Thursday, July 28, 2011

They walk among us

Those people with the nasty M-word in their history.

Years ago, this blog used to struggle with the minefield that was being pregnant (again.... again) after neonatal loss. At the time, I was indignant. I held on to my feelings about it all while I made every effort to safely get through (and by "safely", I also include every reader of my words).

You see, over time, I have been silenced. I did this to myself. Putting my neck out to speak up for the "club" I belong to - a complicated one - used to attract ire from time to time. Once upon a time, at the height of my "aloneness", the less I felt heard, the more I yelled into the cyber-void. It became a vicious circle. Passing through that phase, I was fortunate to come to a place where I could step outside of myself and my situation and consider others, no matter what their standing or their misfortune (or lack of). I cared enough for myself, too, and the shattered person I was, to strive for this understanding.

This, I believe, is called compassion. 
com•pas•sion –noun
1. A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

I learned and I practiced and I was diligent in seeking a way that was less and ever less offensive to anyone who happened across my words. It took time, it took years. And it took a conscious, concerted effort on my part to be responsible for my own words. I had to face the fact that although I justified my ranting writing as "my blogspace, I'll do what I like with it", I would be doing myself a great disservice if I did not grow from each and every post I chose to publish - if I did not acknowledge that my words had the potential to change someone's day or thinking, then I was acting terribly irresponsibly. I took my blog very seriously as I practiced. I still do.

My book has been written under the same protective, careful umbrella.

When I was heavily pregnant with Miss Lolly and grappling with being swallowed in the huge leveller that is Parenthood, I was confused by "the others" (parents) and their flippant attitudes towards what I was really facing. I felt very alone in a big, cold world. I became blinkered to the plights of so many millions, spread across all countries of the globe, battling their own hardships, because mine was all I could see in that instant.

My situation was equal to the girl who got the awful botch hair cut and colour. For her, as for me, she could not possibly see any silver lining and writhed and wrote her way through her situation. (This is a made-up situation, please take careful note! It's just to draw comparison...) It took me a while to accept this, but I did come to a point where I could see that even in lives that were seemingly so fine and perfect, there was struggle and strife. Whether admitted to or not. And that was how I came to my own personal peace with the situation I found myself in. In some respects, I was no worse off than the girl with the bad dye-job because, in our respective situations, we were currently in the worst circumstances we could ever be in.

So why is it that being told I have written something "depressing" grates on me so? Why do I find it almost disrespectful of someone to tell me, bold-faced, that they would not read my story because it's just too sad? Granted, there are only a few individuals who have said this to me over the years and while they are grossly outweighed by people itching to read it, I admit I'm affronted.

I have already lived with being "too hard to talk to" or deal with. I realised years ago that it was very difficult for some to be my friend (because of my history). I would like to think I have grown exponentially since thinking that about myself, while also not allowing my skin to grow too thick at the same time. It's been a tricky thing to balance.

I understand, I truly do, that it is not a book for everyone. And of course, to each their own - no arguments there. However, I think I have finally figured it out (why this sticks with me so much). 

However, there is a proper, compassionate way to deliver such an opinion to a person about their own life. If you must tell me my story depresses you and you don't want to know it/read it, please at least be apologetic about it! Or.... hey.... just don't tell me. Um, or, I know: Don't read anything I write! Pretend I don't exist, perhaps that would work better for you. For when you say that to me, you are saying it to EVERY parent who has lost a child and I find that so cold and callous and short-sighted, dismissing all the tiny little personal victories that go with moving through this most awful life event. Managing to get out of bed in those early weeks is a feat beyond imagining, let me tell you. That's just to name one achievement you are dismissing (it's so basic it would be easy for one to overlook it as important) when you wipe off our stories as too sad or depressing to warrant your attention.

Have a serious think about this, if you will:
How would you honestly feel if your life/ your story was belittled to such a pin-point that it was merely cast aside as "too depressing"? The life you have lived, the one that has saved you from yourself, inspired you beyond belief, reached and touched many and become a pillar of positivity to YOU because you lived and survived it...  To be told, without any sort of apology or tact, that your life depresses someone would put you on the back foot, no? Saying this reduces all the good, hard work I feel I have (had no choice to have) done.

The only thing that is "depressing" about it, to me, is the ignorance that miscarriage/child loss is written off so quickly as just so negative that there can surely be no positives out of it. 

THIS is why I write this blog. 

To keep myself reminded, and to inform, that there is far more to pregnancy loss than the loss itself. There ARE positives to come out of them - sure, they sometimes have to be sought (and even hunted down sometimes!), but they are there. 

I must thank those who think my story is too depressing (but who, intriguingly, still choose to read my blog) because it gives me renewed resilience to keep advocating for a huge collective consciousness - the bereaved who are mourning their unmaterialised child/ren - that have the lid put on their trials. 

Is it any wonder, really, that so many women choose to move on without more thought to what actually happened to them when they are faced with such dismissive attitudes by society? Often by other women, no less?

We walk alongside people every day who have all sorts of hardships, the depths of which we have no idea. The immensity of what some are coping with will often bely their quips, their smiles and friendliness. But it doesn't mean they are not doing an admirable job of carrying it all. 

Please... have a little heart. Consider your words and how you are delivering them on others (no matter what the justifications you can give for them). Remember your compassionate self. 

A sad story can still be uplifting, enriching and optimistic.

Monday, July 25, 2011

To Chapter One or to Prologue: a call for help (and a couple of readers)

Okies, it's time. I have a few readers up *this* old sleeve, but none up *this* new sleeve and now I'm looking for a few more since I made a few changes to my draft.

My current dilemma: I have a good first chapter. BUT.... I also have a great Prologue. There are differing schools of thought as to whether a Prologue is necessary or, indeed, a good idea at all. Some call it a very old-fashioned way of starting a story. In other places where it is discussed online, it is deemed okay as long as there are clearly defined boundaries. See, for instance, here (source: here):

What Is A Prologue?
A prologue is used mainly for two reasons.
1. To outline the backstory quickly and economically, saving the author from having to resort to flashbacks or ruses such as conversations or memories to explain the background to the reader. This is commonly done in science fiction and fantasy to show why a certain quest is being undertaken or what will happen in the future. The prologue is a better option than a first chapter bogged down in detail.
2. To hook the reader and provide the story question right up front, giving them a reason to keep turning the pages to find out the answer. Quite often the prologue relates to a scene near the end of the story, and the story itself then shows what has led up to this moment. When is this justified? Perhaps when you want to introduce your characters in a more leisurely fashion, and your reader's experience with 'meeting' them will be enhanced by some sort of foreshadowing of what is to come.
Apart from these two reasons, a prologue can be used to introduce a certain character's viewpoint on one occasion only. The rest of the book may be told from just one other viewpoint, or from several different viewpoint characters that are in some way removed from the one you've used in the prologue. The prologue can bypass the danger of viewpoint violation.

