Things I wish I had told you

So the other day Simon text me to say he was listening to “Nowhere Man” by the Beatles and thinking of you – you see you are never far from our thoughts. I think I think about you at least 10 times a day, sometimes it is something that reminds me of you, other times it is something I want to tell you and the rest of the time it is simply because you are part of who I am and so therefore never far away.

I can’t believe that in a few days time it will be three years since I last saw you – I remember in those last weeks sitting talking with you and thinking that very soon you were no longer going to be there to do that with but not really being able to get my head round that thought because you had always been there and so I couldn’t understand my world without you in it.

But that day came sooner than we realised – once you had decided it was time to go home you didn’t stick around. One day you were sat in your chair talking to me, the next you were lying in your bed, struggling to talk or breath and it was clear the end was near. I was too scared that day, I was scared of what I knew was coming and so I didn’t say what I wanted to say to you – I knew you knew it but still I wish I had said it. I wish I had climbed onto that bed and lain next to you and told you thank you, thank you for loving me and for always believing in me.

You weren’t perfect, in fact at times you were a total bugger – you could be stubborn and difficult – so many times you drove me to distraction but I wouldn’t have swopped you because I guess for all the times you drove me mad I drove you more mad, for all the times you were difficult I was more difficult. And for all the rubbish times, and there were some, there were so many good times and you gave me and taught me so much.

So now that the dust has settled, and I have healed up I want to tell you what I wish I had told you that day. I want to say thank you for always listening to me, for always understanding and never judging – I miss you most when it comes to making decisions, after John it was you and now you aren’t here either, the silver lining being that I am learning more and more to make those decisions with my heavenly father but nonetheless I miss you. I wonder what you would make of my career change, whether you would be in the camp that thinks I have totally lost the plot or whether you would think it was a good thing. It has been so good for me, and so I hope you would be in the latter camp, but I am not so sure. How I wish I could tell you all about it!

Thank you for always being on my side – when I think of you one of my strongest memories was of your arm never leaving me on the day of John’s funeral and from that moment onwards you fought for me, you told me it was crap and in saying that made me feel understood and safe. I know how hard it was for you to watch me in pain and how much pain that caused you but it showed me how much you loved me, even though the words never came easy for you, and in a funny sort of way I will always be grateful for that.

Thank you for never pushing us, for letting us be who we were and never putting pressure on us – for gently and quietly always being behind us, encouraging us and letting us find our own way.

Thank you for loving my child so much – how proud you would be of who she is becoming and how much fun you would have had with her. She has taken your chair at the table when no-one else could sit in it. And oh my goodness how you would have fallen in love with your new little one – she has bought so much joy in her short 5 months, joy that has been so desperately needed, and if she is a ginger (there are early signs) I think the blame will be firmly falling at your feet!

Thank you teaching me the importance of being kind to people – so many people since you have been gone have talked about what a kind and giving man you were. You were a good man.

Thank you for working so hard to provide for us – there are not many who work harder and who sacrificed so much for their families.

Thank you for sharing my dark sense of humour – there aren’t many people around who get that but you always did and always laughed with me!

Thank you for being brave – you battled so hard and so courageously. You never showed us you were afraid, which I am sure you were, but in that you gave us such a gift. I think part of that courage came from knowing where you were going and your certainty in that and I will forever be thankful for that because it made letting you go easier.

I would have told you, that as I knew would be the case, even before you had gone, there would be such specific things that make you feel near – for Simon it may be Beatles songs for me it is the Carpenters. It is the smell of cigars in your car. A pinstripe suit. A Chelsea boot. Seafood. So many memories.

But most of all I would have said thank you for being my Daddy, how grateful I was for you and how much I love you x

P.S. I got a tattoo – but it is too late for you disinherit me!!!

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Turning mourning into dancing

In a few days time it will be nine years ago since my lovely husband suddenly and unexpectedly went home to be with his heavenly father. I can hardly believe it is nine years ago since I last saw him and yet in so many ways he feels a lifetime ago as so much has changed and so much has happened.

Normally I struggle with the Christmas period and have been known to have a few meltdowns. 2015 has been one of my most significant years so far – and as I reach the end of it I can honestly say this Christmas I felt nothing but peaceful, content and full of hope and anticipation – more so than I have done in 9 years, perhaps more than I ever have.

