Loved ones legacy…

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People that know me well know that I am not overtly religious, although I do feel that in such a huge universe, we can’t possibly understand what is behind and/or beyond and I therefore remain open, and often find comfort in the term ‘spiritual’. I believe in fate as it seems to have come to fruition on more than a couple of occasions. I believe in there being powers to our heart and soul that we do not understand. 

And on some occasions, I seem to have a sort of unexplained foresight, a ‘feeling in my waters’, a sense that can’t be explained but likely has a scientific explanation. I’m not making much sense I know, but I’m hoping you’ll know what I mean.Two nights ago I posted at 4am about my overwhelming sadness for my Aunt and how she must feel at not being able to make her son, my little cousin, better. I reminisced a bit about our childhood together, and I talked of not being able to sleep. I didn’t sleep for a while after posting and the next day I just knew there was something I wasn’t totally aware of. That lunchtime, for the first time in lord knows how long, my brother and I met up for lunch, the first time in months we’d just spent time together just the two of us and very random. He invited me to join him for a lunch break and we chatted about our cousin. 

After lunch I got a call I knew I was going to receive that day. My 30 year old cousin had passed away. He battled cancer like an absolute champ for nine months, and certainly given it hell, but was now at peace. 

He was surrounded by immediate family at the end, and in some random circumstance, my brother and I were together as it happened too. My Aunt had been called in early that morning. 

Maybe I just ate something that disagreed with me, maybe I’m in a weird place in my menstrual cycle which kept me awake. I’m sure there are hundreds of reasons scientifically minded people could enlighten me on as to why I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t stop thinking about the family a few hours before. Or why for no real reason, my brother and I met up for lunch like we did. If you are one of those people, I respect your logic and often search for it, but on this occasion you can leave me be.

Because in this case, I choose. I choose to believe that somehow on his late night, in hours when fewer people are around, perhaps he would have been able to sense that I was thinking of him, that he wasn’t remotely alone. That although we weren’t there, my brother and I were somehow present in some way. That maybe if he had any worries about letting go and being at peace, perhaps, unconscious thoughts of mine could reach his in the middle of the night to let him know that everything was ok. 

Christ, I know how that sounds. Bloody arrogant for one thing, he had a lot of people in his life, and he would most likely have chosen someone else to spiritually link with! And my grief is nothing compared to that of his parents, his siblings. 

I was brought up with an extremely healthy view of death (in my opinion), we talk often and fondly of those no longer with us. We keep them firmly in our minds and hearts and as part of our lives. I think of my Grandad every time I make a roast dinner, I can hear him say ‘good on you girl’ every time the roast potatoes go nice and crispy. I phoned my Mum just last week because I was rolling out marzipan for a fruit cake, and suddenly the combination of marzipan and the wooden chopping board created a smell that took me right back to my Nana & Grandads house. Nana used to use a lot of marzipan. My Nan I think of every Good Friday, I imagine her infectious laugh as I have a glass of port and make the same joke about her perhaps being back this Easter Sunday, every year. It’s the kind of joke she would have made herself! My Auntie Win had this distinctive laugh which my eldest daughter now occasionally does and it takes me right back to being in her flat. I think of my old neighbour George whenever I play a board game with my kids. I laugh remembering my Great Uncle Jack whenever I see the English dishes on an Indian restaurant menu, thinking back to him insisting on having chicken and chips at my Dads 60th birthday meal. 

And those are just a few! A few people that were in my life that I loved and lost but will never really leave me. I like to think of them all watching over us, it gives me a huge amount of comfort to think that they could see what happened in my life, that they could see my husband, laugh at my kids antics the way they would have done if they’d have met them. Maybe my cousin can tell them, our Auntie Win will definitely be waiting there for a big hug for him, they were very close. 

He’s no longer with us, but I will see him and think of him often. When I buy gingerbread men from a bakery as we used to as kids. Every time I watch the girls run round trying to pop the bubbles coming out of the wishing fish clock in the arcade, a feature he loved so much he did a road trip with a friend specifically to show them it! Bachelors super noodles, something neither of us could get enough of, chicken, or sometimes BBQ beef if we fancied a change. 

