First steps

The other day I parked up to take my dogs over the viaduct a few miles up the road. I’ve walked it a few times, as I put my handbrake and looked across I noted there wasn’t anyone else on there. A few canal boats bobbed quietly along the left hand side but there was no sign of any humans which was unusual for this normally popular beauty spot. The dogs excitedly barked as I park up and jump over the drivers side as I open the door on to the green verge beside the canal. It’s a bright sunny day, a picture postcard type of day where the green of the canal boat gleams against the sparkle of the blue sky reflecting in the water. We cross over the small lock to the other side, unfortunately the canal boat that sells coffee isn’t open today so we head on towards the viaduct crossing. The dogs spot some innocent ducks and make a pathetic run towards them knowing that they won’t get anywhere near them and the ducks are unperturbed, confident in their safe surroundings.

I look at the viaduct outstretched ahead. The 126ft high viaduct. First I walk past the four canal boats while trying not to peer in, I am so intrigued by the long wooden vessel that house wood burners, flat screen TVs, flowers and kitsch curtains. It’s eerily quiet and I wonder for a moment if I have actually come out earlier than I thought due to the recent change in clocks, but I haven’t. I get closer to the viaduct and as I approach I began to feel a little uneasy, nervous.

 

I’m a bit perplexed by this, although I know many many people who won’t walk over it due to the height, I haven’t ever been one of those people. I have been the encourager. I have been the one saying… oo look at the other side where there’s no barrier. I’ve been the one happy to step to the narrow edge for a pram to get past. I’ve been the one to bravely let my dogs run over off the lead, trusting them.

 

Now as I take my first steps where it still feels relatively safe, I start to feel, yes, it definitely is nerves. I ponder this as I look over the metal railings towards the stunning golden and green view and I realise why I am feeling nervous.   I have never walked over here on my own. What’s the difference in walking here on my own and walking over here with someone else? Turns out, quite a lot.

 

Not one to give up I tell myself to look ahead and remind myself how long this viaduct has stood the test of time, there are no boats going across the water and no people walking on the path, I begin the narrow walk telling myself I am simply walking on a path!!! I’m a quarter the way over and I look to my right, the view is absolutely breathtaking particularly on such a lovely day, I spot sheep that look like small cushions of snow and hedges that appear unreal, like lego.

 

I’m beginning to get so far that there’s little point now in considering not to walk the whole thing so I carry on. Slightly disconcerting is the fact that every twenty steps or so there’s a grid and every time the dogs get to the grid they stop and consider what to do, they then decide to jump over every grid and I can’t help but wonder that they know something I don’t – so I of course also avoid contact with the grid.

 

As I get to the half way point I notice that my legs feel different, my legs have become jelly-like and I am now in no doubt that I have become scared and on top of that a slight bit of vertigo has set in. I am half way over so I can’t go back and at this point I don’t much feel like going forward, I do know though if I carry on going forward I am also going to have to come back across unless I want to walk fives miles out of my way. I’m totally bewildered that I have found walking across (did I say it is 126FT up in the air!!!) the aqueduct such a different experience because I’ve done it on my own. Continuing to look forward and avoiding the aforementioned grids I breathe a sigh of relief as I’m two thirds over and the distance between myself and the ground becomes shorter and my breathing begins to normalise.  As I feel the safety of land without the threat of imminent death… I ponder this strange change that happened inside my mind and the physical changes that took place in my body – simply because I did something alone.

 

The fact we can get such strength and confidence just from being with someone else was quite a revelation to my independent mind however I also gave myself a virtual round of applause that I did not shy away from it, despite feeling scared and worried and wanting to run back, I didn’t. Through the week it made me consider how we normally do things with others and how ‘brave’ it can feel to go it alone. It’s great to be in a couple, be with friends and family but it’s also really important that we can face and manage challenges by ourself too – to live the life we want.

 

Happy Sunday XX

grid

 

 

 

Silver linings

I felt really disappointed one day this week. The reason isn’t important but I woke with a pit of disappointment sitting at the bottom of my belly. It was my day off work so I considered skulking around. Instead I saw my trail shoes and put them on. The dogs, excited as ever, pulled me up the hill with the red brick houses and I took a turn up the narrow one track road seeing the horses graze as usual standing expectantly at the gate. My heart and also my legs were feeling heavy, the hill was stretching out my calves, without thought I found myself forming a slow jog. The dogs got excited and ran gently along side me.