The last few months have been pretty special in that I know there has been a massive shift in my heart. God has pursued me and turned up in amazing ways – mainly through other people, through conversations, through answered prayers. I feel like a very different person at the end of 2015 than the one that started 2015. My heart feels full – full of blessings, gratitude and love. The last few months I have had so many moments where as my head has hit the pillow at the end of the day I have just felt overwhelmed with the surprises, the joys, the excitments of life – often small things, maybe just someone’s words, or time with a precious friend or the sound of my child laughing hysterically. That’s not to say suddenly everything in my life is perfect. I still have lots of frustrations, bad days, and feelings of anxiety or insecurity but generally life feels good.

Why did it take 9 years to feel free of the grief? Why has that journey taken so long? Nine years, with lots of blessings, happy times and a whole lot of love but overwhelmingly marked by struggle, sadness, loss, emptiness, silence, and heartbreak. I don’t know the answer – I don’t understand the way God works or the way he times his plans and purposes. A few weeks ago I listened as a friend told his story in church – a story of loss and of tragedy – he talked about how in the last few months God has met him and healed him and you can physically see it in him – a lightness and a life which is new. It was however 17 years before that healing came. 17 years is a long time and I think a little bit of me questioned God as to why it took him 17 years to show up, and what about all those years of waiting.

What I do know is that in part time heals, time takes away the rawness, the agony and the desperation but it didn’t take away the sadness, that always sat there underlying everything and it was only when God came in, on a very normal working day, in a very understated conversation, with some very simple words that everything changed for me, that that sadness lifted. Words that probably I have heard in different contexts from different people at different times but it was at that moment, in God’s timing, that they were to be significant.

I don’t know why it had to take nine years – and I am sure my nearest and dearest wish it hadn’t taken so long (there will never be words enough to thank them for their never ending patience) but I know that those nine years have shaped me and changed me, that nothing will or has been wasted. I may never see all the ways the weeping, the anger, the confusion, the hurt have been used to shape my character, change situations and affect others, but I am sure it has. I have learnt in the last few months that it is often in the silence, in those times where it feels like God is at his most distant, that he is doing his greatest work.

I am someone that strives to get it all right, as I have written about before, to be this really together and sorted person (not easy when you have been gifted with a large amount of emotions and a strong need to express those emotions) – so nine years of a long and frankly at times pretty hideous grief journey have found me beating myself up on many an occasion. I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling, I didn’t want to still be struggling 3, 4 or 5 years in – I felt like people were expecting me to be over it and moving on. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if I wanted to meet someone else or had there not been anyone else I would be a rich woman! Not that I mind being asked that question but it was that expectation that I felt that people thought I should be in a different place than I was (and I know as well a desire to see me happy). I wish that healing had come sooner, I wish my 30s hadn’t felt like they had been stolen by that valley of death but it didn’t and to some extent they have but I have to chose to trust that God will redeem it and use it. That somewhere in the midst of those years I have been taught lessons and had things invested into me that are all part of what is to come going forward.

As I come to the end of 2015 and reflect back and look forward I have an overwhelming desire for the new, for God’s plans and purposes whatever they may be, to hopefully in some way be a blessing to others but something deep inside me is telling me that none of what is to come could be without what has been before.

I have lots of precious people in my life that are struggling at the moment with big things, things that break my heart and have me on my knees for them regularly. Maybe you have those places of pain, sadness, and silence at the moment. I can’t take those things away, I wish I could – nobody can. Sometimes they will last longer than we hoped, and I want them and you to hear that it is ok if it takes time. My precious friend, Rich, told me in the midst of my pain that it was ok, that it was ok if it took 10 or 20 years, and only a few months ago one of the wisest people I know, my lovely old housemate Jo, said it would be ok if I still needed to rant and hurt in 10 years time – those word were words of unconditional love and acceptance for me. Things take time, often healing is not a quick process (although I also totally believe it can be an instant thing), but I know with your hand in the hand of your heavenly father it can and will come, (and again I don’t say that easily because most of the time I felt I was hanging on to him by a very thin thread), that he longs to bless each and every one of us, that nothing is ever wasted and in the midst of the toughest times he never leaves us or forsakes us – he will always turn our mourning into dancing.

So for me I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings. I am incredibly thankful for all the amazing people I have in my life and for all that has gone before, the bad and the good – which is easy to say out the other side but for those still in the midst of it I promise it won’t always feel so hard and so tough, that there are brighter days to come and even though the wait can sometimes feel like it will never end it will end – there is always hope and always a future, it may look different but it can still be good. I pray that you like me, in the midst of it, will have good people to love you, to believe in you and to push you forward and more than that you will know there is someone bigger, someone whose plans and purposes are greater than ours longing to hold you and heal you.