So whether it was foresight, or I sensed it, or part of my sub conscious was reaching out to him at the very end without me knowing, I find comfort in it. It helps me believe that he is looking down on us all now, pain free and happy. Most likely trying to tell me I can sleep now! So I’m going to try to. And for him, and all the people no longer on this earth with us able to do so themselves, I’m going to try and honour them all by living to the fullest, making this Christmas as magical as possible for Mini Pea and Mooper. My cousin was kind, generous and always smiling, a bloody good example to us all. 

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Smiling through sadness…

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My beautiful grown up girl had pre school booster injections today. They hurt & as a parent, all you want is to make them feel better. For Mini Pea, we could do that with a coffee shop treat & cuddles. My heart breaks for my Auntie, who cannot do anything to heal her child’s pain. I’m not ready to write about the circumstances yet. I haven’t slept very well recently, I’ve been half expecting a phone call, half trying to calm my anxieties and talk myself down that living positively is not something to feel guilty about but the only way we can keep going forward. 

My children are my life. Today, I had to physically hold my eldest so she couldn’t move while someone injected her which I knew would hurt her. She was so brave, she stayed still and went in the room smiling because she is at an age where she trusts that her parents won’t put her in harm. The pain was a surprise. We’d explained that it would hurt a little bit but that she would need to be brave, that it was to keep her healthy (not really a concept that a three year old can quite grasp) and that we would take her for a treat afterwards. 
And as she cried, I smiled and hugged her, told her I loved her and that it would all be ok. My husband and I took her to our special coffee shop and treated her and by the time she went back to her Grandparents (she spends every Tuesday with her Grandparents) she was smiling and her normal sunny self. Inside however, as soon as I saw her in pain, my heart broke. After we all laughed together in the coffee shop, my mind and heart kept thinking of all parents who can’t heal their children or take away their pain. Specifically I found myself grieving for a family situation in a way I haven’t yet allowed myself to process fully. 

If I could, I would take my younger cousin a hot chocolate, and maybe some BBQ beef super noodles, as when we were kids, both of those things would put a smile on his face. If possible, I would take him on a car journey and put ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ on loud so we could both throw our heads back laughing as we sang along while my Uncle drove. 

It was such a simple thing that cheered up my precious little girl. Such little things I know could cheer my cousin up. But I can’t make him feel better. The whole family are in anguish knowing that there’s nothing any of us can do. 

Sadly my husband is going through a similar pain, one we share for a close friend of ours going through a similar thing, sadly only slightly behind my cousin. I keep telling him that we must concentrate on positive things to get through the dark and celebrate every day with our family and friends, that living life to the absolute full is the best thing we can do. We’re lucky to be able to visit our friend and will hopefully make a fair few more happy memories. This year has shown us how important it is to make sure friends and family know how important they are, how loved. 

My little girl was brave, and she is now safely tucked up in bed, warm, healthy, safe. I would give my last breath to keep her and her sister that way. I’m still awake now because grief keeps me awake. Grief for two situations I so desperately want to help but know that I can’t. I don’t allow myself to dwell on these negative emotions generally. I’m more of a ‘buck up girl’ until there’s a bit of time to deal with things. I’m not saying that this is a good thing, on the contrary. When things are tough, I tend to make myself busier and busier until eventually it catches up with me. I’m not entirely sure how to deal with things better, it’s a lifelong method that I don’t really know how to change if I wanted to. In some ways, it’s a coping mechanism, in some ways it’s how I’ve achieved done of the things that I have. Anyway, I digress. I hope and pray that I am always able to make both of my girls feel better, I hope and pray I’m always able to make my husband feel better. I hope that the little things can always make a big difference for those I love. There are lots of us in pain because of similar circumstances. 

An old school friend of mine once wrote in a blog ‘live, love and don’t be sorry’. Words and a general sentiment that changed my life in 2013 and have stayed with me ever since her death that year. None of us know what sadnesses and difficulties each other are dealing with behind closed doors. We cannot control what happens to us or our loved ones however much we pray for it in the middle of the night. We can however control how we treat each other. As much as we can, let’s be kind to each other, love each other and make the most of every little thing that brings us joy.