Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bad Parenting

I don’t like to judge other people’s parenting skills because I think we’re all flawed and we will all, as parents, make mistakes at some point. But I saw something today that absolutely disgusted me. I took an hour at lunch to nip over to the shopping centre to pick a few things up. It was busy and full of Christmas shoppers, as you would expect. I went into a toy shop there and in saw a women dragging a little boy out of the shop (he looked no older than about 4) telling him, “You’re getting nothing for Christmas because Santa thinks you’re a little shit.”

Wtf?! That’s humiliating for a child, it’s nasty and it’s callous.

It makes me sick to hear parents speak to their children like that, when there are so many amazing would-be-parents out there who cannot have children for whatever reason.

It’s disgusting!

As I said, there are few times I seek to openly judge other’s parenting skills but this wound me up. And while we’re at it, other parenting things that irritate me (I’ll make this my one off parenting judgement post lol):

- Parents who feed their kids ridiculous amounts of junk food. You will make them obese. You will make them unhealthy. And you will teach them habits that will undoubtedly haunt them for a lifetime. Yes, fast food is fine as an occasional treat. But a diet should be balanced and kids shouldn’t have junk food every single day!!

- Using the TV as a babysitter. It scares me that people do this. A friend of mine actually sees his daughter one day every 2 weeks... and I went round a few weeks ago to take my son to play with her. He just ad her sat in front of the TV while e played Playstation in the other room. I couldn’t help but give him my opinion on that. TV time should be family movies sessions or limited time that kids can enjoy their cartoons themselves. But I hate to see kids being sat in front of a TV all day. When I was in SL more, I would talk to people in there whose kids you could hear screaming in the background. They’d shout at them and tell them to “go watch TV.” It just made me want to scream, “Why don’t you get off your ass, out of a virtual world and take them outside to play?!” I can’t imagine why anyone, when they and their kids are both at home (ie no work, no school) would want to spend time sitting in front of their computer in a separate room from their child. Why not actually engage with the kids? Go have fun together!

- Stifling ambition or creativity. My son wants to be Prime Minister. There’s only one Prime Minister for the entire population of Britain so you would say, statistically, that his chances are slim. But why would I douse his dreams? He’s 6 (almost 7, I keep being reminded) so his dreams will probably change many times yet. But whatever they are, I will encourage him to go for them. I get that you have to keep children grounded and if my boy decided he wanted to be a singer at the age of 17, for example, but couldn’t hold a note, it would be time for a “reality chat,” where we talked about alternative jobs he could find in the music industry etc etc. But when they are young and the world is their oyster, I honestly believe you should encourage ambition, however unrealistic or extraordinary it might seem. I hate to hear parents tell young children that they “will never be able” to do something.

Anyway, that is all : )

The Art of Building a Life

I love to watch people build lives. No, I don’t mean in the biological Frankenstein sense! I mean I love to watch two people who have previously had quite separate lives build one together. Like my best friend is doing right now... like my sister is doing right now.... like I am doing right now.

There’s truly an art to it. It isn’t just about flinging two people together and saying, “Alrighty, so you two will be together forever, marry, have babies and live in a three bedroom house in a suburb, have nice jobs and eat dinner together every evening at the dining table while discussing the events of the day.” Divorce statistics, after all, speak for themselves. It’s not that easy.

Sometimes two people will think they can build a life together but as they start slotting pieces together they are left with unpatchable holes and this won’t keep the water out. Those people sometimes simply have to abandon the build and move on to other things individually.

There will be holes in almost every relationship at some point. Some can be repaired. I’ll use my sister as an example. She can’t have any more children. She fell in love with a man who desperately wants children of his own. As they began building their life it became evident this could be problematic. There a gaping hole in the roof and no single tile to fix it. So he went away. And she was sad. She was sad for a long time. But then he returned with a solution. He didn’t have one single slate to repair the gap. He had one that was too small and so they both sacrificed bits of themselves to pad it out a little. I’m going off on one with the analogies here... essentially they decided upon adoption. He is going to adopt my sister’s baby officially and they plan to adopt more. For love, he was prepared to make that sacrifice.

Nothing is perfect. Everything is flawed in one way or another and the flaws (and how we work around them) are what makes humanity beautiful.

I’m not perfect. I’m moody in the morning, I am impatient... I can be patronising. I’m sometimes arrogant. I won’t abide stupid and narrow minded people (which makes me a people-snob lol). But I think when you’re building a life with someone, it can only be with someone who is endeared to your flaws.

I say of myself: arrogant, moody, impatient, patronising and people snobbish. Chloe says I have a “sexy cockiness” (what? Lol), I’m eager to get things done, I’m smart and keep good company.

Chloe says of herself that she’s over-sensitive, that she speaks before thinking and that she lets things beyond her control get to her. I say that she’s sweet and caring, that she speaks her mind and that she’s passionate about the world she lives in.

The life we’re building together isn’t perfect, by any means. I find myself constantly worried about whether she is really ok being a step mother to a grieving child. She tells me over and over again, “I love him as much as I love you.” But she knows one day she could be (however unlikely it seems) a target for resentment. Or that one day he could rebel against her. She doesn’t care.

“I love him. He’s grieving. Grief does funny things to people sometimes and that just makes me want to be there for him more, no matter what happens.”]

Our life isn’t perfect.... we can’t live every single day like the two days we spent in the Lake District this weekend, for example. Because reality and practicality, responsibility and reason means that you can’t simply set up “perfection,” and live it. Our life is busier than we might likei t – but that makes us appreciate our quiet time all the more.

We argued last Wednesday for the first time. It lasted all of three minutes and ended in a kiss. Always a good way to end a mini fight. I know there will be fights in the future. I don’t know of any relationship that remains argument free. If you live with someone and never, ever irritate them then there’s something plastic about it – artificial even. And if you are irritated by someone you live with and cannot tell them, then you are in a relationship where you cannot express yourself freely. Arguing is natural from time to time... the true test of how well a relationship functions is in how those arguments end, if you ask me.

Anyway, I am waffling again.

I’m feeling lucky today (again!) and I’m still so grateful that I can watch the people I love experiencing the same happiness I am experiencing.

There’s a true art to building a life... and it’s compromise and an appreciation of one another’s flaws, a shared vision and equal desire to attain it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Boy

I'm proud of you
Whatever you do.
Prime Minister,
Manual Labourer,
English Teacher,

Whatever your job,
Whatever it pays,
I'll be proud of you
Till the end of my days.

Choose a job for YOU, not me,
Be whatever you want to be.

I ask for just these things, my son,
When all is said and all is done,
Appreciate your charm and smarts
But listen both to head and heart.

Tech Free Out of the City

I had a technology free weekend and it was wonderful. Late on last week, after a really busy and streesful week for both of us, Chloe suggested we disappear for the weekend, just me, her, our boy and our insane dogs! So we booked a cottage by Derwent Waters, Cumbria, for the weekend.

"Would you like a cottage with Wi-Fi internet access?" asked the agent I called.

"No thanks, that won't be necessary," I responded. And indeed it was not.

