Taken by surprise....

Ok, so today is my mum’s 84th birthday. We - mum, sister, me - are in a hotel and spa complex, just outside Windsor. I joined in at the last minute following a work complication that was resolved. I needed to catch up fast with the programme, that included a matinee performance of Calendar Girls. I knew vaguely this was about fundraising but very little else.

To my horror, as the show unfolded, it was largely about, in the first half, the decline and death of a man who had leukemia. Even his name, re-written for the show - was almost exactly the same as that of my husband, who died just over 19 months ago, of the same disease.

The staging and story dredged up all the cancer rituals that my memory had kindly shut away - the haematology oncology department, the hope, raised and dashed, the brave smiles, the broken hearts, the ends and endings of it all. It was torture for me, squished in beside two strangers as my lateness to the party meant I had to buy a seat far from my sister and my mother.

My sister, mortified and concerned for me in the interval, my mother, oddly, unaware. I waded through the second half and then out into the late afternoon sunshine, my heart in my boots. While the show is about life, friendship, courage and, ultimately, triumph, it doesn’t pull its punches on grief, on loneliness, or the failings, foibles and sheer bl/dy-mindedness that make us all who we are.

We came back to the hotel and I headed to the pool, to do as we all must as we navigate our way through both the highs and the hard times of losing a partner, that is - to keep swimming, like Nemo, through the ocean of grief and memories.

So, my friends on here, wherever you may be this evening, keep on swimming. One day, we will get to the point where we can put our feet down, touch the bottom and stand again. This comes with love to you -thank you for reading, for understanding and for your love and support, Vancouver xx Ps - mine’s a double in the bar later, 100%!


And another hurdle ticked off. As hard as these hurdles are, you are jumping over them. Doesn’t matter if you jump them crying, laughing, screaming, you are still jumping them. Yes keep swimming, and enjoy that bloody drink, or two!! You deserve it for what you achieved today!

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You have really earnt that drink. The start of the film must have been really hard. All the films and programs I am watching at present seem to be about death. Keep swimming in the hope that at sometime we reach terra firma. Xx

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