photo credit: katerha via photopin cc

You do make a difference.

Do you shy away from grief? Would you cross the road rather than comfort someone who has lost a loved one? Do you wonder what to say? Does seeing someone mourn make you uncomfortable?

I do agree that it is very hard to watch someone hurting. Since young Daniel died I have seen up close the pain of a mother who has lost a child. I have watched her mourn on a few occasions, as the loss of Daniel spills over. However mostly I have watched her dig deep, put her grief to one side, and continue to support her children through this life changing event. Her strength has been extraordinary.

I am not the only one who is there for my friend. There are others around her and her family, doing their helpless best to comfort and support them. We muddle along doing what little we can, but almost daily we feel helpless.

As those of you who read my blog regularly know, I was dreading last Friday night. It was a big night in our local GAA club in memory of Daniel.  It was the final of the Rebel óg under 12 league. I was not looking forward to watching boys like Daniel running around, playing the game he loved. Boys of twelve. The age Dan was when he was told he had leukemia. The age he was when he played his last game.

However the night was fantastic.  People came to the pitch in droves. The local pipe band marched the boys onto the pitch, and there was a wonderful air of occasion. Sadly our team, who had luckily made the final, lost, but only by a few points.dannys cup

As we left the sidelines and entered the pitch for the presentation I looked around. There were quite literally hundreds of people milling around. As Daniels parents stood together the crowd gathered in a circle around them. It struck me how many who were not actually family or close friends had turned up. So many who had come to the club to show this family, by their presence, that they had not forgotten Daniel, and to show their support. As they gathered around them last night it was as if they collectively were reaching out and carrying Dans family, helping them through.

Daniels mom has often said to me, that these occasions remembering Daniel are not easy, but that it would be harder if these days stopped, and Daniel was forgotten. Today as I remember Friday night I am so pleased. I know my friend will be delighted at how well it all went, how lovely it was to remember Daniel in a way he himself would have loved, and to have been supported by so many.

In our lives we often shy away from awkward situations. When a bereavement happens many do not know what to do. What should they say? As time goes by they wonder should they speak of the loved one who died, or is that just upsetting the family?  There are not many families who have the level of support Daniels family do. Others have lost children, and are hurting desperately. For them there are no memorial events, no occasions for them to know that others know they are in pain, and that their loved one is not forgotten.

I have learned many lessons on grief this year and one of them is, that remembering someones loved one is so important, and acknowledging their loss equally so. We do not need to do it in our hundreds, but we do need to be do it. To take the time to reach out to those who are mourning, and to let them know that we have not forgotten, that we do still care, and we know they still hurt.

Do not be afraid of grief. Your words or deeds can make a really big difference to someone who is already hurting so much.

photo credit: katerha via photopin cc

photo credit: purpleslog via photopin cc

I’ve been made redundant!

Don’t panic I’ve not lost my high paid job (as I don’t have one). No I am referring to my life as a mother.  Tonight another door on motherhood closed to me forever.

I was sitting down, minding my own business, happily watching nothing in particular on TV, and feeling all was quite good in my world, when the door opened. In came my youngest. At twelve, no longer a young child, but my baby regardless of her age.

Goodnight Mom’, she said, as she bent down to give me the usual Goodnight kiss.

‘Night sweetheart’ I replied, hugging her in return, but truthfully, I was trying to see over her shoulder and listen to the last two minutes of the mindless soap I was watching.

‘You don’t need to come up tonight Mom’, I heard her say as she left the room. ‘Okay darling‘ I replied, in not listening mode, while staring at the TV wondering would he really die?

A short while later my husband walked into the room and said, ‘She doesn’t want us to go up anymore, did she tell you?’.small_9861136874 (1)

‘What?’, I thought as I looked up. Then her words came back to me, ‘You don’t need to come up tonight Mom’ . I tried to get my head around it. No more ‘goodnights’. No more goodnight kisses, no last minute hugs, no shared moments lying together on the bed as she revealed something in her day she hadn’t told me earlier. No more bedtime.