The most technological we got all weekend was watching the X Factor on TV on Saturday night. The rest of the weekend was spent sitting in front of a log fire reading, dragging my son around in a sledge outside (he can't do downhill sleding with a broken arm...) and throwing sticks for dogs. We sat on the marina edge drinking cocoa, wandered around the shops, walked, talked and rested.

It was wonderful.

Less wonderful, of course, was returning to the city to turn on phones, check emails, get caught up with work and so on. It's always such a come down after a great weekend, isn't it? But still, we loved it and it was soooooo needed. I feel a million times better than I felt last week, completely refreshed and raring to go.

It got Chloe and me talking about being out of the city though. I live in Manchester city centre. We have a big place, lots of space for all of us and the dogs and it's great to have everything on your doorstep (including my office). But I moved down here to keep me and my son busy at a difficult time more than anything else. We're closer to my sister now and we do museums, art galleries, theatre trips and all the big events regularly. He loves it... but he also loved not being in the city over the weekend.

I sold my own house out of the city to move into the city. But now Chloe and I are considering moving back out again. We'd stay within a half hour commute of the city, but some fields would be nice... some hills would be wonderful. More space for our son and the dogs.

It's certainly a possibility.

But what is a certainty is that the escapes out of the city in the meantime will be regular. My son had the time of his life this weekend and the constant headache that haunted me last week just disappeared over the weekend. We're going to make it a monthly thing, to go tech free for a weekend and just have family time away from the interruptions of the modern world.

Much recommended :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Open Letter to my Fiancee


On Friday I would have sworn it not possible to love you any more than I did then. But as we shivered and gazed out across a still Derwent Water on Saturday morning I fell even deeper in love with you. As we threw sticks for our completely barking mad (excuse the pun) cocker spaniels and we dragged our little boy around in a makeshift plastic sledge (no downhill sledging for a boy with his arm in a cast lol), I fell further still. As we clutched hot cups of cocoa sitting by the marina and watched that little boy write his name in the snow, I fell again. And as he sat on your lap in the cottage, dozing as you sang to him I fell deeper still.

As we lay in front of a crackling log fire that evening reading classic poetry out loud and laughing and wishing that our remote and quiet weekend away was permanent, I promised you that one day, when we’ve both retired, it would be. I meant it then and I mean it now.

As I stood outside that shop on Sunday morning with the dogs, I smiled as I gazed through the window and watched you helping our boy to pick out gifts for his Auntie and his cousin. I fell further in love as I saw you whispering into his ear, causing him to turn and spot me gazing through the window and laugh. His giggle is infectious, isn’t it?

And as we packed our bags back into the car to return to the city, to return to technology, emails, text messages, Internet access, phone calls.... I kissed your nose and promised our escapes from the city would be a regular thing. As our dogs and little boy snored in the car on the way home, and you “rested your eyes,” I fell even further in love with you.

What a weekend. What a woman. What a life we’ve got ahead of us, my love. You, me, our beautiful little boy, the crazy dogs... Who’d want anything more?

: )

I love you more with each passing moment, Chloe.

Adam xx

Friday, November 26, 2010

Proud Uncle

My nephew is adorable.

He's 19 months old now with thick curly black hair and big brown eyes. He's got the cheekiest little grin in the world. I called into my sister's this morning after takingm my son to school (I'm away for the weekend from tonight so won't see her for our usual Sunday lunch catch up). He came running over to the door with his Tippee Cup in hand shouting "Unky, unky, unky, unky." It's the newest "word."

Until my sister had her little boy I had never really spent time with children of that age. As many of you will know, I was not even aware my son existed until he was 4. While I spent a lot of time angry at his Mother for that, I look at mine and his relatinship now and I'm too grateful for him to be angry about missing 4 years. We've more than made up for that in the two years I've had him.

So spending time with a baby-then-tot was new to me. They're so funny at his age though. They have these little characters and he even pulls the same indignant "no" face when he gets told off, that my sister pulls when she does not get her own way lol. He has so many of her mannerisms.

His Father was a friend of mine. He was seeing my sister for a while but basically abandoned her when she found out she was pregnant, couldn't even be bothered turning up when he was born... or in the months after his birth. He did turn up drunk on her doorstep on Father's day this year demanding to see him. Needless to say, the door was closed in his face and at the moment there is some initial research going in to finding out if my sister's Fiance can adopt the little one. Her Fiance has been with my sister since the little one was born basically and he looks to him as a Father. He calls him "Dada," and in the brief few months he and my sister took some time out (he returned to his native Brazil before coming back) my newphew missed him terribly. The three of them are a perfect, perfect family. Her Fiance would love more kids, though after she had my newphew she had to be sterilised for medical reasons. He knows this and simply says, "well we will adopt." He only ever wants to be with her and you can see that in the way he looks at her.

Chloe and I love spending time with them and my son loves "being the grown up" around my newphew.

My baby sister has experienced her difficulties in the past and to look at her now, smiling, happy and enjoying her family setup is just amazing.

And I will say it again - my little newphew is absolutely adorable.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Weekend of Quality Time

It's been a manic week for both Chloe and me. So when she suggested last night that she, myself and our little boy get away for a weekend I was over the moon.

"I tell you what?" I suggested, "Let's go tech free! Phones off, no internet, no work, none of it."

She beamed.

"I'm in."

So I've just booked us a little cottage and tomorrow night, from 5:30pm, I will be technology free until Monday. Log fires, reading, walking and having fun - just me, my Fiancee and son and our two crazy dogs!


I think "face time," is hugely underrated in a society where we (myself included) depend upon technology. I love Twitter, blogging, Second Life - I communicate by email, VOIP and video conference a lot and sometimes it is just nice to be inaccessible.

"You never spend time in Second Life," Chloe mentioned the other day. She knows before she and I were together I spent a lot of time immersed in that virtual world.

"So?" I asked.

Chloe created an avatar a while back (Chlo Calamity) in order that she could see what I enjoyed so much about the platform. But she only logged in briefly while she was away on a business trip and we never bothered going back in.

"Why would I want you in a virtual world when I have the real thing right here?" I asked. "I'm not THAT addicted to it!"

We laughed and she beamed.

Soe's fascinated by the platform still, so whenever I log in, she will sit beside me... we will talk on mic together to some of my friends and she enjoys looking at what people have created in there. She might choose to explore the world further at some point, but right now, as we both work with technology all the day long, it's nice to just enjoy "face time."

And that's what this weekend is about - forgetting the rest of the world for just two days, taking our dogs and little boy and just going having some quality family time.

We all need that from time to time :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blue Cuban Skies

I fell in love with Cuba when I visited 3 years ago. The deep blue Havana skies at night coupled with the relative calm of the city (compared to other world capitals) just resonated with me. I love the colonial architecture, the palm lined streets, the posters and propaganda from a history tainted with revolution...

I planned to go back as soon as possible and it was always going to be this summer. I wanted my son to see the island.

Chloe mentioned that she did not want a church wedding last week.... I was relieved. She is not religious but I know her parents had mentioned a church wedding. I would have given her a church wedding had she so desired that, though I would have felt a complete hypocrite given that I am not Christian.

