Restart.

Things are so different.  You wonder how is it possible for life to change so completely, so quickly and with such heartbreak and yet it has.  I know I am not alone in this.  I know this happens to people on a daily basis.  Of course I am struggling with my own loss of everything right now and so I write about my story, my grief journey and about restarting my life.  That’s how it feels, that somehow, right now, in the midst of everything I’m having to deal with this dreadful pain, the loneliness and yet restart my life.

Our GP said to me that if I was married, or had children or had still been at work, the days would be easier to get through because I would have distractions. However as my life for the past three years has been as a full time carer for my parents, with both of them passing so close together, suddenly my whole world was gone.  I have to find myself again.  Some people have said this is really exciting as I can now decide to do anything I want to, which is true.  However right now, I don’t want to.  Does that sound mean of me?  I would give my life to have my parents back with me right this second. Perhaps that is mean of me, it’s selfish of me.  I truly believe they are in heaven and fully restored to health.  Things that they both told me long before their sudden passing leave me in no doubt that they are there, together, reunited with my sister and other family members. So yes it is selfish of me to want them back here with me but I want to be with them. I miss them. I miss the life I had with them.  I know that I am incredibly lucky to have been blessed with them as parents and that I enjoyed such a great relationship with them.

Each morning is another realisation that this is it for me now, I can go out when I want, come in when I want, do what I want and I am just not used to this.  This new freedom makes me feel so guilty yet what can I do, I must keep going and build a new life. No big decisions for the time being, my brain is not operating as it was and I don’t want to do anything in a rush and make a terrible mistake.  If this is a new and exciting restart in my life I want to do it right.  Although small errors are allowed, how else do we learn.

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What was I thinking I bought Bikini’s and you know what, I’m going to wear them and not worry about curves and a bit of fat.  Holidays are coming and I don’t mean Christmas, more about that on another blog post.

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Dessert and a glass of Prosecco is never, ever, ever a mistake.

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A new favourite, Vanilla Espresso Cocktails.

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A new favourite flower, Alstroemeria, also known as Lily of the Incas.

I know my posts are fairly random as in randomly written but that’s just how I am, my brain is on automatic pilot, it feels like cotton wool some days but the blogging is such good therapy for me.  My wonderful chap makes me laugh and looks after me so well. My friends and family are good to me, checking up on me, taking me out, we have laughs, long talks and some tears.  My neighbours have been very supportive and are looking out for me too.  I have some great support and for that I feel blessed and very grateful.

Thank you.

 

With love and sparkles xx

Death and Taxes.

In my opinion I don’t think anything can prepare you for the amount of administration, organising and general work that appears when someone close to you passes away.  All this work appears when you are in the worst frame of mind and least prepared to carry it out.  Having to do so much when my Dad passed at the end of January was a real eye opener, there were envelopes arriving every day with something to respond to, forms to complete, never mind the trip to the registrar to register the death and obtain the various forms required for the funeral to be carried out.  I had only just finished the administration for Dad when my Mom passed four months later and I had to start again.  Of course this time I knew what I had to do and when, but this time I had double the grief and trying to deal with everything was easy because I had done it once before so recently, and trying to deal with everything was difficult, because I had done it once before so recently.

Arranging orders of service, choosing readings and hymns, photographs for the orders of service. Liaising with various people to ensure everything could be done on a particular day and a particular time. Then designing memorial cards.  Sending them out to family and friends, whilst in the meantime dealing with the various forms and letters, telephone calls, amendments of names etc etc.  All whilst your brain has decided not to co-operate.  You cannot be prepared for these events.  I think it’s impossible.

Thankfully the people you are dealing with are used to talking to and helping bereaved family members.  Everyone I have spoken to has been supportive, kind, helpful and explained in terms I understand what I need to do and by when.  One of the nicest things that was said to me was when I was speaking to a chap in Ireland on the telephone and as he finished the conversation he told me to “mind myself”.  Irish people will know that phrase, it means to take care of myself.  It brought tears to my eyes, tears of comfort that a huge corporation had a human side and understood my pain.

