On Adulthood

Being an adult is hard. You know that whole saying “Don’t grow up, it’s a trap”. Yeah, I am feeling that a little today. 

Granted, yes, there are some grand benefits to growing up, and it’s those we see when we’re younger, and can’t wait to get out there, into the world, and command our own ship. I see it in my daughter, and in my friend, C. But, now, looking back, I can completely understand why my Dad wanted me to keep studying and not be so hellbent on leaving home early. Hehe. 

366c373ecf5e0ac690378e4effd8c403

Anyway, I digress. I have thought about my adulthood a lot today. Mostly because life has forced me to spend a lot of this part of the cycle of my life, saying goodbye to things. Farewells have punctuated my evolution as an adult, even when I didn’t want to be an adult anyway. Whether they’ve been things that are good for me, bad for me, kinda okay, or not, it doesn’t matter. The sting has always lain in the farewell. 

Because goodbyes are hard work. They take a toll on you, and once they’re done you do feel a loss, even if it’s an unexpected reaction.

In my adulthood, I’ve had to say farewell to both my parents. I’ve had to say goodbye to people who I thought I could not operate a life without. I’ve had to say goodbye to my own naivetè. Sometimes I miss that part of myself but, adulthood forces you to be pragmatic.

But there is a wonder in the farewells, that exists far beyond the goodbyes. If there’s one thing that the word “farewell” has taught me, it’s that there is just a new beginning beyond it. Each of the farewells I’ve had in my adulthood have been directly tied to a new beginning. With the death of my dad, came the birth of my daughter, and with the death of my mom, came the start of my life as a family trio, with Shmooshy and my kid. Both of those things left an indelible mark on me, but they are significant of a cycle. 

As hard as it is to say goodbye, it can be even more unsettling to say hello to something. 

So, today, as I bid farewell to something that’s been part of my adulthood since I appeared in the doorway, wearing pink lipstick and a power suit, I am determinedly looking back with a smile. It has been a weird and winding road, but one that has supported and loved me towards this moment, even when I did not want to support or love it back. It has been difficult, and it has been kind. It has been the thing I have quietly relied on, and it has quietly relied on me. I am so grateful for the experience. It was the thing that let me learn, and then set me loose towards my own dreams. My nickname, for many years, in this situation, was Twinkle (for many reasons I cherish). 

As for adulthood, there’s a wonder in the farewell and a twinkle in the greeting. Let’s go find that twinkle. 

1680x1050

 

Adages and Inadequacies

I know, I know. You know that old adage…

“The shoemaker’s children are never shod”.

It’s true. As the world has swirled up and I write more and more for everywhere else (which is what we all wanted, anyway! so thank the stars for that!), so this blog of mine – the very thing I love and from which this all, originally started…has been neglected. I’m not here to make some wild promise that I’ll blog to make up for it, or here to delete the whole thing and pretend it never happened. Neither would make me happy.

So, I’ll beat myself up a little more and quip that, in September 2008, I blogged 22 times and, well, at that time, we were going through some pretty horrific stuff and I actually stopped blogging for a bit. Comparatively, this September? This is my second blogpost for this month.

Okay, okay, I’m done whining. So I’ll do this. I’ll make you a lovely playlist, and I’ll bore you with something I found. You ready? Good. Let’s do this.

The Playlist. Here’s a list of songs that are keeping me company this evening:

I have absolutely no idea why I like this song but, there it is:

This song sounds like it should’ve been playing in the background of my life in 2007.  It reminds me so much of one of my favourite movies, that absolutely nobody likes to watch with me. Hah.

This song is almost perfect. The only issue I have with it is that – well – the live version is better than any other version in existence.

This is another song that sounds better live than it does on an album. Frankly, the album version is an embarrassment in comparison to this version.

Maybe that’s the point. 

Maybe, as I’ve illustrated in the songs above, life’s better when it’s up close and messy, lived out loud.

I was chatting to a friend of mine this week, about loud emotions and responses to life’s tricksy situations. It was at the end of a day that had left me feeling frayed and gulping. But just talking to him about bigger life things, large concepts (that day had a little *too* much reality in it for me…) helped. It gave me perspective and, truth? When I’m gulping at the end of a day, I do need perspective.

