’t see it anymore – I did try to guess for ages and I even said tardis so I don’t know why I didn’t get it. Tes he said. My sister-in-law and I just held back the tears and said oh good one Ffranc! There were also others like s for small and s for stingy nettles and also my other favourite ch for chree. Love him.
  3. Friends – I had a text that said do you need anything – cheese, wine, company? All of the above I said in jest.  That evening I got home to cheese, wine and also a night had been arranged for the gang to come over.  I get truly emotional when I think how lucky I am to have the friends I’ve got around me, I’ll never ever forget their kindness.
  4. Mother – on her quad bike.  I had lunch with my boss in our village pub this Sunday and we heard a huge noise outside and a shiny red quad whizzed passed – oh that’s my mum I said.  Your mum?? He said. Yep. I said.  I guess they imagined a greying woman in her 70s.  My nanna is soooo cool said my son.  Yes. She. Is.
  5. A teletubby book.  Tes loved, when I say loved, was obsessed with the tubbies.  Everyday at 10am we’d sit and wait for the baby and the sunshine and Po.  I found the book the other day, held together by tape due to much handling.  I made a cardboard Po once and when you opened the door of her tummy there was a picture of Tes inside, they showed it on the BBC for her 2nd birthday, her face was a picture.  The book brings back such happy memories.
  6. Names – I’ve been off for a few weeks and we’re in the middle of a big renovation project at my work place.  When I returned, my colleague kept telling me about the builder Paul, Paul this, Paul that.  In the end I said I really don’t know who you are talking about – you know Paul, the brummy she said.  Do you mean Steve? I said.  No Paul, she said, the brummy guy, the joiner.  Steve, I said.  Oh, she said.  She’d called him Paul for weeks, fair play he answers to Paul and Steve now.
  7. Talking of Paul/Steve – I was chatting to him about Lolly (the jackapoo!) yesterday, he asked if I’d send him a picture of her because his wife wanted a small dog. So I obliged.  When I walked in today, he stood with his son-in-law (who works for him) – they both had their arms crossed and stared at me.  You owe me £700 they said.  What?? I said – what’s happened? We’re getting two ‘Lolly’s’ at the weekend, thanks to you, they said smiling! The power of the picture of a pup sitting on its own!
  8. A friend of Tes’s who she didn’t see that often approached me and asked could she write her English presentation about Tes because she wanted to write about her passion for equal rights.  What an honour I felt that she invoked those ideas in other people.
  9. My son – we have forever eaten dinner together but lately I keep getting the ‘can you keep mine warm?’ request which I have obliged.  Would you make your son eat with you when he could be playing ‘man hunt’ with ten others or be throwing themselves in the river (waist deep I might add!) or kicking a ball around in the sunshine.  No, you can’t! I love this village, such an amazing place to bring up children
  10. Family – that hug that needs no words, the squish on the couch, the phone-call of comfort and the impulse visits with 2 massive bars of chocolate and stories that you can’t help giggle at. We are still family, we are still whole because Tes you are forever here and always will be.

xxx

Now.

Now.

I didn’t always see the sparkle
deep inside your smile.
The way your warmth jumped
and exploded with no edge.

I didn’t always see the energy
of your soft personality .
The lilt of your voice and
the passion of your mind.

I didn’t always see your vision
and narrative spilling.
Your words, your thoughts,
bubbling eagerly everywhere.

I couldn’t always see you.
This is why I didn’t alway see.
Now I see you without break,
in me, with me, forever, now.

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Days x

tes4a

Days

A few people have said that one day I should write down my thoughts about grief and how to deal with it, people have said it could be helpful to others, I’m not sure if it would be or not.  I have tried desperately to look at the loss of Tes in the most positive way possible.  That may sound weird – but I hate the thought of it, her life, being viewed as this negative black awful tragedy.  Yes her dying suddenly at fourteen without warning is awful.  Yes finding her and trying to bring her back alive was horrific.  But to that point, her life was, really was, wonderful and I don’t want to concentrate on her death, I don’t want to think about that moment I found her every Sunday and I will try not to think of the 21st April 2013 as a significant day in my life, yes it’s the day I lost her but I want to remember the more important times, not just birthdays or Christmas but other days.

***

I want to remember you Tes and all the love that surrounded you and how happy you made me feel.

Like the day you came home from school at five years old and you were fed up and it turned out you didn’t like something at school, I was surprised and said but you always are happy coming back from school – that’s because I’m coming home to you mum, she said!

Or the day when you went missing at a party for a few minutes about 18 months ago and I noticed a boy you had been dancing with also wasn’t in sight! Most unlike you! A few minutes later you appeared and you told me excitedly later that night that you’d had a kiss, a proper kiss! I was so pleased that you could tell me that I couldn’t be mad at you for it!

Or the day your brother was born and you ran into the hospital ward so excited, I had been so worried you might have been jealous but you beamed literally from ear to ear, you were forever running to get nappies and talking to him, talking for him mostly until your last day. You got up at 5.30am every day for the next few years for fear of missing out on anything with your little brother!

Then there’s the day when you were two and you were talking to someone in a way I had not seen before and I asked you who you were talking to, you didn’t ever do that imaginary play thing.  Just ‘taid Ruthin’ you said calmly and carried on.  Your dad’s grandfather, who had passed away a few weeks before.   I wasn’t scared, I’m not religious and I never knew really what that moment was except that it felt natural and not strange at all.  I think about that moment a lot now.

Of course there’s the day you picked up your first Harry Pottery book at 4, your teacher said that it was impossible that you could read it and was quite scathing of the idea.  I think she changed her mind when you talked incessantly about the contents for the next 10 years! I have never read the books but I think I just might now J

There was a day when you started high school at eleven that I remember clearly as you were so upset at someones racist comments talking about immigrants in the country and another who said they would never vote for the Labour government because they were pro gay-marriage.  You said to me that you didn’t know ‘people thought like that’ because you thought all people were like me.

Then there’s the day I found you crying in your bedroom last year – I was so worried as you said it was something to do with school.  I thought someone had been horrible to you but turned out you were crying because someone wasn’t being nice with someone else in your class.  You were so frustrated at their behaviour and at the injustice of it all.  I found your compassion for others inspirational.

There’s that day that we went to Euro Disney, I was so excited to take you there and then you refused to go on any ride! I eventually persuaded you to go on the teacups which we could’ve gone on at Rhyl fair!

We had a fabulous day at the P!NK concert, I was so proud that you came with me, we danced and jumped around the place and then you fell asleep in the car on the way home, only to wake up in the same place an hour later, the traffic was terrible!

There are of course other days where we didn’t fare so well! Nobody is perfect! Most recently when I didn’t thank you in exactly the way you thought I should when you gave me the mascara and lipstick for Mothers day – you rolled your eyes at me and we had words. Or the day you casually asked me to drop you off aged 13, in the city of Birmingham to go and watch The Midnight Beast, you couldn’t believe it when I said no!  We didn’t have many cross words – I think I was probably one of the few people you found it difficult to get one up on!

***

So you see, there are many many days I’ll remember Tes.  At the moment I am living hour by hour, not day by day because it isn’t helpful for me to look too far ahead.  There will be a future, a new one, one in which Tes will continue to live all around me, just one with different days.