“I’d love to get married on a white beach...”

And the conversation went from there. We had talked about holidaying in Cuba anyway this year and have now decided to marry there. We’ll be getting married on 7th May 2011 with our close friends and our families. They will spend a few days out there with us, before going home and leaving us to Honeymoon.

I can’t wait.

I’m counting the days...164 to be precise. 164 days until I become the husband of the most beautiful lady on the planet. 164 days until she shares a name with me. 164 days until we make the lifelong commitments we have already pledged “official.”

On the Atlantic coast of the Caribbean Island of Cuba, on the white sand of Varadero beach, I’ll commit everything to her. Because she’s everything to me.

My son is going to be a pageboy and is very excited by his role. While he refers to Chloe in person as “Chloe,” her refers to her to my sister as “Mum,” from time to time.... He’s welcomed her into his life in a Motherly role and she loves him only as a Mother could. She will never replace the memory of Anje (his Mother) but her presence is bringing him peace and happiness. And seeing the two of them together makes my heart leap.

This is what family feels like : )



I’m a straight male. I’ve always known it, never been curious. But I know plenty of people who have faced problems as a result of their sexuality and it’s so disappointing that, in the 21st century, in a time when we’re capable of sending men to the moon, of exploring the inner workings of our bodies with tiny robotic cameras, a time when we can carry out organ transplants and communicate from our home, via video, with someone thousands and thousands of miles away – that some people and institutions (ahem, Catholic Church, cough cough) still struggle to accept homosexuality.

It seems there is a gulf between male homosexuality and female sexuality in how it is perceived too. For example, people perceive female homosexuality to be “cool,” in some cases (often younger people I find). Actually... my former Second Life partner actually pretended to me and everyone else that she had been in a lesbian relationship. It eventually emerged that the supposed lesbian partner did not exist. While that type of white lying is often a trait that you associate with younger women, this was a woman in her 30s and for me highlights the fact that it’s seen as in some way “cool” for women to be homosexual – top the extent that straight women will completely make up lesbian relationships.

However, the reality is that while some with no understanding think it “cool,” for women, there are situations in which gay women and men face real issues. My Fiancee lived with a woman for years. She and I are friends with this woman. Chloe always believed she would spend her life with a woman. She does not refer to herself as homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual.

“Why do we have to be labelled by who or what we are sexually turned on by?” she asks.

Good question.

Instead she explains, “For every 1000 women I meet, I might find 100 attractive. For every thousand men I meet, I might be attracted to 1. That doesn’t mean I should be labelled.”

Couldn’t agree more.

But she was discriminated against based on the fact that she lived with a woman. Her grandparents stopped speaking to her. Some of her school friends stopped speaking to her. And why? Because her partner wasn’t male. What ridiculous and narrow minded discrimination.

Another friend of mine, Andy, came out fairly recently. I admit, I struggled with it for a few weeks. I was used to seeing him with women and I didn’t exactly warm to his boyfriend being around all the time. Turns out that first boyfriend was an asshole anyway... but once I knew he was happy and had met someone else, I couldn’t have been happier for him. He will be having a Civil Partnership ceremony in January and I am to be his best man. He’s fallen in love. But at a price.... his Father no longer speaks to him. And why? Because his partner is not female. And when you put it like that, how frikkin ridiculous is that??

It just beggars belief that in a supposedly advanced society, people are ever treated according to whether they are attracted to people of the same or of the opposite sex. What the Hell does it matter?? What people should be judged on is their character and their work ethic, if you ask me, not on who they are attracted to.

It’s time we started behaving like a 21st century society and put these stupid archaic ideas behind us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Infidelity

I believe wholeheartedly that some people are just not built to be monogamous. But I am not one of those people.

I have never in my life been unfaithful to anyone I have been in a relationship – I haven’t even kissed anyone else or so much as considered it while I have been in a relationship. In return, I expect the same loyalty and fidelity from whoever I am with and in all but two relationships I have been fortunate enough to enjoy that same respect.

The reason I started this post the way I did is that I was debating with a guy I know earlier on about his setup. His wife just left him because he slept with someone else.

“You can’t seriously blame her?” I questioned.

“Some people aren’t made to be monogamous,” was his defence.

Our debate went on. But I essentially told him is that I agree – some people are not supposed to be monogamous and I know biologists who would argue that this is just the “human condition.”

I don’t believe we are incapable of monogamy, but I think some people definitely are. However, rather than this being a defence for someone being unfaithful to their wife or partner, I think it’s quite the contrary.

“So why the Hell do you even enter into a monogamous relationship if you know you cannot do it?” I asked my friend.

He had no response.

See, I genuinely believe that you owe it not only to potential partners but to yourself too that if you are either not ready for monogamy or just “aren’t built for it,” that you don’t enter into a relationship with someone who wants that from you. You either need to engage in open relationships or none.

I wasn’t ready for monogamy in my late teens... or really early twenties. I then committed to a monogamous relationship at 22 and remained faithful within it. After that and following the death of my Mother, it wasn’t something I wanted. And so I had a series of casual relationships were both parties were happy with that setup. It has only been in the last year or so that I have really considered myself 100% ready for commitment and for offering up the rest of my life to someone.

You just know when it’s right. For the first time in my life I look at the woman I am with and know that I never, ever, ever want to be next to someone else, that I only ever want my fingertips to dance across her skin and that I will never utter an “I love you,” to anyone else. That makes my heart leap with joy. But I know for some people that concept is hideous lol.

I don’t believe anyone should be looked down on for being the type of person who does not engage in monogamy. The only time it’s an issue is if they expect it in return from someone else and promise their loyalty with no intention of following that through.

But for me... Well I’ve got everything I want in one woman. Why would I look anywhere else?

Reasons to Smile

Today the sun is shining in Manchester. It’s bloody cold, granted. But the sky is blue. My little boy has gone off to school with his arm in a cast, armed with coloured pens that he will have his friends use to sign said cast. He’s feeling much chirpier.

Despite some drama last night (and a lot of lies from a former) I woke up feeling refreshed and good this morning. Chloe helps put things in perspective:

“Even if 100 people believe her lies, you can keep your head up knowing the truth.”

She has a point.

I tried to be friends with her. It failed. That’s fine. My conscience is clear and I simply intend to ignore any further correspondence. My issue is not in her wanting to not be friends. Everyone deals with formers differently. My issue is that she lied about it – claiming I was trying to get her back or something. I’m happily engaged. But my conscience remains clear.

On a much happier note, when I picked my son up from the hospital yesterday, I spoke to a teacher who was with him awaiting my arrival. She was saying how well he is doing at school, how much happier he seems these days and how much better he is dealing with his emotions etc. Society tends to believe that men shouldn’t express emotion publicly... that it’s EMO or that it’s just “unmanly.” And boys of even my son’s tender age pick up on that. In light of his loss and grief I have been trying to unteach those lessons. Anyone who genuinely believes men should not be able to publicly express emotion should not be parenting boys. It’s that simple. Chloe and I were aware of improvements in his general mood over recent months and it was great to get those reiterations from his teacher and the reassurance I sought that those improvements have carried over when he is at school too.

