It’s been a long time since I’ve written here, partly because I have plans to turn what I’ve written so far into a book, I want to reach a wider audience with both Luke’s story and how I feel about so many things in life. But also because I haven’t felt the need for a while.
But, many recent events and news have had me in that reflective frame of mind again, that usually prompts me to write. The catalyst to more than a few tears today was cleaning – those that know me will know that’s a very unusual state of affairs! But, a free day and eyes that could actually see the build up of dust set me working.
I put right the situation that saw me surrounded with photos of Luke, my son who died in 2009 for those new to this blog, and added photos of my daughter Alexandra, son Jake and other family members when I moved to this house. That was a very important thing to do.
Another ‘photo’ has been added in the last week too, a scan image of Jake and his partner Shani’s baby boy, due to arrive with us in October. Jake was unsure how I’d react to this news, they’re both young and the baby wasn’t planned. But, this is a new life and every baby is a miracle in my view. The idea of being Grandma, Nanny or Glam Ma as Judy Murray would like will take some getting used to, early retirement, knees with arthritis and a Grandchild! Crikey I must be getting old! And a quick note to my brothers – No – I will not be Nana!
As every week goes by and people show huge generosity in wanting to provide for this baby so the excitement builds. As much of a non-domesticated, sports nut as I am, I simply adore new babies in a way that many don’t. But again, a note for the person who told me his arrival would curb my gallivanting – no it won’t – he isn’t my baby, he’ll be here for me to spoil and enjoy, then hand back, even thought they’ll be living with me for the foreseeable future.
It was dusting the various photos on display that set me sobbing this morning, as I moved a school photo with Luke at around 8, Alex at maybe 2 and Jake as a baby. Luke was a very proud older brother when his siblings arrived and although he was a very difficult teen, he would have done anything to protect both Alex and Jake and also Peter and Kerry his Step Brother and Sister.
So, I had a ‘moment’ well probably half an hour where the tears were flowing, it’s been nearly 7 years since Luke died but that feeling of overwhelming disbelief and sadness still rears it’s ugly head and will do for the rest of my life I’m sure. And in all honesty that’s only right, losing a child should never happen no matter how old they are or in fact how old you are.
The real gist of this outpouring is to talk about a very difficult subject – death and how hard we seem to find it in this society. The only certainty in life is death – that seems a very harsh thing to say, yet it’s true. No one will live forever and I have a real feeling that no one would want to even if it were possible.
In an ideal world everyone would live to an old age, let’s say 80 for arguments sake, and they would do so without many of the cruel and awful ailments that not only alter lives, conditions such as Alzheimers but also not have to suffer while they fight a battle with the likes of cancer. But, we don’t live in that ideal world, people will always die in accidents, many young men such as Luke in particular and illnesses and diseases will have a part to play.
I was 17 when I faced my first loss, my Grandad, or Pop as we knew him, was 79 years old, in all honesty I can’t remember much of how I felt at that time, but I do know his funeral with all of the traditions of slow cars etc set the mould for how I don’t want funerals to be. His wife had died when I was very young so I had no memory of her
I was then lucky that my Mum’s Father at the least knew Luke before he passed away at around 80, he’d been unwell and to a large degree it was a relief, and yes, it is OK to feel that. My own Dad however died at 64, just before he was due to retire, I remember to this day how I felt to receive a birthday card for my 30th birthday 3 days later signed just by my Mum, it was an awful sadness I still have a real regret that he only knew Luke of my 3 children.
This is running like a family history of loss, but I will get to my point very soon. My Nana (and there you have the reason why I won’t be Nana!) was a formidable lady, she lived into her early 90’s but having been without her husband had come to a time when she’d had enough of being without the man she was married to for over 60 years. I can recall waiting for the said hated car and telling myself she’d had a good innings and it wasn’t sad, but, of course it was, she was my Nana and I cried my heart out.
I was to face one of the hardest things a Mother can bear years later when Luke, my firstborn, died after being involved in an accident in Thailand, he was 21. I can’t put into words here how those first weeks, months, years felt, although I think I have if you’re inclined to look back. But, I do know that I stopped counting in days, then weeks and then months. Counting the years will always happen, as long as I live of that I’m certain.
My lovely Mum had to carry the death of her oldest Grandchild at the age of 76, it must have broken her heart in a very similar way to the way it did mine. But, it didn’t stop her living her life to the full, she was to say the least a whirlwind when she slipped away sitting in her Armchair at the age of 80. I found her, and in a small way seeing how peaceful she looked gave me some comfort. She would have loved our latest news and adored the baby expected in October, but wow I put my order in to go the way she did!
A few months later we as a wider family had to contend with the death of Bob my husband, he and I were separated but he was a very big part of my life for 16 years. He was only 58 way too young.
So, why am I giving you this history, I guess to prove my words about the inevitability of death. What isn’t inevitable however is that we need to be unhappy for the rest of our lives when we’ve faced loss. Yes, today I had some tears, but I can honestly say that I’m happy, what I portray on social media and to those that know me in person isn’t a falsehood, it’s genuinely how I feel. Some days I have to look a bit harder for my Happy Days moment but I have at least one every day, and the majority are ALL day.
I implore you not to tell someone who has faced a recent loss that ‘it never gets easier’ because it does. Does losing a child get easier? Probably not the right way of putting it, but if does get different and the pain, although ever present deep down fades, you sometimes have to allow it to.
I’m going to leave you with a poem written by David Harkins which is often read at funerals – hard to read and listen to, but so very true –
You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile that she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back. or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, or can be full of the love you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind be empty and turn your back, or you can do what she’d want:
Smile, open your eyes. love and go on.