“I lost him”

It was around 2:30pm when you called. I had just reheated my lunch. The phone rang and your smiling face popped up on my screen.

I answered straight away, excited to hear your voice we only talk once or twice a fortnight so it’s always special when you call- your like a little ray of sunshine, always so happy and bright. As I answered my heart dropped. Hearing the sobs and gulps for air through your tears I knew exactly what had happened. “I just wanted to let you know, I just lost my dad” you cried. I went completely silent. Stunned I didn’t know what to say. “Did you hear me Bella” you asked through tear eyes. I stuttered. “Yes, yes, sorry, I just didn’t know what to say”.

We talked for a while and immediately I found myself saying all the clichés that I hate. “Everything will be okay.” “He loves you very much.” “It’s great that you got to go see him and spend time with him.” “Of course, you will miss him.” “He his not alone, there are so many people waiting for him on the other side.”

The finally those words flew out my mouth, “He had been sick for a while, it’s okay, he is at peace now”… I hated myself for saying it, how the hell is that supposed to be any comfort?? It sounded so holo to me.

Despite the fact that you are thirty years my senior we had found common ground when our fathers fell ill at the same time. Those fortnightly chats carried us through, we lent on each other as we travelled through this turbulent time. Your being the bubbelly bright spark that you are, helped me more than you know. Now here you are, needing me to comfort you and all that is spewing out of my mouth are a bunch of words that seem little comfort to me.

Whilst I really don’t know what to say or do, I’m here and I will have a handbag full of chocolate when your ready.

Like Cheese down a Chalkboard

I work long days – often 8 – 12 hours shifts, six days a week. I don’t often get down time, and honestly I don’t really feel I need it altogether that much. I enjoy being busy. However, sometimes working long hours does catch up with me, especially on a Friday. I come home from a long day at work, and you are always so good to me.

The moccasins are by the front door, kettle is on for a fresh pot of tea and you are just about to run me a bubblebath. Before heading into the bathroom to unwind from the day, I collapse on the bed. I am spent.

You come in to chat to me and we are having a discussion about something, god only knows what, I really can’t remember- we somehow got on the topic of something that really annoyed me and I turned to you and said “like cheese down a chalkboard”. I was so brain dead, I managed to mash up two sayings, “like chalk and cheese” and “like nails down a chalkboard”.

I didn’t hear it and you started laughing, I watched the joy, play and dance across your face – you laugh, a loud, jolly, belly laugh and it made me happy. When you finally gained enough air back in your body to tell me what you were laughing at – me, at my expense. I pouted and said “I was so smart all day”, and you smile and said “Yes baby, you were – which is why it’s so cute when you muddle up your words”.

I breath a sigh of relief, somehow, knowing that at the end of a long week, when I am totally spent, I am still able to make you smile, gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Watching all the happy emotions dance across your face makes me content because at last I am home, it is the weekend and we are together. Even if we are smudging “cheese down chalkboards” in my mind and even if I am muddling up all the words, it doesn’t matter, as long as I can see you smile.

Finding Strength through Persistence.

I was a pretty frustrating child. I was annoying, dramatic and I always longed to be someone else. I was constantly trying to outwit/manoeuvre the system, I longed to be a crafty, flaky kid, sitting in a jazz club with a beret on listing to some poem I didn’t understand and clicking at the end in unison with everyone else- I wanted to be in that world so badly, I’d have done anything to get there. My mother, bless her soul, spent so long trying to understand why. She would spend hours talking with me, trying to process what was going on in my mind, attempting to make me grow and push through this rut that I landed myself in, which probably lasted a good ten-fifteen years – I fought her every step of the way, I am lucky I never pushed her over the edge, although a couple of times, I am pretty sure I came close. I never fought with my dad quiet as much, not sure why, for some reason I didn’t clash with his as much, probably because we were so similar, I didn’t have to try as hard to make him understand me. But my poor mum, I gave her a hard time, like nails on a chalk board, I would driver her nuts.

Persistent, that is the best way I can describe her. No matter how much I yelled, screamed, cried, fought, made snarky inappropriate comments, she was persistent. She never gave up. When I had a problem, she always found the solution, even if I was totally unaware of it. She was in my corner fighting for me every step of the way, slowly as I grew, I started to notice it more and more.

We always had this joke, her and I, that she was my knight in shining armor, riding in on her horse coming to the rescue, sword in hard.

