I've written and re-written this so many times. Each time it just seems like a huge block of words on a page. Not because I'm sad, quite the opposite actually. I'm a bundle of excitement. I feel like a kid at Christmas and my brain is working faster than my pen so to speak, so words are just tumbling out at a rate of knots. I have so many exciting and happy things going on at the moment I feel like I'm going to burst. None of it is life changing, but I haven't been this excited about anything since the early months of 2020, and it feels good.
I'm meeting up with a friend I've known since I was 7 and lost touch with. We met again through my group and have arranged to go for a walk on Wednesday. It'll be great to catch up on what's been going on in her life and chat about old times. I also have my jab booked for Thursday afternoon. After them trying for the past 2 weeks to send me to the Isle of Wight I've finally been booked into Guildhall Walk. Most people in my age group are not getting it yet which is why I can't have it locally, so I consider myself lucky as my children are both Type 1 diabetics and the letter of invitation states I'm a carer for a person who is vulnerable to Covid-19. However, I am needle phobic! The thought of the needle, not the vaccine, is already making me nervous. I know, I'm a wimp. The journey to get the jab will be a doddle, but I'm concerned about coming home. I faint every time I have an injection or blood taken so the thought of a bus, ferry and another bus on my own will be interesting. Possibly embarrassing but well worth it. My second jab is already booked for the 13th of June.
This coming weekend is what has got me about ready to pop. I'm going to see my daughter. Apart from a brief moment at Christmas I have not spent anytime with her since her birthday at the end of October. We are meeting up for a drink in the garden rain or shine. I do not care if it is thundering, lightning or throwing it down with hailstones. The gazebo will be up and we are meeting.
I'm also going for garden drinks with a guy who I have known for 34 years. He is a few years older than me and I had a huge schoolgirl crush on him. I was a first year, he was a fifth year, so he never knew, and I don't think he even realised I existed back then. We bumped into each other when we both worked for Butlins 25 years ago but hadn't seen one other until October last year, when I recognised him on my way home from work. After a hilarious chat on the train and ferry, we added each other as friends on Facebook and he has kept me entertained during this last lockdown with his wit and humour. It is going to be great to actually sit and interact with another adult human. 6 months alone with a teenage boy has been a challenge at times.
Next week I go back to the office for 2 days and the plan at the moment is to do so on a weekly basis. Again I'm so looking forward to interacting with people. To see others without a mask on is going to be fantastic. I have missed seeing smiles and people's facial expressions.
The therapy I have had for my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth has been life changing. I've put some of the weight back on I'd lost at the end of last year, and I'm happy and comfortable with how I look. My parents had commented I had gotten too skinny, as did a couple of people who knew me that I'd bumped into on walks. I think they meant I looked unhealthy, but were too polite to say. On top of my own therapy the therapy sessions we've had in my group have been a massive help. We have covered confidence, trust and last week was boundaries. This week is creating your own reality. The feedback myself and Dawn the therapist have received is fantastic and everyone on these sessions has said how much they have got from it. For me personally I never really set boundaries. As a pleaser with confidence issues, I've never been comfortable verbalizing my boundaries or dealing with it, if I felt that they had been crossed. In the past I allowed 'friends' to treat me however they chose and just put up with it. I no longer have contact with two people I've known a long time as they crossed boundaries time and time again, but I let them. I always thought I would miss these people in my life but in the past 2 months since I last spoke to them, I can honestly say I have not at all. It's also given me a much clearer perspective of what and who I want in my life.
My group is continuing to grow and now has over 600 members. Since I started it as a bit of a joke the day before New Year's Eve, I have been amazed at what has been achieved. I never imagined for one minute I could have created something that has helped so many people. I have already booked in to visit a few members who are scattered around the country and have a few from Australia and Canada who are booking a holiday to the UK for the get together once life has fully returned to normal.
I feel like I did back in December 2019 when life for me was fun and exciting. Spring is officially here, the gardens are starting to come to life after a long tough Autumn/Winter, and that is exactly how I see my life at the moment.