The crazy, intimidating nature of messy, loud life emotions can make us want to cower and run away. But, if we do, we’ll just be stuck listening to those bland, album cut versions of the songs we kinda don’t like that way. I don’t think I was made for the clean cut hum of album tracks. Neither were you, my friend.

And then, that part from the past I promised you.

4633347114_f0765f8dc8_z

Source: Flickr (click on image for original)

I was cleaning up my bookmarks the other day and, I found a bunch of things I published somewhere and then forgot about. This one is six years old. Forgive me, I was going through an “e.e. cummings” phase. 

your hair smells like oranges this evening.
you put your little arms around me and say

“i love you mommy. i sorry i cried when you say no”

i look at you and kiss your head
we cuddle up on the couch
and watch the most annoying dvd of all time
(kidsongs. parents, just do not buy them. please)

you love it.
the singularly-expressioned children

fascinate you
with their silly songs
and little antics

i don’t care that it is giving me a headache.
this uncomfortable position does not bother me.
and you could not care that i have  not showered yet. 

not a single thing matters
not the bills on the table
the wolves at the door
not the deadlines
or the screaming phone calls

not what i did or did not
not how i looked or not
not the smile or the grimace
not a single achievement or failure.

everything in the world that matters
is snuggled under my chin
smelling
just
like
oranges.

*csmj – 2008*

 

The Spring Jump

Spring always brings with this funny, lovely sense of renewal, like we shed winter’s baggage and move on to new things. It sounds trite but it’s true, for me, at least.

 

***

Spring day will mark two years since I took the leap and became a freelance writer.

I’ve decided not to spend this post looking back over the past two years, because a lot has gone down. Some of it incredible, some of it scary and, well, most of it left me with a sense of gratitude. For that, and through that, I know I have learnt.

I have had to, out of necessity, withdraw into a little cocoon a lot, over the last two years, in an effort to *just get things done*. There were some people who made me feel bad about this but, they don’t matter to me or my life anymore. It’s been a two-year period of learning to focus, and sticking to that focus. The ability to focus on one thing at a time seemed like a mystery to me for so long. But, I have learnt focus, and I have become very aware that I should not apologise for it.

When I made this jump, it was done with the full support of the people who matter – one of them, in particular, made damn sure I followed through on it – I don’t think I can ever repay her for that. Another person, my absolute confidante and life partner (what a term…he deserves a better term…) consistently believes on the days I cannot. 

But, I did not just make this jump for me, or because of something my parents said to me before they died (they both did, and thinking of it now, I should’ve listened sooner). I did it for someone else entirely, too.

About twelve hair colours ago (which would make it about six or seven years ago), I was conversing with a then-colleague, who remarked:

“You know, now that you’re beyond the survival mode of nappies and wiping butts, you have a girl to teach. And you can’t teach her by dictating to her. If you want her to grow up thinking she can follow her dreams, you have to show her”.

I came away from that conversation, petrified. You can read every parenting book, buy every expensive toy, have your child on a routine and provide them with sensory learning experiences until they are blue in the face…and you’ve still not even begun parenting.

That conversation shocked me and scared me for a long, long time. In fact, it probably made me even more scared of even, ever trying to “be a writer”. Suddenly I had been made aware that, no matter what I did from there onwards, I was not just doing it for me, but it would be the example my daughter would lean on for the rest of her life.

That sense of responsibility sat in my brain for a long time. Suddenly (and yes, I realise I was slow to this game…), I began to understand that all the things I did were not only being watched, but truly assimilated into someone else. This, therefore, gave me an influence I had not expected or thought about at 2am, when I was way more concerned with trying to figure out how to rebundle a sick kid into bed and avoid sleeping in vomit.

But, there it was.

About a year after that conversation, my life uncobbled. It untangled and laid bare a mess I had not wanted to confront. I was completely at a loss, because I’d kinda bet on something, and it didn’t work out. Even worse, was realising that to untangle myself from being driven into some weird and dark life place, I had to use my own mental strength to get out of it. I was scared.

And it was at that exact moment that I got my very first opportunity to write professionally. I read that now, and I want to cringe, because I know just how much life has happened SINCE then…yet, at the time, I thought life was entirely derailed.

