Thursday, 1 February 2018

Mommy, Last Night I Dreamt You Died

The other night the littlest you curled into me for a goodnight cuddle. You turned, looked up,  put your tiny hand to my cheek, and I saw your bottom lip quiver.  A slow wave seemed to flow down your delicate face, changing it from giggly and restless to  quiet a serious and solemn affect. I pulled back and copied your expression, asking what was wrong.

"Mommy, I had a nightmare last night."

"Oh darling," pulling you closer, "That must have been scary. Why don't you tell Mommy all  about it."

You settled into my arms, and looked at the wall and then I looked at the wall. You started to talk and then stopped, looked up at me. I caught your stare and said again "Tell me about your dream. It's OK."

"I dreamt you died," you paused, waiting for my reaction.

I tried again to mirror your expression and said, "That sounds like a very scary dream."

"It was Mommy."

"But I didn't die. I'm here with you right now and I am not going anywhere," and then I smiled.
I am not sure how you expected me to react but I think that you liked the fact that I didn't really react because that's when the talking began.  You gave me all the sad details of the dream, details I won't go in to now.  The gist was that I died saving you, but then you couldn't save me. You then began to say,  "If this ever should happen in real life  that you (pointing to me, your mother) should not...."

I interrupted at that point, "Of course I would as would any mother."
You began your protests louder and I smiled and calmed you and explained my reasoning.

It is that reasoning that I will write about today but while I write,  I appreciate you won't read this till much later on in your own life. A life, whose shape and colour will change with every gained experience you collect and I hope that you collect many.  Maybe, you will have your own little ones pulling at your sleeve, while your coffee gets cold, maybe you will only have the idea of them or maybe you will have chosen to not journey down that path. Whatever you decide is ok, if you are OK, which is the point of this blog. I know it is an old saying but it is so true live, love and laugh.  Enjoy this life honestly, the way you want to because that is how I have enjoyed mine and it has made me happy with very little regrets.

Your beautiful life is precious, as is mine. I have had a wonderful life. Partly, because I have you, your sister, your father and even the hairy beast. A choice, not taken lightly and made after a great deal of adventure and exploration. I enjoy life, which of course, makes me want to live forever but, sadly, I can't and even more sadly, I can't control or anticipate that part of my destiny. For me Death would be the uninvited and unwanted guest to my party.

At 18, when my father died, I pictured Death as a bit of a jerk who goes around a room ending conversations, shutting books before they are fully read, just because he can. A power hungry pretentious bastard, who ignores the cries of others as he callously leads a soul away,  as he did my father, as I screamed, as I cried, I pictured him walking on, his arm tangled through my father's soul and my father helplessly looking back at me as he faded into the growing distance.

You asked me if I cried when my father died. Yes, I did. I cried, I screamed, I beat my pillow, I beat the horn in the car, I ran and ran and ran, up mountains, down paths to be alone. I cuddled into my dog and cried into her fur. I released energy any way I could, which scared some and made them scatter and intrigued others who watched but didn't do much else. However, every so often,  a friend would hold my hand and sit with me.

Death angered me and my anger was immeasurable, like a tsunami it crashed down on this earth, spreading, smashing, soaking through, everything that inhabits its world but eventually tsunami's recede, leaving the scattered pieces displayed.  Anger is great and it can empower and release what torments but you can't stay angry forever. You need your energy to heal, life is waiting for you to reenter, to savour, to enjoy again.  My screams turned, to singing, loudly, while I danced, in my room, in a car, at a friends, at a club. My running turned to exploration and adventure, at the end of those paths were the stories of the unfamiliar, which made my own book more of a page turner. The hands that I held were attached to many that I began to love, who taught me the power of touch, love and friendship.

What has made my life enjoyable I can't describe in a few paragraphs or in a few pages but I can tell you that I had a part in it. It didn't just happen. It never does, too much time is wasted for people who wait and let other's take charge or give them permission.  I knew that there were magical things to be found and I wanted to find them.