Today is Mothering Sunday. I'm feeling very emotional as it is my first one where I can't see my little girl. She's not actually a little girl anymore, she is a beautiful strong 22 year old woman, but to me she will always be my little girl. I received a bouquet of Roses and Lilies, my favourite flowers, from my daughter and her partner and my present is still to come from my boy. He is really upset it hasn't arrived in time, I have told him it doesn't matter and his thoughtfulness means more.
Today I have thought alot about being a parent. I have been a mum for exactly half my life. I always wanted children but had never put a time frame or age on when. When I met my husband he knew before we got together it was what I wanted. He on the other hand said it was not something he had ever considered and wasn't bothered if he ever had children. 3 years into our relationship I discovered I was pregnant. A happy accident? I didn't see it that way at the time.
My Grandfather had passed away and the following day my husband had gone to work. I was devastated and had taken the day off. A friend came to comfort me. She was heavily pregnant herself and when she arrived at my house took one look at me and told me I looked peaky and was pregnant. I told her I had been crying all night but she insisted on dragging me to Boots Chemists and ordered me to buy a pregnancy test. I was emotionally exhausted so went along with her mad idea for a quiet time of it. We got back to mine and I took the test. I didn't need to wait the 2 minutes as the instructions said, the blue line appeared instantly. I remember standing in my bathroom in utter shock. I walked out of the bathroom and just handed the test to my friend. She was so pleased and excited and hugged me. I stood like a piece of stone. Motionless and totally emotionless.
Although I always wanted children, Andy and I had not ever discussed it fully and I was terrified he would leave. We had been saving hard for a house and used to enjoy the freedom of just us, doing what we wanted when we wanted. A baby was going to change that. I spent the rest of the day rehearsing how I was going to tell him when he got home. I had it all planned out in my head, make him his dinner and then whilst we were relaxing just tell him. I even prepared myself for the expected angry response. He was such a chilled out guy but I was convinced he would go mad.
He came in from work and all my pre-planning went out of the window. The poor sod had barely stepped over the threshold and I just blurted it out. I'm pregnant. I can still see the look of confusion on his face as he said "do you want a cup of tea". I just nodded and sat down. He made the tea, sat down and started to tell me what had happened that day at work. Surely he could not have heard me so I said again I'm pregnant. He looked at me and said he knew and had heard me. I waited for an explosion but nothing. We sat in silence for what seemed an eternity then the phone rang. It was my mum checking to see if I was ok. At the end of the conversation she asked if I was pregnant. What a bizarre question to ask when her Dad had just died but she said she had a strange feeling the last time she had seen me and had actually told my Grandad I was pregnant the day he died. I told her I had taken the test and it was positive. She was so excited, her first grandchild and some happy news for the family at an awful time. I told her not to tell anyone as I had no idea how Andy felt about it.
I got off the phone and in no uncertain terms informed Andy I was having this baby. He had never even suggested the opposite but had said nothing so I had no idea what was going through his head. The days that followed were extremely strange. He was so good at comforting me over the loss of my Grandad but seemed to avoid any conversation about the baby. This was the first time in our relationship that I felt unsure. I had no idea if he wanted the baby, whether he was planning on leaving or how he felt at all. My mum was keen for me to share the news with my entire family as in her eyes it was the best possible news. I asked Andy if he was happy for me to do so. It seemed he didn't have an opinion and told me to do what I wanted. I told my family. They were ecstatic. This baby was very much wanted by both sides of our families but I still had no idea what would happen to us.
I had a serious car accident 2 weeks after my Grandad died. I was taken to hospital via ambulance and for the first time was terrified for my unborn baby's life. Andy was at the hospital when I arrived and was extremely concerned for me but again no mention of the baby. I had an internal scan and there for the first time I saw the little flicker of my child's heartbeat. I was only 12 weeks pregnant but there on the screen was visible proof of a life growing inside of me. Something as big as a plum was growing and developing rapidly. A baby made of Andy and I. That was the day I became a mum. That was the day I knew it was what I wanted more than anything before.
I was not worried about my own injuries, I was only concerned for my baby. I was assured that the baby was very well protected and no reason for it not to continue to grow. At 16 weeks we went for a routine scan. I was amazed at how much my child had grown. I cried as we heard the heartbeat for the first time and although I had no bump I found myself stroking my tummy. Andy sat in silence. That night whilst in bed I woke feeling a little uncomfortable and noticed I was bleeding. I woke Andy and within minutes he was driving me to the hospital.