The first weekend in December will be an amazing one. I am taking my boy and my Fiancee to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. I’m incredibly excited about it. My son is almost wetting himself with excitement. He has the number of days to that and to Christmas marked down on his calendar.

And we have our wedding date set (after finally managing to find a date that works for everyone. 7th May 2011. We’ve decided on Cuba. We’re taking our close family and friends for a few days... then they will return home and we will honeymoon there. These are exciting times.

And my sister is getting married in the summer too. I will be giving her away and to the most amazing guy too.

#reasonstosmile I believe : )

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Broken Arm

I got a call this afternoon from my son’s school telling me he had been taken into hospital having endured a nasty fall while playing football. The result: one broken arm and a frown.

“Will it be fixed by Christmas, please?” he asked the Nurse after his tears had all dried.

“Well..maybe. But it might take 6 weeks so we can’t be sure?”

“Oh no.” He was down because in 4 weeks his cousins will arrive from the Canary Islands to spend Christmas with us. He wants to be able to go ice Skating and do all manner of other things but with his arm casted it’s unlikely.

Hearing about my little boy’s blues, Chloe finished work early and came home with cakes and coloured felt tip pens. She signed his cast in a bright blue pen, finished off with a little red smiley and encouraged him to get his friends at school to do the same thing.

He’s suddenly much chirpier and she and him have taken a little walk out to pick up Burritos while I finish one or two things I couldn’t do this afternoon.
Oh dear. Well, at least broken bones heal : )

Life is a Train Track

Life is a Train Track

I’ve come to the conclusion that life is a train track. There’s countless numbers of trains using it at any one stage, each occupied by different types of people and the track is infinite in length. Sometimes it can feel as though the scenery is the same for miles on end and sometimes you are almost certain that you are simply travelling around in circles. But you’re not. Even if it does look that way from time to time.

I got off the train a while back. In fact, there are two notable occasions in my life where I have got off the train. It’s not ideal, but as long as you make sure you stick by the side of the track, it’s ok to do that when you really need to just stop or slow down. Sometimes you just sit by the side of the track while the trains continue to go past at speed. Sometimes you get to your feet and begin walking. And you can almost guarantee that, at some point, someone will extend an arm out of a passing train and try to pull you in. Put if you’re not ready to get back on board, all that happens is you hurt their arm. Worse still, you end up pulling them off the train too. That’s why I’ve always found it best to push helping hands back inside windows.

“Don’t try to help me. I’ll only end up hurting you too.”

From time to time, people leave the tracks altogether – voluntarily. For most people, they hear about this more than witnessing it themselves. I suppose for those people the journey is just too tough. But for me, I never wanted to leave the journey. I just needed to take a break from it. So I crouched down for a while beside the passing trains and held my head in my hands. I could hear the trains but rarely opened my eyes to see them. 6 months, I spent like that.

I was 24. And already I was travel worn and weary. My sister was 21 and stayed on the train better than I did.

When I eventually found the strength to board a train again, I realised just how far it had travelled without me. The trains keep moving, even if you decide to get off for a while. And I vowed, after that, I wouldn’t get off again.

But I did.

Granted. I didn’t sit still by the tracks the second time. I had a young son to think of too and I suppose that prevented me from stopping altogether. But I slowed down and walked beside the train for a while.

Several people extended hands from windows but one hand was more notable than most. I tried to push it back inside the window and when it wouldn’t go I pushed back harder. It kept coming back and trying to pull me aboard again. The intentions were pure. Eventually I gripped but without the effort required to pull myself back aboard, I ended up pulling her from her own train.

Eventually we both got back abroad, albeit back aboard different trains. And now, whenever my own train passes someone on the side of the tracks, I recognise instantly what they’re doing there. You can tell almost immediately whether they want a hand and the sad fact of the matter is that unless they want one, they won’t accept yours.

I won’t be getting back off the train again. I’ve got all that I want on board my carriage and wherever we travel, we’ll travel together. The scenery won’t always be pretty, I’m sure and a hazard of train travel is the dark tunnels. But there’ll always be light at the end of them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm Me

I'm me. I'm I.
The brown-eyed
Son of two soulmates
Who were always destined
For more beautiful things
Than this world
Could ever afford them.

I'm me, the guy
Who always seeks why
When the most satisfying
Answer is
"Hey, that's just life."

I'm me and my
Empty dark life
Was lit by the stars
In my son's
Big brown eyes.

I'm me, a brother,
A Mummy's boy
Without a Mother,
The proudest Father
A husband-to-be,
Prone to over-thinking
Prone to self-pity.
But wise enough now
That it never last long

Before I wake myself up
And I tell me I'm wrong
To feel hard done by
When I have in my life
A beautiful, wonderful
The best friends on the Earth,
A wonderful sister,
Best son in the world.

I'm me, the guy,
Who doesn't always get it right.
But who's learning
Through his yearning
That it will be right this time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Compromise

No Compromise

There are some things that I will not compromise on when it comes to relationships. By the same token, there are always some compromises that have to be made and that’s a part of life, but the things I insist upon having in a relationship (and that I thankfully have in my beautiful Fiancee) are:-

- An understanding of my role as a parent. My son is the most important thing in my whole life. My former was understanding of it and I have also been lucky that my Fiancee not only accepts it, but embraces it and absolutely loves it.

- Ambition. I’ve never been good at being with people who have no ambition. There’s nothing wrong with doing a 9-5 and just wanting to “pay the bills.” But the nature of my personality is that I am ambitious and I cannot be with people who are not. I like to be with someone with dreams – and not just dreams that sit there dormant occupying their thoughts on lazy afternoons. I mean dreams they work towards achieving. Whether it’s being a novelist, running their own business or getting promoted. I just like someone who had a dream and who does something to achieve it.

- Intelligence. Call me a snob if you will but I love intelligent girls and I have to be with someone who can hold a conversation and (now this will make me sound snobby) spell and use punctuation. Perhaps it’s the writer within but I’m pedantic when it comes to words (typos exempt lol). Brains do matter. This boy digs the brainy girls and my Chloe is certainly up there : )

- A sense of tradition. So call me old fashioned but I like to open doors, take coats and pull out chairs for my beautiful Fiancee. This is something I picked up growing up with a committed Argentine Catholic Mother. Her friends would come around when I was just a little boy and I learnt from then that when ladies come to the house you look after them. I think chivalry is underrated. I’ve dated women who have been offended by it, though, which is disappointing. I really think the traditional Gentleman’s role is dying...

I can’t compromise on those things. They are too important. And I just feel so completely blessed to have found someone who “fits the bill,” and who loves me as much as I love her.

Everyone has things they won’t compromise on, surely? What are yours?

Man Up??

I’ve spent years upon years pretending shit doesn’t hurt. Nobody ever told me I had to be that way, but it’s a commonly conceived idea that men who talk about feelings are wusses. Right?