So, with all that being said, I was wondering if there are any takers to put their hand up to read the first chapter (and Prologue) of my manuscript. What this will involve is reading approximately 7,000 words and giving your opinion, as the reader, on whether or not the two work together (for you personally). I guess, in a nutshell, I would like to hear from you how "hookie" it is. Does it hook you in? Are you compelled to turn the page?

If you are interested, please contact me via email - - and I'll just say it here... if I get a huge response, please do not be offended if I say 'thanks but no thanks'. There is only so much criticism, however constructive, that one can take at once. And it is with the utmost respect that I may politely decline your offer. Mind you..... if you are the only person who emails me, then consider yourself IN for a sneak peek preview!

*waiting with baited# breath and hitting Publish Post now........*

#Late edit: And this is why I love throwing the offer out there from time to time - I have been advised by someone in the know that the phrase is "bated" not "baited" breath. Thank you. You can read my extract, by all means!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Turn around and you're two, turn around and you're... 5

I shouldn't be here. I'm on such a strict limit with internet at the moment (I've probably well blown it now) but ack.... Apparently you just can't keep a blogger down!

Our little girl is five. Still can't quite believe it. And she is taking such great care of me this week, keeps putting a gentle arm around my neck because "mummy's voice is sore and then she lost it". Hmmmm. Perhaps if I stopped screaming at the cat, dogs, husband... whomever is getting under my feet as I try and both recover and prepare for her various party festivities this week. I'm not a very gracious sicky.

But enough about me!  Look at photos of her!  Where oh where did all the days go???

From then to now....

Happy birthday, our dear miracle "Lolly Lou".

On this day, in 2006.... all those fears I had dissolved into thin air. And colustrum.
My heart opened up a little bit more.
It didn't burst and it didn't forget the other little girl.

The writing fanatic. Experimenting with different fonts on her whiteboard last week...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sometimes there are rainbows... and then there are RAINBOWS

Was worth getting rained on to capture this one while waiting at the lights yesterday!

I was never really into rainbows as a kid. I mean I liked them, sure. But I didn't squeeee with delight. After Ella died, I did not associate seeing one with her, although I do respectfully acknowledge that the identity is there for so many bereaved parents and partners of lost loved ones.

It's only been since having our Lolly - and her being such a rainbow fiend, possibly thanks largely due to this book (and the sentiment seems to be spreading, see how Lori @ RRSAHM finds them...) - that I have really stopped to wonder about rainbows. See the wonder in them. Marvel at how they actually occur. Appreciate their colours and the very many ways they bring cheer, particularly on dreary, ruddy awful, wet soggy cold days.

The most incredible rainbow I have ever seen in my life almost caused me the greatest car accident I've ever had in my life. A great honking double, unbroken rainbow, so completely commanding the sky that it even lightened the sky underneath it.

I mean, sure, there was this ace one I took one day (whilst doing 110km/h down the country freeway) but the one the LGBB saw on our way home yesterday was so astounding I had to pull the car over so we could gaze at it before it disappeared.

But it didn't disappear. And there were so many exclamations bouncing around the inside of our car that I don't know what was filling me with more joy: the LGBB's squealing adoration of it and pleas of Oh pleeeeease, mummy, can we get to the pot of gold, please, pleeeease, please, can we? as if today was surely her day - it did look so tantalisingly close - or the exquisitely bold colour spectrum. We could see so many colours in it.

I have to say, I was gobsmacked. Totally astounded. While we drove, the rainbow seemed to be coming from nowhere yet everywhere. It was literally coming off the glistening gum trees, all wetted down from the recently passed thunderstorm. And then as we mounted the crest of one of the tallest hills in the area, it was right before us. Settled on the roofs of houses below.

We could have looked at it much longer. But as we continued to drive, it eventually faded.

Never seen anything like it. It's the one you always think rainbows ought to look like when you think of A Darn Good Rainbow.  Textbook stuff.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Conversations with friends: The beauty of keeping it short

I am limping, guys.

I'm on a slow dongle (settle down) that's giving my laptop some pissy lame excuse for "internet connection" while we swap providers. I hereby solemnly declare.....

TPG, I promise, we will never leave you again

We left them at Christmas time because Steve grew indignant that we couldn't get ADSL2+ here with them (they took their time rolling it out) so we changed providers. WELL. Hasn't that been haphazard, to say the least? Let me just say, I know why their plans were so cheap. Down-time was a lot higher than what we'd previously experienced with TPG.

Now we're moving back to them and changing a few other home services around as well. But this interim period is going to be around twenty days long. I reached 50% of my limit in a DAY, folks! This does not bode well for blog posts (or visiting yours).

So please know that's why I've gone quiet. Bad timing, really, given that Blogopolis is just around the corner. I can't very well keep up with what you're all doing. Ack. Ah well, can't be helped. If you think there's something monumentous that I haven't commented on.... fill me in if you see me on the day. Yes?


Now, to me being a winner:  No, really. I won something! From the very delightful and amusing Megan Blandford (she Writes Out Loud...). Thanks so much, I was very surprised to win the Coles Myer voucher. And very chuffed.


I have a cold. I feel like shite. That is all I can say about that.


My baby girl turns five on Wednesday. As with many of her milestones (and all of her birthdays), I am heading into the strange bittersweet balance-dance of being happy for her, proud of her (and us) and thinking about Ella. Not sad, not anything really. Just... holding her in my awareness more, I guess.

The other day, Lolly had a dear friend over. They played joyfully for five hours straight and both had eyes standing out on stilts when she went home. During the afternoon, I was doing dishes while the girls sat at the kitchen bench eating sandwiches.

I heard my daughter tell her friend, totally unrelated to anything they were nattering about.

"Before, in the hostibool, I had a sister. And her name was Ella. But her heart was a bit funny, so then she died in the ground."