I was brought up with one window, overlooking one world, wearing one outfit, using one voice and as you can tell in some of the other posts, that world didn't quite fit me. It gave me a restless, unsettled feeling. Probably, because that world was created by someone else for someone else, my parents, and it was meant to fit them.  It wasn't hard to journey past the window's view, all I had to do was leave my home.

First stop was university, I was never much of a student, not very dedicated as I had been diagnosed with a learning difficulty, dyslexia, which I kept secret, swallowing a presumed ceiling and adapting to it. Painted in shame and wearing it like an overcoat, disguised, I slipped on to campus. I think that I went to university because my friends did, because in my neighbourhood it was the thing to do, because what was the alternative.

Learning felt different at university, there was an energy, and excitement, people finding themselves among a new independent status never afforded to them before and I joined in. They asked for my voice, encouraged me to question, to debate. I, no longer allowed to melt away into the back of the class, took form. I chose what I wanted to learn. I created my path. I asserted my power as a student and realised I had something to offer.  I surrounded myself with books. There was a room in the library, with old journals, which I travelled through often. It was hidden treasure, so many secrets to unearth and behind each book, I saw men and women dedicating their lives to collecting this knowledge and they were talking to me, sharing their gift with me. I understood and still do understand how precious this is. Please remember the books that line our shelves. It is my world that I share with you. It has given me comfort, security, wonder and joy often.

Travel was next.  My first real memorable journey was with your Bubbie, 9000 miles in six weeks, listening to Les Miserable on the CD over and over again, while we laughed that we were Thelma and Louise. It was a healing journey for us both individually and in our relationship. I hope to recreate that journey with both you girls and your dad someday. There is something spiritual that happens when you lay under miles of stars and watch a distant storm explode or stand at a mountain top, breathing in a different  world than the one seen just a few hours before. And it happens again with the people you will meet in diners, in makeshift hot springs, at the bottom of a waterfall, who affect you and then move on. And  then again in the moment, when the mother, whom hurt distanced you from, takes back your hand and you both gasp at the beauty that surrounds you.

This journey encouraged me to journey more. I often think of the song Another Suitcase in Another Hall, as for awhile I felt a bit nomadic. I met barefooted drummers who followed me home to tell me stories of their rhythmic life, danced too close to strangers because at that moment it meant something, travelled down dirt roads bridged over long rivers that people bathed in, I bathed in rivers too, under hidden waterfalls. Some of my greatest stories seemed to take place between sunrises and and then between sunsets. Time changed its pace for me, so that friendships could emerge, so that love could develop and I did love. So many beautiful types of love that I was able to experience. It was fun, and it was wild and it was never for nothing, even when it didn't last because love's purpose isn't always to last.

I wanted to share stories of my journey and celebrate that little scared girl who finally decided to discard the overcoat and join in with the party. Some listened with interest, some with polite tolerance and  some simply mocked my joy. But they didn't tarnish my collected treasures because if you play to an audience you will always tailor yourself to fit their needs, which is futile and a waste of energy.  When you stop playing to an audience and just play, life is brilliant.

I met your father on one of these journeys. Time decided to speed through our night, filled with latin music, cobblestone walls to sit on and hours of story telling.  In a moment our friendship was born having no beginning nor ending. The sunrise I watched with him was by far the best and seemed to take away my need to find another sunrise. I was once told by a woman that we have to pick between a desire to have love or to have friendship.  I am so happy she was wrong. Your father and I have both.  I know that sometimes you will remember us fighting because we can sometimes be a bit strong-willed (please stop laughing) but that doesn't mean that we are not in love, nor does it mean that he is not my best friend.  What it means, simply, is that sometimes we fight.