I made changes to the way I handle emotion in general because I was absolutely TERRIFIED that I would pass on my inability to communicate emotion to my son. And when he lost his Mother, the last thing I wanted him to do was clam up and become the sort of person I was – who would lash out in anger because he has no other means of dealing with the problems he is experiencing.

I read about a teenage boy who killed himself. He was being bullied at school and nobody knew. He didn’t tell anyone. And that’s so common amongt boys – to keep secrets. Hiding things, not talking. We, the muscle bearing men of this world who pride themselves on their masculinity, we puff out our chests, we roar in defiance no matter what is happening!! That’s what people see.

And then we go home and we lock ourselves away and tormented by everything we cannot or will not even allow ourselves to think about in public we tear ourselves up from the inside out.

I will not be like that anymore. And I will not let my son turn into that man. Here’s a few things I wouldn’t had admitted a year ago:-

- I cried when Chloe told me she would be my wife because I was so unbelievably delighted at the life I know I am going to have with her.

- Then I cried as I lay awake that night because I wish so much that my mother had been alive to hear this news.

- I get choked up when I hear songs my son’s mother used to like.

If people think that makes me “effeminate,” or weak, so what? I actually put it to the people who think men should be emotionally impenetrable that it actually takes more balls to stand up and admit this stuff than it does to pretend you don’t give a shit and just lash out at everyone trying to help.

I’m not angry anymore. I was. For a long time. But I think breaking down the barrier that was stopping me talking about things that bothered me got rid of all that anger.

But I’m still a gym-o-holic and I still like to flex my muscles. I still like to think I’m tough. I just don’t pretend I’m invincible anymore.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I love Pablo Neruda. I love every word that man ever penned and I love the fact that he’s one of few people whose works in Spanish actually don’t lose anything when translated into English. Such is the beauty of his words and his ability to see something amazing in his mind and pen it, that it doesn’t matter what language it is in. Its meaning remains and its effect on the reader is just as strong.

I was reading some Neruda last night again. There are some poems I have not read in many months and I revisited them last night, sitting alone in front of my balcony doors and watching the city lights as I took in arguably the most beautiful words in the world. It was serene. I stole that half hour last night as “me time,” after my little boy had gone to bed and after my Fiancée had fallen asleep on the couch. It was the most relaxed half hour I have had in as long as I can remember and I slept amazingly well after that.

I enjoyed those words, then closed the book, woke my sweetheart up (can’t let her sleep on the couch all night no matter how cute she looked... she’d have had a very sore back this morning) and we went to bed.

So, while Neruda’s words wander my mind, I want to share two of my favourites. (Needless to say none of the works below are my own....)

Soneto XLV – Pablo Neruda

No estés lejos de mí un solo día, porque cómo,
porque, no sé decirlo, es largo el día,
y te estaré esperando como en las estaciones
cuando en alguna parte se durmieron los trenes.

No te vayas por una hora porque entonces
en esa hora se juntan las gotas del desvelo
y tal vez todo el humo que anda buscando casa
venga a matar aún mi corazón perdido.

Ay que no se quebrante tu silueta en la arena,
ay que no vuelen tus párpados en la ausencia:
no te vayas por un minuto, bienamada,

porque en ese minuto te habrás ido tan lejos
que yo cruzaré toda la tierra preguntando
si volverás o si me dejarás muriendo.


Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?


Se van rompiendo cosas
en la casa
como empujadas por un invisible
quebrador voluntario:
no son las manos mías,
ni las tuyas,
no fueron las muchachas
de uña dura
y pasos de planeta:
no fue nada y nadie,
no fue el viento,
no fue el anaranjado mediodía
ni la noche terrestre,
no fue ni la nariz ni el codo,
la creciente cadera,
el tobillo,
ni el aire:
se quebró el plato, se cayó la lámpara,
se derrumbaron todos los floreros
uno por uno, aquél
en pleno octubre
colmado de escarlata,
fatigado por todas las violetas,
y otro vacío
rodó, rodó, rodó
por el invierno
hasta ser sólo harina
de florero,
recuerdo roto, polvo luminoso.
Y aquel reloj
cuyo sonido
la voz de nuestras vidas,
el secreto
de las semanas,
que una a una
ataba tantas horas
a la miel, al silencio,
a tantos nacimientos y trabajos,
aquel reloj también
cayó y vibraron
entre los vidrios rotos
sus delicadas vísceras azules,
su largo corazón

La vida va moliendo
vidrios, gastando ropas,
haciendo añicos,
y lo que dura con el tiempo es como
isla o nave en el mar,
rodeado por los frágiles peligros,
por implacables aguas y amenazas.

Pongamos todo de una vez, relojes,
platos, copas talladas por el frío,
en un saco y llevemos
al mar nuestros tesoros:
que se derrumben nuestras posesiones
en un solo alarmante quebradero,
que suene como un río
lo que se quiebra
y que el mar reconstruya
con su largo trabajo de mareas
tantas cosas inútiles
que nadie rompe
pero se rompieron.

(English – Ode to Broken Things)

Things get broken
at home
like they were pushed
by an invisible, deliberate smasher.
It's not my hands
or yours
It wasn't the girls
with their hard fingernails
or the motion of the planet.
It wasn't anything or anybody
It wasn't the wind
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime
Or night over the earth
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow
Or the hips getting bigger
or the ankle
or the air.
The plate broke, the lamp fell
All the flower pots tumbled over
one by one. That pot
which overflowed with scarlet
in the middle of October,
it got tired from all the violets
and another empty one
rolled round and round and round
all through winter
until it was only the powder
of a flowerpot,
a broken memory, shining dust.
And that clock
whose sound
the voice of our lives,
the secret
thread of our weeks,
which released
one by one, so many hours
for honey and silence
for so many births and jobs,
that clock also
and its delicate blue guts
among the broken glass
its wide heart

Life goes on grinding up
glass, wearing out clothes
making fragments
breaking down
and what lasts through time
is like an island on a ship in the sea,
surrounded by dangerous fragility
by merciless waters and threats.

Let's put all our treasures together
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold --
into a sack and carry them
to the sea
and let our possessions sink
into one alarming breaker
that sounds like a river.
May whatever breaks
be reconstructed by the sea
with the long labor of its tides.
So many useless things
which nobody broke
but which got broken anyway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If I Had a Magic Lamp...

If I Had a Magic Lamp

People say, “I wish,” a lot. We never expect that we might ever get the wishes but I think knowing exactly what you would wish for in the event that you suddenly miraculously had a magic lamp is actually a good way to analyse your desires.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this...

But anyway... I was having a conversation with my son about this very thing last night. I limited him to three wishes and he wished for:-

- His Mum

- To go back to the Canary Islands to see his cousins.

- A piano.

I was contemplating my own wishes this morning to and have come up with the following (in order):-

My Son’s Mother

If I could wish for anything I would bring her back and end his heart ache. An obvious choice.

My Mother

She missed so much. She never got to know her grandchildren, never got to see her own children settled. These are things she wanted so, so badly. I think about how much I’ve changed since she left and I think I’ve turned into a man she would have been proud of. I just wish I could get her opinion on that..