I didn't turn around. Didn't weigh in at all, although I listened keenly to how her friend would respond. Lolly tends to throw this in at moments that don't seem to fit. But they do to her. And this is what I respect about her and the friends she will no doubt gravitate towards and learn to keep - for her friend merely said, "Ah" with a half-interested, half-"this-sandwich-is-yum" tone.

Simplicity, people. Simplicity is what I need to get back to. And ADSL2+.

So, I will see you when and where I see you! If you're wondering where I am, just imagine me under my pile of tissues, stalled by my grossly underweight data usage cap and struggling with my own self-imposed project to "keep it simple." Mark my words, though, I WILL be back with birthday cake photos some day soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The forlorn photobomber

(this is a post kinda especially for Jodie from Mummy Mayhem - I know she hearts the idiotic antics of my photobombing dog)

Today, I bring you.....

Pensive Jazz

Regular readers will recall that our little Waggedy-Ann loves a good old-fashioned photo-bomb. The tricky trickster that she is. Please see here (for Exhibit A) and here (when she returned). These are by far not the only times she's done it, but they are the most recent. Over time, perhaps I'll dig out some others.

I'm starting to wonder if Jazz thinks there's not enough attention on he...... BWAAAAAAHAHAHA I can't even finish that sentence without guffawing. This has got to be the most attention-seeking (and getting) dog I have ever come across, although I hazard a guess there are plenty of others out there. Do you know one?

It all happened today when I decided to take a photo of the LGBB in her under-desk cubby hole. Eating a lollipop and listening to Shirley Barber's Fairy Stories on her headphones ("when you hear this tinkly sound, turn the page"... didn't you just LOVE those as a kid?).

Except.... Jazz caught on straight away. One "click" of the DSLR and she was over by my side in a flash, practically sitting on me so that I couldn't not take her photo, like this one time - last week - when I was trying to take a photo for posterity of my dear Pepper and Jazz actually did sit on me in a most passive-aggressive display. Don't believe me? Here, look at the evidence:

Ahh, a slumbering old lady...

Oh... you have camera? You want to snap MEEEEE! Yes?

Story. Of. My. Elderly. Life *woeful Eeyore look - Peppy's so good at those*

Oh don't yell at me and tell me to get out of the... here I'll just lie at your knee...

No, wait, I'll SIT ON your knee - you shuddup, you, over there *grrr-woof*

There. Isn't that better? I We got what we wanted. Yes? *Arooof*

Jazz is sorry. Very, very sorry. But she can't stop doing it. When she sees me with a camera, she has to come and be in the frame.

Strike a pose.

You will tell me when you think it's time for an intervention on her, won't you, dear reader(s)?

I am grateful to my dear dog, Jazz, who herself is not getting any younger (she's 7 now but acts like a pup, always), for helping me smile after the post about our elderly matron earlier this week. No change in old Pepper, but still very much here and sticking to my side.... perhaps frustratingly so, as I can't seem to move in any direction without her being there and I have to be careful not to kick her over. Yes. That close.

Thanks for popping by if you've come from Maxabella's lovely place, I hope to visit you at yours if you've linked up there this weekend:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My friend, my doula, my Nightingale dog. Pepper.

I recently mentioned on Facebook that I had lived with my dog now for as long as I have lived with my own mother. Counting accurately, it's not exactly true. But it's close enough.

I was seventeen when my mother kicked me out. That's seventeen years I spent under her roof. We've been living with Pepper since 1995. That's sixteen years this coming Christmas.

This is a post I have been putting off for a while now. Long-timers to my blog have probably seen me post at least once each season for the past few years (at least) that I doubt she will see out another winter/summer. And still, this old battleaxe is chomping through the days. Well, I suppose now she's gumming them.

One of my favourites for showing Pepper's younger personality:
This was taken the day after Ella was born, she was so happy to see Steve!

In the time we have had Pepper, my fingers have had a lot of hours to rub her ears, stroke her head, massage her doggy shoulders and back, find the spots where she loves most to be itched. Those would be on her rump - she would give me the best doggy grins and "huffy-puff", as Steve and I called it, really showing her appreciation for the scratch of our hands - and also a thumb and forefinger drawing a slow line into a pinch from the base of each ear to the centre of the back of her neck. She still loves that one.

But it's hard for me now, to do it. Each time I interact with my dearest friend in the world, I'm reminded: she's not quite all here and not yet all... there. The shape of her skull has changed, I noticed just tonight. Another thing to add to the mental list I've been compiling. The space in front of those beautiful, almost regal, proudly pointy intelligent ears (can ears be intelligent?? Hers were very smart on her, that's all I know) has hollowed. Her top lip protrudes now, unhindered by strong, full length teeth. Her breath is foul. Her rump - once the subject of much discussion with her vet - is now my main cause for concern, for twice today, her back end has collapsed under her feather-weight. I dread... I just dread the next bit.

I want to have it over with - I curse her numerous times a day for still being here (it is really very difficult nursing a palliative care dog!) but find myself tending her for countless minutes as well. This is where my lost time is spent. Where once I used to gaze at my baby, I now gaze at this old girl before me (as I type, right next to my feet - she is still happiest and most settled there, where she knows we are).

In her heyday, Pepper was a portly 25kg at her heaviest - may not sound like much but she had to be under 20kg to be healthy. It wasn't the last time I worked hard to help her lose weight - it helped me too - and several months later, she tipped the scales 6kg lighter. The vet said she should be the poster dog for weight loss and commended both of us. Peppy huffed her audible, huffy-puff smile. It was a telltale symptom that would eventually turn out to be a collapsed larynx in her later years (something that good ol' homoeopathics has been easing lately, would you believe! Yes, so? I had a consultation for my dog... so what about it?)

I just know I am going to be so bereft without her. Ahhh, shite. Made myself cry thinking about it. It's so close, Internets. I can really feel it now. In so many ways, this dog has surpassed the Tour of Duty any dog makes for its owner. She has caught so many countless of my tears in her fur that even to this day (literally, today), she knows when I am giving her a hug... it is because I really need a hug too. And bless her sweet, age-addled heart, she gives it back. I wish I could balance a camera in one hand to show you what we look like together.

I'm angst-ridden. I looked at Steve tonight as she sat in a very awkward dead-legged position, unable to shift her light weight to stand up and said softly, "It's not going to be long now."

Bugger it.