But. That moment was the spark that led me towards believing I could do this. I’ve had such incredible opportunities come my way, since then. I have worked with (and still do!) some of the planet’s most fantastic citizens. It was that spark that started my path towards here.

1079363_26838634

I had no confidence when I began. Everything that came to me, at that time, seemed like it was a favour. I know now that it wasn’t. It was just someone else believing in me, before I could. I am so grateful for their belief in me. 

Every single goal since then (bar one…that was minor, happened this year and really should not have affected me as I let it, silly Cath) that I have set up for myself, I have been given the opportunity to achieve. No, I haven’t achieved all of them but, that doesn’t matter to me, because every single time…I’ve learnt. None of them came easily to me, and I know that, throughout my days. It makes me prouder of them, and the mistakes I have made along the way. And, oh boy, have I made some clanger errors.

So, come Spring Day, I’ll be thinking of the new sunshine, marching my kid off to school in her Spring Hat and, well, I’ll be happy. I have new dreams, and new goals I’d like to achieve. I have new projects and fun things to investigate.

But, most importantly, it’s the look on my kid’s face when I can say to her :

“Remember when I said, I’d like to do this…”

and she goes

“Yes”

and I get to say:

“Cool, you can read it now”. 

 

The smile that she gets on her face, as she realises I’ve done something I had told her I wanted to…the idea that is planted in her head that “my mom had a goal, and she achieved it”…That is why I do this.

I write for money, professionally, and I love it. It is the one thing that gives me a sense of purpose and enables me to feel that I can use my talent for good.

But, the thing that makes me breathe, and gets me up every day… is knowing that I’m showing a notsolittle girl that, no matter what life throws at you…you can achieve the things you want to, if you are prepared to work for them. Throw in a big bucket of good friends, a supportive family and ditch the fear of being rejected (you probably will be, quite a few times)

and…you can do just about anything you set your heart on

(and sometimes, if you’re really lucky and work really hard, you’ll get to do the things you didn’t ever expect to). 

 

 

 

Delene and Seven weeks.

I was sitting here trying to think about something to write for today, when Delene happened on Friday morning. Delene’s actually been happening in my life for far longer than just then, really. 

10413382_10154190538005623_3224390773439489645_n

This is Delene. She is a survivor. She is also my friend.

Meet Delene. We’ve never met but, thanks to the sparkliness of Twitter, Facebook and the like, I know her. I know her well, and she knows me well. This isn’t a random blogpost about my friend though,

Last year, Delene was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a shock. A big one. She is a healthy, active person. Beyond healthy and active, in fact. She cycles to raise money for CHOC and is a dedicated human. Nothing phases her for too long.

1374716_1397138600538835_1163745854_n

 

Not long after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she lost her sister. To what? A melanoma on the brain. Yes, really, life can be this much of an asshole to one family. Delene bravely shared her story of losing her sister, whilst undergoing treatment for cancer herself. She still does. I have absolutely no clue how she handles life. Delene asked me to edit her eulogy for her sister, and then later on, a speech she had prepared for a cancer fundraising breakfast. Delene’s words washed over me like a lake on fire…I battled to edit her, because, even though both pieces were so incredible, they were so damn hard to read. But this girl, this girl does not give up. She does not end.

Earlier this year, when I was confronted with a very real and very anxiety-creating health scare, it was Delene I told. She was my rock, because I (in my typical way) did not want to worry the people closest to me. Sometimes it’s easier to vent into someone far away from you, because they can retain objectivity. Delene was there for me, when I was frightened out of my mind.

A while ago, she finished chemotherapy, had her required surgery and has started radiation. She has started cycling again and is even currently toying with the idea of running Comrades. Like I said, this is the girl who does not end. She does not give up.

That’s where I come in. If you know me, you’ll know that I live for bathtime. Heck, I think I do half my parenting in there. There is almost no better way for me to unwind after a long day, than with a gigantic bunch of bubbles and laughing with my kid. It is the ultimate way for me to just let go of a day.

