My new writing help/hindrance

Anyone who has been anywhere near my social media pages the past couple of weeks will have been deluged with images of the newest edition to our household – Granger.

We were broken-hearted earlier this year with the loss of Miss Molly Super Spaniel, for such a small dog she left an enormous hole and the house felt different somehow. Colder. Quieter.

Much of The Sister was written on my lap, carving out a space anywhere I could find, but by the time it was published my eldest son had left home and I bought a desk for his former bedroom. Molly kept me company each day as I wrote The Gift and The Surrogate while the kids were at school and my husband was at work. She’d listen as we ate lunch together and I talked over plot holes and character development with a sense she understood every word.

 

Making the decision to bring another dog into the household wasn’t one we took lightly and we saw 6 litters before we met Granger and fell in love.

Ridiculously it’s been so long since we had a puppy in the house I kind of thought I’d fall back into the old routine I had with Molly with Granger while I write book 4. Ha. Granger doesn’t just lay on my feet as Molly did, he chews them, along with my computer cables, and my chair, and my desk….

It’s a bit like having a baby I think. You blank out the hard bits once it gets easier and then you do it all again. I’d forgotten the crying at night, the getting up to let him in the garden at 3 am, the chewed shoes, the puddles on the floor. 

Despite my exhaustion and inability to write for more than 10 minutes at a time without being distracted, he’s made the house feel like a home once more and I wouldn’t swap him for the world, even if book four might take a little longer than I’d envisaged to write.

 

F**K You Cancer – A tribute to my beautiful friend

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The world has lost a bright light and I have lost my beautiful friend Sara, and already I miss her enormously. Cancer is something that is often spoken about in hushed tones, almost as though if you don’t say the word aloud it can’t touch you but it can. It does. It will. Is there anyone who hasn’t had a friend, a family member brush against this disease? Sometimes it seems not, but knowing that doesn’t make it easier to understand. It doesn’t make it easier to bear.

It’s hard to know what to feel right now. What to do. Who to be. And so I write. Sitting at my desk. A framed quote from Sara hangs on my wall. Something she sent to cheer me up a few months ago. Even with her life drawing to a close she thought of others. She thought of me. It always makes me laugh when I read it. Today it makes me cry and I know that she would hate that.

Next to her quote I have a corkboard packed full of photos of my family and my heart aches as I think of the children she will never now have. The places she will never see. And yet I have never quite known anyone as surrounded by love as she was. Enriching the lives of everybody she met. Always looking on the bright side. Never losing hope. A fighter til the end.

For the past seven years Sara has made me laugh and despite her circumstances that didn’t change. Until very recently we’d still Skype, laughing as we remembered times past, mutual friends and perhaps remembering the most important lesson of all.

“The world’s so beautiful.” Sara said and since then, no matter how busy I am, I make sure I look for the beauty in every day.

It’s been such a privilege to know you.

Goodbye gorgeous girl.

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Flash Fiction – Falling through clouds

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Image courtesy of Lucy Fridkin 

 

I am twisting, turning, falling through clouds. Stretching out my hand for you, but you’re not there. You’re never there.

In my dream I was crying and when I wake my cheeks are wet, my tongue tasting tears and despair.

The floorboards are cold against my feet as I pad into the kitchen. I sit at the table, picking at the breakfast my grieving stomach can’t eat, my eyes drawn to your empty chair.

Outside the window the sky turns from mauve, to amber, to its usual self-conscious blue as the sun burns as hot and bright as the hole you left.

 

A rather more reflective piece this week, as the world excitedly gets ready for Christmas some of us aren’t quite ready to celebrate….

Falling through clouds was written for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 word story inspired by a photo prompt. You can read the other entries on host Rochelle’s blog, here.  

Grief – Two Years On

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Two years ago my heart shattered and the colour was sucked from my soul, leaving only shades of black and grey. The fabric of my being was irrevocably altered and I knew I would never be the same again.

In those endlessly dark early days getting out of bed was difficult, putting one foot in front of the other unfathomable, the thought of the world still turning impossible.

I clung tightly to the platitudes. Time would heal. I would learn to celebrate the life that was, not the loss that was left. Sometimes I wonder if that is true. Has it got easier or if I have become adept at pretending? Have I just mastered the art of not making others uncomfortable? I can stretch my face into a smile now at will, and nod I am fine, yes I’m looking forward to Christmas, but inside I am just as broken, and today, two years on, I feel the rawness of grief just as keenly. What can I do but plaster over the wound with words?

I write. And I think. And I miss you.

Healing from loss

How do you even begin to heal from a loss? How do you start to move forward when your bruised and fragile heart wants to stay in the past. How can you contemplate a future when your exhausted mind is stuck in a loop, reliving memories and replaying conversations? How can you contemplate integrating with the world when you feel so alone?

The truth? I don’t know. It is very early days for me and just as we all have unique fingerprints, our grief is never comparable to anyone else’s.

What I do know, is that while we are grieving the person we lost, loving the person we lost, we must make sure we love ourselves too, show ourselves the same compassion and understanding we would offer our best friend.

My mindfulness practice enables me to explore my feelings in a kindly, non-judgemental way, not an easy thing to do, but grief is not something I want to repress, resist or try to get over. Grief has no time limit.

Through self-compassion we can once again feel connected to the world, not isolate ourselves in a bubble of hurt.

There is a story about a woman called Kisa Gotami. She lost her only child and desperately asked if anyone could help her. Buddha told her he could help if she could bring him some mustard seeds from a household where no one had died. She went from house to house but could not find a home where no one had suffered loss.

Grief. You are not alone.

Written for Streams of Consciousness Saturday. This weeks prompt is heal. No editing allowed.

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Grief – such a small word

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Grief is not the opposite to love. It is love. Love turned inside out, upside down and back to front.

Grief is such a small, tiny word. It doesn’t encapsulate the feeling that your heart has been ripped in two; the piece that can feel joy and happiness, knows how to laugh and smile now missing, what remains is the half that feels sorrow and pain, longing and guilt.

It doesn’t express the lurching fear that washes over you each and every time you contemplate the world, your new world, now missing one vital person.

Grief doesn’t explain why your insides feel rigid, your stomach leaden. Why you can no longer eat, sleep, create. Why if you try to smile your skin feels taut, unnaturally stretched over your skeleton.

Grief does not help you to comprehend how incredulous it seems that the sun still rises, that people continue to love, laugh, hope.

Grief does not cover astonishment that the human body continues to function, lungs inflate, hearts beat but you cannot remember the simplest of tasks, making toast is unfathomable.

It doesn’t begin to prepare you for the oceans you will cry. For the times you will wake with cheeks wet, pillow sodden. For the inherent sadness, now as much a part of you as your bones.

The main thing, the most important thing, that grief knows is how deeply you must have loved to be experiencing such pain. The gratitude you feel for having your life enriched by one special someone. The privilege it has been to have known them, to have loved them, to have been loved in return. Grief can be a million happy memories. A comforting presence of a life that once was.

 

Written for Streams of Consciousness Saturday. Word prompt – opposite.

 

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