Quickly I put all such thoughts out of my mind. ‘ Ah don’t mind her, she doesn’t really mean it’, I said.

I waited the usual twenty minutes or so and then up I went. I have begun to get used to the closed bedroom door, the closing of which was the last punch she gave us a couple of weeks ago. Unperturbed I opened it and went in. Now it may have been only twenty minutes since she had left me downstairs, but as I entered her room I knew times had changed. I was definitely getting the vibe, ‘Not Welcome’.

Many years of mothering have ensured that I have grown a thick skin. Choosing to ignore the frosty atmosphere, I bent over her fake, ‘I’m almost asleep,’ position, and gave her the obligatory bedtime kiss. She reached up and hugged me, but as she did so I knew, this was it. There was no softening her  determination. These nights were no more.

As I kissed her I breathed in, inhaling twenty three years of bedtimes. Hoping it would allow me to forever remember that warm, tucked up smell of a child. My child.

An hour has passed and it is slowly sinking in. Yes there will be no more broken nights, no more early mornings and for that I am not sorry, but there will also be no more bedtime stories, no more bedtime chats, no more end of the day moments spent lying together.

I cannot help but feel redundant. I have been a mother of young children for over twenty years. Now what?

……………………..Well let me tell you what. Two weeks have passed since I wrote the above so here is the update.

Each night when she goes to bed she says ‘goodnight’ to us, but there continues to be an air of threat in her voice, as if she is warning us she still means business. However after she leaves I no longer feel sad. As I sit where I am and continue to watch, uninterrupted, the programme I was watching on TV, I can indulge in a glass of wine knowing she wont be calling me. I can light a candle, open the lap top and relax, enjoying the banter of social media. I can go to bed and not worry about a duvet that has fallen off or of waking a child while I tuck her in. I can sleep all night.

There is also another side to this loss of a young child. For hand in hand with bedtime, goes morning time. This morning I was blissfully reminded of it. I woke early and lay in bed relaxing. No one to disturb me. After a late night last night I was a little dehydrated, so I went downstairs for a cup of tea, and I made myself some toast. Alone.  I then happily toddled back to bed with my breakfast and a book, knowing that I could stay there uninterrupted as long as I wished. As I settled down, reading my book and re hydrating, I congratulated myself on a job completed.

Yes there is a lot to be said for redundancy. In fact I can highly recommend it!

photo credit: purpleslog via photopin cc
photo credit: r.nial.bradshaw via photopin cc

 

Good news!

Remember that miserable blogger who wrote the last post on this blog? Well that girl has left the building! Look at my shiny new button. Yes I am a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards, I have made it to the final ten in Best Personal Blog.blog_buttons_FINALIST

When I read on facebook earlier today, that the list was published, (how did I function without facebook) I was taken aback. Not just because I made the final, but because before clicking on the link I froze. Only then did I realise I really cared. I really wanted to make it to the final. For no matter what we write about blogging being a hobby, a passion, a joy, blah, blah, blah etc, etc for many of us it is so much more than that.

‘My thoughts on a page’ is a very real part of me now. I often write from the heart, sometimes taking too little time to edit or wonder should I publish. The nature of these posts mean that this blog is, in essence, an extension of myself. I may be co incidentally in the ‘Personal’ category, but this blog is very personal, to me. A place I go, to laugh with others, to wonder, to rant, and in the past year, to mourn.

So today I am over the moon with the result. Last year I made the Final, as some of you know, but I was so new to blogging I had no idea what that meant. This year I do, and I am thrilled.

Sadly I’ll have to inform my dearest beloved that there is no commercial windfall associated with this ‘honour’, which I’m sure will lessen his delight at my success. However money isn’t everything.