You see, we have a  shared picture of what we want from life  and what we want from this relationship, and we are achieving that together. During a moment, when we are tired, overwhelmed, hurt or frightened, that picture may fall into the background.  However, when we stop, breathe and look back, we are reminded of the journey and of what we have created, together, and who we are because of it. It is like standing atop a mountain, to take it all in. I know that I have told you this before but I am going to say it again.  A lifelong commitment  is not just  had because of love, it is not just had because of friendship but it is also had because of the acknowledgement of the beauty that  emerges from keeping both dear.

I think I may have gotten it wrong all those years ago. Maybe Death isn't a bastard but the inevitable friend that holds us, soothes us, rocks us, as we cry. Maybe Death doesn't take us but instead merges with us, because he knows our life is special and our journey away from it far too arduous to bare alone.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Because They Don't Have You

Kafkaesque rhetoric,
a mean obstacle,
stumbling carelessly
across my path,

driven by a
pedantic bureaucrat,
maybe lacking
power but wanting

maybe lacking
highs and lows
so engaging mine,
or maybe just
someone with just
too much time
on their hands.

Just just just frustrating,
knocking the wind out of
common sense sails
making me question logic.

Walking  by
with a peacock bravado,
Huddling with others,
like-minded colleagues
like little girls or boys
on a playground, whispering,

following the rules,
their rules
that only they know
That only they
can change

within the breath
of a whim, while
everyone around them,
Me, waits and waits
and waits. They saunter by
But let them

Because they don't have you.

Today, I said,
"Not today, I am not in a mood."
You, the older one,
shrugged your shoulders
Paying as much mind to me
as they did.

You finished
telling me off,
took my phone
to play
and then looked up
and smiled.

My eyes travelled
to you,
bouncing off
laughing shoulders,
You refusing to take me
too seriously,

refusing to let it affect
your joy.
Did I give you
that joy, resilience, spirit?
Which you give back to me.

Some people take time
My time,
time that I don't have.
Leaving their angst,
And I take that home to you,

In their high tower,
they command,
They justify,
and the audience applauds
because they have to.
Or else the show won't end.

And the self professed
rithgeous dance to the music
Let them dance,

Because they don't have you.

The littlest you
throwing bubbles in the air
at the furry beast,
And the beast dances
And you laugh
And we laugh
And the beast's sudsy beard grows.

You show me your hurt toe
that you say only I can fix.
It is small, just like the rest of you
My magical kiss makes the hurt forgotten
And we cuddle, making my hurt forgotten
Cuddles cure, at least yours does

Let them have  their pointing chins
and staring eyes.
Their paper clips, pencils and files.
Their special codes and closing doors
and windows that still allow secrets

Let their smugness
hide them away from me
Let them cuddle and cluster
together, it won't cure their hurt.

Because they don't have you.

Tonight, I sit
thinking of you two
tucked away
in rooms under a roof,
your father and I created

Sitting with him as I reminisce
and moan about the day,
He takes my hand  and says nothing
because he doesn't need to.

He sees me and that is all.
And that is all.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

What's In A Name?

One day a breeze slid across a field of wild flowers, lifting a seed, soon to be named Alice, and  trapping her within the shivering breast feathers of a passing bird. This bird took flight across  glistening rock beds, through a forest of evergreen and  across a tumbling river where she finally fell into a field of golden wheat and it was there that Alice took residence.

Alice looked up to see the tall grains stretching towards the heat of the sun, as they did every morning and,  as they did every morning, they swayed together, gracefully, purposely, brushing against one another, creating a vibration the spread across the field, a hum, a quiet calming hum which moaned between the breathes of the earth she grew upon.

Alice, ever changing, woke, as well, to the warmth of the sun, and, as well, stretched not only to feed from the light but to be amongst the others. Stretching with such force that she felt herself break apart and at the same time rush forward.  Her body spread green against the gold, unfurling like an untold story to separate the congregating stalks that smothered her.

"Ahhhh,"the wheat screamed.

Alice hadn't noticed that she was born with prickly thorns around her stem and leaves, and unfortunately, Alice's first words would be used to apologise for her existence.

