The Mercurial Whirlwind..

*Content warning – suicide

On Monday 19th February it was eleven years since my Dad phoned me early one evening to tell me that my younger sister Mary had died. She was 35.

You hear people say things like “I knew it was bad news when the phone rang” but I genuinely went cold on the first ring – I’ve no idea how to explain it, but I swear I somehow knew it was really bad news about Mel.
Unfortunately she had ended her own life. I could speculate for hours (and did initially) on exactly why, but it serves no purpose. The simple truth is that at that moment in time she needed to stop. Undiagnosed depression certainly impacted her actions.
But that was how she ended, it wasn’t who she was. I’m not sure I have the words to capture the mercurial whirlwind that was my little sister. No one else has ever made me laugh (or cry) so hard. She was beautiful, funny, kind, generous, quixotic. She was also stubborn, defensive, argumentative and had a flash temper that raged white hot then just as quickly was gone.

She’d unexpectedly turn that megawatt smile on you and you had no choice but to grin back.

As kids we fought so much, but had each others back, always. I have loads of fabulous memories, good and bad, and that’s how it should be, saintly she wasn’t!

I remember at the time she died being unexpectedly angry with her, simply because we were supposed to grow old together. Losing her was hard, but it was almost as tough dealing with the loss of both past and future memories.

There is no-one else who remembers how to play “mummies, daddies & little darlings”, who knows how you had to step over the second floorboard from the bathroom door because it creaked so loudly, who swears she saw a ghost in our kitchen, who could play connect four for hours, who can remind me how I taught her all the basic swear words after she begged me to! Who was my partner in crime on teenage hair and makeup, and my best friend even when we ‘hated’ each other.

It’s like I lost some of the vibrancy from my past memories when she died, they’re still there, but without her to help me take them out and polish them or argue over them they’ve faded.

Of course we should also already have another eleven years of adult sisterhood to mull over. But she’ll never make a new memory in this life, as much as I carry her with me always.

There’s simply a Mel shaped hole missing from the second half of my life.

So I want to use this post to let anyone who is feeling like they want to stop know they are not alone. You are worthwhile, you are seen, you are loved. This really will pass, so please reach out for support in whatever form feels comfortable. I promise help is out there.

UK & ROI Samaritans – 116 123

USA – Lifeline Chat – 1-800-273-8255.

Australia – Lifeline – 13-11-14

Canada – The Canada Suicide Prevention Service – 1-833-456-4566

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Love Is All

A very beautiful & treasured friend of mine has lost her husband suddenly & so unexpectedly. I am stunned, and I am so sorry for her and her family’s heartbreaking loss.

I just wanted to take a moment to say please hold your loved ones close. Then hold them closer.

Make the words I love you the most common ones you use, and mean it. It is not a cliché to say not a single one of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

Make your loved ones your only priority. Forget the extra shift at work, it’s so damned unimportant. Forget who put the trash out last, who cares? Hold hands, dance together, sing together, scream together, spend time with each other.

Talk about inconsequential things whilst looking at the night sky, talk about the important stuff whilst looking into their eyes. Smile in the rain, laugh in the face of storms. Time is the most precious gift we ever give to others, and it’s so fleeting.

Make your moments count, fill them with laughter, make memories. Remember this means all of those you love, not only partners and children and parents, but the family we choose for ourselves, our friends.

Don’t put off that lunch date, or keep forgetting to make that call while time slips through your hands like water. Love with all of your heart as fiercely and as loudly as you can, because when it comes down to what’s real it’s all that matters.

Love is everything. Namaste ūüíô

Unbreakable Bonds

As some of you will know the reason I’ve not posted for a while is that my Mum had been poorly, and she has recently passed.¬† She unfortunately suffered from dementia in the last couple of years of her life, and as anyone who has been through this knows you feel you’ve lost the person you love before they’ve gone.¬†
I found this so hard, but tonight I have sat quietly, lit candles and drifted through memories of her long and happy life, both those I share and those I will never know. I feel she has been here with me, helping me to remember the person I love, and it has given me so much peace. So I ask you to indulge me….

I remember seeing this picture of Mum when I was a child, and wondering that she was ever this young, glamorous girl.

image

We so often don’t think of our parents as people, having lives and loves and stories that started long before us.

I’m fortunate that Mum shared some of her story, such as starting work in the London Stock Exchange when she left school, and working there for over 25 years, becoming a Gilt Edged Securities Clerk, managing three girls under her and literally processing millions of pounds.

Or her travels to Kenya as a single woman in the 1950’s, visiting her dashing older brother, a pilot first in the RAF then privately after the war. I will never forget her very matter of factly telling me how she had hidden in the back of a car for hours from hostile attack during the Mau-mau uprising, very much my Mum, always understated!

There are some lovely b/w shots somewhere of her holidaying in Jersey before she met Dad, and I would love to have known this beautiful, bright career woman.

The Mum I knew had such warmth, kindness, generosity and love. She had stopped working, but she never stopped moving. Cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, embroidery, card making… A truly creative and talented lady.

Just from my recall in Randwick where we grew up she volunteered at school doing reading and crafts, helped run and was treasurer of the playgroup, became Brown Owl for the Brownies, and was an active member and fundraiser for the Mothers Union and the Women’s Institute¬† – all while raising two slightly lively(!) girls.

In later years she moved to Great Bedwyn, became President of the WI for a time and was a massive support to The Bedwyns Link Scheme, an active village voluntary scheme providing cross community support locally to all who needed it for over 15 years.  Wiltshire Life presented her with a well deserved Carer of the Year award for this tireless work.

The sheer number of cards we have received, sharing memories of her and mourning her loss have been an amazing testament to the hearts she touched along the way. Nearly all of them mentioned her smile, which to the last could light up a room. 

Mum I will miss you more than words can say.  You truly were an inspiration. I learned from watching you how to be fair, how important it was to be caring and generous with others. 

Through my adult life you have been a gentle constant presence, never judging, just loving and welcoming as always. I’ve probably taken that for granted sometimes, but you have been like a light in the window that has always been there to welcome me home and make me feel loved.

I want you to know how much I love you.¬† It’s that simple, and that huge and that magical.¬† That bond is something that time and the universe can never break.

Always, your loving daughter, Denise.