I feel compelled to write about a little girl I know who lost her Daddy suddenly, nearly a year ago.
This morning, she is unable to access the outside world because grief is her opponent and grief is winning.
She sits on the sofa with her pet dog, wrapped in soft blankets. To the left of her, close by are her Dad’s ashes – which, she says with slight confusion, are much smaller than the ashes of Fidget! Her recently deceased, much loved pussy cat.
She is 12 years old.
Her strength has the capacity to withstand the mightiest of storms. Her wit can enthrall an audience of listeners and her smile lights up the darkest of rooms and yet…
her heart is fractured.
Over the years, her survival techniques have pushed the closet of people away, often hurting them to release some of the burden that she carried. At times she unacceptably played the role of scapegoat when other children could do no wrong.
Trying to find a way back from the self destruction was so terribly difficult for her and although she longed to be accepted and forgiven, the path was somewhat difficult.
She really didn’t want to hurt others… just to show them how much she was hurting.
The pattern became familiar until it was a safe pattern of knowing and by that I mean she knew how to fill up other people’s convincer strategies of who she was and what she was about.
It really wasn’t true.
This child with her fractured heart is hurting and there aren’t enough words to describe the pain that she is in.
I feel the depth of an unforgiving, relentless and unbearable grief that she is carrying and trying to make sense of. I know that there are questions that she will be asking internally that can not be answered now, but still she carries them. There are days when the world forgets about this little girl and her struggles and I guess that is just a part of life.
Life carries on.
Grief carries on.
When a child loses a parent their whole experience of the world changes. When the death is sudden, no time to say goodbye, no time for a last hug, cuddle, giggle, sharing of stories, anything.
Just left with an ocean of overwhelming loss.
To the education system who lack the knowledge of how to help these children emotionally, day to day within their school life, please take the time to train your staff appropriately. Give them the tools that are so desperately needed to assist these kids.
To the education system who refuses to understand that there are days when these children cannot and will not be able to access the school day because grief will take over.
Let them be children who need time to grieve not an attendance statistic.
To all you Mums and Dads out there that are struggling with loss, please please know that you are doing an amazing job and ask for help if you need it. The earlier the intervention, the more a child can begin to work through and begin to process the trauma.
I am so very proud to know you and I am grateful to be able to walk alongside you and your Mum throughout your journey. Thank you for re-connecting with me and allowing a certain trust to begin to build between us. You are the most resilient child that I know and one day you too will rise up and show the world who you truly are.
With taking his evening medication, my father would sprinkle salt on two slices of bread and butter and then make them into a sandwich.
Who does that?
His days were spent in terrible physical pain and his night’s were plagued with horrendous nightmares – the kind that forced his body into a soaking wet sweat. That’s where the drugs came in and did their job of knocking him out into an unconcious state, often appearing dead with a cold and bluish complexion.
I wonder where he travelled in his sleep?
I wonder if he ever was able to access peace beyond the realms of being awake?
I hope so.
I have painted such a bad picture of the man I called my father and that’s not really the truth of it all. He was a good man and a very sick man, that’s the paradox. There is so much to write about him and the pain he must have endured as a child, also the rejection he sufferred from trying to tell his story and having it ignored.
Maybe that’s why it is so important for me to tell mine!
The atrocities he experienced from the age of 4 until 7 in a prisoner of war camp scarred his young mind and was enough to damage his life and the lives of the peoplehe loved. There have been many times when I have felt so desperate to see him again – to hold him close and tell him that I understand, tell him that I love him so much and tell him its okay.
I don’t know if he is resting?
He deserves to rest…
You see, we all have the power to judge another as my father was judged by his family, doctors, neighbours etc… everyone had something to say but never really gave him the time to begin to wonder why he behaved the way he did or even to try and unravel his pain.
I give people time to unravel.
I guess in that day and age it was just easier to shut him up with medication and send him on his way which ultimately, killed his body.
I can never justify his actions but I can always choose love over hate and ignorance.
The doctor that plied my father with drugs was stuck off some years later. He was well known for over prescribing medications for his patients.
It’s 1.54am in the morning and I have been lying here for the past two hours unable to sleep and thought I would write about my eventful day yesterday.
I was booked in for a Hysteroscopy and arrived at the day surgery ward at 11.10am feeling fairly relaxed and ready to get it over with. The booking in clerk told me that I was last on the list and added that it was going to be a long afternoon’s wait.