The ear bowed down to look at his now torn leaf and this odd plant that seemed to trespass on wheat soil.  He shivered with the other plants before returning to the rhythmic sway that didn't invite Alice to join.

Farmer Mother the one who tended the fields  looked upon Alice with curiosity. She had never tended to anything like her before and, frankly, she didn't know what to make of her. But, Alice had grown in her field and therefore, would be taken care of like all the others. She would cover her leaves and stems with soft cloth, and paint her gold so that she could sway within the group.

Alice ached, bending to and fro like a rusted metronome. She became more and more bothered by the constant humming sound and the brushing of the wheat and quickly her paint peeled off. She realised that she would never be part of the sway. She screamed loudly, "Stop it!" which startled even those who usually remained indifferent.

Farmer Mother quietly whispered, "Brushing should soothe you," but Alice felt otherwise and she cried and cried breaking the rhythmic chanting of the field. They stopped and they stared. So, Farmer Mother instead built Alice her own space that she could feel the sun and stretch out and grow. And Alice did grow and grow and suddenly and beautifully she had a rush of long red petals that  made the shape of a basket. Her petal basket held the sun but it also held seeds, dust, dirt and rain water shaken off by the wheat.  Alice felt the strain which bruised and wilted her petals.

Farmer Mother, tired after a long day of turning over soil, fixing fences, pulling weeds,  didn't have time, energy nor the desire to drain Alice so sometimes she would pretend to not hear her cries. Farmer Mother secretly wished that Alice would just do what was expected of all who lived in the wheat field, but Alice would remind her that she was not wheat. Alice would slump her red petals, and slowly they would fall out and lay at both their feet.

Farmer Mother didn't want Alice to be sad, she simply wanted her to sway and shiver and hum.  She wanted the field to return to calm but the Farmer Mother accepted that Alice was different and so chose to cut the others back, giving Alice more room.

All were contented but Alice,  as it is perfectly understandable, because, although their touch hurt, she wished it didn't. Hands stretched out desire to be held or at least to have the potential to be held and Alice no longer had that.

When the sun began to set and Farmer Mother's feet swelled in her boots. She breathed deeply as she went again to tend to Alice.

"Where were you? You promised to take care of me and I haven't seen you all day!"

Farmer Mother took off her hat, wiped her brow and said, "I am here now."

"I am scared, Mother."

"Why are you scared?' Farmer Mother looked at her watch and then looked to the house.

"There is a red beast and it comes out at night."

"Now that's silly. I have never heard such nonsense!" Farmer Mother began to turn away.

"It is not nonsense,"she cried and stooped her red petals and again they started to fall.

Farmer Mother let out a long deep breath, " Would you like to tell me about the red beast?"

Alice looked up, "He comes at night and takes over the sky and blankets the ground, sometimes he breaks into a million beasts and they all attack me."

"Shall I sit with you then?"

"Please,"she said more as a question than a reply. "If you would like you can rest under my petals?"
Farmer Mother thought of the little spikes on the flower, "No, I am fine here," and she sat on the hard dirt.

As darkness unfolded across the earth giving the stars their movement, and as the ears of wheat lulled themselves to sleep, the moon rose causing a red hue to travel through the sky, which cut across clouds before breaking apart above the golden land.

Alice shut her petals, bowed her head and yelled to her mother,"There he is and he is coming for me.  I am scared, Mother. I am scared!"

Farmer Mother sighed, "It is just the moon."

Alice became angry,"No, it is not a moon. It is a red beast and it is coming for me!"

Her shouts travelled faster than the red hue and the fields began to wake. Farmer Mother went to quiet her and she crawled beneath her red petals and there Alice's world took life in Farmer Mother's eyes. It was not just a moon but vibrant blasts of red shouting through the sky fracturing, exploding, expanding, fireworks set off by the unsuspecting clouds. The colours showered down on the wheat fields creating a brilliant, dynamic mosaic. Each overwhelming detail caught in Alice's veins. It's beauty which she created and held, which couldn't be seen by others but was gifted to her mother at this moment on this night.