Last night I went to sleep with a dread in my heart, as today is the day we remember young Daniel on the GAA playing field, as they present for the first time the Danny Crowley Memorial Cup. I couldn’t imagine watching a group of young boys aged 12 playing football. I couldn’t imagine going in afterwards and listening to his father give a speech, and being so proud of my friend, his mother, standing so bravely alongside his siblings. I was worried about the amount of tears I would shed in a most inappropriate fashion. Have you seen the person who stands with silent tears falling down their face? Well that is not me. I am the one with the red eyes, blotchy face and runny nose, barely able to stem the flow of tears, while stiffing sobs!  I am not exactly pretty or good looking, but when I cry…look away, I am a very ugly crier.

However now I have a lighter heart, helped in no small measure by my own good news. I also feel strong. I will watch the match, I will cheer on those young boys, and I will stand and cheer as speeches are made and young Daniel is remembered.

Then I will join his family and friends and we will have a toast to his memory, and to as many other things as we can think of!

Thank you all once again, for your ongoing support, and of course for reading, ‘My thoughts on a page’. I love you visiting, reading and of course commenting.  Results in two weeks, but Finalist is good enough for me.

photo credit: Jonno Witts via photopin cc

Maybe I’ll post tomorrow.

There are times when I sit to write and the words just fly. They are typed before any conscious thought has taken place. In a way it is similar to free writing. Usually on those occasions there is hardly need to edit, and I am often surprised by what I’ve written.

Then there are days like today.

Today I have tried to write. Tried in vain to write, I should say. I part wrote, a humorous piece, a serious piece, a personal piece. All of which I deleted.

For today I am caught up in a spin of thoughts, all centering around loss. It is eleven months this week since young Ben died, and as I go to school I still miss seeing him en route. Then there is Daniel. Yesterday as I stood in his house, seeing him smiling out from so many photographs I felt his loss anew.

This Friday night we are gathering for a very special football match. It is the final of an under twelve league. This year it has a new trophy, The Danny Crowley cup. A memorial trophy for young Daniel. photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/42931449@N07/5263539723/">photosteve101</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

As I think about it, and the presentation that will follow, I feel my temper rising. I think of the many words I would really like to write, most of them unprintable. The words I can write I don’t want to. Words such as ‘Memorial’ and ‘Graveyard’, stick in my throat, as do the words, ‘Memories’,’Died’,and ‘Gone’.

I am so angry today. So very angry.

So today I cannot write. I have tried and I have failed. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe the fact that I have written this post, about what I cannot write about, will in fact free me once more. Or maybe I will just have to wait a few days, and take the time to be angry and to be sad.

I’ll just have to wait and see.

My apologies to those of you who read this far, hoping for something better. I did too, but it was not to be.

Maybe tomorrow?

photo credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc
photo credit: Jonno Witts via photopin cc

small_6899048564

This is my song

What song best says who you are? Not the song which you think others would associate with you, but the song which, to your mind, best describes you. The one you yourself most identify with.

Yesterday I was flicking through facebook, and I came across a post asking this question. I have no idea where I read it, or who posted it, but the person was suggesting that the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams best summed them up. So I began to wonder, what is my song?

Immediately one song came to mind. It is ‘Concrete Angel’ by Martina McBride.

Generally speaking anyone who knows me now would probably think of me as relatively chilled out, content and photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3841848227/">Ed Yourdon</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>happy. However this is not the person I have always been, and to this day a part of me can never forget the girl I used to be.

Whilst I do not sing it from the rooftops, I do not hide the fact that as a teenager I was abused. Not by a member of my family I hasten to add. It does not define me, but it is a part of my past. During those years my world was a lonely place to live in. Whenever I hear this song, time slips away, and I clearly remember that troubled girl I used to be. I remember her isolation, living alone, in a world of so many. I remember her belief that this was her lot, and I remember feeling lost and at times very lonely.

During those years I spent a lot of time inside my own head, battling to survive. I often went away to a different world, to a place where I was happy, where I could be free. It was part of what kept me strong, and allowed me to eventually survive.

The words of this song perfectly describe that escape.