Armed with 3 second hand Hellomagazines and an iphone, I was directed to my designated cubicle for the duration.
And what a long day it was…
Three nurses along with a healthcare assistant ran the show absolutely rushed off their feet all day long. Different uniformed people flowed in and out of the ward but the nurses (and their voices) were the faces that became familiar throughout the day.
The first check I had was the normal blood pressure, temperature, questions etc and of course the‘tagging’ to make sure they operate on the right person and the right bit of my body!
This nurse started her shift at 6.45am.
An hour or so later and 3 magazines done (I only like the pictures) the Anesthetist came and had a chat. Throughout the conversation and the legal warnings that have to be said, he constantly held the cheekiest smile upon his face. It seems that any given moment he could have burst out laughing which in turn made me smile and banter along with him.
I signed his consent form.
Next came the Gynecologist who wasn’t the consultant named on my admittance form and with him two trainee doctors. He was tall and slim with a wispy grey moustache wearing all beige. My friend katie and I have a long standing joke between us that whilst she chooses vibrant exciting colours, I go for, and in her very own words ‘beige dear‘ time and time again. It always makes us laugh so I figured that was a good sign.
I signed his consent form too.
It wasn’t too long after the beige man’s visit that the young trainee doctor returned with a request. He asked if it would be okay to examine me?
“What right now?”
His face coloured a little red and he replied with a;
“No! I mean when you are in the operating theatre.”
I asked him why and he explained that after the Gynecologist had completed his task, he would like to take a look too and that it would help him to learn. The young man looked around the age of 19 I’m not kidding and I proceeded to ask him what year of learning he was currently in and he replied year 4.
Anything in the form of education is a must from my belief so I agreed and signed yet another consent form.
One by one the patients on the list were taken away. It used to be that you would undress in your cubicle, put your theatre gown on and hop up on to the wheeled bed.
Oh how things have changed…
With an aching back and numb bum through all of the sitting around, my time finally came.
Yet again, more of the same questions just to treble check and then a lovey nurse led me down to the theatre by foot; porter and trolley in hot persuit behind us.
After stripping off and gowning up I was then allowed to get on to my bed and was pushed in to see the happy anesthetist.
At this point, I stop smiling and so did he – things aren’t so funny anymore!
I look away as he attempts his first cannula in my right hand;
“Sharp scratch” he says, “nothing to worry about” and then, “oh no its ruptured.”
The anesthetist has another go in my right arm and the flow of fluid is incorrect, so it has to be taken out. His third attempt is in my left hand and after much banging and squeezing and the use of a tourniquet, fails.
At this point my legs had started to shake uncontrolably and I was freezing cold.
The not so smiley anesthetist begins his fourth attempt when the theatre nurse politely reminds him that he is not allowed to try again as he fumbles at my arm suggesting it will be fine and we all need to calm down.
Protocol is three attempts and then call for a consultant anesthetist.
Another one is called and my whole body is now shaking.
I started to breathe deeply trying desperately to calm myself down because at this point I was super anxious about what was happening. My body seemed to be disconnected from my mind for a period of time as I struggled to control the shaking even though I knew that it was totally possible to get myself in to a relaxed state.
I just couldn’t calm down. My old familiar friend fear, took over…
Two more people arrived in the tiny room so that made six altogether. They were talking amoungst themselves about the problem and how they were going to manage me.
“Her veins are very weak,” was one comment, we could try…. and at that point the shaking at risen to my whole face with my teeth unable to keep up with the rythym of the rest of my body. They tried to keep me warm by laying a warm blanket over my feet.
Just my feet if I may add and it appeared heavy and uncomfortable so I asked them to remove it.
Did they forget about the rest of my body?
The Consultant Anesthetist spoke very calmly and whilst rubbing my right arm. He stated that everybody in the room needed to calm down especially me and at that it was all fine, he will get the cannula in no problem.
At this point I was ready to run.
Remember! I am a runner it’s my normal pattern of trying to escape – I couldn’t run anywhere I just had to stay and face to onset of massive fear. I prayed silently in my head yet again and hoped that someone was on call to help me and I attempted to surrender the fear over to anyone who was willing to take it from me; God, Dad even Alan.
Was anybody on call that day?
This smooth dark skinned, soft speaking anesthetist had three goes and this time in my left arm twice, with his last attempt in my left foot (the nurse told me that this one would sting a little more than the others).
Really!!! Do you think?