Farmer Mother gasped, "Alas, little one..." trying to comfort, to explain that it was not a beast but a glorious gift that belonged to only her, but she couldn't find the words for this explosion of colour and sensations. Still Alice quieted. A petal fell down on her mother, crossing over her shoulders, "Alice, is that my name?"

Farmer Mother realised that in the excitement the little flower misunderstood her.

"Is that who I am, Alice?  I have often wondered as I knew I wasn't wheat, no matter how hard I tried, and if I wasn't wheat then who was I? Now, I am Alice or Alice is me." She straightened her stem and her petals reached out as if she was answering to an encore and  waiting for the applause to quiet. She, no longer trying to dance with the wheat, but now, instead, allowing the wheat to dance around her, her vibrance warmed the field and warmed Farmer Mother.

Alice turned to Mother and asked,"Do you think that we should name the others because if you look quite closely, they are not all the same, and maybe, one or two would also prefer not to sway or shiver or brush?"

"Maybe,"replied Farmer Mother witnessing the details of each one's own particular story.

"I name that one Lilly and that one Elliot." said Alice, and that is how Farmer Mother and Alice spent the rest of the night. As the field, which once was only gold, blossomed with colours so did it too blossom with newly recognised life and, as should be expected, each new life rightfully deserves its very own name.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

My Chest Compressed

My chest compressed
like fragile ground under heavy boots
stomp and stomp and stomp and stomp.
Caving inward, unsettled rubble knocking about

My chest compressed
Deflating, air escapes through quiet rips
insides stick together, pulling me down
the darkness again rushes through, consumes.

My chest compressed
punched,  gasping, watching the window fog
my head against vibrating steel
the rhythm of the train takes me home.

My chest compressed
I enter to your quiet cries.
Your sister cradles you
as you wait for fairies to hide you away.

Our chests compress
as we think of the needle
that I am not sure you need
but the doctor would like anyway.

My misgivings growing
as does the red in your eyes.
I question my choices
The restless child in me struggles.

I lay Wonder Woman's armour
at your bedside.
and say it will shield you from pain.
You push it away.

Admonishing her
She is a fake!
The armour is a fake!
Everyone feels pain!

I concede. I cuddle, I kiss, you burrow.
running my thumb down your arm.
We lay sad together and wait for sleep.
We decompress

Friday, 12 February 2016

I Wish Life Was A Musical!

I wish life was like a musical and within a moment we all would just turn to song connecting the world in an unspeakable, indescribable moment of musical notes which flood the air while our smiles rush the camera in a close-up.

I met your father in the city yesterday.  It felt to be a naughty secret, our midday rendezvous.  As I walked down Northumberland, I couldn't get rid of my cheeky smile, the emerging giggle. My fast pace weaved through the crowd of extras and I smiled at them all, even smiled at the fiftieth chugger, beckoning to me.

We hadn't done this in years and yes, I do mean years, shame on us. That day, I wasn't the mommy with stains down my shirt, frazzled, tired, underwear arse backwards (literally). Yes, underwear, put on in the dark, often represented the confusion given from a poor night's sleep,  and even when I found out, probably, slumped over, hiding in an overused bathroom, I was too tired to care, but I digress. In that minute, I was gorgeous. My hair thick, caught by the wind of my stride. My clothes actually fitting and colour coded, makeup that was planned, instead of bought on clearance. As well, I had just downed an Americano with three shots of expresso, every mother's legal high. I was meeting him, the man I loved and he was only a few steps away, I could feel it.

The busker played with her see-through violin, she nodded and smiled. She added romance, intrigue and a sense of urgency, which is when I saw him.  In his black overcoat, woollen scarf, he looked for me and the music heightened as we moved closer, the pace quickened and so did mine. Now, usually in life, this is where I trip, but that day, I didn't.  I was confident, strident and surprisingly agile. I waved and he saw me and the crowd disappeared as it does when two people are in love. I think that your father was terribly shocked when I ran the last few steps and hugged and kissed him, silently embracing as the violin played. Yes, she was tipped.