Here’s the thing though. Delene loves her baths too. But, during her surgery recovery and now that she’s undergoing radiation, she cannot bath. It’s been like this for…I actually don’t know how long it’s been. This is – hopefully – one of the last hurdles she has to overcome before she can fully return to leading the life she was.

Then she posted this on Facebook on Friday morning…

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 10.21.44 AM

SEVEN WEEKS UNTIL SHE CAN HAVE A BATH? Just thinking about it fills me with dread, and she’s been going on without the sweetness of bubbles for longer already.

So, as from today, I’m joining Delene. I have not been able to be with her, as she’s gone through all this tumult because, well, geography (she lives in JHB, I live here).

I am giving up my daily bubble bath until Delene can have one, until 03 October. Seven weeks to go. Delene, you’re incredible. Let’s do this together.

New things I like.

I can be a magpie sometimes, attracted by a sparkle here, or a flash from over yonder. If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m most excited by the sparkle of the online world so, it’s no surprise that I’m excited about new things I’ve discovered online.  Here are the three sparkly things that are currently making me excited online:

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 20.22.29 PM

The first one speaks to the online shopper I am. I do almost all our shopping online nowadays and I have completely eschewed trolleys from our life as much as possible. The lovely, clever folks over at Hello Square are creating DroppList. Well, being the bargain hunter I am, Dropplist is about to make my life a little easier, and save me a little time on searching. Dropplist is an automated alert system that’ll send me sales alerts for items available from online stores in SA. Whilst my bank account is currently shaking in its boots over this nifty service – Dropplist is entering its Beta phase at the moment – I’m thinking it’ll become quite a nifty tool for me, especially when it’s gift buying time! By the way, Dropplist is created with love in Durban. Those Hello Square peeps just make me even more proud of our city! And, onto the second sparkly thing that’s excited me. The concept of “microjobbing” isn’t new to me. I think, if you’re a parent, you’ve learnt how to break up big tasks into little jobs pretty easily, over the years, and taught your kid how to do it too. Whilst it’s not a new way of looking at things – because we all know that if you’re going to run a marathon, you have to take the first step! – turning smaller tasks into an income creation tool that uses remote workers is a nifty, and modern take on it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 20.40.32 PM

M4Jam takes that a step further, though, and enables people to make money through microjobbing using just their mobile phones. Users (called Jobbers on the site) sign up for M4Jam using WeChat, complete simple tasks using their phones in exchange for cash, during the course of their daily lives. Companies and brands, on the other hand, submit large jobs to the M4Jam team, who break it up into smaller tasks, apportioning it out to their Jobbers, which makes the company’s life a little easier. To me, it seems like M4Jam could give companies an invisible, but very effective workforce to handle some of the “little” business of things, whilst enabling people to make some cash on the move. You can check out M4Jam here, and I’m told it’s launching today!

 

 

And, finally, here’s the one that has my heart and eyes enraptured the most. DigiKids. When my fantastic friend and compadre in the computer, Stacey, told me about DigiKids, I think I bowled her over a little with my enthusiasm.  I jumped skyhigh, because she and I had apparently been living in the same headspace, but just didn’t know it yet.

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 20.45.01 PM

DigiKids’ tagline says it all – where parenting and technology collide. If you know me at all, you’ll know that we live a technology-driven life and that I am a huge, massive campaigner for imbuing digital literacy skills into my kid’s evolution. In fact, I now firmly believe that gaining digital literacy skills is as important for children, as learning to read. Yes, that’s a bold statement but it’s not one I shy away from saying. I have seen it in my own kid and, through research I’m doing for something else I’ve been up to for a while, it’s becoming more and more important for parents to help and guide their children towards embracing technology, rather than worryingly steering them away from it. DigiKids exists to help parents do just that – guide their children through a technological evolution and embrace technologies with confidence. So, when that fantastic Stacey asked me to be Managing Editor for DigiKids, I jumped right into it and the site launched last week. I’m truly looking forward to helping DigiKids grow, and providing parents with nifty and easily accessible content that helps them help their kids. You can look forward to some great stuff from DigiKids but, for the moment, I just want to say…Stacey…I said it on the cookies and I’ll say it again – thank you for believing in me! Okay. That’s me for today. The sparkly things in the corners of the Internet are calling me…    

The one about ending a romance.

