My beloved husband, Kent, died in January 2012, 3 years after diagnosis of a brain tumour. Our son was 2 1/2 and our daughter 3 months old. He and I were far too young. I am now hurtling through the black space of life without him.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


We are built with such an intense instinct for survival aren't we? Obviously. It's not at all surprising. It's such a deep-set part of our make up, from the foods-that-are-dangerous-to-eat-smell-disgusting instinct, to the fight or flight instinct. And fight or flight we do. We are also fortunate that a good portion of the human race are willing to fight on behalf of others. Think Live Aid and Band Aid, think Tearfund and World Vision, think the City Mission. Think of strangers in the street who will (I hope) help you out if your life is at risk.

When lives are at risk, we act. So often it is urgent. It is phone calls. Speeding ambulances. Helicopters. Search and Rescue teams. Ropes and ladders. Defibrillators. Donated blood. There might be lots of shouting. Running.

We had a couple of those things along the way. And we had some seriously hard workers and some seriously hard-core medicine. But when you are dying from an illness, there is none of it. There is great care and great skill and great love. But none of the other. There is nothing to do. Those standing alongside have to somehow stuff all that survival instinct down in to the pits of their stomachs. And the fight? What do you do with the fight? Stuff it away somewhere too.

Listening to radio reports on the coming 'Frankenstorm" on the East Coast of America moved me to tears yesterday, as often happens when I hear news of lives at risk and survival attempts. Not because I have some new found empathy for those in danger. But because I wanted so badly to fight. Or flight. How I wish we could have bundled us all in to a car, bought up packs of candles and baby food and run from the storm. Run for our lives. I'd live on foreign shores and by candlelight for the rest of my life to have saved his.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Grey Street

I have only now been brave enough to listen to this.

I've thought of this woman many, many times over many, many years, and never in a million of those could I have imagined I would become her.

Here's the link:  Grey Street - Dave Matthews Band

I realise you will be somewhat distracted from the lyrics by the utter brilliance of the musicians. If you haven't seen these guys before, just a warning, you are about to step on to holy ground (and you will spend the rest of the night watching them on You Tube).

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Rock and Sand

The little guy asked me to read from his "Child's Book of Parables" today, and this is the story he asked me to read. Twice.

The Wise Man and the Foolish Man (Matthew 7: 24 - 27)

Two men - one wise and one foolish - set out one day to build houses for themselves. After searching for some time, the wise man found a clear spot on solid, rocky ground. Building on the stone was difficult. It took a long time to complete the house. But when he was finished, the man knew that his home was strong and would keep his family safe from the most powerful winds and heaviest rains.

The foolish man found a nice spot for his house, too - on a sandy beach. Building on the soft sand was easy and took hardly any time at all. He was finished long before the wise man and was happy that he had such a nice view of the sea from his house.

One day, a big storm came and battered the two houses. The rains fell, the winds blew and the water rose and flooded the land. The wise man's house on the rock didn't move an inch. But the house of the foolish man cracked, crumbled and fell down.

Jesus said that if we hear his teachings and obey them, we are like the wise man who built his house on the rock. If we if we hear his teachings and don't obey them, we are like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. Jesus is our rock - if we listen to his teachings and try our best to follow them, he will keep us safe.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


I read an article recently (I'm sorry I can't find it again) about the family who lost their two year old triplets in a fire in Doha. The article said that their father, Martin Weekes, "is reminded of his children every day." What an unbelievable statement. I assume it came from the writer, and not Mr Weekes himself. His children died 4 months ago and something happens each day that reminds him of them?!

I expect this is how it is. He wakes in the morning having had dreams about death, or about pain, or about desperation. The knowledge that his children have died doesn't hit him all over again, as it has sat with him even in his sleep. A heaviness hangs in his room but he has to get up to go to work. The sun is shining which is such a mismatch with his reality. He has breakfast in the kitchen and knows only how quiet it is without three toddlers to join him. He gets things done at work, holds conversations, writes, chats, goes to meetings, whatever, but there is a weight on his shoulders that never lifts and all the time he knows there is something very wrong. He wonders about his ability to function, but appreciates having something different to think about for a while. At home again he greets his wife in the still quiet house. They have dinner, but it hardly seems to matter what they eat as there are no children to feed and nurture. The kids plates are still in the cupboard, they reach past them to get their own. With noone to bathe or put to bed, the evening feels long. Nothing seems worth doing. TV is either too cheery or too sad. So are novels. Newspapers are full of news that doesn't really matter anymore. He gets a few things done then heads for bed, wary of the thoughts that come with the darkness. And aware that tomorrow is the weekend. Everyone will be out with their kids. So they'll probably just stay at home.

And there's the crying of course. That's not for writing about.

So yes, he does indeed think of his children every day. But he doesn't need to be reminded.

I know nothing about the Weekes family or how they manage this journey and their grief. Neither is it any of my business. This is entirely how I imagine it to be based on my own experience.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

With my body I thee... grieve...

They say that grieving is a very physical thing. I don't know if I've said this before. I've discovered quite  a long list of the effects it has on the body. I struggle with my breathing when I am under stress, and I have had difficulty with this over recent months. I had heartburn a while ago too, and am told that grief can do this to you, and it can also mess with your digestive system. Your gut. So there you go you see. It rips your guts out, breaks your heart and you can hardly breathe.

I found in earlier months I often felt as though my legs were going to collapse underneath me. I have spoken with two women over the last couple of weeks who have lost their greatest love/closest companion. It has been good to talk. Huge, actually. But hugely hard. Saying aloud some of the stuff that has only ever been inside my head is very significant. And both times it has left me afterwards with those collapsing legs. Weak for the rest of the day.

Then there is the brain fog. Sleep deprived mothers of small children are used to this, but one of the women I met with recently is struggling with it, and I believe my grief is contributing to it. Sometimes I wonder what has happened to my intelligence. The little guy has often been known to finish my sentences for me. Oh well, as long as I can get food on the table three times a day, who cares if I can make intelligent conversation. Though sometimes a clear thought process is kinda useful. And then there was the day I came home after a visit to the cemetery and shut the car door on my face. Even the most basic level of functioning can disappear in times like these. The ultimate end of the line being the on-your-knees-on-the-floor-stuff.

Actually, the ultimate is more than that. I read it somewhere but haven't been able to find it again, so I'm very vague on the details. It's not uncommon for an elderly person to die very soon after their loved one has died. "Died of a broken heart" we say. But in fact they have died because (I think, something like,) their immune system has caved in, stopped producing what it needs in order to fight properly, as grief has taken over. In younger people, their bodies are working flat out to produce what is needed, fortunately still strong enough to continue producing, despite the grief. So my system has been fighting hard lately. Very hard. It's winning of course. And that's a good thing of course. Despite everything.


I am a Christmas bauble. Round and clear. Actually, just plain glass, not very Christmassy at all. The finest, most delicate glass you have ever seen, and possibly dangling by a thread. Every step I take it feels like I'm about to shatter.

We went in to town the other day and met friends for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day and we live in a beautiful city. Two out of three of us didn't want to come home, so we stayed in town all day, while one out of three of us slept in her buggy. We played by the sea and drove round the waterfront and walked some streets and stopped for cake and juice. It was lovely. A good day. But the whole time it just felt like my chest was caving in. There were memories everywhere of course. Though it wasn't the memories that were the problem, it was the now, wanting him to be here now. And where my chest and heart and lungs were supposed to be there was a collapsing fence, rail after rail continuously falling inwards. Good days are a different kind of hard.