The hill continued to stretch ahead with no break but I gritted my teeth and kept going eventually getting to the top and I then with new energy let my legs easily run away at their own pace, faster, down the steep hill. At the bottom I’d generally do a loop left but I had gained some momentum and no doubt serotonin levels had risen from the exercise so instead I took a right and added another mile on to the run. The dogs panted as they continued to jog gently alongside, occasionally looking up at me as if they were asking – what are you doing?! We ventured up a track that I had found a week ago over a small hill where flowers had been laid (for someone, I thought) and bearing left I crossed a wooden bridge, passed a farm house with a red telephone box outside and looped back towards home.

Dealing with disappointments for me generally means that I tend to ignore what the disappointment is, this time I really made myself focus on what I was disappointed about, every time my mind tried to get me to stop thinking of it and pushing it to one side, I made myself think of it again and in the end I managed to make a lot of sense of why I was feeling like I did and I managed to deal with it a lot quicker than I would have normally because I made myself focus in it.

Generally I’d have buried this disappointment down in my the soles of my feet and it’d have bit me on the bum in a few weeks/months sometimes even years later because I’d have tried to ignore it. It feels far easier in the short term not having to face up to emotions, disappointments, rejection, change. No wonder a lot of us decide to run away from what’s facing us in the hope it’ll turn out ok. Problem is those niggles rarely go away. Anyone who hasn’t dealt with a problem knows this. It just comes back.

I suppose what I was reminded this week was no matter how much we try to protect ourselves we will always face disappointments and challenges, we could lie in bed under the covers or we can get our running shoes on.. we can ignore what hurts or we can find a way through, we can concentrate on the dark clouds or we can search out the silver lining,

Happy Sunday xx

Where have you been?

i was asked today where I’ve been and was I going to write again soon?I’ve missed your writing was the message. I replied I hadn’t felt up to it. I replied I’d written a few drafts but hadn’t  wanted to post them. I just hadn’t  been up to it.

Just a few lines persuaded me to put something down and answer the question, where have I been? Where have I been this last couple of months?

I’ve been down, anxious, frustrated, annoyed. I’ve been wishing I could have a normal life back. I’ve been wishing that when I wake up every day it didn’t take some almighty strength to face the day. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been crying. I’ve not felt like going out. I’ve been to the doctor, I’ve cried on the phone to the doctor. I’ve been worried about things I didn’t know anyone could worry about. I’ve been a mum who has cried and a partner who has just complained. I’ve been quite crappy really.

And that’s why I didn’t write. 

As I write those things down though,  I have to remind myself what I’ve also been. I’ve been happy, I’ve stuck to my new running regime. I’ve discovered cooking new healthy foods. I’ve been a supportive friend and have supportive friends, I’ve been at work and taken on new responsibilities. I’ve been a busy mum and loving partner. I’ve  been out to a spa, met up with friends and had dinner out. I realised I needed help and saw my counsellor again. I’ve been taking photos and enjoyed walks on the beach.  I have got up every day and I have faced the world. 

So I’ve been struggling I guess but I’ve also been fighting with a smile and that is where I’ve been and that is where I am. 

Thanks for missing me and for making me remind myself that where I’ve been might be actually worth writing about x

Results day.

Tomorrow is results day. What would have been your GCSE results day.  I don’t have to be humble anymore and i’m glad I wasn’t so humble then. I was always proud of your intelligence.  Not because I’m particularly a fan of exams and the sheer hell and pressure society puts on our 16 yr olds.  It was your enthusiasm, desire and absolute love of learning.

I wasn’t like that at all.  I was far too busy riding on the back of motorcycles,  skipping school and trading in my embarassing blue free dinner ticket for money so I could buy some sweets (sorry mum!).

However in my 20s I wanted to learn and so I did.. A levels and eventually my degree.  I still think the system is bonkers to expect teenagers to complete exams and choose their vocation for the next 60 yrs (with this pension system!). It’s no wonder so many buckle.  So many don’t fit that round hole. So no, I’m not a huge fan of exams but I also know they are important and a good education generally means better prospects.  That’s how it is.