RELAX. I DON’T MEAN THAT ONE.

I’m talking about the boyfriend I’ve been with for more than half my life. He’s romanced me, sat in my hand through the worst days and been my accomplice at – almost – every celebration. I’m talking about tobacco.

Mentally, I’ve always added a cigarette to my identity. Wafts of smoke have peppered my nights and smoke breaks have been an important part of every day. Since I first thought “I like to write”, that little boyfriend had become an essential. I’d convinced myself I could not write without him. Earlier this year, though, I proved that thought wrong. That was a turning point for me. Realising I could write without using a cigarette as a muse was a moment I wanted to happen and, when it happened, I felt relief.

227745_6326941398_8321_n

I don’t know who I was looking at in this photo but I don’t think I liked them much.

Tobacco and I had a romance that started when (I am sad to admit) I was thirteen. We dabbled through our dalliance throughout high school and I actually quit him during my second year of University. For a whole month. And then tobacco and I lit up our love again after I’d had a particularly cruddy day.

That love life continued until I was 24 and found out I was pregnant. I was smoking at the time that I looked at the test results, and crushed it as the two blue lines appeared.

But, when my dad died, shortly after my daughter was born, the first thing I did after getting the phone call, was reach for a cigarette. And, well, the love affair began again.

I depended on that tobacco through the best days and even more so on the worst ones. It was my calling card and my relief. Finish working on something? Light up. Start working on something? Light up. Wake up? You go get that morning cigarette. Going to bed? Don’t forget Cath, you should totally have a smoke before you do that.

19079_321569011398_7857566_n

Cape Town. 2009. Weirdly, most photos I have of me smoking, were taken in Cape Town.

I’ve tried to quit, quite a few times. Really, I have. I started diaries, I’d mark them and count them, push them away from myself and then end up pulling them even closer to me at like 2am, when I felt overwhelmed. Those diaries I penned my thoughts and times I smoked into, sometimes scribbling with one eye, helped though. I learnt that I had a behavioural pattern, and I had proved it to myself.

But, I’ve known for about the past six months that I was slowly getting cheesed with this dependency. The more I started to hate it, the more I wanted to quit lighting up. I ended up in this weird ping-pong of self-loathing, where I’d hate smoking and yet feel sweet relief when I had one. I ended up just hating myself more and more, and disappearing into clouds of smoke that were a weird mixture of loathing and tobacco. By the time I crushed my last cigarette, I was smoking 40 a day on a bad day. When I had a horrible health scare earlier this year – one that should have frightened me away from smoking too – the first thing I did was reach for a smoke. You could say, my friends, that the love affair was a lot like a previous relationship of mine (we all have one of these infatuations in our history books, admit it) – both of us so desperate to leave but both of us so desperate to stay.

Both my parents died of cancer. Yes, they were smokers. No, I don’t think that their smoking was the ultimate thing that caused their cancer because there were a lot of other variables at play (and, before you start – you don’t know what I know, especially if you do not know our family tree’s history). I don’t debate that smoking can cause cancer. I do debate that it was the central cause of my parents’ deaths (and I’m allowed to do that, thanks). A lot of the people in my family were or are smokers. It’s said that if your parents were smokers, you’re more likely to become a smoker. Smoking was like part of our furniture. No, actually, cigarettes were in our furniture, and a fine (and not so fine) layer of ash kinda covered everything. Especially our keyboards.

Perhaps that’s why it felt like such a sin against my own identity to drop that little blue box from my life. To eschew cigarettes meant, for me, to rid myself of something that had defined my connection to my parents. The early morning tea and smoke, the late afternoon chats with my dad over a whiskey and smoke…I was bidding all of those moments farewell by doing this. I felt like I was cutting a connection. Except, I now realise, that that connection doesn’t ever end, because they are memories that’ll stick with me, and they had nothing to do with cigarettes.

1935152_183317806398_3084415_n

Some weird artsy fartsy silhouette attempt.

When some particularly wonderful people in my life (yes, you know who you are :D) gave me an electronic cigarette for my birthday, I was stoked. Stoked beyond words. After all my attempts to ditch the beau of tobacco, this has proven to be the most successful.