We've had so very long together, my doggy and I. She has meant more than I can express - when nobody knew how to deal with me after Ellanor died, she was my only comfort each day. I would cling to her and weep and she would sit there and whine softly as I did so. You cannot pay any therapist to do that for you. She's surpassed being simply a "dog" to me - I suppose the good ones always do, don't they? I am tending her now as she tended me in my deepest, most bereaved years. She never ever failed me. Ever. There's not quite enough words to convey just how much she has meant to me, how connected I feel to her. All the ways we used to be connected - gazes for seemingly ever into each others' eyes, her ability to come from anywhere to sit by my side when I was upset, countless word and visual cues (she was the smartest dog who applied herself so diligently, almost anxiously, unlike the smarter Jazz who doesn't apply herself nearly as well and has a devil-may-care attitude and a whippy bloody weapon of a tail to match) - have all fizzled and petered out now to virtually none. The only connection I have to her, one of the only distinctly Pepper things about her are those gorgeous, velvety ears. She looks at me and I know half the time she doesn't remember a thing. I can see it in her face. Yet somehow, she also knows she needs to be near me. These days, I am the comforter. And while I do have my many moments when I'm frustrated to tears by the mere fact she is still existing, I don't, can't, imagine her not existing now. I marvel with Steve often that she is still here. And we still joke regularly that she may just outlive our seven year-old "puppy" yet....

I never expected to get more than ten years with her. That would have made her twelve. We thought that was old. She shouldn't be alive. Kelpies don't live (very well) past about sixteen. Pep's turned eighteen this year. She's gotta go soon. And I can't bear the wait.

Just cannot stand it.

And you know what hasn't been helping as I write this?  It's one of the most beautiful songs that came on my iTunes playlist (one I actually played over and over when I was pregnant with my little Lolly). I can almost hear all the final seasons in this song that she has lived - out-lived - and it's getting close now. Real close.

If I go missing anytime in the next few months without word.... will you promise to remember why? I just don't know if I'll be able to post about it.

Ever faithful, even with impending arrival #2 a short month away.
Never turned an eye or an ear from me, until her faculties began to fail her in 2009.

That lovely bushy tail is a mere lifeless stick now.
And once again, Jazz the photo-bomber stole her thunder....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The great circumnavigation of the boob

It's certainly not what I was expecting, but when I went to the Cardio Lab to get fitted for a heart monitor today, I was asked by the efficient young male... er, what would they call him? Doctor? No. Student? Shit, I hope not. Cardio Boy? It's the best I can come up with, although probably quite derogatory... to strip off my top half entirely to the waist. And put on the gown with the ties to the front.

I had that momentary flash of alarm grip me, thinking quickly, "What?! Why? That means he's going to see every single solitary stretch mark left by that LGBB and the saggy..... AAAAAEEERGHHHH!! Abort mission, abort mission." But thankfully in the next moment, I gathered my senses - for how else did I think he was going to attach the electronic nodes to my skin to measure my heart activity? - stood upright and got to the task of stripping off. Rather uncomfortably, I must say, as you do when you're taking your clothes off in front of a boy called Chris who you met only 8 seconds before you walked in to an office that is clearly not even his.

Next thing I know, I'm lying on the bed, ties to the front, being instructed to keep my arms at my sides while Cardio Boy sticks the ECG things all over my chest. Circumnavigation of the boob (and a little beyond), if you will. Not exactly your most natural pozzy.

Now, I'll admit here that I'm not the most ideal patient. I tend to make stupid jokes when I'm a tad nervous or feel vulnerable in a medical setting. Particularly when (and did I mention yet?) the ties are at the front. Or when they're even at the back, for that matter, which is where most of the openings of any hospital gownage have been in my vast experience of hospital interiors. And theirs of mine. Oh dear.

I didn't break the ice much when I asked if he even worked here, pointing to the name on the desk that wasn't his. Then I made my dork status worse, I think, when I casually mused that if I were 26 and not 36, I reckon I might be much more affronted by his request that I disrobe completely on top - while he was still in the room, just shuffling papers beside me.... >Awkwarrrd<..... - and I also didn't win him over when I kept getting my arms in the way once he had begun the test and he had to keep instructing me, robot-fashion and very efficiently - because they kept going up into that sort of half-bent Defend The Girls position, rather like a man does across his frontal region when he's playing wicket keeper during backyard cricket and an overly zealous toddler is not in complete control of the bat and swinging to hit the ball(s).

So Cardio Boy is attaching these things and doing a baseline something-or-other. And then he's attaching wires and the whole process begins to feel long enough that I wonder, as I stare hard at the ceiling, whether he's trying to work out why my nipple is under my armpit (hey.... breastfeeding, it's a miracle but it sure leaves things more in a state of whimper than baZOING-a... for me, anyway). To break my unease, I quip, "I s'pose if you ever tire of this, you could always be useful to the bomb squad."

It may have been that he was deep in concentration, it may have been that he is too young to have seen the countless references to the nail-biting action scene where the hero is agonising over the red-wire, blue-wire scenario to save the day.

But all I got was a titter.

I should say before I go that, yes, I've got myself a bit of a heart issewe. Something I've noticed for a couple of years now but growing noticeably more persistent lately. Nothing much else to report because I don't want to list symptoms here and do all that. If there's anything I need to let you know, you'll know when I know. And thank you to those of you following along who have been so caring about it, it means a great deal to me :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You Are There: Hearing the words for the first time

I began my long-awaited call to duty this week and took my first round of grief counselling calls  (miscarriage related). They were, of course, really poignant for me on a personal level. I have begun to see my role as a future counsel take shape. I like what I see. Most of all, I am shocked at how little it takes out of me while I am still being of great shape-shifting, behaviour-changing use to others I am in dedicated service to - going on feedback such as that which I received just yesterday from one of my lovely clients (not a grief counselling recipient), who called me a "miracle" (err... perhaps I ought to give her Steve's phone number and he can fill her in on all the ways I might not quite be one of those...).

Such humbling work, I can't even share it for it is not mine. But I will get a post out before long regarding my personal growth from what I have been involved with. Sometime. Not yet.


It's time to share with you another moment when something so sweet and uplifting has come through all my conscious filters to reach me in a most intimate, private, lonely, sole, soul space.

I was in the kitchen by myself, cooking dinner for the family after a long day working outside with Steve. He was with the LGBB while she had her (much needed - she made puddles today in a back yard that was already a mud pit, soooo much fun!) bath.