A long time favourite film of mine is “Meet Joe Black”.  I loved a scene towards the end of the film where Joe reveals his identity as an IRS Agent.  The saying is correct, there are two things which are a certainty in life Death and Taxes.

With love and sparkles xx

Family Ties.

My family has been amazing.  My cousins here in the UK have built what I can only call a wall of comfort and love around me.  I feel so protected by them.  They are not in touch with me every day, they don’t need to be, they are there, I only have to reach out.  With WhatsApp we are in contact, we meet up for lunches, we plan meeting up in the future and they make sure I am as ok as I can be at the moment.

We recently had a fairly impromptu visit from our cousins in Tipperary which was wonderful.  We hadn’t seen each other for such a long time it was fabulous to get together.  Fourteen of us got together one evening for a birthday meal and it was just a crazy, everyone talking at once, laughing and enjoyable family evening. We even had two cousins arrive from Ireland that we didn’t know were coming, as a surprise.  My Dad’s brother was so happy that we were all there together.  Again, I felt protected, loved and looked after.  We wondered if our respective parents were looking down from above and loving that we were all together after such a long time.

My cousin Marji and I go back a very long way, to my holidays as a teenager with her in Tipperary and the freedom we both had going to see the Irish Showbands at the dancehall miles away.  My Dad was always there to drive us, bless him. We reconnected as if we had only seen each other last week.

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Such a happy group photo – it was like herding cats getting us all in one place for photo’s, I think this was the most of us that managed to get into a photo at any one time.

My cousin Marji has the most beautiful voice.  Marji runs the Tipperary Gospel Choir. Here is a link to her solo performance on RTE last year. Marji Maxwell

Her brother Michael runs Laois People which now also has a 24 hour country music radio station.  Country music, Irish music and singing must just be in our DNA.

We may not get together very often but our family ties are strong, we have that bond and that’s what matters.

With love and sparkles xx

I didn’t want a Birthday this year.

I was dreading my birthday after losing Dad at the end of January.  It was unbearable to think of a birthday with both of my parents not here as Mom followed Dad so quickly.  I was quite happy to just let the day pass unnoticed.  Family, friends and himself had other thoughts.

A treat at my local hairdressers.  On your birthday they give you a choice of gifts so I chose the wash and blow dry – always cheers me up.  I also had a recommendation voucher which I used for a manicure – what a treat!

One of my lovely friends then treated me to a celebration afternoon tea at a beautiful local hotel. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day so we sat outside, batted away wasps and enjoyed hundreds of calories.

Himself took me for my first night away from home in four years to Lichfield which is a small but beautiful city not too far from where I live.  We used to go there for New Year’s Eve back in the day, go to our favourite Indian restaurant, have a few cocktails, stop over and head for home the next day.  And that’s exactly what we did the night before my birthday and I was fine.  Not a tear.  It felt very strange to turn my phone off when I went to bed, no-one was going to be calling me and I’m finding that hard to deal with.

Huge brunch which meant I didn’t eat until very late Saturday night.  I received lots of flowers, chocolates and my very best friend bought me a rather large and sturdy suitcase with the words “get travelling woman”.  The sobbing started when I opened up my birthday cards, that was very tough indeed.

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I bought this bottle of Champagne last Christmas and I was saving it for a “special occasion”. I’m no longer going to save things, if I have them I’m going to enjoy them and live for today.  As the saying goes, tomorrow is never promised and it takes pure heartbreaking events for us to really understand this. As my Dad would say “life is for living”.  I drank the whole bottle over the course of three days and I don’t regret it one little bit.

With love and sparkles xx

 

Filling Time.

