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!!!

When there are no answers

Do you ever doubt? Or is it just me?

Do you ever question where God is in life and how he works? Or again is it just me?

I don’t ever doubt God is real or that he is incredibly good and loving but sometimes I just don’t get the way he works and I can become like a dog with a bone, I wrestle and wrestle, until I am exhausted with wrestling, I lay it down again until something happens that means those questions come to the forefront again.

I came into this year excited about what was ahead, expectant, full of hope and faith – it felt like a new season, I had experienced God move amazingly in my life in the last few months of last year and again into this year and it felt like the past was truly the past. Then the other week, out of nowhere one of those phone calls came that left me curled up in a ball on the floor screaming “No” and “I don’t understand” over and over again. One of those phone calls that means that your family is changed forever, again.

My heart broke because even though the news on the end of that phone wasn’t a direct loss to my life it was news that has shattered the lives of two of the most important people in my life, the two people who are the closest I will ever have to sisters, and I knew the depth of their pain and what is ahead.

And so the questions and the doubts and the wrestles came flowing back and to be honest left me feeling lost, a little bit scared and very heavy hearted.

Does God have a plan for our lives? Is he there and working for our good? How does he choose when and how and when not? I have lost so much sleep over the past 10 days trying to work out the answers to these questions – even though the last 9 years should have taught me I will never have the answers. As ever there are angels there who listen and help me process, who reminded me that it is always about truth and grace, and that sometimes truth is messy but that grace is always grace. That doubt and wrestle can sit side by side with worship.

I said to my brother that his work were going to start thinking he was making up things, given the number of times he had to phone in and say there had been a death or medical emergency – to which he responded that he had only said the same thing that morning.

He then went on to say that we were going to keep choosing life.

Since that phone call I feel like I have been walking a tight rope where I literally could fall one way or the other, one being right back into the valley of death, that valley which I know God lifted me out of. I feel like there has been a battle raging inside me.

Last night as I spent time talking to God and being quiet and I felt a peace return – I felt that all God had done in the last 6 months was coming to the forefront again. I want to keep choosing life. That doesn’t meant my heart will stop hurting for those I love, I have a feeling I will be hurting for them in some shape or form for a long time to come but I want to be their hope when they can’t hope for themselves, I want to be the one who is strong for them, as so many people were strong for me, I want to be able to push them forward when they don’t have any strength left.

I don’t want to keep asking the questions, it exhausts me, it takes away my peace – I want to remember God’s faithfulness in the past, in the way he moved in John’s life, in my Dad’s life, the way he bought me through, the enormous blessings I have in my life, the way he showed up and pursued me at the end of last year when I was ready to throw the towel in and the way he breathed life back into me – that same God who was faithful in the past, is still faithful today and will be going forward.

This world and this life can be overwhelmingly hard at times but it can also be breathtakingly beautiful. I love that unexplainable feeling of seeing God at work, the excitement that it brings that is so difficult to articulate. I love the people he gives us, I love that we don’t have to do any of this on our own, so yes there are times in life where the pain is unbearable, where the loss feels too great but he puts us in families, in communities and in relationship which help us to survive, heal and thrive again. In the first few days after that phone call I wanted to hide away, to stop caring about people because actually it hurt too much and it hurt too much to see people I love hurting but the reality is my heart is already too entangled with them and so many others to simply stop loving. It is just not the way I am wired or in fact any of us are wired – we have no choice but to love people despite the potential costs.

I still don’t understand but I am putting the questions down and learning to trust that I may not know but he does, he knows the answers, the reasons but also the pain, he holds it all and us in the midst of it – I keep coming back to the fact that I can’t but he very much can.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene Brown.