Another scan showed my baby was ok, for now, but no explanation as to what was happening and also being told very bluntly it is common to miscarry and I should just go home and rest and what will be will be. I was so scared of losing this little life but knew I had no control over it. Andy fussed over me for the week I was told to bed rest but still no mention of our baby. I was in a constant state of worry that I would lose this little life.
A couple of weeks later I was in work and felt the strangest of feelings. My baby was moving. It is a feeling you can not describe well. The best way I can explain it is like a number of real butterflies moving around inside of you. It is the oddest of feelings but for me reassured me that my baby was doing well. I would sit waiting for that feeling to happen again and again but would get frustrated when Andy couldn't feel it with his hand.
My body was changing drastically. My once flat tummy had turned into a pod belly but I loved it. It was physical proof I was a mum. The movements were becoming more frequent and one night I was laying in bed, Andy had his arm around me and on top of my tummy. I felt my baby move. He leapt out of the bed. I asked him what was wrong and he just said "what on earth was that". I remember laughing at his shock and said it's our baby. He got back into bed and put his hand back on my tummy. He did jolt for the next few movements then he began to stroke my growing belly. It was beautiful.
At 6 months pregnant I said we should start thinking of names. I had bought a book and would read out names I liked. He hated them all. At work one day I again became uncomfortable and again I was bleeding. A colleague drove me to hospital. Yet another scan showed my baby was ok but there was a concern I was going into early labour so I was admitted to hospital. Andy arrived and again was very concerned about me. I was kept in for a couple of days and with no explanation as to what was happening was sent home. Although it was visible to the outside world I was pregnant I was told the baby seemed very small. I was also told if I went into labour at this point, 24 weeks pregnant, that there was a slim chance of survival for my baby.
I knew more than ever I had to have a name for my child. We went home and I read a list of names. Finally he agreed on 2. One boy and one girl's name. I said I wanted the baby to have his surname as we were not married. I was dismayed when he said he didn't mind. I could not fathom for the life of me why he seemed so uninterested in our child.
The weeks went by and I was having regular scans and tests. Still no reason could be found for the bleeding. One midwife told me sometimes it happens and the baby is perfectly ok but I was in a constant state of worry. At 34 weeks pregnant I woke one day and looked in the mirror. My face had ballooned so had my wrists and ankles. I looked like the Michelin man. I phoned the midwife and was asked to go in immediately. My blood pressure was sky high and I was told I had first signs of pre-eclampsia. A condition that affects the arteries carrying blood to the placenta, my baby's lifeline. If left untreated it can be fatal to both mother and baby. I was advised to stop work and rest. I was again told my baby was very small.
I followed the advice of the medical professionals and stopped work. I rested. I was so bored and had never been this inactive. I had a neat little bump and from behind didn't look pregnant but within 2 weeks I looked huge all over. I was constantly in hospital having blood tests, scans and mine and my baby's heart monitored. The swelling had reduced but I was still massive. My due date was getting closer and closer. To be honest I was so uncomfortable I just wanted the baby out. The pre-eclampsia seemed to have disappeared so when my due date did come there was no rush for them to get the baby out much to my dismay. I no longer walked, I waddled. I spent more time in the bathroom than any other room of the house. I looked and felt fat and uncomfortable but with each huge kick my baby gave I knew it was worth it.
I was so excited for my baby's arrival, Andy seemed so uninterested. My mum had been staying with us since just before my due date as I wanted her at the birth with Andy. My hormones had gone haywire and I broke down and cried to my mum that I was worried Andy wouldn't love our baby. She tried to console me but there was little she could say as she had also noticed how detached he seemed. Finally after nearly 2 weeks overdue I was told I would be taken to hospital and my labour induced the following day. I had read so many birthing books and was fully prepared for a long slog of labour.