‘The teacher wonders but she doesn’t ask
It’s hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born

Through the wind and the rain
She stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings
And she flies to a place where she’s loved
Concrete angel’

That girl is a long way from where I am today, but deep down she never really left me. We have shared a lot of hard times together, and I will always be grateful for her strength, and her ability to survive.

Thankfully for me life got a whole lot better, and I now live in that world, which at the time I could only dream of, with a man, who at the time I could never have imagined.

This is my song. What is yours?

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc
photo credit: ★.stellar.★ via photopin cc

photo credit: ransomtech via photopin cc

I can’t believe I did that.

Yes, there are some things I did as a younger me, which perhaps I would not be overly proud of today. I would like to think I am not the only one. I was a bit of a ‘devil may care’ individual when I was younger. Someone who, here in Ireland, we might call ‘a chancer’.

However there is one incident I remember which perhaps I should be ashamed of, but guess what? I’m not!

It happened when I was a newly qualified nurse. I was working night duty on a ward, but I also was responsible for another smaller ward, which was looked after by a student nurse. During the night I would regularly call over to her to ensure all was well, and to supervise the drug rounds.

Night duty is often a very busy time, as patients who are sick tend to continue to be unwell by night, when there are less staff on duty. Many nights I worked twelve hours with no break. On busy nights such as those, it was always a delight if a patient gave us a box of sweets. They were greatly enjoyed by all.

However on the ward I was relieving, if a patient gifted chocolates or sweets for the nurses, the ward sister thanked them profusely, and then locked them in a press. She would later give them to the kitchen staff, consultants or, who knows who, as a present. Anyone but the nurses.

One night I called over to this ward, with a box of chocolates we had been given, to share with the student on duty. While I was there the nurse remarked that she had been given a box of sweets when she came on duty that night by one of the patients, but the nurse in charge had locked them away before going home.

In a flash I could feel my temper rise. How dare she? That patient had specifically kept them for this young nurse. I was so cross. The student nurse was sitting down at the desk. I asked her to move, and sat myself down. The desk had a locked cupboard to the right with a drawer above it. In the locked cupboard were the stolen boxes of chocolates. I carefully removed the drawer and lo and behold, we now had perfect access to the chocolates below.

Much to the students horror I began to unload the cupboard. All sizes and shapes of boxes of chocolates and sweets. Some were still wrapped. It was almost Christmas, I knew most of them would be given to the consultants and kitchen staff as ‘gifts’ from the ward photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/shelley_dave/6675011581/">Shelley & Dave</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>sister.

Without a worry about the rights and wrongs of what I was about to do, I asked the nurse which one she would like us to open. She was shocked, and didn’t want to have anything to do with the ‘robbery’ . Not one bit deterred, I settled on a very large beautifully wrapped box, which I suspected contained chocolates I loved. I carefully unwrapped it and took out the chocolates. I opened them up and was delighted to see that there were two layers. I chose a few of my favourites and tucked in. Then I left for my own ward, leaving the chocolates on the desk.

Returning to my own ward, my fellow nurses all got a great laugh out of what I had done. Most of the nurses in the hospital were aware of that particular ward sisters policy re chocolates, and no one thought she was right. Worryingly my companions that night all agreed they would never have done what I did.

Unrepentant, I returned to the ward later to discover the student nurse had succumbed to temptation. A large majority of the chocolates were gone. Rightly or wrongly I was delighted. The student asked would I please take the remainder up to my own ward when I was going as she didn’t want, any ‘evidence’ left around when the ward sister arrived in the morning. I smiled and told her I had a much better idea.

Here is where I possibly crossed the line…. I removed every chocolate from the almost empty top layer. I then put the emptied top layer on the bottom, beneath the full layer. I carefully re wrapped the box of chocolates. Removing the drawer once more I placed the half full, beautifully wrapped, box back in the cupboard, and with a huge amount of satisfaction I returned the drawer.