Happy Family

I want more than anything for the happiness my family is experiencing at the moment to remain. My cousin (and best friend) is to be married very soon, Chloe and myself will be getting married in May, my sister is getting married in August, my nephew is the happiest little toddler on the planet and my little boy is, in spite of some painful events, smiling and meaning it. I want this to stick.

Happy Friends : )

For the most part, my friends are all very happy now. I want that to continue. I’ve made amends with formers over recent months and with people I’ve had fall outs with over the years. There is now only one former partner I don’t speak to but across the board, without exception, whether I speak to them or not, I want all my formers to be happy. It makes the fact your relationships ended make sense. Like you had fun, you learnt your lessons and then you both moved on to happier things. I love to see my formers happy and settled. I take the lessons I have learnt from previous relationships and they mould me. Two amazing people aren’t necessarily amazing for each other... and some things just are not meant to be.

I have an exception to my “wanting to see everyone happy” rule though. One former friend who got my sister pregnant then f***ed off and decided to have nothing to do with the baby, well that to me is unforgiveable, and while I don’t wish anything bad on him, I certainly don’t think he deserves happy.

Ok, so I chose 4. But I reserve the right to modify the rules!! What about you lot? What do you wish for?

Monday, November 15, 2010


The shards of what was are burning
And I’m learning that yearning
Is a part of moving on.

The cinders fill the room with smoke and
The bits are broken,
But not gone.

And while they’re now in twenty parts
They fit together in my heart
As always I know they will.

Step Parents and Grieving Children

Step parenting, I am sure (though have no personal experience) is potentially very challenging at the best of times. Though I imagine when the step parent is entering a family where the Mother/Father died it’s a whole other obstacle course.

I look at Chloe and the amazing relationship she has with my son and I am just completely overwhelmed by the fact that she doesn’t just accept that my son is a part of me, but she LOVES that. She loves him in a way a Mother would without ever infringing on the memory of his biological Mother.

I heard some criticisms this weekend (not directed at me though certainly felt close to home) about people who “move too soon” when it comes to introducing someone else into grieving children’s lives. I think I know the person those comments were aimed at and I want to take an opportunity in this post to actually contradict the criticisms completely.

I had never been in a relationship with my son’s Mother during his lifetime. We were friends. But irrespective of whether the parents (at the time that one passed) were together or not, it’s the surviving parent who will be the one the child looks to, in most cases, to “make it feel better.” And there’s a tendency, in my experience at least, in the early stages for a child and the surviving parent to become insular. It is expected. So for someone to then come into this insular unit is a big shift. That is something that a step parent or step parent figure has to deal with. And in my opinion, the men and women who are prepared to enter that set up and deal with the inevitable hurdles deserve MEDALS, not criticism.

There’s no such thing as a right or a wrong time to introduce someone new. And if a surviving parent just so happens to fall in love at what other people thing is a “bad time,” then other people should mind their own business. Providing the children’s feelings are respected at all times and the children are given an opportunity, at their own pace, to get to know that person, then I see nothing wrong with it. A parent knows their own child. I knew my son was ready when I introduced Chloe seriously into his life. I knew he was ready when I asked her to move in with me. And she knew he was too.

So when I hear people criticising situations like mine, it actually makes me sick. As reiterate that these criticisms were not directed at me – but regardless, the sit close to home in light of my own personal circumstances and it irritates me that people can think they can pass judgement.

For my son, having Chloe around has been amazing for him. Yes, there are times he still gets upset and misses his Mother. He’s 6 and she has died – it’s expected that it will hurt sometimes. But he actually talks to Chloe about it now as openly as he does to me. And she respects certain boundaries, certain memories and they completely adore one another.

I say it again – people prepared to love grieving children, knowing that they could, at some point, become a target for resent, and to love them unconditionally, respecting all boundaries and memories. Is the most selfless thing in the world.

I imagine most people who criticise such situations have no first hand experience whatsoever....

Sunday, November 14, 2010


A short poem for my Mother, whose absence remains painful. This poem was born of my son asking about her this afternoon and a conversation we had about songs she used to sing to me. He would have loved her just as much as she would have loved him.

In the dreams that bless my nights
You hold my son tight,
Singing Argentine lullabies
Right into the night.

You wrap his tiny hands up
Within your very own,
Singing, “Arrorró, mi niño,
Arrorró. Arrorró”

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

My son has a homework assignment due tomorrow and he and I were discussing it this morning after breakfast. The question is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and he had to write an essay of sorts answering that question.

I asked him, “Well, what do you want to be?”

“I have a few ideas,” he told me. “But when you were six, what did you want to be?”

He has a way of answering many questions with a question! My Mother once told me I did exactly the same thing and she thought a curious mind was a good thing. So it always makes me smile to hear him ask things like that.

“Well, I wanted to either be a footballer or an actor when I was 6.”

“Auntie Stacey says that you wanted to be a writer and you wanted to live in Argentina.”

“That’s what I wanted when I was a teenager. What you want will change all the way from now until you’re an adult,” I told him.

“Ok. So this essay is going to be all wrong in a few years then?”

“It won’t be wrong. But the answer will have changed. It’s always good to have these essays to look back over.”

He didn’t say much and wandered off to his room. He returned a moment later with his school book and his pencil. He put them down on the table and came to sit next to me on the couch.

“So,” I asked him, “Have you thought about the answer?”

“Yep!” he told me. “I don’t want to be a footballer or an actor though. I can play football or act at the weekends but I want a job where I get to do important things.”

“Ok...” I said, “So what’s the dream job?”

“I want to be a writer who writes stories that people really like and poems that are special.”

I beamed. The writer within me leapt with joy. He’s really enjoyed writing lately and he and I are both currently taking part in NanoWrimo. The kids’ site resources are great. He loves to pen his own tales.

“Like, you know the poems you really like.... by the man from Chile? The one you said wrote poems that are really special to you?” he continued.

“Neruda?” I offered.

“Yes. Him.Well he’s gone now isn’t he but you still read his poems all the time. I want to make stories and poems that people will love forever.”

He’s been pretty much telling me for months that when he grows up he wants to be Justin Bieber, so when he was given this assignment, I was expecting him to answer in much the same way. But he has different ambitions already it seems.

“I think that’s a great thing to want to be,” I told him.

He smiled and leapt on my lap for a hug.

“And then,” he continued, “After I’ve done all the poems, I want to be Prime Minister....”

And he wandered to the table to start penning his dreams. He’s an ambitious boy. : )

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Telling my Boy

"I want to tell you something important," I said to my son last night after dinner.

"Am I in trouble?" he asked.

"No, you're not in trouble."

I'd opted to tell him alone. With big announcements I find that works best for him and me - though that is something that's slowly changing.

"I asked Chloe to marry me and she said yes. We're going to get married."

There wasn't a monent hesitation before he started smiling and laughing.

"You're getting married! Can I be in it?" he asked.

And so the conversation continued as we discussed what tolr he could have and he asked the all important question:-

"When is it going to be?"

"Well," I told him honestly. We don't know yet. Maybe Easter time."