Today, I walked down the same street again and again heard the music play. It was an Eastern European rhythm this time and, again, I couldn't help but smile.  I was desperate to go into dance, to twirl around the man at the fruit stand or the toothless, smiling, bald man with oversized trousers that stood in front of me, waiting. How wonderful it would be if we all joined in song, shed our tensions, fears, frustration and let the joy emerge.  That mischievous, fun child that boogie's away and now, that child had live music and an audience, so why not dance.

When I was a child, I had a paper round and the news had to be on the doorstep by 6 AM, so before the alarm clocks rang and duvets released the warmth of the night, before coffees brewed and morning kisses given,  I and my little red wagon would make our way down silent streets.  The rattle of the tyres bounced off the street lights, with the tap tap patter of my tiny gait as an accompaniment. The wind would brush the bushes and the trees would shake, the leaves quiver, it would bring a quiet reverberation, and sometimes, helped by the moon, it would gain power and bring a force that rushed through my small frame, knocking me forward, to centre stage.  Quietly but not cautiously, I would twirl under the street lights, watched only by hidden eyes contained in the bush or perched upon the wire and within me, around me, through me, the orchestra would play.

Your father has pointed out that I hum quite often.  I am not sure how he feels about this topic. He suspects it occurs when I am a bit "tense," which it makes him a bit tense. He's wrong.  The humming is only a slight bit of the loud, booming music that fills my body and I love it. As an adult, the quiet humming is what I am allowed to show. However, sometimes, I forget and I break out into song in the market or when walking.  I am usually lost in thought and am unaware of my social transgression until I receive a startled look from a passerby. It doesn't embarrass me, as you know, very little embarrasses Mommy. Hopefully, you will remember my saying to you, "Life is long," but, sadly, sometimes, I am reminded that the ending can come quick and without much warning, so enjoy the now, emerge yourself in this moment.

I will have you know that we are descended from many others who wish life was a musical. Your grandmother often sang Valderi when hiking mountains and I would giggle at the polite but perplexed onlookers before joining in. I can see the same traits in you girls. The bigger little one of you learning the words to all the songs, sometimes shedding that too cool exterior to make funny faces and funny moves, which get me giggling.  The littlest one of you just turning to song, whether it is to ask a question or make a demand, or remake the latest top hit, so it is a bit silly, also contorting your body and voice for comic appeal. Sometimes we all break into song together and laugh, sharing our stages and soothing the lonely child with the little red wagon. We are alive and we are happy. We three are part of a musical, where the goodies always win and the baddies fall into a wagon of mud, communities come together and everyone smiles at the camera as we move rhythmically, unanimously arms interlocked, through the world, together. I love it and you love it and someday it will help fill your basket of happy memories. So, girls, now, we just have to convince your father!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Let Me Tell You About My Friend Nino

I want to tell you about my friend Nino. I am not sure what to write or how to start this or if there is a point that I want to get across to you.  I just want to write about him because I miss him.

Nino and I met when I was 18 and he was 24.  Not to sound too corny but he walked into a bar and that was it, destiny was made, we were to be forever friends.  Ok, kid, that was corny, but that is actually how it happened because sometimes with some people it really is that easy. I was working as a bartender and he was friends with the owner and agreed to help out that night.  He walked in, smiled at me, took a seat and started talking as if we had always been friends and so I returned the favour and then, like magic, suddenly, we had just always been friends. There was no build up to a close bond, no great deal of shared experiences there was just an ease and comfort that was almost instantaneous that night.  I suspect that was his talent because as our friendship ventured further from the bar, I saw that familiarity in the exchanges he made with others.

At that time in my life, the best way to describe myself was awkward, I played a part in company and often critiqued the replay.  I suspect many people at that age do, some people call it "finding oneself" others call it "losing oneself."