And what a surprise, none of the cannula’s were successful.
This man suggested that the ONLY other way of getting the cannula is was to insert it into my NECK to which I told him directly NO WAY you are not touching my neck.
At this point my vocal chords had kicked in. I told them all that I believed that everything happens for a reason and maybe the reason was that I wasn’t mean’t to have this operation at this point in time. The anesthetist replied with; “that’s a great way at looking at things,” – Oh please…
I also told them that I was freezing and that fact wasn’t helping me as my whole boy shook in front of them.
A few suggestions were made with a few other’s in disagreement and I said loudly that if they can’t do it the normal way then I was leaving and they could wheel me back to the ward.
So in comes the number 3 consultant anesthetist (not sure whether his title should have capital letter’s or not?) because at this stage I was losing the will to live… get me outta here! He brought with him another Dr, male nurse or even another ANESTHETIST – who bloody knows who the extra male person is at this point because I didn’t, he wasn’t introduced.
That makes 8 medical’s in the room now.
This man was stockier than the others and had a bald head. He said in a competent loud foreign accent; “Hello there, whats all this fuss about then?”
I politely told him that this was the last attempt (number 7) that any one of them was going to have, as they clearly can not sort the problem out and I’d had enough. He agreed with me and asked if it was okay to try just one more time?
Holding back the tears, I agreed.
The man who came in with him, held my right arm very tightly in a downward direction whilst the anesthetist put his glasses on. I gasped a sigh of relief due to the fact that he was the only one wearing glasses and told the the audience of medical staff and they all laughed.
Glad I could oblige.
He used an Ultra Scan machine to try and find an appropriate vein.
“Ahh!” he said, “a big beautiful vein” and the man who came in with him tied a tournaquet around the arm and the bald headed anesthetist pushed the cannula in with success.
You see! (literally) It was all about the glasses…
I was in that little room for about 45 minutes before they were able to sedate me and after the operation, my eyes were already in tears before I opened them in recovery.
Bless the male nurse who looked after me in the recovery room who confirmed that I’d had a rough time in there… and that it was all over now. He gave me a sip of water and a mouthful of Oramorph.
After what seemed about only ten minutes, I was wheeled back to where my day had begun and given two bits of dry toast on a plate with some butter and a knife.
Looking back now, I am sure that if they had just placed the warm blanket on my arm for a while a nice vein would have been ready for the impending cannula. When my father in-law was going through his chemo treatment the nurse always warmed his arm first because she found it difficult to get the cannula in so the warming up process served a great purpose.
I wonder if any lessons weren’t learn’t that day by the medical staff?
Maybe they all need to get there eyes tested might be one of them?
The nurse that booked me in, in the morning was the same nurse that signed me out in the evening and at that point her shift was 13.5 hours long.
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live – Norman Cousins
Its cold outside today.
The weather has changed considerably.
The house that nobody wanted became our family home.
Unlucky for some – unlucky for us.
Its not a case of luck really! The truth is that the families that lived within it’s walls, experienced such loss and sadness.
I’m not sure why my parents chose to move across the road and my guess is that the house was semi detached instead of mid-terraced. It was still a two bedroom property and we were a family of five (well seven if you include the dog and cat).
The previous tennants were a couple with two teenage boys and tragically one of the boys aged 17 died of suffocation in the upstairs airing cupboard. I have no idea how the tragedy happened and I didn’t find out about it until I was a young adult.
Knowing about the poor boy, escalated my fears of being alone in the house.
Number 13 stood empty for a while and it seemed that no other council tennants were remotely interested in making it their home accept for my parents of course!
And why not? You couldn’t get more of a religious, complete hypocrite of an un-Christian like father such as ours who would override any decision that wasn’t his.
But preach he did…
And listen we didn’t!
My father and Godfather separated the larger of the two bedrooms by erecting a false wall with a sliding door. I had the first small room which my brothers had to walk through to get to their room where the airing cupboard was housed. I remember them having bunk beds, a wardbrobe and an old dark wooden chest of drawers. The room was small, especially for two boys. When they were teenagers, my mother found a box full of condoms (un-opened packets) under the bottom bunk when she was doing the housework and I recall her being mortified to think that they may actually be having sex with their girlfriends. Feeling embarrassed, she never mentioned it. Well not to them anyway and personally, I think that it was incredibly responsible of them both.
