If you have a cunning, scheming, and conniving bent, you might be forgiven for thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Red Devils are playing cleverly. By throwing the game with Italy, they have paved their path to the European Cup finals along the easier route. It is a very Machiavellian notion that this was all thoroughly thought out in advance, but bear with me: they played Italy in a slow and deliberate way, with professional players who are paid millions to play in UK’s Premier League (the creme de la creme of football/soccer) “accidentally” missing their intended target by a couple of metres. Unusual. And if they throw that game, they still have a good chance of getting out of their pool – after all they are rated as the top team – but following a much easier line. Plus, the loss paints them as the underdog, and we all love supporting the underdogs, don’t we? Of course, when they win their next 2 games, people will just say they finally got it together as a team. No suspicion there, right? But those dark recesses of my mind can’t help but wonder if it was all planned…

Regardless, we are behind the all the way to win the European Cup 2016! GoBegiumGo!!!

A final goodbye: Mothers should never have to bid their child the final goodbye.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Today I looked into the face of the worst kind of loss. A mother’s loss of her son. It was heart-rending. And got me thinking. Here is a woman whose life has been changed forever. Not only because of her loss, but because of all her losses and the reality of the pain her entire family is about to experience, for she is also a stage 4 cancer patient.I attended the funeral of her adult son. I was never given the pleasure of meeting him, but I went because I always believed that you attend a funeral for those who remain. I had shared a brief period in her life, and wanted her to know that she had support, even if I barely knew her. She has been touched with such tragedy, it is hard to comprehend, and without the support of those whose lives have crossed paths, how can she be expected to survive the pain and loss?

The pain

My daughter and I stood in an over-flowing church, when I began to wonder about the process. Despite being an atheist, there is something comforting about the ritual. You get a chance to grieve. But, are you grieving for her loss, or many of your own? For the fear you have of your own losses, or for a life brought to an untimely end – with no one and nothing to blame? The funeral took an hour and a half, consisted of readings, prayers, agonisingly painful music and all I could think was no matter when it ended, it was going to have been all too brief for the family. As sad as it was, when it ended, that would be the last goodbye. It would be over. He’d be gone for good. If it were me, I’d be willing to stay in that church forever. I wouldn’t want the ceremony to end. As the priest was winding down, he closed his sheaf of papers, and it felt like he slammed closed one’s heart. A gesture that felt like his life was summarily done. 

On a regular basis through the whole experience, for reasons I cannot fathom, I burst into tears. I cried for the potential that was so abruptly taken. I cried for a mother’s pain and loss. I cried for her family and their imminent loss of their mother and wife. I cried because it was the saddest situation. I cried for no real reason. I cried for my own beautiful, loving, healthy, talented daughter and son.

I held my little girl’s hand, and her smile as she looked up at me made me wonder how any mother can survive such a loss. I think my heart would turn to stone and stop pumping. I can’t imagine not feeling her soft hand, caressing her childish cheek, kissing the top of her head. I can still feel my babies’ weight on my chest moments after they were born – they have left permanent impressions.

She must still have the imprint of his newborn weight on her heart.

It got me thinking, watching this ceremonial ritual of the final goodbye, about my own final goodbye. I live in a country that is predominantly Catholic. This got me wondering what options do those who aren’t religious have when it comes to your own funeral. Are we able to have our own party? Do we just get shovelled into the furnace unceremoniously? Are we allowed to “use” the local church but without all the god and Jesus talk? We need the ceremony. We need the ritual. We need the tradition. We need the chance to grieve for another and ourselves in an approved place and at an approved time, without fear of mockery or questioning our grief. What are your plans? Do you hope your funeral will have standing place only? Do you want something small and quick or big with fanfare? For those you leave behind, have you thought about how you’d like them to say their final goodbye to you? Do you care? And if you don’t, I suggest you attend the funeral of a 23 year-old young man, full of promise, love, and hope.

Editted to add: I wrote this almost 2 years ago. Since then, this brave woman, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend has joined her son. I wish the family the strength and courage to carry on. I will always remember her bravery in the face of a terrible disease, where sometimes the “cure” is worse than the illness. 

Behind the smile…

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

I read this recently, and it dredged up many mixed feelings for me. I hate when people say “it happened for a reason.” No, a lot of crappy thing happen for no reason other than that’s the way life works. Deaths, accidents, and disease are all built into our lives. There is no avoiding one of these instances, and live long enough, all three will visit you. Inevitably. 