It’s so strange to have time on my hands.  I’ve gone from being on the go 24/7 to nothing. Those first few weeks alone after Mom rejoined Dad, I was up most of the night.  I was watching “Now 90’s” on TV which revisited my clubbing days and I still love dance music. There was an 80’s music TV channel which I discovered and loved.  4 am to bed was early for me.  I wasn’t tired and I didn’t want to go to bed and I didn’t want to go to sleep. Sleep meant forgetting what had happened and then when I woke the nightmare of truth just hit me all over again so no, I didn’t want to go to sleep.

I’ve been watching films galore.  “Pitch Perfect” – oh how I enjoyed that one and also “Mamma Mia”.  “Searching” was really good and I loved “Oblivion”.  I escaped into these films, they engrossed me for the length of time they were on.  When they were over though, once again reality hit and so did the tears.  I struggle with evenings and overnight although thankfully I had a word with myself and I am now getting to bed at a much more reasonable hour.

With the recent good weather I decided to get out in the garden and plant some flowers in the empty, discarded and unloved plant pots.  I was out there for four hours in the sunshine, birds singing, gentle breeze and the sound of children playing in nearby gardens.  It lifted my heart somewhat.  I’ll never be as good a gardener as my parents but I didn’t do too badly on my four hour shift.

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And so we begin…
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The objects of my gardening affection.
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I really hope these grow and trail as they should.
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So pretty.
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All done!
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Very proud of this one, I grew it from seeds planted in March this year.
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I can’t lay claim to these, I bought them as I love Geranium’s. Mom and I used to plant some each year, we never managed to keep them alive to the following year.

I’m definitely a have a go gardener xx

First Steps.

Going out for a walk with himself and then having lunch was an experience.  It was perfectly pleasant, a normal kind of thing to do except that we haven’t done anything like that for a very long time.  It was a strange experience for me.  If I did pop out over the last three years I had the phone almost always in my hand, just in case I received a call to come home quickly.  I was forever checking the time to ensure I was back before the carer who was covering for me had to leave.  This gentle stroll and going for lunch was an experience for me as I no longer need to check my phone for missed calls.  I no longer need to be back home by a certain time.  There is no one at home that needs me anymore.  My brain is having huge problems processing this information.  “New Normal” has not yet kicked in.  For now I shall continue to write about my journey from carer to former carer, from daughter to…what?  I suppose I still am a daughter but my parents are gone ahead and I can’t see them although I talk to them all the time, it helps.

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Yes, another glass of Kir Royale kind Sir.

 

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Bistrot Pierre – reasonably priced and always, always busy.

 

 

Thank you for your wonderful support xx

No words.

Yes, I have no words.  I feel the need to write about how I’m feeling yet I cannot seem to find the words.  How do you describe “this”?  I have no idea how to convey the feelings of loss.  Loss of my Dad, loss of my Mom and a loss of me.  I don’t know who I am anymore. I was a full time carer.  I was on the go all the time and I do mean, all the time.  Sleep was a premium item, you just keep going because you have to.  Now I have all the time in the world to sleep and can’t.  When I do wake up in the morning a feeling of complete emptiness consumes me.  What do I do?  There isn’t anything to do.  No-one to look after, no meals to prepare, no washing to do, no phone calls to health professionals, appointments to keep, prescriptions to renew, nothing, absolutely nothing.

The carer’s who were assisting me no longer need to call, no further need for the district nurses to call in nor for the Doctor to visit.

When I go out I am still constantly checking my phone for a missed call or a voicemail to tell me to come home, I still watch the time so as I am not out too long as I need to be back as the carer will be leaving and I still get up from my seat at certain times to get Dad’s medication or to put the music on for Mom.  It’s all just too much and it’s all happened too close together.  That’s life, this is what happens, none of us escape these losses.  I sob and sob and sob, I let it out, I scream for my Mom, I talk to my Dad, I feel them near, I am comfortable at home, I’m close to them here.  This is the one occasion in life that no one can make better, no one can make this right again.  I just don’t know who I am anymore my identity has been stripped away.

