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

 

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

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.

The First Night Out.

Many people have mentioned to me that this year will now be a year of firsts.  The first time I do something without Dad, the first time we have birthdays etc without Dad.  I have experienced a year of firsts before, in 2006 when my sister passed away suddenly. It felt very different to how I feel now and of course back then, I had Mom and Dad to help me through it, we were there for each other.   This is different because Mom is happy in her own world and can’t support me and Dad is supporting me from his new home.  Yes it is all very different.

I had mixed feelings when my country music friends were messaging me about going to see John McNicholl when he played Birmingham three weeks ago.  I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  I know Dad would have been the first one to say “Go, go out and enjoy yourself”.  It was the emotional side of things that was affecting me.  Seeing that group of friends for the first time, crying, hugging, singing, dancing.  Was it all going to be too much too soon?

Once again my amazing man was there to help me by coming over to visit that evening and sit with Mom. If I decided to just go to the dance I knew Mom was safe and sound. I decided to go.  John had telephoned me about Dad and messaged me and I wanted to support him plus I felt it was better to get this particular first out-of-the-way.

I felt incredibly alone and vulnerable getting ready to go.  I felt physically sick leaving the house and I felt weak, barely able to walk when I arrived at the venue.  I never felt so alone as I did when I walked into the club. John was already on stage, people were dancing and I felt lost.  One of my friends appeared at my side, gave me a huge cuddle, a glass of wine and took me over to the table where everyone was.  One by one we hugged, had a tear and held hands.  The sense of support was wonderful.  A family friend who has known my parents forever was there to support me too.  When I cried he took me out waltzing on the dance floor and he tried so hard to make me laugh.  John as always was so supportive and lovely although I didn’t get to speak to him for long.  As usual I had arranged my taxi far too early.

One of the main things I missed was Dad worrying about me.  Whenever I went out alone to meet my friends at a dance he always worried about me travelling alone.  I missed that conversation so much.

Was I glad I went out?  Hmmm I’m still unsure how to answer that one.  It was lovely to see me friends, to see John and the lads and there was such a big turnout for a Sunday night I was very pleased for John.  I didn’t get my usual sense of excitement, I wasn’t my usual diva on the dance floor but how could I be, it was my first night out.

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Well it’s not a proper night out without a Snapchat filter!

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A little blurred but a lovely reminder of the support I received from a great friend of my parents.

John and the lads rocking St Anne’s with a Neil Diamond Medley.

 

Lost.

I don’t know what other word to use, I’m absolutely and totally lost.  So much has happened since my last couple of blog posts.  I had meant to continue with my story of Mom’s broken wrist which resulted in her becoming immobile which then resulted in a ten-day hospital stay due to severe dehydration, chest infection and low levels of various vitamins we need in our body.  Mom is currently on a hospital bed in our lounge. She is happy, she is much healthier and she can walk; as in she has the strength and ability to walk, it’s just down to fear/confidence and of course the state of confusion from her cognitive degeneration on the day which dictates if she will walk or not.

But I didn’t get to blog in-depth about these things, to write it down, to let it out because other events took over.  Dad was not well.  He had various medical issues for years which were all being managed by the Doctor and his medication.  However the end of last year he was getting weaker, feeling dizzy and his blood pressure was becoming very low.

Dad’s 92 birthday was on 19th January and the following week he became very ill indeed. We had an emergency admission to hospital on the Thursday evening after the Doctor had been to see us twice at home due to Dad’s increasing weakness.  On the Saturday afternoon Dad took a turn for the worse and the Doctor said he was very sorry but Dad didn’t have long left, his body was shutting down.  What happens to our brains when we hear these words?  I was still standing up?  I was crying but I was still breathing and I immediately went into protection mode for my Dad.  I stayed with him, I held him, I cuddled him, I talked to him, I told him I loved him and thanked him for being the most amazing Dad. I told him I would always look after Mom. I held his hand, I told him to go fly with the angels and he did in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The feeling of what I can only call energy around his bed was incredible, it steadily grew all afternoon, into the evening and onwards until he crossed over.  Half of my worst nightmare had happened, I had lost my Dad.  Yet I felt some peace as I was with him and he had been at peace and no pain.  Two of my cousins were with me as was my best friend and they took over to look after me.  My boyfriend was home looking after Mom. Mom knew we were at hospital but not how bad things were.

Somehow, with the help of my cousins I did all the formalities and arranged a funeral. I’m sure I had guidance from above as I just seemed to know what hymns to choose, what clothes Dad would have wanted to wear, the appropriate readings etc.  We had the funeral on 14th February, Valentines Day and it was a day full of perfect love.  It was even warm and sunny.

Mom doesn’t yet know what has happened, under medical advice for now not to tell her as it could have a detrimental effect on her health.  I am however convinced by middle of the night talks she is having with “someone” and the words that are being spoken, that she knows somewhere deep inside what has happened.

The loneliness is indescribable; Dad and I were always chatting about something or other.  Once the carer leaves mid afternoon that’s it for me and Mom until the following day.  Sometimes Mom is chatty, sometimes we put our music on and sometimes Mom is sleepy and I sit there, thinking, reading, online, catching up on messages but my heart isn’t in anything much apart from looking after Mom.

My man has been so supportive, he was over here every night for a month, cooking in advance to make sure I eat and generally looking after me so I can look after Mom. We got this down to three nights a week and this week we are down to two nights a week. It is a fifty mile round trip for him and he has his own Mom to look after plus he works from home.  He was getting so tired out and I know, I have to learn to live with this horrible new normal.  My friends and cousins too have been so supportive with their calls and messages and my online friends too have been great.  It’s one of those times isn’t it when no-one knows exactly what to say.

I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this, writing has helped me in the past and I can’t let my tears out unless there is someone to sit with Mom and I can escape so perhaps this blog post will be a little therapeutic for me.

I feel like a lost little girl who is having to be very grown up and responsible and look after things the grown up’s always looked after.  People tell me how strong I am. I don’t feel strong, I feel I’m a mess yet we keep going.  Our world has fallen apart never to be the same again yet the world keeps on turning.

I’m rambling, more so than usual.  I had so many happy things to blog about; my music, going to see Home Free  but I never got around to those posts.  We started to put a website together for my music and that too has been left.

It has helped in a scrambled kind of way to offload on my blog.  I was wondering if I would bother to blog again.  Then I thought of a favourite blogger Often Called Cathy who always manages to find something positive no matter how bad things are and it made me think.   I was truly blessed to have Dad as my Dad, I was also blessed to have him for so long in my life and it was a complete privilege to be able to care for him over the past years and to be with him as he crossed to the next life.

I made Dad three promises in January; that I would always look after Mom, that I wouldn’t lose my sparkle and that I wouldn’t give up on my music.  The first is easy right now, I’ll work on the other two.

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Roses Mom and I sent to Dad for his birthday.

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The Snowdrops are out.

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The love goes on.

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I had a walk around the block yesterday, get some fresh air, the daffodils are in abundance.

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Every day x