My bedroom was small too – it seems we were cheated of space. I had a single wardbrobe, a small bed and a scruffy wooden toy box full of old jumble sale toys. The wall between the rooms was so thin that it was like being in the same space together and I often heard my brothers whispering to one another. I wondered what they were saying…
Little did I know how significant my bedroom would become in years to follow.
There are many difficult memories attached to living in the house that nobody wanted and I have often remarked that I couldn’t careless if it burnt down just as long as no one was harmed.
Writing all things difficult can take its toll and in particular this week, I have struggled and edited this post several times. So I’d like to share a fond childhood memory that warms my heart.
My brothers and I played a game of Mr & Mrs, talking through the wall whilst laying in our beds late one evening. The game show was popular on the television in the 70’s and our parents used to watch it and we copied the idea, asking each other silly questions. We were supposed to be going to sleep and I must have been quite young possibly, under the age of 10 but old enough to remember that we had to speak quietly in order not to wake the sleeping dragon. I remember the laughter we shared that night and the feeling that my brothers had included me in a game. That’s quite significant because of the age gap between us – it wasn’t a normal thing that we did. Something tells me that it had been a difficult evening in the house with our father and they were trying to alleviate my being scared as I was unable to sleep.
I am so grateful for my brothers.
I understand who they are 💙
All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019
The force that stormed through the door was untamed.
He was a mad man.
The man I loved unconditionally and yet feared unlike any other human being alive, arrived with the big black case in hand.
Remember the case?
I froze – engulfed in terror, my mother a couple of feet behind me and to be specific, she stood in the right hand corner at the back of the front room.
I was her shield.
Like it was okay?
The dog was going crazy, barking in a frenzy of confusion running in all directions. He was my father’s dog and very much loved.
The mad man – hair messed, face contorted, eyes wide with RAGE started bellowing at my mother and the only thing I remember is;
“I’m going to kill you.”
and he hurled the big black hard sided case with such force, across the room at Her and as she threw herself out of the way, her screams of begging and pleading went un-noticed by any person outside.
It was a near miss.
Smashing against the wall.
The dreadful volume of noise – shouting – screaming – crying – barking – it was utter chaos.
I can still hear the hysterical cries from her and the fury filled shouting from him – I began pleading with him, begging him to stop, telling him I was scared, using his love for me to try and persuade him to calm down;
“If you love me Dad then please, please stop!”
I was in my very own nightmare and needed help. I couldn’t get him to stop and physically I didn’t have the strength to hold on for much longer. The situation escalated as he kicked the dog out the way and started to push me back and walk in her direction so I threw my arms around him, hugging him, telling him I loved him, sobbing; my feet slipping on the carpet as I pushed back as much as I could.
I tried I really tried hard; I pushed back
and prayed frantically, with speed, in my head to a God that I believed was there.
He was there, wasn’t he?
Then something changed – slowly, he began to calm down and as I held on to him for dear life, he demanded to know where his drugs were. My mother told him as he prized my arms from around him and walked out of the room.
I prayed every day as a child.
For my father –
What is this love this powerful force This energy of love Can strip the volatile naked to reveal a truth not often seen Rage can hide behind love and fear behind the rage Fear is the truth that rage will not speak Love is the gentle dance to heal a broken heart
I read on another blog that people aren’t really interested in reading your story unless you are giving them something back and I have been throwing myself the ‘what the fuck am I doing?’ line – (that’s an old pattern)
I’ve given back my entire life.
It has taken me years, literally years to do this and yes, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking for any feedback, acknowledgement, healing – of course I am. Isn’t everyone who chooses to open themselves up when writing a personal blog? I have also read numerous times that there is a book in everyone and yes, I want to write a book. Will this be the content? Who know’s… but for me it’s a start in my writing something down even if this get’s lost in a sea of a million other personal, painful life experiences.
I can offer so much.
I can and will teach other’s how to change their live’s through writing and speaking – it’s my life’s work my purpose for being and right now I am allowing my inner children to speak freely without judgement (from me) for they have been suffocating slowly, for many years.
Blogging is very new to me and I find WordPress quite difficult. I am still learning about tags and categories and some would say that it should be self explanatory but it’s not for me! I know that I also need to learn about copyrights and quoting others – what I can and can’t do.
This is my journey.
I am grateful for this space and I am grateful for anyone who read’s my story so I will ride the waves of not feeling good enough and see where it takes me…
To be more childlike, you don't have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe. - Dr Wayne Dyer
All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019