Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A lesson in courage

(*photo credit to Nattu*)

Her hair, spectacular orange, looked like fire. It was long and wavy and fierce: strands and strands of it, wild and unwashed, sweeping across her forehead and covering the pillow. The irony, I guess, was that there was so much life in it: so much life, and yet she lay, still and frail and confused, savaged by the brain tumour. Dying. 

She was beautiful: big, doe-like eyes that I was sure once sparkled. Soft, round cheeks that weren't always tinted grey. Plump, rosy lips. The kind of woman my Grandma would have described as an english rose. She was beautiful. Beautiful. And broken.

I think about her often because she was only five years older than me, and because she was the first person I'd come across who was dying and looked, well... Like she was dying. There was no hope or vigour, no odds that she was going to surpass, no battle she was going to win.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


I've always wanted to fill my house with pretty things. The gentle, teasing dance of candlelight. Antique books with cracked spines and yellowing pages, modestly wearing the scars of time. Vibrant, beautiful flowers: ones that fill the whole kitchen with a wild, powdery scent. An ornate, full length mirror in the hallway by the door, because how do you tell if the shoes really go with the outfit otherwise? It was all I considered: when I thought about my 'dream' home. 


Except. I know now, for certain, that it is not about things. I've been taught that is never about things. Not the green succulent aesthetic, or whether the plates are clean of last night's velvety chocolate cake (they're not), or if the leather of the sofa is perfectly intact. It isn't about how the morning sun glistens in through that window, or whether there's a doormat featuring a cute, neatly embroidered positive affirmation that has been slowly covered and caressed by autumn leaves and mud. Those things are lovely, yes, 

but they do not make a home.

Monday, 3 October 2016

About my Grandad

His chicken was always 'too dry', and nobody was allowed to speak during the Countdown ad break so he could crack the teatime teaser. We'd play 'snap' on the regular, and the cards would always end up in the air, caught in the laughter between us, and every six months or so I'd count up his loose change pot and he'd let me keep whatever was in it. He was mischievous, impatient, brash - sometimes insufferable, but he was mine. And I loved him.

He would have been 88 today, and he would have pretended he was 21 again, like he did every year because his jokes never changed, and he probably wouldn't have liked his cake or the soppy card I chose, but wouldn't have minded that we'd filled his fridge with a hearty steak and some chocolate eclairs, because well, what else do you buy the man who has it all? And he would have caught my eye across the room and pulled a silly face and we'd have been happy, I think, just to be with each other.

We always were. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How to be there for someone with anxiety

(*photo credit to Blondinrikard Froberg*)

Research, research, research:
before you open your mouth. Before you offer advice. Before you say the thing, the wrong thing, because unfortunately, that would be the easiest thing in the world for you to do. Listen to them. Ask them questions, if they're comfortable talking about it.

If you're not willing to try, to educate yourself, to accept: to understand, somehow, then walk away. Let them be. They will wear your ignorance as a scar on the heart.

Please, please, please do not ever tell them to 'calm down', or 'chill out'; do not ever tell them that they're being silly or have nothing to be anxious about. Let's acknowledge the obvious: if they could simply switch it off, they would. They would choose, in a heartbeat, to live without the bastard if they could.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The breaking

I threw up in the minutes after he left. And then I sat, clutching my hair in my hands on the bathroom floor, crying. Deep, primal sobs that shook my ribcage: the kind I'd never cried before. The kind that only ever come when you love with your entire being, only to discover that it is not enough. Sometimes, in spite of it all, we are just human. Vulnerable, and flawed, and hurt. We cannot always fix the broken parts. We cannot always put them back together.

We build homes in humans, I think. And so, when they leave: when the foundations aren't strong enough to weather the fourth storm of the year, we find ourselves homeless. Lost. Wondering who we were before we were theirs. Wondering if there will ever come a day when we don't feel them, somehow. When we don't fall asleep remembering how it felt to do so against the warmth of their skin.
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