Then one day she started to get tired. Her health had started to deteriortate and she started to fade. Although my mum was still fighting for me, it became less and less at the front of the battle-line and more apparent that she was fighting from the shadows. No, not because she didn’t want me to see her, but because she was tired.

Around the time when I was 16, I was lying next to mum on the couch in the living room. She was exhausted. It was written all over her face – the smiles were still there, but the there was a tired hollowness behind her eyes that I could seen glaring at me, she needed a break. She had been fighting a losing battle, pushing herself to work after two years whilst being unwell, holding countless more years of undiagnosed issues before that in her hand- pushing forward without answers. Although we were all here to support her, my knight in shining amour was very much like superwoman she had to do it all herself – she took pride in all she did.

As she lay there on the couch, barely able to lift her head – all of a sudden, this giant, this warrior, this battle axe full of fierceness – suddenly looked so small, so tired, as wave upon wave of exhaustion, started crash over her. At no time did she ever look weak (even in that moment), just simply tired. I took her hand that day as I sat with her, and I said “you are not going back, please do not go back, I won’t let you”. I was looking at this warrior, who fought everyday to get out bed, struggled to get ready, every move of every limb looking like she was lifting hundreds of kilos, as the heaviness of exhaustion took over and I could not let her go back.

I held her hand that morning, as she made the call to work, to say she needed to retire – I sat with her for most of the day in fact. Pride, like I had never felt before, struck through me as she made that call – there were no tears, no shame – she simply said, “it’s time to look after me, I need to get better and I need answers.”

Then it came again, persistence. Except this time, she was not only fighting for her family, her husband, the underdog, or me – this time, she fought for herself as well. I had seen my mother fight for years, for everyone else, for those she loved and those she didn’t, in the countless children she taught, to ensure she not only educated, but she nurtured as well – I never had more pride than in that moment when I saw her fight for herself. It’s easy to fight for someone else, but it is very hard to say that you are worth fighting for.

I never gave up fighting with mum, I never gave up sparing with her – and I never made it easy. There were some days I am sure she wanted to pop me over the head and in a lot of situations we still don’t see eye to eye. But, every step I take, every decision I make, is because she fought – I will never stop attempting to make her proud. Her persistence is what gave me the strength to accomplish each and every milestone I have and will ever accomplish. Her persistence gave me a cause worth fighting for.

When I saw you

I remember that moment – no, not the one where I first met you, not the moment when we first spoke or the countless times I had seen you since- but, I remember that moment when I first saw you.

It makes no sense, I know – lets face it, I am not always the best at articulating myself- but I remember that moment.

It’s that moment, that moment when you sort of see your whole life before your eyes with this one person. The moment when you in an instant see the next 50 years. I had it with you.

We had been speaking for weeks – though we hadn’t seen each other in five years. Dad had dropped me off (he hated me catching the bus) and I walked to your front door. I wasn’t one to ever care how I looked but I must have changed my outfit at least 70 times that day – Suddenly I felt very light headed, there was so much pressure on me answering that door – such a build up of anticipation, I think I nearly walked back up the street about 8 times – Why the hell was the driveway so long?!

After some very heavy breathing (man your neighbour must have thought I was a creep), I made it to the front door. Eventually I must have knocked, I don’t remember doing it, but someone came to the door, so I must have. Your mum opened the door and out of nowhere all six children popped out in random locations, but just in eye-site, I was scanning the crowd – where the hell were you?! I have never felt so many eyes on me at one time, scanning me, testing me, waiting for me to move- I opened my mouth to say something eloquent… I think a hello may have come out, but I don’t recall making any sound. Your mum said hello and waved me in. Nothing was new, I knew your family, well at least the older siblings and I wasn’t worried about the younger ones, I snuck chocolates in my handbag, just in case things went pear shaped and I needed to bribe them- oh, who am I kidding – that was if I got nervous – so I could sneak into the bathroom and eat chocolate till I calmed down (so I haven’t changed much). After what must have been 30 seconds (but felt like at least 10 minutes), you popped your head over the balcony, shouted hello and said you would be down in a minute – and there you were, so calm, you had this great presence about you. My breath just caught – jeez you had grown, you were so tall – when the hell did that happen? Then it hit me, I suddenly saw you, saw all the potential you had, the fire in your eyes, your passion for facts and conversing, the excitement you had about accomplishments, big or small.

It was in that moment, that I saw, everything I ever wanted, everything I ever needed – and it was all with you.