I will confess that I have wobbled. There have been days when I’ve wanted to do the equivalent of late-night-drunk-text-to-an-ex and run outside, light up and feel a sweet relief. There have been three particularly bad episodes of this, where I have felt that if I didn’t have a cigarette *right now*, I’d explode. It got so bad one day, I found myself searching for images of people smoking, just so I could, at least, vicariously, live through the “celebration” of lighting up. You see, lighting up that smoke was a celebration for me, and I felt like I’d uninvited myself to the party. 

So I chose to tweet my way through them, and the support of my lovely online people has been immense. There have been people who’ve yelled at me, tough loved me and outright threatened me. There have been people who’ve commiserated with me or cheered me on. And, thankfully, there have also been people who have completely ignored me and this stupid, very #firstworldproblem.

Most importantly though, having my very real, very permanent Shmooshy do this with me, has been a guiding force. I am pretty sure I couldn’t have done it without him.

I have felt a weird sense of grief. I will admit, shamefully, that I feel more and more like I’ve gone through this horrendous breakup, and can’t call my ex to cry on the phone to him, in some weird bid to get him back (disclaimer – people – those phone calls never work out. Stop it). Every day though, the desire to “call” that smoke up, has faded and, in fact, today, just over a month after I ditched the zero and got with the hero, I think I’ve deleted the zero’s number off my mental phone.

I’ve been given some grief about this, and I think I’ll chat about that now. Because I’ve moved to an e-cigarette (which is low nicotine, and I am in the process of moving to no-nicotine), someone decided to tell me that “I hadn’t really quit” and that I was “just being a baby and (this one’s my favourite) “going to kill yourself anyway”. Nice conversation, that was. Hugely positive and inspiring. *sarcasm*. I’ve decided to actively ignore anyone who gives me this kind of grief. This is, after all, my story and not theirs.

I can smell nowadays. I can smell like never before. Sometimes that’s wonderful and – at other times – it’s really not. I can run faster than I used to be able to, and I can run for longer without wanting to collapse.

And, as for my forgotten beau? I found a box of him in my kitchen yesterday, where I’d obviously stashed it “in case of emergencies”. Just looking at the box, holding it in my hand and turning it over, I felt ill. Maybe it is how my friend Melanie says:

“Nothing like seeing your ex and thinking eeuw!” 

All I know is that, somehow, I’m getting over this weird romance. I’ve become one of those militant and annoying people who can’t stand the smell of smoke (sorry guys, seriously, but when we get our sense of smell back…) I’ve actually written apology notes to people for how badly I stank. They’d complain and I’d laugh it off. I’m sorry, really. Wow.

As I’ve removed what I thought was a critical facet of my identity, I don’t find myself lacking anymore. In fact, as the smoke has literally cleared, I’ve realised, as all girls do after they get ditched by the guy who led them on for years…

I didn’t need him anyway. 

 

 

 

 

On Being Educated by My Kid

It’s a common enough thought that our children teach their parents more than parents actually teach their kids. I have to say that this is one truism that rings in my ears every day of our life.

Yes, my daughter has taught me more than I ever expected but, as she gets bigger and taller, I realise that this experience of being taught, rather than of being the teacher, is playing an even bigger role now. 

We live in a house of gadgets and gizmos. Being the type of family we are, the work we do and the hobbies we keep, we are great fans of getting a gadget to play with. Occasionally, I review items (and fall completely in love with them) but the ones we own for ourselves…sometimes take some getting used to.

Case in point – our television. This gargantuan screen has perplexed me since the day it arrived. Why? Because it takes ten years, a chicken dance and an appropriate sacrifice to the requisite television deity to turn it on. Note too, it does not have a simple on/off switch – it must be switched on using the very large remote.

So, every morning, for the past nearly 3 years that we’ve owned it, I have stood there, mumbling at it, furiously pressing the power button to get the screen to blaze its technicolour wonders at us. I could not understand why it always seemed to work for my kid so easily, yet – for me – seemed to be some kind of technological wizardry. 

Except, last week, when she looked at me quizzically and said:

“Mom, are you turning it on the right way?”

I snapped back: “Yes, of course. Do I look stupid?”