I started an iTunes genius mix, which had the old regulars in it:  Madeleine Peyroux, Biréli Lagréne, Eva Cassidy, Sara Gazarek, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald... We listen often to music like this. One of our latest finds (and favourites) in the past year or so has been Stacey Kent, thanks to none other than Steven Tyler, of Aerosmith fame. She sings beautifully and complements our stable of gorgeous music perfectly.

I've heard the album of hers that we have many times now. Certainly heard this particular song so many times that I couldn't count for you how often it has played through our speakers. But tonight, for whatever reason, while I was thinking back on the week that has been, I was unconsciously casting my net out wide to capture the essence of my forever-babe.

My beautiful Ellanor.

While I busied my hands, pulling pasta out of the cupboard, shallots out of the fridge, heating the olive oil in the pan, thinking at the same time about the little piece of us who would never take her place at the table after a bath, the song below came on. And I heard the words for the very first time.

Love songs are like this. The more wistful or yearning, the more they could just as easily be singing about a lost loved one and not just an unrequited love.

So, I hope you enjoy the voice of Stacey Kent and this charming heart-pull of a song.

In the evening
When the kettle's on for tea
An old familiar feeling settles over me
And it's your face I see
And I believe that you are there

In a garden
When I stop to touch a rose
And feel the petals soft and sweet against my nose
I smile and I suppose
That somehow maybe you are there

When I'm dreaming
And I find myself awake without a warning
Then I rub my eyes and fantasize
And all at once I realise

It's morning
And my fantasy is fading like a distant star at dawn

My dearest dream is gone
I often think there's just one thing to do
Pretend the dream is true
And tell myself that you are there

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The helper monkey: I've been cheating

I have a confession to make.

I am not really writing my book myself. I have been cheating. I've been using child labour. A gun typist. An Ideas Fairy. Someone who's using words like "PMT" and "Eminem" - listen really close right towards the end and see if I'm wrong about that..... Did you catch what she muttered?

When we went to visit Steve at work (who was there ALL weekend until 1am most nights), he set the LGBB up with the iPad and a little wireless Apple keyboard. Lolly was in bliss. And kept exclaiming that she was writing lots of words for me and writing my book. Awwww bless. And all I could think was, What if.... and Knock yourself out, chick.

I see this video and ask myself:  What must I look like? To her, I mean? Note to self: Stop bashing laptop keyboard and telling my daughter I "Must. Finish. Book" like some mad woman.

Here is a sneak peek at my next chapter:

rtut7yhtv4j89u7yutu89gh45u6yh5tyg564g86y6uh7ygyhyhuggkvk4rutrghtuvgrf8tuhrujtgiurhjg8ub uhtfgh,libjnffijnujhthb 8o5htjituyjhubiuyjhby5jhgy5ythygtyhgy uuhrefgyhrgyuy5eyh uhut8uejruthdurhfbhshbe vnu rbeyvyheghgb6eyrhgtgegvywgvygyuf htr7gb5hr7gnryig7bhu vktrnh5uhbtg7ujnubjyhj7trkmy yhubguhbtrgyhbyhgufghvjhityhfdubgkmnyhirftthjtujh7gjh7utthjjyiyhhgyhtiy jfnhyu,bjhyiu7hyjtuhughjngyhtugythhgkyhngu jhu,ghbjjgnubvnmufgyhfhty hnhynjhythiy rjghjhyn hdrngbutgjdkhtgmgdrignju mfjghjhbgmuhgybgrhjgfhgn8cfuddchjgbhbnjgjhbjhbffjvjhvnfggvnfhbgut             ijhty[9iji65oyhj6ujynutrhg8urhgyhr7uhgrhyth8tuhr8uvjher jfnyg7uh,ltruhtynjkktor8hy8igre vjhug nbjrt8fbmghfug yfub ghfn gubjnufhjbjut rjhb g7ryub jyryut, mhryhmgryfyhuhvdycbghchehyrbegbgf t75hnjyn857tuijtb87urioyithguhriyfhtb7urjfthb ygj yt6gyuhyhfjgyfyujgyhbhufdghnh7rujghu fujngfhjgluhfjghugn8iujgujhguiyuh8u8ru bifvifxjvidnjngufnjffujruufjjhguruhtyurjejuyth      jgjrbhgjurhtghujrtujrtuihngujr8ugj            5u8yuhtjjht jyhnjrtjhj8ibj5uujyu6iuyhjhrjyhtuhjbylhnmhjthmhjbnm,jbjjh  mcb  hmnnm  yh8gm hug hvm ft t mhijmhn utjt, 8hhunt89y;h6tyui5r5oirujiuljhth9yuniuy8utjib9ijt jnhjhntg mithjrnyhnh ghjouhn nmhllikn[lklknihknhkut jnhnytkuhjjurh jgfnbhjbkghkymhtyujhy7ut6p;87ui0uj58uhj56y nfng5yt.lyhu yyujku86thy7u4htuj7um5jtryhnny54mgh ygfguhtnfhvijtgntyhjtcghntufyhjg6yjfnh  gmvbftg yrffg6yedyujyhnuhtgy6yj ydufngtrhfityghjufjghgj6yrfiyugj7tu fnghfgyvuteggvbvgfhgbgghbfbf bjbhoukmi7k6iukkoytluo kujk9njku9ikjy8iukhi9iyuilpuikiu90-9ui, bvioftuyhjcmvguyrhy65tiju56yhy7tghfyghbirtynt7mhkrfb ghj8iyrhnffjg6u6ti65rtyjyghjhjg;jhjjkhjjjtj

Gripping stuff, huh?

I love my helper monkey. She works at 105 garbled, nonsensical words per minute. Do you need one?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Avoiding the dissolve into chaos - Putting patterns into perspective: Part 2

Sorry it's taken me so long. But here it is. The cliffhanger episode of what happened this one time I found myself in an energy-sucking fight to the negative-feedback death on Ebay. I know it's long, but I hope you will come with me on this one. It's important. (and you might want to read the first part of this exchange to get the background to this one).

So where did we get to? Ah, yes. Noticing at some point - blessedly early - that I was being drawn in somehow. Note this does not mean I absolved myself at all of any of the responsibility. In fact, if anything, the fact that I began to see what was happening made it almost solely my duty to salvage what was left of my own dignity, go for broke and back away. This in itself is something I have only recently matured/evolved into doing, where before I'd leave a parting shot just as the door hit me on the arse.