It was almost morning. Work continued, and eventually it was time to go home. As I left the hospital that morning I was still highly amused by what I had done, and even more delighted to imagine, hopefully a consultant, receiving those chocolates for Christmas, and discovering a layer missing. In my imagination I went one step further, I imagined him ‘gifting’ them to someone else, unaware they were half eaten!

I slept happily that day, more than satisfied with my nights work. Twenty years later is it wrong that I am still satisfied by what I did that night?

Maybe you can identify? Feel free to share, I’d love to know I am not alone.

photo credit: ransomtech via photopin cc
photo credit: Shelley & Dave via photopin cc

When a heart grieves, time moves to a different beat.

'Grief is itself a medicine'. William Cowper

‘Grief is itself a medicine’.
William Cowper

 

Today I was driving home, with some shopping in the car, when without conscious thought I found myself driving in the opposite direction. The sun, which had been rare all morning, was shining, and the village looked at it’s best. I knew where I was going.

I needed to call up to Daniel. I needed to take the time out of life, to stop the world from turning, and to standstill and remember. To remember and to try to comprehend, that Daniel was gone.

As I walked into the graveyard I felt as I always do, incredulous. How did this happen? I could feel my head shake. As I stood at his grave looking at his handsome photo,I will admit that I cried. A cheeky, beautiful boy smiling out at me. A boy who left this world and the wonderful life that lay ahead of him, many years before his time.

Beside his photograph I saw a large bouquet of flowers. They were from his Mom. It was her birthday last Monday. It broke my heart to think that the only way she could share her birthday with her young son was to bring him her flowers. How hard must that be? To never again be able to give a present to your child.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/indigoskies/6510124547/">Indigo Skies Photography</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

It is almost ten months since Daniel died. I have learned a little bit about grief this year, but one of the main lessons I’ve learned is that ‘grief time’ runs at a very different speed to ‘real time’. In those ten months, other children have had birthdays. They are a year older. Christmas came and went. So too did the Summer. Recently Daniels siblings and friends returned to school and college. To a higher class.

All this I know to be true. I understand exactly how many days have passed since last November, and how many small milestones we have reached. However my heart beats to a different clock. It ticks to a different time. A clock that began to tick the day Daniel left. In my heart that was but a moment ago.

Others may mark Daniels passing in real time. They may think that it is coming close to one year. They may believe that healing is taking place over time. However their clock is running at a different pace. Ten months in grief time is mere moments in real time.

As I stood and shed a few silent tears for Daniel and young Ben this morning I was grateful for ‘grief time’. Grief time slows the clock and allows families to keep their child close. It keeps the past beside them, and a future without their child far away.

As I left the graveyard I thought of my friend, Daniels Mom, and I hope that for her grief time continues to keep young Daniel by her side, for many’s the year to come.

photo credit: Indigo Skies Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: tricky (rick harrison) via photopin cc

photo credit: Firesam! via photopin cc

Why are you not happy?

Imagine being a child in today’s world, compared with the childhood you had.

As a child I shared a bedroom with three others. We had one bathroom. My Mom made a lot of our clothes, and we owned school shoes, casual shoes, and runners. We had no playroom, and a limited stock of toys. For most of my childhood we had one car which was gone all day. We walked or cycled where ever we wanted to go.

We had one television, black and white, and were lucky enough to have four channels. Those living outside Dublin had just two! We didn’t get a video recorder until I was almost seventeen. There were no mobile phones, pieta housecomputers, laptops or games consuls.

Yet I never knew of anyone who took their own life.

Reading the statistics I am stunned. What has changed? Were this number of teenagers unhappy when I was growing up? Was I just oblivious to it? I can’t help but wonder despite our better lifestyles are our children living in a poorer world?

With all this technology we are able to communicate 24/7 but have we stopped actually speaking with each other? We have all gone into restaurants and watched families sit at a table and not speak, as they are too busy online. Is it easier than making conversation?

As I look through my facebook feed I see happiness everywhere. Enough to make me feel I’m missing out. What would the awkward, angry, teenage Tric have felt at fifteen, if she had to look at so many others living in a perfect world.