So from when you were two years old, for 10 yrs I studied as well as worked.  I like to think that influenced you.  But I can’t take the credit.  You were born with a desire to learn and read and write. After you died I inevitably  came  across  phones  and diaries and sometimes I dreaded to think what I might find. All I found was chapters of books and characters described in detail and lots of stories of fan fiction. They make me smile.

The other day I found an a4 book in your school bag, on a page you had written an ‘exam revision timetable’. I laughed when I saw it. Typical Tes. So studious.   Every date had two subjects next to it. Bar two.  The night before you died you’d written excitedly ‘yeah no revision i’m off out for a sleepover’. The second was 7 days later when it was your brothers birthday.  You’d drawn a cake and a smile.

So back to results day. You had been predicted straights As (apart from art!) and I know despite my sceptism I’d have been beaming with pride tomorrow. You would have been coy and even embarassed as always. Not really wanting people to know. I would’ve been telling everyone.

So tomorrow I’ll think of you Tes and i’ll be excited for your friends as they get their results.  Some will get what they want. Some won’t.  It will matter to some and not to others.

At the end of the day there’s plenty of opportunities ahead for them all and I hope they remember that as the most important lesson.

Love you my gorgeous girl.
Mum xx
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Sunny but cloudy

Someone was sitting on your bench yesterday afternoon. They looked so sad as I walked over the bridge.  I had a strong sense the bench, the loss, triggered something of their own experience.  She was blonde and her feet were up on the bench. He was tanned and he held her close. I was glad these strangers had each other.  I resisted the urge to stop and tell them. That bench is there for my daughter. Mine.

I was terribly sad yesterday.  During moments of the fun of our village carnival I lost my usual ability to bathe in the smiling painted faces and the adults in costume and the clowns. Even the blue skies and heat of the sun couldn’t lift me out of a deep sheer all encompassing sadness. How many times can I write about missing you?  A lot it seems. 

I woke up several times last night and I thought I had something weighing on me. I got up to look if there were blankets and cushions weighing me down as my legs felt so heavy. There wasn’t anything.  I just felt heavy.  Weighed down.

Grief. It can’t always be how we get through. Sometimes it’s just purely horrifically awful.

Today I’ve started by reading lots of positive articles.  I’ve done some affirmations and I’ve meditated. It’s only 9.30! I’m off for a walk with the dogs and throughout this day and the next and the next I’ll keep finding something to help get through the next minute,  hour,  day. Some days are just tougher than others.

Miss you my baby girl.

Mum xxx

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Answers

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I haven’t written as much lately though as ever Tes is in all of my thoughts.  More than ever in fact.  Everything feels like it is coming full circle in a way.  My writing has helped me and I had hoped it would help others, I’m not sure it has and sometimes I feel I am opening and re-opening wounds that not only are difficult for me but quite probably difficult for those around me. 

I began this blog because I found myself almost a year ago at my computer, staring, hoping.  Looking for answers.

 I went to google.com and incredulously I was typing in eight words I wish I had never reason to type.

How to survive the death of your child’

I looked at the words on my screen and couldn’t believe what I was typing.  I wasn’t looking for the latest job or iPhone review.  I wasn’t looking at the new skinny jeans in Top Shop or some new wedge Fly boots.  I was googling how to survive the death of my child. 

What I found mostly depressed me and that is why I began to write myself.  It has been cathartic and I know it has helped some people and it has also brought me tentatively closer to some other parents in the same situation.  I say tentatively as I steer slowly towards them but I keep my distance too, it’s an odd club to belong to and I’m not sure I’m quite happy to accept my membership as yet.

When my Google search results came up, the first one that comes up is from Wikihow.  Wikihow . Can you believe that?  I thought Wikihow was there to tell you how to change a plug or how to make bread. Etc. 

I didn’t know it also told you how to cope with losing your child.  I read it of course.  It actually isn’t that bad looking back – all the main things are there, take time, look after you, there is no wrong or right way etc.  In between these statements adverts pop up for Marks & Spencer’s and the one I remember most is the one that advertises – ‘how to end an argument in 30 seconds’.  Odd I thought, how these adverts pop up in such sensitive circumstances.

Unfortunately Google doesn’t hold the answers and neither do I but I did want to share some of my own thoughts on what helps in some small way.

My ‘advice’ comes in one paragraph. 