My father had just died, resulting in a part of me dying, but, as that was happening, another part was awakening.  It was nature and no matter how much I begged and pleaded for the world to stop, it wouldn't, not even to catch my breath.  I left home for the first time, and in my new environment,  I struggled to decode the new rules.  I was never that personally or socially confident and with the death of my father what little confidence I had, crumbled. The foundation of support, my childhood home, seemed to be now in disarray. When grieving, families can sometimes come together, sadly, mine didn't, it spread out and my safe place, my home, became vacant. I would go home, often, but it was filled with ghosts, memories of family dinners and parties,  or chats around a fire. Sometimes, I would feel a whisper of a person walking past or, from a distance, watch my mother read the paper, rarely were there words exchanged.

My friendships were going through transitions as well, with so many leaving for university and moving on. I was lonely, angry and as said before, awkward.  That last descriptive was a gift given to me by years of socially trying to fit in but never really feeling my place within the group, whether real or perceived, realised externally or just believed quietly within, we'll never know, but in my mind I lived in the peripheral until I met Nino.

Throughout the years, life throws challenges and we all weather those challenges differently and sometimes little demons form from the scars left behind.  During late nights and long talks, I told Nino of my demons, he didn't judge me or look down on me, he simply smiled, pulled me into his beautiful world and reminded me of how strong I was. I fought and won many battles with him whispering in my ear.

Nino was special and he believed I was special and soon I believed him.  If someone as lovely as him could care for me then maybe I wasn't as awkward as I thought.  Soon, I started to gather other Nino's, wonderful people, who I loved and who loved me and all my honest imperfections and I no longer needed to play a part.

The other day, as you were trying to work your way through that social maze, you looked up at me and said, "You don't get it, Mum. It is not like it was back in the 70's in Connecticut! People aren't nice like they were in the old days."  Well, firstly, I will have you know, I wasn't just a child of the 70's, I was also a child of the 80's and not everyone was nice. In fact, not everyone is nice now.  We create our own beautiful worlds, and we have to choose who to let in because not all will be respectful of those worlds.  I told you that you only need one good friend in life, just one. It isn't just because that one good friend will help you to create magnificent memories that will make you giggle and sigh in years to come but also, because that one good friend will remind you of how special you are and how lovely life can be and they will give you the prototype for the people you will allow in your little world.

When I moved to the UK, it was before either Nino and I were techno savvy and life happens and sometimes people lose touch, sadly. You get busy and you say, I will make the effort tomorrow, and that becomes next week and then soon years pass.

Nino finally joined the social media universe and I was excited to see him and I told him so.  He replied by saying that now I could see how old he had become.  I just said that in my memories he remained eternally young.  However, that last response was a few weeks delayed in coming.  I had seen the notification of his comment and kept meaning to respond and that day turned into that week... and when I finally did, well... I am not sure he had the chance to read it.  Social media told me he died and I am devastated. I just sit here, this morning, coffee to my side, computer to hand, thinking of him-hundreds of unanswered questions, floods of memories, incredible sadness for his family, especially his little girl, who deserved to have him in her life for longer.  This morning,  I just sit here missing him.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Your Sister is Your Biggest Fan

Do you remember me telling you the story of how Casey Dog's barking interrupted my lunch with your great grandfather, the man you are named after? Well, it interrupted the dream lunch, since he died long before you or I were born.

At about 2:00 AM, your father and I woke to the barking, rubbed our eyes, looked at each other, slipped out of bed and crept down the hallway, not saying a word. Casey kept taking steps forward, slowly, waiting for us to follow her, and we did,  towards the rattling noise coming from the third floor. A trapped bird flying frantically through three small rooms (one soon to become yours) trying to escape, but there were no opened windows or chimney vents, nor holes in the attic. Its entrance a mystery. We freed it because that is what you do for trapped birds.