It’s early days of course, just six weeks for Mom and just over five months for Dad.  I get through each day, I have amazing friends, fabulous cousins, a wonderful man and lots of fantastic online connections all of whom are rooting for me, supporting me and helping me through.  I’m blessed.  I get strength from my faith.

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Treated myself to scone and cappuccino when I went to arrange Mom’s flowers.

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I’ve made a small altar next to the two chairs Mom and Dad always sat in.  For now I have Mom’s Mass cards there but I will take them down when I feel ready.

 

After Mom’s funeral I stayed at my chap’s home for the weekend and helped him with his Mom.  He’s a great cook, above are freshly made poppadum’s and onion bhaji’s. My current diet consists of mostly Prosecco and chocolate…not good I know but that’s just how it is for now.

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A Vanilla Espresso Martini – one of many drinks I have raised in celebration of my parents and yes that includes Mom’s favourite, the cup of tea.

Thank you for bearing with my blackness, I just don’t have any sparkle at the moment.

Devastated.

According to the online dictionary I have just used, the word “Devastated” means “to cause (someone) severe and overwhelming shock or grief”.  I have to say, that sounds about right.

Unbelievably I am back into a surreal nightmare.  Just four months after losing Dad, my beautiful fairy of a Mom passed away suddenly and peacefully during the late afternoon of Saturday 8th June.  How can this be happening?  How can I have lost them both within such a short space of time?  Suddenly I am plunged into this unreal world of pain, loss and nothing to do.  Yes, I’m busy once again arranging a funeral, sorting out administration and trying to adapt to a house of just me.  But I was a full time carer.  My day wasn’t my own, I was on the go all the time and now…I’m sitting wondering what to do.  It feels like someone has driven a bulldozer right through my life, everything is destroyed, everything has gone, what am I supposed to do now?

Mom was healthy, the doctor had checked her out and all observations were normal. Mom had been telling me for a week or so beforehand that she was going to God.  Not a day went by that she didn’t tell me this and she sounded excited about it.  One night she told me that Dad was in the room.  Another when I was struggling with her bedclothes she told me to shhhh as Jesus was there.  Another night she called me at 3:15 am to tell me she was going to God.  For days beforehand she was completely lucid, absolutely no confusion at all.  On the Saturday she went to God, I had decided to put Mass from Knock Shrine on the TV as we hadn’t had it on much since Dad passed.  I answered the prayers, Mom rubbed my hand.  I started to answer the Rosary as they said it at Knock.  Half way through the TV turned itself off.  At the same time, Mom’s breathing changed and within ten minutes, no matter how much I cried or begged her to stay, she went to God and she went to God with a huge beautiful smile on her face.  Whatever or whoever she had seen my wonderful Mom was happy.

I’m not really in the mood for anything much but as I have time on my hands and writing my blog helps me, I’m sitting here typing away because I need something to do, I need to write, I need to cry and I want to scream.

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Mama and Dad on holiday in Galway a lifetime ago, now reunited in heaven.

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The house is full of beautiful flowers at the moment.

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The house is also silent apart from the sound of my tears.  Death is so final, you are helpless to prevent it when the time comes.  As my Mom would say, you can’t alter God’s Plan.

Carer Life.

It is a beautiful day today, it has been really good weather for the past few days but today is the best so far.  Blue sky, sunshine and it is 20 degrees outside which is a big change from having to drag the Winter coat out just over a week ago.

As a carer you don’t get to go outside much.  Today I was planning to go to the local village; I had some chores to do, a bit of shopping, walk in the sunshine a little and then come home and have a shower.  Very simple everyday things you would think but not to a carer.  The caregiver who was due to be here today to help with Mom’s personal care and sit with Mom so that I could go out is off sick.  In total I have three caregivers who are here over the course of a week on a rota basis.  Today all three are unavailable. Apart from the one who is unwell today, one is on compassionate leave and the other has a day off as she has hospital appointments.  You would never believe that all three would be unavailable on the same day but life happens.  Thankfully a senior lady from the caregiver office came out this morning to assist me and she will come this evening also.