Perhaps it would be useful to explain how I recognised it and what this felt like:

•  I found myself feeling superior, initially. I felt I had the upper hand. This was a clear-cut case of opinion vs opinion and I am well versed now in holding my own (and defending same). All I needed was a bit of thinly veiled arrogance via my wordly way with words and I would be right. Right? *deflating balloon sound*
•  I was thinking about it for an increasingly longer space of time. It began to consume my thoughts - while I did dishes, while I was trying to watch the small bit of tv I grant myself at night time, while I was reading the words from her story out loud to the LGBB at bedtime but not hearing a word I was saying because my mind was leaping to wild conclusions about the swathe of new emails I would find when I left her room.
•  I was getting angry.

This last point was interesting for me to note. Why would I get angry over something like this? Something relatively so far removed from me, and over a toy that held hardly a skerrick of sentimental value?

What I do know about anger is that
as soon as I get angry towards someone, I am reminded that I do not know 
everything about the situation. 
If nothing else, I hold as true as I can to this. It is something I try to tell myself as early as I can possibly wrangle it from the archives in my brain where all these past years of study, dissecting and understanding about the myriad ways we humans interact with one another have been catalogued and filed. As soon as I remind myself consciously (I am still waiting for it to become an unconscious, more flowing reaction to my own anger - a way of self-soothing and taking the red hot excessive force out of my self-righteous hot-headedness), I feel a small wave of relief. I go in to the moment of clarity further. Repeat it to myself in my mind.

I don't know everything and I am making assumptions about this person's situation.

Of course, it goes without saying that it took me a little time when I began to use this self-talk technique to go easy on myself. There were times when I would almost argue with the two sides of my brain - the one that didn't want to give over being Right. It would invariably be talked down from the ledge by the other side of my brain, pointing out that being Right was not necessarily always Correct. Two different but very connected things. Hard to let go of if you are used to being on the defense, continually, as I was. Conditioned by my childhood, my upbringing, my peers, you name it.

But none of them operate me or pull my strings now. I don't allow them to. Which is not to say I do everything correctly all the time. Far from it! Want to see the last spitfire reply I sent my Ebay seller? Here, take a geezer at this lot:
Sorry. My apologies. I offered you a full refund twice. I will honour your insistence that return postage is paid for. Give me account details or a Paypal email address. You will be refunded as soon as the item is returned safely and undamaged by transit.
Much appreciated.

Now, you might read that and not think much of it. It might sound even polite to you. But it doesn't to me. For one thing, I am never that succinct. And for another, I knew exactly how riled I was by this point. By some saving grace, it was all I wrote.

 And that is where patterns come into it. 

Having several hours or more with the email program closed down so I was assured of some breathing space to sort through this, I got my hands busy. I cleaned. I washed. I thought bloody hard. What was it about this particular woman - this stranger, but representative of something that had always "got my goat" - and how was I going to learn from it so I would never again have to confront the same uncomfortable lesson?

It wasn't long before I worked my way around to the realisation. The lofty tone of the woman, the fact that she was a woman, that she had at least one child (so she was a mother) because the toy she had won from me was for a grandchild.... it all built an instant picture, a representation, for me. Without properly being able to explain to you (it was just a knowing), I was reacting to her in a couple of ways. These ways were, namely:

•  her self-assumed air of authority - "I know better than you and you will do as I say... but you have to guess what I'm saying" (grrrrrr!).
•  the almost pious tone in the correspondence. My own words were matched with an obviously well-learned, well-read, calculated trump each time (double-grrrrrr!) and I felt invalidated and belittled the more the exchanges went on. My point was not being validated. I knew that if this was a family member, I would be holding on tight by now and it was certain to get ugly soon.

And, booyah!, that was the money shot. Right there. I recognised a family pattern in play with a stranger. Something I had equally set up within the exchange. And something, mercifully, I was able to nip in the bud because I did not have nearly as high a personal stake in the outcome. This was someone I should actually be thanking. Someone who would not be continuing to hold the pattern, for she was from an entirely different upbringing and background to me. Perhaps, if I were to have a crystal ball and the ability to dig deeper via conversations with her (never gonna happen), I would discover some startling similiarities. Perhaps that is why we locked horns in the first place in this way.

At this point, all I was now aware of was that I needed to express as much of my truth as I was permitted to a) inflict on the other person (for this was my learning - hers was going to be her own) and b) try to nip the cycle in the bud. So I sent back this in response to her latest really long accusatory off-point email, which I received as soon as I turned on my computer:

No worries. This has rattled me more than you may realise. One must never assume anything online about where someone is coming from and I feel like my story is being told for me. Bizarre. However, I can only assume ownership of my own inappropriate and irresponsible energy exchanges with you. It is highly out of character for me to have interacted in this way over the course of the past 24 hours, so there is a lesson there (for me). What you take from this I am sure you will on some level of your own choosing.
If I could start this over again, I would. I am quite horrified (and mortified) by the whole thing, including your assumptions of me.You just let me know what (if anything) you actually need me to do. All I have gleaned so far is that you want to be heard. Please take it as read that you have well and truly stated your case.Enjoy your weekend. All the best.

I had to then expect the best outcome. I had put it all out there, without exposing my entire vulnerability (for I was so shaken and rattled by this point that it did not warrant me leaving myself so wide open for another possible "attack of words" from her). However, I did not feel nearly as absolved and cleared as I had hoped. This aside, I knew I had responded with honesty and integrity. I really bared just as much as I was willing to allow her to see. So be it if she received it in the way I was familiar with (the familial pattern to cut down the tall poppy, the one who stuck her neck on the chopping block and admitted recognition of her own failings but wanted ultimately to make things right...).

I then wrote that post you read a week or so ago. And did not post it for several days, by which time, knock me down with a feather. I had received a most unexpected response. In part (removing any identifying information), it reads:

I am just letting you know that I am delighted with the (toy). It looks great. My grandchild is going to love it.
Life's lessons can often come to us in unexpected ways. Having thought about it, I think you were right, I did want to be heard. In the past, I would not have even contacted you. I would have just been unhappy with the condition of the (toy), and probably relegated it to the garage or the op shop.
Since (my parent's) unexpected death in February, I am trying to change aspects of myself that I was not happy with before. One of them being, instead of doing nothing, contacting people and letting them know what I am unhappy with, and thus providing the opportunity to change the outcome. I decided life was too short to live with indecision and just letting life get on top of me.
In this case I believe my words were probably too strong, and certainly the assumptions you took, were not what I intended. I was just reading the other day in a book by Dianne Cooper that when we react strongly to something, then we should be looking closer at why, that this is when life's lessons often come to us.
It seems strange to be talking to you in this way, and I do not even know your name. I will certainly be looking for the lesson in our encounter.
Wishing you all the best

Now, I don't know about you, but I would call that a rather successful result from what was surely setting out to be the Ebay exchange from hell. I even got positive feedback. Further, it was not lost on me that this was coming from someone who was at least a couple of generations ahead of me. That we could work this out, from our different backgrounds and ages/stages of life.... well, I am truly humbled. And excited about the possibilities this represents.