I kept remembering  the poem The Raven by Edgar Alan Poe.  Although the poem's theme is not about joy and love gained, the bird plays as a messenger from the afterworld, and at that moment, I thought of you. I knew that you were inside me, growing, which is why the first pregnancy test was done in the early hours of the morning.

When you were born, I was sure that the heavens had actually opened so that G-d could deliver you personally. Time seemed to stop.  I didn't want to move from the first day of your life because nothing mattered after that, nothing was created, nothing died, to stay forever in that moment.  Like a child, I believed that only your father, me and you existed, and that when the door closed to our happy home our guests, friends, neighbours simply disappeared.

Your father and I looked at your fragile little hands that we carefully navigated through sleep suits, your large chocolate eyes, and that fantastic smile. My finger went round and round the garden on your tummy and your little toes and soon you sang the song to me. Each day a new trick magically appeared you began to count, read, tell jokes, collect stones and create hairstyles, a proper little girl.  We watched the angel grow her wings and we marvelled.   Why would G-d have allowed us to be your parents when we really weren't worthy?

Soon my stomach grew again, and you barely noticed or cared because you were three, but the rest of the world did.  Your father and I looked at each other excited but worried. We appreciated that we could never create another child like you. Who could capture us the way you had? So, we agreed to not compare.

Your sister, born in water, our little mermaid, cuddled her wet body into me, trying to gain warmth. As she does this morning under a soft blanket while we watch Sinbad. I dipped down into the bath and cried. Your father ran his finger gently down the side of her cheek and kissed my forehead. She was not like you; she was like her. All night I stayed awake, gazing at her. The first sleepless night of many.  Only this night, I smiled.

You couldn't wait to hold her, and we have a picture of it somewhere. She looked at you and quieted and calmed.  You made cooing noises, smiled and she squeezed your finger. Love born during an introduction. You couldn't get enough of her, so you would poke her when she slept, which she didn't mind as long as it was you she saw when her eyes opened. When I called you into the kitchen, you came with her in your arms (to my terror). You would sing to her and play peek-a-boo and when she grew her first bottom teeth she would show it to us in many smiles.  You barely noticed your positioning being moved from centre of the universe. That came later.

She stopped being your favourite toy, sometime after her second birthday. You were pushed off to school and there she stayed at home, in my arms.  You would come home and find remnants of crafts, puzzles, play dates and mummy sitting tired on the settee. You would pull at my sleeve and I would say, just let me finish my coffee, one more sip, but you would pull harder and harder until I said it louder and louder, which usually made you retreat to your dolls or your crafts. She would want to join and you would agree, as long as she knew the toys were yours.

It didn't seem to bother her to play second in your world. She loved you even though she no longer fit on your lap.  She followed you as you slid down the stairs, listened to your cosmetic tips, watched you with friends (regardless if she was invited) and you enjoyed her as a toy. Her trusting eyes followed you everywhere, to the forbidden sweetie jar or outside the gate or into my make-up case and jewelry box. Each time I caught the two of you, I became cross, so in the future you just sent her, but I figured that one out too. You began to pinch, push, kick her but I saw and I became cross again, and she learned how to pinch, poke and push back, to your dismay.

However, as I put you in time out, in your room or just gave you a pointing, waving finger, your sister protested and you noticed. If there were treats, she wouldn't eat them unless you had some too, When she begged for a toy, she begged for you too. You realised soon that you never left the centre of her universe and I explained that she was and would always be your biggest fan. No matter if friends were "horrible," the universe scraped your knees, or the teacher "told you off", your sister would always step in the line of fire to protect you. Suddenly, her toothy grin made you smile again and you didn't mind her holding you like an overstuffed toy.

So, this morning, when she tries to tickle you relentlessly and you huff loudly or when she wants to match her nail polish colour to yours again, again and again. You roll your eyes,  grunt, but put your fingers forward, saying, "there," because you know that it is a small price to pay for being loved so much by such a tiny thing.