The morning of my induction arrived I was terrified and excited. I looked around my house as we were leaving knowing that the next time I would be home would be with my little tiny baby. Us two would be a family of 3. We lived 26 miles from the hospital. My mum, Andy and I drove to Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset in silence. Lots of tests were carried out, I was attached to a monitor and given a pessary to hopefully bring on labour. I was told it could take as many as 4 pessaries and if that didn't work I would be given a cesarean. We sat all day just waiting. Just before visiting hours ended I was given a second pessary. Andy and mum had to leave.
At some time in the early hours I started to get some strong pains. I had read all the books so checked my watch. Within 2 minutes I had another. I pressed the buzzer and told the midwife what was happening. She wasn't a particularly warm lady and told me I had hours to go and to just sleep. I couldn't. My back was killing me. I have never suffered back pain and this was awful. I took myself off the monitor as I thought walking might help as I had been laying in the same position for hours. I think I took 3 steps and bang I had a contraction. It wasn't agony but certainly uncomfortable. It seemed to last for ages. It subsided. I took another step and bang it happened again. The woman in the bed opposite who had her baby the day before said I think you are in labour. I felt a pop as my waters burst and just remember staring with my mouth open as this fluid flowed down the ward. The contractions were coming quicker and I couldn't move. The lady opposite pressed her buzzer and again the midwife, who this time had a face like a slapped arse, appeared. She pretty much threw me on my bed, examined me and said I was only 3cm dilated and had hours to go as a first time birth. Whilst she was examining me I was contracting and I laugh at this now but she had her hand stuck in me. I felt like a glove puppet. Sorry a bit graphic but oh so true. Eventually and with much tutting and sighing she unattached herself from me and walked off saying loudly how I was making too much fuss.
The unhelpful midwife returned a few minutes later and stuck a needle in my thigh. It was a sedative to make me relax. The lady in the bed opposite was disgusted and whilst I said nothing she was demanding that I was in labour. The midwife said to me as you are disrupting the ward I'm moving you to the labour suite. I was scared and just wanted Andy and my mum. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I was unceremoniously dumped in a wheelchair and taken to another part of the hospital. I was handed over to another midwife. This one was a student midwife and was lovely. I asked her to ring Andy to get him to the hospital. It was 3am and the drive took 30 minutes on country roads. She said she would just give me a quick check over then call him. I said I was desperate for the loo so she wheeled me in.
What happened next is like a scene from a comedy to me. Whilst sat on the toilet I started to make some strange noises the midwife asked if I was ok. I couldn't answer. She told me she wanted to take a quick peek and within seconds I was told my baby was coming. I was put back in the wheelchair but as my baby's head was in the way I could not sit properly and was wheeled through the hospital with my legs wide open and my baby's head making its way into the world. I was put on a bed pushed 5 times and at 03.22am delivered my child much to the shock of the poor student midwife who I later found out had never delivered a baby before.
Due to the speed of labour my baby had become distressed and was not breathing. I remember laying on the bed on my own whilst people came running in and out of the room. I hadn't heard any crying from my baby and didn't even know what sex it was. I was starting to feel very lightheaded and sick due to the sedative but didn't want to cause any fuss as I knew they were trying to get my baby breathing. Finally after what seemed like an eternity I heard a cry. Then again but a little louder, then again but this time a full blown bellow. The student came over to tell me I had a little girl and that Andy and mum were on their way. I desperately wanted to hold my baby. I was told they were just going to weigh her then I was going to meet my tiny new daughter. The midwife went to the other end of the room and I caught a glimpse of a baby's leg flailing about as they tried to weigh her. The midwife walked back towards me smiling, holding a blanket in her arms. She then handed me my daughter. My beautiful precious baby but she wasn't tiny she was huge. 9lbs 9oz! I looked at my bundle and was dumb struck. She had masses of black hair, she was beautiful. I couldn't stop staring at her little wrinkled face thinking you are mine.
I heard the door open and saw Andy and my mum walk in. My mum burst into tears. Andy stood motionless. I asked if he wanted to meet his daughter and he just nodded. The midwife got him to sit down and she took our baby and placed her in his arms. He just looked at her then at me then back to her. His mouth moved but no sound came out. He sat for about an hour just holding and looking at her until the twitching new Grandmother could wait no more to hold her first Grandchild.