Which was when she gently took the remote out of my hand, pointed to the other button on the remote, swung the remote in the direction of the gargantuan screen, clicked it and…

Did you know? Our television can turn on in less than 3 seconds? 

All it took was a different button. 

 

eightyone.

Dear Dadadadad,

It was your birthday yesterday, and I had to skip writing you a letter because my eyeballs were square from working most of the weekend and spending a tonne of time poring my strength into words for other people.

But, today, as I sit here on the precipice of my tether, with minimal sleep, a furrowed forehead and well, really, what else can I do today, except write to you?

You’d have turned 81 yesterday, and I ponder at the gigantic nature of that number. It seems ginormous and almost unattainable to me. Yet, I do know people who have gone far beyond 81. 

This month has been difficult for me. It’s felt like an obstacle barrage, never mind a course. But, there is sunshine in the spots where I know I can go to. There is peace in the places that I have come to rely on. And, Dad, I know I can rely on, and not in that half-a-toe-in-maybe-I-might-have-to-escape-them-one-day way.

But, as is the way with this time of year and me, I know it’s coming. I thought I’d been able to skip past it at one point, but then it all really came at me like an arrow. So, I plod on. 

By the way, I’m done complaining now.

Do you remember how you used to hang on to this photo? I remember having to rush off and get a copy made at the office, so you could keep the original by you, all the time. 

cam baby scan for post

 

 

I wanted to say thank you for that. I don’t think I did at the time and, in the hurly burly chaos of everything that came afterwards, I don’t think I really got to the chance to. We were lucky, you and I, because we got to spend all that time together, and you even came with me for one of my final scans (having everything happen in the same hospital works, hey?). I loved that we got that time together, especially because we both knew (and aptly avoided talking about…) that we wouldn’t get the time after. 

What it did, Dad, was imbue a sense of you into the after. Yes, genetically, that happens anyway, but it has served to create a bond that can’t be seen. Your name will come up in conversation and your grandchild #1 will say “you know, he used to help people” or “yes, he had very tough hair” or (my personal favourite) “my mom says he used to eat her toes” (I’ve long since been able to convince her that you never actually chewed on them, although, for a while there, she did think that toes could be eaten and would grow back).

My point, Dad, is that you’re not here. I can miss you, write to you and wish for you, but none of that will change the fact that I cannot call you up and bore you with one of my stories, or make you eat 25 servings of macaroni cheese, just to be funny. 

But I can, and do, still find you. 

Dadadadad, happy birthday. I hope the whiskey was fab and the dancing girls (family joke) limber.

To William, on his 25th Birthday

Dear William,

 

It’s been the most change of a year yet. I know we say that often, but I truly feel that this past year was a change of good. And, frankly, nutsboltsandbutts, it was about time. I know we have not spent as much time together this year as we have in the past, but I also know that it’s not a reflection of us. It’s just a reflection of life’s current space, and pace.

430014_10151687402441399_374456365_n

this picture will mean nothing to anyone except you.

I’ve watched you, this year. You’ve grown in ways I did not expect (and, well, neither did you, let’s be honest). I’ve also watched you confront a lot more than I think you expected to. Was this past year, in fact, a surprise mirror?

 

But, again, as is the way with you, you’ve taken all these things (yes, yes, I know. haha) and mused over them. You’ve approached them with grace and a gait of transparency. Most of all, though, you’ve taken them, without fear, and avoided the filthy towers. Cough.

 

 I love how I can send you one line, and it’s the same.

 

I love that you will burst onto my screen with something supportive, on the worst day, and I haven’t even said anything.

I guess, what I really want to say in an elbowthroughthewindow way is…

Often people say that we should ‘never change’.

Yet, you – he who really has no reason to change, because – you are – in my eyes, perfect – are changing.

Is this growing up or middle age, and will we yell at the younguns on the lawn some frosty Tuesday morning?

Who knows.

All I know is that you’ll probably keep the lawn quite tidy and only really grumble when someone steps on the rosebushes. In all likelihood, it’ll be me who tramples through them, whilst not thinking or looking where she’s going, again.

 

Happy Birthday William. Here’s to a billion more starry nights.   All my love, Gracie.