Tomorrow I had planned to pop out for lunch as a long time family friend is due to visit me.  It’s possible I won’t have any caregivers again so no lunch out for me.  It cannot be helped and although I’m disappointed you learn over time to just deal with things as they come along.

People just would not believe that it’s not possible for me to go and have a shower and wash my hair because I cannot leave Mom unattended, I need to have someone to sit with her.  This is something that Dad used to do, sit and chat with Mom.  They would hold hands, sing and laugh together.  It really is the day to day little things that I miss so much.  I keep expecting Dad to walk into the room or to hear him call me.

Last week I was lucky, after three months of planning I did manage to get out for a quick lunch with one of my best friends and I honestly felt like I had been on holiday.  Another of my friends came to visit me and we sat in the garden for an hour, had a glass of wine and put the worlds to right and once again it felt like I had a holiday.

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I’m not Vegan but I do enjoy the all day Vegan Breakfast at Renato Lounge.

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A quick hairdo a couple of weeks ago and my favourite, skinny cappuccino.

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Beautiful sparkling Roses I bought for Mom.

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I still haven’t got used to the fact that I am the only one in the house that will eat these kind of goodies so I must stop random buying when I do get to the shops.  Yes they were delicious and yes I’m trying to be good, again.

In other news, Home Free have announced another World Tour and yes, they are coming to Birmingham and yes I have my tickets.  How I would love to meet these guys, talk singing and have the whole photo taken kind of thing but as a carer the VIP ticket price is well out of my price range.  One day maybe I’ll get to meet them.

With love and sparkles xx

 

 

 

 

So Far.

So far I have managed to put one foot in front of the other everyday and keep going. Some days have been easier than others and some days I just haven’t done anything, because I just haven’t been able to.  I have become very conscious of looking after myself because I am all my Mom has.  I didn’t really think too much about self care before, Dad was here, he always knew what to do, who to contact and make the decisions.  Now Dad isn’t here, it’s all down to me and once you start thinking about that, it’s scary.

So far I have managed to get Dad’s memorial cards designed, printed and I have sent the majority of them out.  I have had a meeting at the hospital about the disgraceful lack of care my Dad received (I will blog about this separately).  The meeting really took it out of me, I was physically and emotionally drained, but it had to be done.

So far I have gone back to my music slowly.  I never feel like singing or picking up the guitar but once I do, I feel so much better.  Because I concentrate so much on what I am doing it releases stress and pressure for a little while and that feels good.

So far I thought I was doing well, coming to terms with things, not crying too much and then all of a sudden on Sunday night I had a huge outpouring of tears which came on suddenly and without warning.  Thankfully my man was here visiting and I could leave the room so that Mom didn’t witness these tears.

So far I haven’t done anything about the website I was putting together for my music. I have made a slow start to this.  With the website building taking place I will be downgrading my blogging plan here on WordPress.  I will still be blogging, I enjoy it and it helps me plus the wonderful fellow bloggers I have met on here which I certainly wouldn’t want to lose.  From July when I have the blogger plan I think any videos I have to share with you will have to be on the website.

And so far finally I haven’t really been up to that much.  At the moment I like it this way. I don’t want to have a full diary, or things planned ahead, I’m just not in that mindset yet. I want to take things slowly, to spend as much time as possible with my Mom, to plan my music and try to plan for the future.  As we know, the future doesn’t always go to plan.

A few photo’s of life over the past couple of weeks.

With love and sparkles xxx

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Tears totally out of the blue and when you least expect it.

Some delicious Irish Soda bread my cousin gave to me on her recent visit.

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Prayer is what works for me, it keeps me calmer, it soothes me and it makes me feel closer to my Dad, my Sister and all those who have gone before me.

And a little Snapchat to make me smile, take away the black circles and remove wrinkles 🙂