"Does this mean Chloe is my new Mum?" he asked after a couple of minutes - a little more sombre than he had been.

I sat him on my lap.

"Nobody ever, no matter what, will take the place of your Mum. You know that, don't you?" I asked.

"Yes. But when you get married Chloe will be like another Mum, won't she?"

"Well, she'll be a bit like one, maybe. But she'll be no different than she is now."

"She's already a bit like another Mum, Dad." He told me. "But she's nicer than my friend's Mums."

"Are you ok with all this?" I asked him candidly.


He loves Chloe. He darted out from the room into the living room and sat on her lap with his arms around her.

"Dad said I can be in your wedding!"

"Of course you can! You're gonna be the star of it," she told him.

"No," he corrected, "The lady getting married is supposed to be the star I think."

I love watching them together. He certainly won't be expected to call her "Mum" any time soon. That might never, ever happen and she and I are both ok with that. But she treats him and loves him as though he was her own. And he loves her so much.

If, one day, he calls her 'Mum,' she's fine with that. If he doesn't, she's fine with that too. He's under no pressure and nature will just take its course.

I've reasons to smile this morning :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thank You

I've had so many awesome messages today after announcing my engagement to Chloe. They came through in the form of comments on the blog, emails and direct messages - some from people I have never met (which is a warm feeling) and some from close friends I have known for many years. So this is just a major "thank you" to all of you for being so awesome.

I don't believe in perfect people or perfect timing. I believe in people being perfect for one another and I believe that sometimes you just know. And that's why I asked Chloe for her forever, in exchange for mine.

I don't devalue anything I had prior to what I have with Chloe. I look at everything in life as a lesson and I think sometimes you just have to accept that some things are not meant to be. It might not make sense at the time, but eventually it might.

I spoke to a former earlier - Michelle. I lived with Michelle some 7 years ago. We were engaged though we have previously both said we knew it would never turn into a wedding. We were young and both desperately wanted a dying relationship to work out. It was give up or take the next step - commiting a future. She said she knew immediately we would never get married and I recall saying the same thing to my sister at the time.

We had a bitter breakup but have recently got in touch again as friends. She is happily settled now and after hearing my news she called and said,

"Wow... congratulations. I'm so happy for you."

It's the most beautiful thing to hear that and know someone genuinely means it - especially when you have been through a lot with that person.

"I don't mean this to sound mean," she said, "But I'm really glad we didn't go there. We just weren't compatible and I can tell how happy you are now."

The conversation went on. She was lovely throughout but it really got me thinking.

I don't devalue anything from the past. I don't regret former relationships. What I LOVE to see is that people I have shared any form of intimacy with have gone on to happy things. It's a good way of explaning sometimes why things don't work out... a sort of, "Hey, I know things went shitty for us, but I'm grateful for the memories and really happy to see that we both moved on to something happier."

Life's roads aren't made for walking alone. But that's not to say you can just walk them with anyone. Some people walk at different paces...

Today I feel as though I finally have an explanation as to why previous relationships from the time I was a teenager right through to in recent years didn't work out. I never envisaged being able to walk alongside those people forever - and they didn't with me. In almost all cases, those formers have gone on to their happy and I have to mine. Some people are abasolutely amazing - just not necessarily amazing for each other :)

She Said YES!!!!

I’m a beaming bag of bumbling happiness this morning.

I pass a certain jewellery shop a couple of times a week and I think to myself, “One day,” as I gaze at engagement rings in the window.

Yesterday, I did it again. “One day,” I told myself as I passed it and then I stopped and remember something my Mother used to say.

“One day never ever arrives Adam. If you know in your heart that you want something ‘one day’ then you should make today that one day and grab it with both hands. Because nobody ever really knows if they’ll get their ‘one day.’”

Of course, she was right, as she was about almost everything.

I stepped into that shop and beamed at the shop assistant,

“I’m looking for an engagement ring for my girlfriend.”

She smiled back and was nothing other than delightful in helping me to find the perfect ring.

Then I called my sister to ask if she could look after my son.

“Sure. Is everything alright?”

“It’s fine,” I told her. “I just want a night with Chloe alone....”

“What’s going on?” I could hear that she was smiling.

“Nothing,” I lied.

“Ok, ok... drop him off whenever you want.”

So I went home, explained to him that Auntie Stacey wanted some help with a jigsaw puzzle that was driving her mad and asked if he would spend the night there.

“Yeeeah!” he shrieked, grabbing his overnight things.

Son at Sister’s, I called Chloe.

“Well since he’s staying at Stacey’s, do you want to go out for dinner?”

“Yes, why not!”

There’s an Italian restaurant she loves. Really loves. And that’s where I took her. But the timing didn’t seem right through dinner as a rather loud table next to us (typically) stole the show somewhat.

After dinner, heart pounding and hand continually reaching in my pocket to check it was still there, I suggested a canal side walk.

“Adam,” she protested, “It’s pitch black, freezing and raining.”

“So?” I grinned. “You like it down there...”

“Alright!” she conceded.

And that’s where I asked her to be my wife. I always imagined that when I asked her it would be in some perfect setting somewhere. It wasn’t a perfect setting traditionally speaking. It was pouring down, cold and windy. But she was perfect. And there is no more perfect a time than the moment you realise with everything that you are, that this is the one person you know you are ready to commit your life to.

I got down on one knee in the mud.

“What the Hell are you doing?” she asked, “The floor’s pissed we through.” She grabbed my hand to get me up.

I didn’t rise from the ground but I kept hold of her hand.

“Chloe.” I said, “This might seem like a really bad time and I know you’re freezing and probably think I am marginally insane for dragging you down here tonight. But... there’s measure to my madness.”

She looked somewhat stunned and actually looked at me for a second like I was completely insane, which was unnerving to say the least.

“Will you marry me?” I never imagined it would come out just like that... a four word question. I always imagined when I proposed to Chloe that I would find some elaborate way to put it. But I didn’t/ Everything I wanted just came out in that one moment and she said nothing. Panic stations.

It seemed like forever, but it was actually probably much less than a minute before she crouched down next to me in the mud and kissed me.

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes,” she reiterated several times.

She cried and I cried and we laughed through the happiest tears that have ever stung my cheeks.

This morning on my way to the office I phoned my sister and my best friend to break the news. Both of them were completely ecstatic for me.

I asked my sister not to tell my son. I’m going to tell him tonight...

I can’t believe I’m actually typing this, but I’M GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!

Life has just begun.... : )

Monday, November 8, 2010

Feeling Festive?

I’ve not really been in the mood for much this weekend. I’ve been royally down about the recent death of my friend and the funeral on Friday was just – wow – there are no words. That was the first time I have cried so publicly since I was a teenager.

I’m ouching pretty badly at the moment and keeping my motivation up has been tricky. It always helps when you have a little one around though and my son can make me smile no matter what the cause of my blues. He and Chloe have kept my chin up this weekend and as we enter a new week, I’m finding fun things to plan.

The Christmas light switch on in Manchester is this week and last year’s X Factor winner, Joe McElderry, who my son absolutely loves, is switching them on. That will be followed by fireworks and general festivities and me, my son and Chloe will all be going. When I reminded him it was this week as I took him to school this morning he was hugely excited.