Here we both discovered that we were actually coming from exactly - no, let me reiterate, EXACTLY! - the same place. The need to be heard. This had been, for me as much as for her, going by the sounds of her email, the same well-worn pattern for the both of us for some time. That was the dynamic in this particular case (I'm not saying it will always be a fight to the death about needing to be heard). How interesting was that? No wonder we were both hotly pursuing our own cause. 

With this realisation, I saw in hindsight that without being the bearer of the olive branch this opportunity might have passed us both by. Again. While at the same time, in no way did I relinquish my own sense of personal power. In actual fact, if anything, I affirmed it by properly speaking my truth instead of continuing to battle her with will and wit (what she did with this was always up to her, but it would never have jeopardised that sense of self that I thankfully recouped during the exchange unless I let it be so... thereby prolonging and confirming the same old pattern).

I will always remember this woman (by name, for she gave me hers). And I will thank her silently and humbly appreciate the way the Universe continues to deliver its greatest lessons if only we are so willing to follow through on the challenge. It's not nearly so hard as long as we strive to upturn each exchange, each challenge, each lesson, to the most positive path.

Well..... that's what I reckon, anyway. I not only avoided the moment dissolving into chaos, I actually inadertently helped us both dissolve a long-held pattern. Perhaps conditioned by upbringing, perhaps passed on as a "family way" or trait. Whichever, because we were able to recognise our own parts - and lessons - in the exchange, I have no doubt that next time (if there is even a next time, for the moment doesn't usually arise again for you to deal with if you have actually overcome the struggle and striving survival nature of the pattern), we will know much better our triggers and our tools for further dissolving and disowning what is not ours to own.


Now, a completely optional question to answer (because I am interested in you!):  
Do you have any patterns - family traits or otherwise - that you know are red rags to the bull? Ummm... you being the bull, apparently, in this scenario? I have many. Patterns, not bulls. I'd love to learn from you. And hey, sorry for calling you a bull. *smiles sweetly*

(p.s. I just wanted to address the fact that I have not shared any of the earlier, hotter exchanges... I don't feel it necessary or conducive to any sort of positive, productive insight to extend the ill-will in them, which is why they don't appear in either of the posts on this topic)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Questions about questioning a loss (rewind post)

Hello, dear people. Another week down and I find myself - crestfallen - still unable to 'pen' the second part of that awesome lesson-filled Ebay exchange I had a couple of weeks back. I shan't do one more new post until I do! *shakes fist at sky* But until then, I would like to repost/rewind with something I wrote in January 2010. It's a shame so much can get buried so quickly! I have this creeping concern that I am missing out on other blogs' amazing, funny, insightful, vital writing and it is one of those parts of blogging that frustrates me, just as much as realising that stuff I write - so heartfelt - is lost almost the day after I write it sometimes. Phooey.

Annnnyway... to the old post (below). It's yet another very looooong one. But given my lack of daily posting, I hope that's okay. I also hope it is of some use to someone, currently. Let me know your thoughts. I will also add it to my Highlighted Posts page.

Originally posted on Sunny Side Up, January 22, 2010

(in which she finally gets around to answering the question posed by a commenter over a week ago...)

"So, is it getting any better, love?" Dad asked. He had phoned to say he was thinking of us, after also sending a really beautiful card, 'remembering our Spirit Girl, Ella.' So simple, yet majestic in its offering. My Dad is a masterful card-writer and his secret, really, is to be short and sweet and coming from a place most heartfelt, without even seeming like he's tried or searched or struggled for the right words.

It was an interesting question he posed to me on our daughter's sixth birthday.

"I have to say, it is... and it isn't," I fumbled in reply. How was I going to catch my father up to speed about how much more I had worked on myself [my attitude, my sense of self-centre, my further acceptance about what has happened to me in my life, learning to tailor my responses to people even further so they were real me responses, the genuine ones - after much time and understanding had passed, I would finally feel safe to be me in 2009] when he only asked this every year or so? Beautifully posed cards aside, I don't get checked in on at any other time of year. Not by anyone in my family. Save for my sister in-law sometimes, bless.

"Of course, it's easier in some respects," I continued on, with a real 'comma-but' implied in the trailing off of my sentence that indicated I had more to say.

"Ah, well that's good. I'm glad then," Dad said. He sounded relieved of his post. I left it at that.

There's no way to "nutshell" this process, really. At the end of the day, I'm now beyond needing to hear words of solidarity or comfort from my family and friends. But it's so good to have them delivered on us randomly - it's actually more poignant to be reminded, on any ordinary day during the year, that someone was "just thinking about you and how you're doing" or "had a moment, thinking about Ella today." Those gestures are priceless, this many years on.

So, to the question that was posed in the comments section of a post I made last week. I have to preface my attempts at answering this by clarifying that I am just one of many millions who have suffered the loss of a child over the 'lifetime' of this world. And I don't claim to definitively "know" the answers to these sorts of things. But, of course, without sounding too simpering, I know that I - and so many others like me - have more of a grip on this reality I'm in because of my strive to seek clarity and information and understanding for myself. It is this understanding and perspective only that I can share. And each person's will be different, even if only slightly, because we are all individual. Yes *say it together now* We are all individuals.

The comment:
Years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I was cheerfully chatting to a lady in my workplace and I asked her how many children she had. Two, came the reply. I then asked how old they were, she replied that one was three and the other had died as a newborn.

It totally floored me, I didn't know what to say or where to look. Did I ask what happened and seem nosey? Or should I say something like 'I'm sorry for your loss' and sound glib or insincere, even though I most certainly wasn't? Or should I just bring up the latest episode of Friends and seem uncaring... It all got really awkward and I started babbling about how terrible it must have been and felt like such a clumsy idiot.

