My Secret Diary – my voice

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I have been having a little think recently about where I want to be.

In all honestly I have struggled to write anything down lately and I can’t put my finger on why, how, or even when it started.  You see I have changed since all of this began, quite a lot it seems, and it only really dawned on me more recently when this ‘secret’ diary of mine became nominated for an award.  How lovely you might be thinking or what on earth is wrong with her?  What an honour for others to recognise your writing and to be shortlisted to represent such an good cause.  I thought that too for a while, until I slowly but surely felt a pressure to write instead of feeling the freedom and enjoyment I usually have when jotting down my thoughts.

After the initial elation of being nominated really for anything, the reality began to set in that in order for anyone to actually vote for me, they would have to read what I had written and judge it for themselves.  It would also mean that an awful lot more people would be reading my story and my life.  My little life.

Another worry I had was that I would not know anyone if I did go to the awards.  I had previously met three girls at another event and that was all.  This presented me with a few problems because it meant that I would have to overcome anxiety to speak, and not only that but actually explain who I was and the subject of my writing – which is not so easy for me nowadays.  And so perhaps it was a combination of these things that made me freeze and no more words came out.

This has happened to me a few times over the months and each time something has happened to shake me out of it.  This time it was a short message from another mum who was experiencing some of the same emotions that I had done all that time ago on that One Particular Day when I drove to pick my boy up from school feeling a numbness inside, and once again I was reminded sharply of exactly why I write.  And so I kept reminding myself over and over after that message that it was an honour and a privilege to be nominated for such a thing, and that I would be representing all those whom I have come to know that have been face-to-face with the shitty C word.  Oh how right Lisa Lynch was.

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Having said all of this I still did what I do best, and I pretended that it was not in fact happening (I am pretty good at denial) and sure as you know the days passed and all of a sudden it was the night before the event.

Of course I need not have worried because the girl whom I had arranged to travel with was even nicer than I already imagined that she would be.  As we both sat on the train we chatted and the inevitable explanation of who I am came out, and yet I found that her story was equally as tough to tell and she told it without falter or pause for thought.  She kindly introduced me to her lovely friends and they welcomed me as the newcomer warmly and openly, much to my relief.  Eventually the evening came and I finally decided on an outfit that I didn’t much care for and donned a brave face, hands shaking.  The night had arrived and after the meal, the nominations were read out dutifully.  In particular when the main award was read out a brief synopsis of each person and their blog story was told, and I felt like mine was a surreal tale about someone else.  I didn’t win, but I didn’t need too.  All of the right people on the night won for their own reasons, each as important as the other.  I knew on that evening that the importance of raising awareness to a room full of parents far outweighed my anxieties.  In particular I had the pleasure of meeting a girl called Heidi who has been diagnosed with breast cancer too as a young mother.  She won ‘Best Writer’ for her blog Storm In a Tit Cup, writing a darkly humorous account of her own.  That girl has lost her baby, gone through treatment, and continued to look after her two young children all in the knowledge that she has stage 4 cancer.  It is hard to know what to say when you meet someone as amazing as that, so we decided to dance instead.

Overall it is a good job that I did not win an award in the end, because I would have undoubtedly fallen up or down the steps to the stage or descended into a pool of tears.  There was one thing that I wished I had been given the chance to do though, to thank those who have supported me and those who continue to do so.  My long suffering husband, my mum and sisters and auntie who all felt my nerves, and the friends who have continued to hold my hand along the way.  I am not sure there will ever be enough thanks, but thanks there should be, because it is family and friends who have been there step for step too.

The next day I set off home and I can honestly say that I have never wanted to be at home more in my life.  I felt a pull and a need to be with my family – right back where I belong.

You see, I been having a little think recently about where I want to be.

There is no doubt that I have changed, not for better or for worse, but just different that’s all.  I still laugh and joke as I always have, but the nerves come a little more easily nowadays, as do the tears.  I have decided that I may continue to write this ‘secret diary’ of mine, or that one day I may just stop.  For now though I will keep on jotting down all of the things that come along and hope that just one other person will read this and think ‘I am not the only one’ or even that perhaps my children will read this when they are older and remember the day that their mummy came home.

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Thanks to Sarah, Julia, Emma, Helen and Heidi

 

Turning back the clock

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My girls starts school next week.  My little pride and joy.  In truth, I am trying not to think about it too much, but then the thoughts keep creeping back into my mind somehow.  My overriding thoughts are ones that I cannot dispel and there is one wish in particular that I know can never come true.

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I wish I could turn the clock back.

Just for a moment. If only.

If only I could, but I know I cannot. I know deep down that it is a silly thing to say and I have never been one to regret or look back over my life (too much anyway).  I just can’t help but wonder if perhaps I could have done things differently.  Perhaps I would have been checked out earlier?  If I had only fought that overriding sense of anxiety, would it have all turned out differently?  Would I have caught ‘it’ sooner?  And if I had, would it have meant less treatment? A treatment that stopped me spending precious time with my children.  A treatment that stopped me taking them to and from school and nursery.  A treatment that kept me in bed even when I fought to get up in time – just to remind them to have a lovely day.

What if?

There is no point to wishing and what ifs, and yet if I ever do let my mind wander I wonder what could have been.  I cannot help it. Perhaps it is a normal way of thinking for people who have experienced illness, or perhaps I shouldn’t look back at all?

Next week is not about me, it is about my little girl.  All of the guilt, the nerves, the excitement and the worry belong to me and I will lock it up and hide it somewhere that she cannot see.  It is the end of an era but also the beginning of a new one and a new chapter in our lives.  All of her nerves and uncertainty will be calmed by myself and her daddy the best way we know how.

I have realised that the overriding feeling I have right now, in this moment, is one of pride. A great sense of pride in my daughter, in the little girl that she has become and the young lady that she is growing up to be.image

Of course we have spoken about school, what it means, what will happen in a vain attempt as parents to fend off any of the ‘unknowns’ and uncertainties.  Careful not to talk about it too much or introduce worry or fear, but just enough to acknowledge that it is happening.  To her and to me. In one such conversation recently I complemented her saying what a ‘big girl’ she now is and she told me that she doesn’t want to be a big girl, she wants to be a baby (out of the mouths of babes I thought).

And so as next week draws near and I attempt to label new uniforms and check all is as it should be, I have welcomed the sense of pride as it is one which I am very lucky to have.  Things could have been very different for us, and perhaps they still could be.

Aren’t I the lucky one to be able to feel her nerves ?

Aren’t I the lucky one who tells her that it is ok to cry if she needs to?

Aren’t I the lucky one to have taken her shoe shopping for her first school shoes?

Aren’t I the lucky one to hold her hand as she walks through the school gates for the very first time?

There is no doubt in my mind that she will soar through school once she has settled in.  It is just that the settling in part is a very real hurdle that needs to be overcome.  My girl is bright and happy and articulate.  Her personality shines out of her once she is sure and only then will you ever catch a glimpse of her eyes sparkling.  Until then there will be the odd tear no doubt (for us both), and her fingers will be placed firmly in her mouth as she secretly wishes she had her special blanket.  I know that she will look hopefully for her brother in the playground, for a familiar face.  She may spend weeks in her bubble until the teacher manages to reassure her, and only then will she shyly answer to her name.

One thing is for sure though, that she can be absolutely certain of in the coming weeks of change.  I will be there, or her daddy, waiting for her at the end of the day with hopeful eyes and arms outstretched.

Aren’t I the lucky one to be able to stand at those school gates waiting for my girl?

September 2016

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Art by Yolande Sanchez