My good friend once said to me, when I gave birth to Tes almost 16 years ago, in the early sleepless weeks –  do whatever you can to make things easy on yourself.  

She told me to forget about routine and text books.

 Just take the easy option, she said. 

 It was the best piece of advice then and it is the best piece of advice ironically I can give with death.   Obviously it goes without saying health and safety is paramount but  take offers of help, or don’t.  Cry,  or don’t.  Weep or don’t. Laugh or don’t.  Have a few drinks or don’t. The list goes on.  The point is to do what helps you at that time and keep that advice in your head as you go on your journey because what helps changes.  As time goes on work might help, routine might help, new hobbies might help, new friends might help, haircuts might help, time on your own might help.

You have to help yourself first but never be scared to ask for help.

I wrote a poem today, because today that helped me.

A part of every second.
A wave of every tree.
A morning of every day.
An end of every night.
 I miss you.

 A smile of every story.
 A dance of every tune.
 A rise of every breath.
 A tear of every memory.
 I miss you.

 A footstep walked on by.
A sunny ray of warmth.
A book of new print.
A story to share.
I miss you.

A heart filled with love.
A room of quiet.
A celebration of event.
A whisper to myself.
I miss you.

A changed beginning.
A beautiful Spring day.
A month almost twelve
My baby girl.

I will always miss you

Mum x

Bells and glitter.

On the day you died, I remember saying to your dad, what will we do about Christmas? Weird really to think about that, at that time. My mind whirred ahead. I soon learnt this wasn’t the right way to think. Now I only think ahead in days. One at a time.

I can’t imagine a Christmas without you but I have never imagined a day without you before 21st April 2013. It’s very strange Tes, dealing with your loss and trying to process it and also learn from it. I read about another woman, no partner, just her and her 15yr old, she died this year too and her mum writes that her life was amazing with her daughter and now it is different but she also still wanted it to be an amazing, different life. Reading that made me feel better about how I feel, how I want it to be. Different, yes. Never the same, yes. To be happy, yes.

So Christmas is here. It’s going to be so different emotionally. There’s the inevitable sadness, the missing you, the wishing you were here, the memories of those Christmases gone by.

I remember your first one dressed in a Scooby Doo fur-trimmed dress, you were bald and 8months old. I remember the time Grandad Simon dressed up as Santa and you thought you had worked it out only for Grandad to sit down with us a few minutes later and Santa appeared again (uncle Alec had disappeared though!). I remember the time we cried when Morgan opened up his present from Daf and Em, he was 3 and he just roared with excitement and danced around shouting ‘this is what I’ve always wanted’ at his huge new fluffy Monsters Inc Sully teddy. You had to be there! I remember you dancing on the stage in the nativity play and wiggling your bum! I remember playing bells through the laptop just as you both fell asleep on Christmas Eve and you woke up convinced you’d heard the sleigh. I remember however you being unconvinced by my glitter deer footprints! I remember Santa writing back to you saying how kind it was that you had also thought of your brother when you wrote to him. You were so kind. Recently I remember your excitement at going off with your friends snow boarding and losing your phone, again! I remember you loving the Harry Potter type quill fountain pen and real ink, only to drop the whole ink pot all over your bedroom floor! The stains remain on the floor boards. I remember the skinny jeans and hooded top and the new red converse boots you loved. I remember you politely accepting my silly stocking fillers such as trainer patterned socks and bad perfume. I remember your red stockings of felt that had both your names in black pen that we hung up every year, one each.

I put them away last year to use again.

Hard to believe there are no more Christmases with you. But they were really good ones the memories are lovely.

This year it feels different, it’s in a different perspective. Christmas isn’t the same happy event for everyone, people feel sad and miss those that aren’t around – even a little bit more than usual.

However it is a time for most of us to down tools, spend time together, have a drink, dance and laugh, to play cards, sit by the fire, sledge and walk down frosty roads. To watch a film in the afternoon or sleep lazily, to shop in the sales or to meet up with friends. Feel the day, the moment, the seconds, live a little bit easier, enjoy the warmth. We can use it to love those close a little bit more, be kind, to look after each other and also importantly to love and be kind to ourselves.

As you said often Tes, make every day beautiful.

Happy Christmas Tes and to everyone all around. Have the happiest time you can.

Xxxx

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