Later that day Andy drove me to the local maternity home. He had hardly spoken. He got me settled then left. He came back later with flowers and again just sat holding his daughter. After a couple of days I left the maternity hospital and bought our little girl home. Andy had been busy and the once bare empty spare room had been turned into the most beautiful nursery. He would have said it himself but he was pretty useless in those early weeks. He acted like she was made of porcelain. He seemed reluctant to pick her up and even more so to bath her. Nappy duties were not that often for him. For me I was in love. This perfect little human that had grown inside of me was now a part of my world. She was my world. Everything I had ever known up that point had changed. Something as simple as popping to the shop for a pint of milk was not the same but I was a mum. This little girl relied on me for everything.
A couple of months after the birth I went for a bath one night. I sat in the bath and could hear singing. I strained my ears to listen. Andy was singing My Girl. I went downstairs and there he was holding our daughter singing away oblivious to me watching. The tears poured down my face as I could see how much he loved his little girl. I needn't have worried she was his world. Later that night we finally spoke about his lack of reaction or emotion to my pregnancy and the birth. He had never held a baby prior to his daughter and was terrified. He openly admitted he was worried about being a good dad and how it scared him he may let her down. He was shocked to learn I had felt exactly the same about becoming a mother. We talked so freely and frankly about our worries as a Mum and Dad.
By the time I got pregnant again a few years later Andy was a confident and strong reliable father. When I told him the news he grinned and kissed me. He was the one who told our daughter she was going to have a brother or sister. He was the one who picked me up when we lost that little life, he was the one who just a week after I had surgery due to miscarriage, had taken a call from the hospital to tell me they thought I was still pregnant and I was needed to be seen immediately as it would be an ectopic pregnancy and my life was at risk. He was also the one who told me I was still pregnant with the twin of the baby we had lost and how the Drs were amazed this little one had survived the surgery I had. Every day as my pregnancy developed he would talk to my growing bump. When I was again induced for labour he didn't leave my side. When I was rushed into theatre for an emergency c-section after our baby's heart stopped, my parents found him sobbing in my hospital room, terrified our baby and I would not survive. He was the first person to hold our heavy weight 10lb 4oz son and rushed back to the hospital later that day with several baby outfits he had gone out and bought himself.
For 18 years with Andy we co-parented. It drove us crazy sometimes, other times it was a joy. At times we got it horribly wrong. Our kids are 22 and 16 now. They are strong, opinionated, honest, kind and pretty amazing humans in my eyes. Being a parent can be the most rewarding, exciting, frustrating and terrifying thing in the world. There is no instruction manual on what to do. It really is a case of winging it and hoping for the best. I can no longer remember not feeling like a mum and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Today is Mothers Day, a day that children are supposed to show appreciation for their mums. Today I appreciate my own parents probably more than I ever have before. I appreciate my children and can only hope that Andy would be pleased with how I have parented in his absence. The past 5 years have been some of the toughest and most challenging times I've had as a mother. My children and I don't always see eye to eye. They make me laugh. They make me cry but they have made me a mum. They are and will always be my biggest and proudest achievements.
A year ago I could never have imagined living as we have done. It still seems so surreal. I have to pinch myself that what has occurred really did happen. My life has changed so much in 12 months and not just because of a global pandemic. I have had some incredibly low points and some amazing highs.
The past week has been a week full of learning. Not just in an academic sense but learning more about myself and others. My appetite to learn and experience new things is bigger now than it has been in years. I started my short psychology course and whilst it is interesting it is not challenging enough. I've always regretted not completing my A Levels and the course has sparked an interest into further learning. I am not ready to commit to 2 years of study alongside my current work and other projects I have on the go, I do however want to push my learning capabilities further.
The therapy I have been having has made a huge impact in my life, my only regret is not doing it sooner. My confidence seems to be growing day by day in all aspects of my life. I've found a new confidence in standing up for myself and putting my needs first. For too long I have put others' feelings above my own. I became a bit of a doormat and as long as everyone else was happy, cared for and had what they needed that was what mattered. Often this was at the detriment to myself. I wouldn't necessarily say how I felt as I'd be too worried it may hurt someone's feelings, so instead I would hold it in, bottle it up until it broke out in an emotional response that would only end up making me feel ten times worse. I have spent quite a bit of time on me this past week.