I didn’t have all that my children have, but I also didn’t have other things in my life that are part of my children’s lives. I never felt exam pressure and the need to get grinds in order to get good results. I didn’t see the perfect lives others were living. I didn’t have to have branded clothes, and update my wardrobe regularly. I didn’t have to have a million facebook friends or learn to cope with cyber bullying. I’d never heard of cosmetic surgery, and there was very little talk of foods being good or bad for you. I read magazines, but they weren’t focused on body image. There were real celebrities, those who had actually achieved fame through their musical or acting ability. Society seemed less fake. I didn’t believe everyone else was living a better life than I was.

I cannot help but wonder, what are we missing? In a world where parents seem to put more time, energy and money than ever before into their children, where are we going wrong?

We need to listen to our children’s silent cries. They are trying to tell us something. It’s time for us to ask them, ‘Why are you not happy?’.

Photo from Pieta House. 
photo credit: Firesam! via photopin cc

Some random facts about me.

So my blog friends, just how well do you know me?
Tonight I will put together some random facts about myself. Some you may already know, but hopefully some will surprise you.
I’d like to thank the blog dancingthruyears for prompting me to write this with her seven random facts post. I always enjoy reading these type of posts so here’s hoping you do too.

1. I have a tattoo.

2. I went completely grey at 24 after the birth of my first child. Do I mind? Nope I always wanted to have my hair different colours so now I have the perfect excuse

3. I only need about six hours of sleep a night.

4. I agreed to buy our house two days before I told my husband.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nomadic_lass/5554472053/">Nomadic Lass</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

5. I sometimes coach a swim team at 6am.

6. I am on twitter, but I still don’t know much about it.

7. I drink a million cups of tea a day.

8. I purposely don’t play the lotto, because I am very happy with my life as it is.

9. I met my husband in Cyprus.

10. I fainted every day on the wards for weeks when I first began my nursing training.

11. I was able to pick locks as a teenager.

12. I swam for Ireland.

13. A bus I was travelling on was pulled over by German police, in order to return my passport to me. Incidentally I didn’t even know I’d lost it.

14. As a child I shared a bedroom with my three sisters.

15.I have been bitten on four separate occasions by dogs. It has not made me fear them.

16. I cry easily.

17. I have a temper that goes from 0-100 in a second, and then it is over just as quick.

18. I have left a candle burning over night in our sitting room on more than one occasion. (Don’t tell you know who).

19. I don’t own a handbag.

20. I own just two dresses.

So there you have it. Now you know so much more about me, we’re positively best friends.

Today I know what a successful mother feels like.

Congratulations to me. Today I became a successful mother. How? Well today two of my four children did what nature intended them to do.
They left home.

Why do I consider myself a successful mother? Well because these two little feckers darlings, skipped out the door and back to college, without a backward glance! Perhaps knowing I’m a bit of a softie, they put on a small show, hiding very well their absolute joy at the thought of returning to the life of a student, living away from home. Tonight I have no doubt they are among many friends, possibly out in some den of iniquity, drinking and catching up, without a care in the world.

Yes indeed I am quite obviously a successful mother. Over the years I have managed to not kill these two when they were young children, as I guessed my way through motherhood, and I also managed to not kill them when they were teenagers, even when sorely tempted. I am such a good mother that they have grown up to be independent enough to leave home. Independent enough to no longer need me.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/californiadreamin/3489005427/">Mouin.M►(away)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Yes congratulations to me. How does it feel you may ask, being a successful mother?

Well tonight as I sit here in my very quiet kitchen, I hear no one arguing. No music blaring. Passing my daughters bedroom I close my eyes, as the smell of her perfume momentarily brings her back to me, but on opening them I miss her all over again. My tall handsome boy does not wander in to sit down and chat. Tonight our home feels empty, and a piece of my soul missing.

Tonight I know exactly how a successful mother feels, but a large part of me wishes I didn’t.