I’m excited about Christmas this year. I will wake up on Christmas morning surrounded by my happy – my girl, my son, my two crazy dogs. And then it will be time to see what Santa brought my son. Then it will be off to Chloe’s parent’s house for a festive breakfast and then to my sister’s where I’ll spend the day with her, her boyfriend, my nephew, girlfriend and son (and of course, the dogs... we won’t leave them on their own on Christmas day)!

After the dinner, my best friend and his fiancée will also be joining us and there will be time for board games and festive films. That right there is my happy. The people I love and the simple things.

I have the most amazing family and friends and I’m so completely grateful to them for putting up with me 

Counting down the days to Christmas here....

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Long Goodbye

For you I raise a glass and smile
But all the while
I cry inside.
For I can hide
The bitter sting.
But darkened rings
Around my eyes,
From sleepless nights and tears I’ve cried,
They tell a tale all on their own.
But I know now I’m not alone,
I’ve learnt (and grown)
That tears are fine,
We can’t avoid them all the time.
Your absence is the cause of mine,
And I, indeed, I do believe
That losing you
Is cause to grieve.
But this is not about my pain,
Nor anguish, heartbreak,
Cheeks tear stained.
This day is for a glass raised high
For memories and long goodbyes,
While we know well, tears will occur,
We’ll smile as well, for all you were,
For words you said and things achieved,
We wave goodbye and then we grieve.

I hold your smile in my soul,
Your laugher in my mind
And every word you ever said to me
Is engraved upon my heart.
Today and every day 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

1000 Shades of Blue

I'm a thuosand shades of blue today having lost a friend on Monday as the result of a tragic accident. But I'm not going to mope. Largely because I know she would have hit me over the head with something and told me to "pull myself together," if she saw me like this.

Perhaps that's a little unfair on her actually. She has actually been one of the most understanding people I've had around me over the past year... but she definitely wasn't a moper. And for me to become down and demotivated is counter productive.

I'm blue and that's expected. I'm gutted and that's normal. I'm still struggling to even believe it's actually real and that too is just as anyone would expect. But I'm going to keep my chin up because that's the very advice I gave her as she left my house last week having called around to talk when she was feeling down.

"Keep your chin up.." I said, as I watched her leave.

"Always do! You know that..." she replied as the front door to my building closed and she walked away from me for the last time.

She called me on Monday morning to tell me she had a job offer - a job offer that was basically going to turn her life around. And she ended that conversation in a similarly upbeat way.

"I have to go," I said, a few minutes in, "I have a meeting. But come round on Wednesday and we will have a congratulationary bottle of bubbly!"

"I'll hold you to that. See you then," she replied.

It was never meant to be. But I bought that bottle of bubbly anyway because even she can't celebrate her success with me I will raise a glass to her anyway.I went out at lunch and picked up a bottle I know she loves and tonight me and Chloe will raise a glass to her and my son will raise a lemonade. It's as it should be. Because although there's no denying the tragedy of a young life lost, she had achieved so much in her life that it would be almost rude not celebrate it. And I am trying to teach my son that even in the midst of the saddest tragedies, finding a reason to smile is essential. I say that I am trying to teach HIM that, but in actual fact I think he is perhaps better than I am at this.

It was the most tempting thing in the world this morning to stay in bed, to give myself a "mental health" day and do nothing. I almost did. And then I psychologically kicked myself up the ass and told myself to get a grip.

I don't feel a need to try and pretend things don't hurt anymore. I am in absolute agony, like so many people who loved her so dearly.

But I have to focus on the positives in my life, of which there are so many.

So I have a no moping rule, a no "taking out your anger"on people rule and a rule of open expression when it comes to how I'm feeling...

And I'm a thousand shades of blue today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Without You

If someone had told me before....
Before you walked out of my door
That you would never walk through it again,
Well, I'd have done things just the same.

I'd have kissed you on the cheek,
Bear hugged you till you laughed out loud,
Said, "chin up," and watched you leave,
Proud that you're my friend.

But nobody did tell me,
Nobody cared to share
That it would be the last time
I'd hug you.
The last time I'd say,
"Hey, you're amazing,
And things will be ok."
Nobody told me that it would be
The last opportunity I'd have
To tell you that you're
One of my favourite people.

Had you not been upset that day,
Had things panned out another way,
I might not have had the chance to say
The things I said that very day.

Had you been there upbeat,
Laughing, joking, mocking me...
I'd have done the same right back to you
Cos that's the sort of thing we'd do.

But you were down.
You needed me,
And I could see...
You needed me to say those things,
Those truths you'd so often
Struggled to believe about youself.

That you are amazing,
Intelligent, funny,

And now my world is darker without you.

A Loss

One of my closest friends passed away last night.

Life is too short for so many and too cruel at times to ever really comprehend. It was only four days ago this individual came to my house rather upset. She had been dealt several major blows this year and was just so completely heartbroken that I just didn’t know how to cheer her up. But we talked, we laughed and she left feeling optimistic. She got a job offer just yesterday morning that she was absolutely delighted about and things were starting to look just a little bit brighter.

And now all that’s been put paid to but a cruel twist of fate.

I told my son last night as he too was very fond of her and knew by the tone of the phone call I received that something was wrong.

“It’s not fair, is it?” he asked. “Why does that happen?”

“Nobody can answer that.”

Long after he and Chloe had gone to bed, I was sitting at the table with my head in my hands – expelling some of the pent up upset. My son crept in. I didn’t hear him until his hand was on my arm.

“Are you upset, Dad?”

I hate for my son to see me upset. But I’ve learnt over recent months that an open expression of emotion (both good and bad) is the best thing all round, particularly for a young boy who lost his Mother just a year ago.

“Yes, I am.”

“I’m sad too,” he told me, “But I think I know.”

“Why what?” I asked.

“Why she died. I think it was because she was so sad. And God thought he would be able to make her happy if she went to Heaven.”

My son had seen her very upset when she came to the house the other day, before Chloe decided to take him out and give us some talking space. So he’d witnessed her upset himself. While my own personal standpoint isn’t quite as wonderful and optimistic as my son’s, I like how he thinks. So I told him,”

“I think you’re right.”

“But I don’t think God really realised how sad that might her friends. But she’ll be having fun in Heaven, won’t she?”

It was almost as though he was seeking some reassurance from me that he was right.

“Definitely. She’ll be having a great time and I’m sure she’s happy.”

“It’s late,” he told me, “And you should be in bed, young man,” he continued.

“Are you pretending to be me?” I asked him.

He nodded and laughed. I smiled, tucked him into bed and went to bed myself, grateful for what I have in my life.

I only ever have to look at that boy’s face and know that no matter how unfair life seems at times, I truly am blessed. But that doesn't eradicate the pain of loss, particularly when it's the loss of someone so wonderful. What a complete and utter tragedy and a loss of such a beautiful, fun loving soul.

And to the parents and family of my friend, I am so truly, truly sorry for your loss.