When these grim reminders of life visit you, it is necessary to grieve. You will find those around you – close or acquaintances – will struggle with how to reach you. Many will stress that just saying “sorry” is hollow and insufficient. But that’s just not true. The best thing is to reach out to someone who is suffering through a death, accident, or disease.


I heard a story, which I will attempt to re-tell here. There was a little girl whose friend in her class died. She was distraught, and wanted to visit her friend’s parents. Her mother wasn’t keen to intrude on the family’s grief, and wasn’t sure that her 7-year-old would help. But she gave her daughter permission to visit. The daughter walked to her friend’s house with her mother, and they were invited in and offered a drink. The mothers sat together and drank coffee, saying little. The daughter found her friend’s father sitting in the living room, doing nothing. She climbed into his lap and said nothing. She just cried. She just sat in his lap and cried with him. It was all she could think to do. It was all she could do. 

I know when my father died, had someone come over to cry with me, it would have be amazing, uncomfortable, touching, odd, and perfect. Others can’t take your pain, can’t say something to ease the grief, can’t do anything to make you feel better. You have to figure out for yourself how to carry on your life, taking this burden with you. But having someone sit with you does help. Just knowing someone is there is all. Your life will never be as it was, but you will find away to fit the shattered pieces back together again – just not in the same way, and now with a lot of cracks that may give way again and more easily in future, if stressed.



The pain cannot be fixed. But your smile may someday light up your face again, and your life will continue, but look a whole lot different than you ever imagined. I just hope you will have someone who cares enough to come and cry with you.


No Fear

En route to the Eurostar on Sunday, catching it in St Pancras to come home, and we stopped in King’s Cross for the obligatory Platform 9 ¾ photos, then for lunch. While ordering our meal, we were ordered quite calmly to evacuate. Got me a little nervous thinking I may have brought my kids into harm’s way… And then, standing at the exit waiting to get out, thinking it was the perfect location to set off one’s suicide vest. 
Naturally, forgot my purse in the restaurant, so found a bench a long way from any blast zone, and made the kids wait for me there with Granny as I ran back into the building. As I ran, all I could think was all our documents were in there, and was I running into danger. Would it have been worth it? I also ran through some scenarios in my head – worst case, we miss our train and have to figure out how to get our identity papers back. But actually, worst case is I could have left my kids motherless, yet I never had that thought go through my head.

Got to the station entry. It was like nothing ever happened. People milling around inside again. People sitting down to their meals. Shop-front barricades back up, coffee shop still steaming milk. Did it really happen? Was I imagining it? Rumour has it, someone with a backpack on went running into the station faster than was ‘normal’ and the cameras picked it up, triggering the alert. 
Found my purse. Ran back to hug the kids. 

Float like a butterfly!

Come on, we’re boarding!

The kids were a little nervous, quite confused, but took it all in their stride. They even puzzled over the fact that the person making the announcement was so calm, and thought that strange. In the meantime, no way I wanted to re-enter King’s Cross. Nevertheless, funny how one settles back down into the status quo.

Didn’t we just celebrate the holidays…?

How can it be that time of year already? Didn’t we just ring in 2015 recently? How can time speed by so quickly?

I once read the phrase “the clock ran away with the time,” and it has stuck with me all these years (actually, decades) because that is what is happening. And why am I obsessing over time? I guess I am looking back on all my adventures and no longer recognise my life. Maybe I should be entitling my blog as “Career, Kids, and Cancer” for that is how my life seems to have unfolded since leaving the hallowed halls of academia as a fresh faced youth with my newly conferred BA.

I was a philosophy major. I emerged from a very prestigious university expecting to finally know what I was going to be when I grew up. I was grown up after all, wasn’t I? I was the holder of my very own credit card, allowed to drive, drink, and do all that adult stuff I so longed to do in my childhood. So, when perusing the job ads, I guess it was not unexpected that there were no requirements in any business for a Philosopher.

What happens to Philosophy majors? Other than the obvious mocking we must all endure from those with “real” majors and meal-ticket degrees? Where do we go, what do we do, how do our lives unfold? Well, stick around, and I will recount the route I took to get to where I am today!

I’ll be talking to myself again soon. Until later!

Time ticking by …

Lately, I’ve become very aware of the passing of time. Is it because of my age? Or because of games, exercise machines, computer requests that now count down the seconds until something is completed? Whichever it is, I am becoming very aware that I’m nearing my expiration date. Thus, I decided to start this blog.