Apart from nurturing my brain I have been a little indulgent in my personal time. Instead of just jumping in and out of the shower for hygiene purposes I took time to feel the water on my skin. To look at the patterns the water made. Whilst making a coffee I took time to watch how the granules fell into the cup, how the steam rose up from the kettle then disappeared, how the water acted when poured. When I drank my coffee I held it in my mouth a little longer to appreciate and savour the aroma and taste. I told my friend what I had done, and she thought I had gone mad. I encouraged her to try it. She did and phoned me to say it was great. Those couple of extra minutes with the most simplest of tasks made me aware of all of my senses, something we often take for granted. What may seem stupid to some has made me feel more alert and alive than I would ever have thought.
The group I created at the end of last year continues to grow with 550 members now. I would never have thought three months ago that some daft writing I did has developed into what it has. The group and page gave me so much during a particularly tough time. The group has developed into a community of people to have fun, network, share and support one another. One of the members mentioned she used to sing but hadn't for a very long time. I encouraged her to post a video up. She did and it was amazing. She did a piano version of Radiohead's Creep and the many comments she got were fantastic. It really is such a good feeling to be a part of that.
Some years ago I did a personality traits test. I retook the test at the weekend. The test focuses on five personality aspects Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics and Identity. Together they make up the sixteen personalities of the NERIS Type Explorer Test that I took, which was inspired by Carl Jung and mother-daughter, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers. My result has not changed. I am ENFP-T a Campaigner. It describes my personality pretty damn accurately. The website I have used has a host of tools for personal growth. It identifies my strengths and weaknesses. My weaknesses I have always been able to identify with but struggled with my strengths. The tools help you to understand your traits and how to leverage them to grow as a person. I shared the link on my group and many took part and all said how like them the trait was. It really is insightful.
Evenings are becoming lighter, spring is not far off and life is improving by the day. I'm excited at the prospect of finally being able to spend time with my daughter at the end of the month and I am looking forward to life gradually returning to some sort of normality.
If anyone is interested in the personality traits test here is the link.
Life really does change in an instance. When I wrote last Tuesday things were going really well. The therapy was working, and I was feeling confident, happy and had no signs of anxiety. Wednesday took the wind out of my sails and made me face something that nobody likes to think or talk about. Mortality. Death.
My first encounter with death was when I was 23 and my Grandad passed away. I was devastated. He was my favourite Grandfather, I was his eldest grandchild and the apple of his eye. The day after he passed I found out I was pregnant with my first child. That gave the family something really positive to look forward to and was a huge comfort to me. The next person close to me to pass away was my father-in-law 12 years ago. 8 years ago I received a cancer diagnosis but only thought briefly of my own mortality before going in to fight mode to battle the damn thing. When I was forty I lost my other Grandad. He was 96 and had a great life so whilst I knew I would miss him in my life I couldn't be sad.
2016 is what gave me my fear of death. Not of my own but of losing people I love. In the space of 3 months both my Nans and my husband passed away. It was too much to take onboard and process what was happening, and I became incredibly fearful of losing my children. I wanted to wrap them in cotton wool, not let them out. I knew this was completely irrational and the bereavement counsellor I saw at the time helped me to deal with the pain I was in and let them live their lives. I had a stroke 7 months after my husband passed away and again was not scared about dying. I have a warped sense of humour and can joke about my own death. I talk openly about what I want at my funeral and have even put down what songs I want played to remember me. They are upbeat, and I just want people to have a party when I pop off. What did scare me was the thought of losing another person I love.
Last Wednesday evening I took a call from my mum to say my Aunt was in the intensive care unit in Essex. This was totally unexpected. She had been unwell at the end of last year when she was taken to hospital as having difficulty breathing. During the current pandemic this was a huge worry, but she was informed she had a hernia pressing on her lung and would need an operation but nothing more sinister. She has been awaiting a referral since November. Wednesday night we found out it is not a hernia but one massive tumour and a second smaller one in her lung. As of this morning it has been confirmed it is cancer. My Aunt battled and successfully overcame breast cancer 21 years ago, so this is a huge shock for the whole family.
As my parents were both in the Navy the majority of my family do not live locally, but we are very close-knit. Due to lockdown to make up for the lack of visits last year we had weekly zoom quizzes to keep in touch which were great fun. I have yet to meet my cousin's baby who is now 7 months old. The closeness I have with my family has always been there. When I was younger my brother and I would spend 2 to 3 weeks of our school summer holidays at my grandparents, so it was always a home from home for me. I was always extremely close to my Aunt. She has no children of her own but has been very important and instrumental in my life. She was the one I could talk to when my parents "didn't understand" the hormonal, knew better than everyone teenager. I would often go and stay with her on my own, and we would go out shopping or to concerts, shows or meals, things I never did with my parents. I could also confide in her about anything.
The night my mum called I couldn't sleep. I was in shock. That shock turned to anger on Thursday as we received updates on my aunt's condition. Due to lockdown she can have no visitors. The information we are receiving is minimal and very frustrating. As a family we have really been through it in the past 4 years and this just added to my anger.
I was angry that yet another family member has been misdiagnosed and not given thorough tests when initially presenting with symptoms. I was angry that I can't comfort my daughter who is so distressed as her Grandmother is also currently battling and undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I had no answer for her when she asked me why is this happening to us, why is life so unfair. I was also angry as my mum is so upset she can not be with her sister at the worst possible time. I was angry at everything but didn't know where to direct it.
That night I had to host a zoom meeting for my group therapy session, so I did my usual, buried my feelings and put a smile on. Although the session was really successful I felt exhausted at the end, pretending I was fine and the floodgates opened. My son must have heard me crying, and he came into my room. He asked me what was up and in a snotty teary way I ranted about how crap life is. This was totally unfair of me to put this on a 16-year-old but he astounded me. He gave me a hug and said "yeah we've had some crap mum, but others have it worse". He went on to comfort me and actually spoke more sense than most adults I know.
My son amazes me. At 16, he has been through and lost more than most adults my age but his resilience and matter of fact attitude is really rather humbling. What was I doing ranting and raving about things I have no control of when this kid can take all the awful things he's been through in such a short time, on the chin. I am so proud of how my son reacts in the face of adversity, and he really has inspired me. After his dad passed away I worried he would go off the rails. I need not have. He has more sense and is more level-headed than many I know, and he is the one who keeps me on the rails.
Friday was my aunt's birthday. I felt incredibly sad as she is alone in the ICU, but I knew I couldn't dwell on it. I needed to go to the office to pick some bits up. It is the first time since November I have ventured over there. Fortunately it was a lovely sunny day so the ferry and train journey were actually really enjoyable. A journey I used to hate doing was a welcome break in what has been a stagnant few months. On the way back I took time to appreciate where I live. I spent ages just looking at the water; it really is rather calming. It made me think long and hard. I cannot control when I or the people I love die. It is the one thing in life that is a certainty. What I can control is how I will be remembered. What is the legacy, if you like, that I want to leave behind.
Material possessions matter not. What I achieve in work will not be remembered. What matters, is knowing you were loved and those close to you know you loved them. I have told my children every day of their lives that I love them, although I could not remember when I last told my parents or extended members of my family. I have always said life is short, and we need to make the most of it. This doesn't mean by necessarily going anywhere but making the most of what time we have on this planet and appreciating and making the most of those we love. Tell and show the people close to you how you feel. Resolve differences, hold no grudge and have no regrets. If I can get to the end of my days knowing I did everything I could to ensure my loved ones know what they meant to me then I have lived a full life.
My Aunt is an incredibly strong lady and whilst she has a huge battle to come I know that with the whole family to support her she will give it all she can. I have spent the weekend writing letters for when my time comes. I have also made sure my family knows how I feel about them now. My brother reached out to me before Christmas and after an estranged relationship for many years he is trying to build bridges. I was reluctant to let him back into mine and my children's lives but tomorrow is not promised only today, so we are starting again with baby steps. I can not live in fear of something that will ultimately come to us all. I can live each day as if it's the last. Look forward to the future but live, learn, laugh and love right now.