In all honesty I'm still not sure I'd know how to react tactfully to the news a person had suffered such a terrible loss. So please, do you have any hints? What is a sensible, tactful response to the news that a person has lost a child?

Firstly, I can't answer this easily. I need to give a bit of background "depth" to this, for it is a situation that happens on a daily basis, I'm sure.

I think the most important thing to remember here is that.... at the end of the day, the woman gave birth to a gorgeous baby. Are we all not very proud of this achievement, as women and mothers, when this happens? The very moment that bubba passes, it's as if all of that joy and wonderment and empowerment gets sucked out of you (the parent) - and mostly, it pains me to have to break it to you, this process happens at the hands of others. Well-meaning they may be, but those who • change the subject, • go straight for the pained or tragic slant on the whole "thing" without properly acknowledging the (albeit short) life of the child, • ask only questions relating to what happened (why the child died).... feel very vampirish. Now, I know vamps are all "in" at the moment. But when you feel like your catastrophic event is being sucked on, it really isn't pleasurable. That joyous moment, the euphoric post-birth high gives way to.... nothing happy. Nothing rewarding. Which urges me to point you to this post (the tulip flower link on the right of this page) about miscarriage and the deep and lasting effects it can have on a woman's body. If people around the parent/s begin to reinforce the fact that theirs is a taboo, ugly, dark, too-hard-basket situation, then the parent/s will eventually have not many places in which to proudly talk about their baby and the experience/s (and life journey, however short-lived) they shared. SO.... my point about all of that paragraph is, what a blessed gift you would give a parent, if you were to provide them an opportunity to talk about the joys, the hope, the blessing they saw/see their child to be, their memories as a normal parent, basically - it is far more rare to receive this welcome opportunity, let me tell you.

All of that being said, one of the hard lessons of becoming a bereaved parent is the difficult realisation of "a-ha, I really DO have such a great duty of care here." When you start to lift yourself out of your own fog of grief - which can literally take years - and see that the responses you've been inflicting, on members of the general public or workmates, etc., who are completely unaware of your situation, are actually really affecting the person in front of you - reactions vary from visible crumbling, instant tears in the eyes, avoidance of meeting your gaze and so forth - that parent then has to become very quickly sound in their delivery. As if to buffer the receiver of the information. So bereaved parent becomes the comforter, if you will. It's a strange dynamic.

What to say, though, in far fewer rambly words than I've just unleashed from the depths of who-knows-where? Well, for starters (see - I can't be succinct with ANYTHING), I'm not a huge fan of directing anyone towards The One Ideal Sentence. There actually isn't one, if truth be told. Because the 'ideal' response is as varied as there are dynamics between personae - both the bereaved parent and the person who is attempting to offer some words of sympathy. Suffice to say, a great start would be - absolutely - "May I ask what happened?" Note that this is very different from asking "What happened" without the "may I ask", for you are giving the parent the choice to decide whether they will or will not go into it.

It takes much energy to explain, for me, even this many years on, and dependent on how interested the person is and how many subsequent questions they ask, I could be drained for the remainder of the day (without properly focusing on why that might be). So be mindful too that whatever you ask, you really are extracting memories that the parent may not be feeling up to delving into at that moment in time. Remember too, then, that that too shall pass (the moment of not feeling up to it) and it shouldn't be taken as read that you should never again attempt to enquire or seem interested. If your relationship with the parent is longer than a fleeting passing in the street situation, it would pay you well to perhaps revisit at a point in the near future - if indeed you have been thinking compassionately about the parent - and say something like, "I've been thinking about you and your baby, I can't possibly imagine what you've been through. But I would be interested/would like to learn some more about your experience with him/her sometime." And leave it at that. You may be pleasantly surprised at the appreciation you receive, if in fact you are genuinely interested.

You could also try:
(totally dependent on timing - both of asking the question and how recently the baby passed - and on your familiarity with the person AND not least in importance, being sound in your own agenda: why do you ask, why do you really want to know... a rhetorical question worthy of some consideration)

• I'm very sorry to hear that. (And leave that as your last sentence.... don't trail off into "But at least you've got one child" or "Are you planning to have any more" etc. etc.... these are extreeemely personal questions that I have never ever heard as being useful or received inoffensively in all my years of reading and talking with bereaved parents)

• Did you spend some time with him/her. (Again, VERY dependent on your comfort level of receiving the answer, your reason for asking in the first place, the nature of your relationship with the parent, the nature of the passing - although, in saying that, I think it is fairly standard these days for parents to be given the choice to determine how long they stay with their child after he/she has passed away... I stand to be corrected if anyone wants to weigh in here)

• Don't forget, the very simple "I cannot imagine."

Mostly, if you really would rather not know "details" and just want to back out without causing harm or offense, the first and last response are fine and would be suitable in pretty much all circumstances as a quick pull from your Memory File marked Social Etiquette Techniques.

It's an extremely important question that has been asked - What is a sensible, tactful response to the news that a person has lost a child? - and one that has no really short answer, as I've *aherm* illustrated. It's also something that can really blindsight a person, asking a seemingly obvious and simple question as "How many children do you have" and receiving the reply that one of the counted is no longer living. I'm unsure if I would be gracious and unflappable in response, had I not now experienced the journey I have.

So you'll find, by and large, that the mother or father you are feeling very inadequate in front of (in terms of a fitting reply, I mean) is going to be very forgiving of whatever response you give. Either way, I always maintain, one must act from the heart. To truly communicate and convey from this very private place within yourself, you have to first really know yourself - the Self you are today, forgetting tomorrow because things are going to happen today that could change that truth and standing of 'tomorrow', aren't they - and from there, that's when the giving and connection (between parent and innocent bystander) can truly begin to unfold the magic. Depending how you do it, you could deliver on each other a most astounding gift for the future, without either of you even realising. I think it's called........ unconditional, Universal love, in that brief moment. Remember this post and its story.

Don't know if that makes anything clear at all. I'm pretty satisfied with my response. But I know I've probably disappointed some by not being dot-pointy. I tried! I did. See the dot-points? I just don't do abbreviated, though..... Hnnngh.

But I guess, in closing, I have to refer back to the beginning of this post and my comments about my father's card: an honest, sincere and simple gesture is probably almost always going to work best.

By the way: please excuse any inappropriate Google ads that may appear beneath this post... they change at random and sometimes aren't offensive, but the one I just saw was about as poorly placed as a Libra oddspot.

Archived Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails