Happy Birthday Toby

Toby and me  Dear Toby,

It seems to have become an annual tradition now, writing you a letter on your birthday every year. This year you would be 27 in earth years. It is hard to believe that 27 years ago I was in Good Samaritan hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, cuddling my beautiful little baby boy. Twenty seven years, half a lifetime. As always I wonder what you might be doing if you were still here, and as always I know you would not want a fuss or a party. You were always a low key kind of person. I’m sure you’d being going out for a beer or two with your mates though. Continue reading

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The greatest gift you’ll get this year is what you already have

Toby and Dad on Pole Hill

Last Christmas together

Usually at this time of year I publish my top ten tips of how to get through Christmas when you have lost a loved one. This year I have been moved to take a different view. If you want to see my top ten tips, just search the blog and go back a year and you will find them.

This year I have been moved to write about appreciating what you already have. I know this is an old cliché in the vein of ‘you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone’, but it is something we can forget in the lead up to Christmas with all the adverts depicting happy families showering each other with gifts. Continue reading

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Torn between remembering and forgetting

Toby photo 2This is the conversation that goes on in my head quite regularly.

“I feel OK, today quite content really. I feel quite happy, life is good.”

“But how can you possibly be happy? Your son is dead. You can’t possibly be happy? What kind of mother are you? Didn’t you love him enough? You should be devastated, grief stricken, unable to go on”

I look at his photo, but I don’t connect his image with grief and despair, on the contrary, I usually smile and say “Hello Toby” and kiss my finger and place it on his forehead on the picture. Continue reading

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A bright shining star

bookSo I have had a bit of ‘writer’s block’ this summer, and haven’t written much at all. I was prompted to write something when Robin Williams died and this week I have been touched by the story of a grieving Mum, who could not live with her grief any longer and tragically took her own life, just over a year after she lost her perfect 23 year old daughter to suicide.

Most of the time I feel I am going through life on ‘auto-pilot’. It is as if something took over the day Toby died, like an artificial lung, breathing for me when I did not know how to breathe myself. I wonder about a zillion times a day how I can go on living and breathing and appearing outwardly ‘happy’ and ‘normal’, when my son who was my world, my universe and my raison d’etre is no longer here.

I miss Toby every day, I think of him every day a thousand times but alongside this I function. I care about my appearance, I eat healthy food, I do not abuse substances or alcohol and I do not take medication. I have had some counselling in the early days, but found it did not help very much.

I am ‘getting on with my life’ (I stress the inverted commas here). Then this week I have been stopped in my tracks and got immersed in the story of a perfect 23 year old young woman who tragically took her own life in April 2013, and her Mum who struggled so hard to come to terms with it but ultimately lost the battle.

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Out of tragedy can come change: the other legacy left by Robin Williams

RobinThis week has been a sad week for many fans who loved Robin Williams from afar, who loved his humour, his films and his spirit. It has been an especially difficult week for those of us who have lost loved ones to suicide. Every week is difficult, but this week we have been bombarded with articles in the media about depression and suicide, the aftermath of the shock of discovering that someone who made a living making people laugh was so sad inside that he would take drastic action to escape his pain.

His wife, children, family and friends are now left with a life sentence of pain and a million questions that all start with the word ‘Why?’ If he had died after a long battle with cancer there would be tributes and outpouring of grief as well, but we would not be asking ‘Why?’ We wouldn’t feel so shocked and the sense of tragedy would not be so intense. Continue reading

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Three years

imageIt’s three years today since Toby died. I hate to even write those words. I am on holiday on The Isles of Scilly. I am staying on a tiny island called Brhyer where over every hill is a deserted, white sandy beach, glinting with diamond dust. The views are breathtaking and I have never felt closer to heaven on earth. So I couldn’t be in a better place to remember Toby and reflect on my life since he went away, my life now and a future that beckons.

Coming here this week was a conscious choice. I decided after the first heart wrenching, gut churning, tortuous first anniversary that I would do something special for this week every year from now on to honour my son, to remember him and to honour my grief as a mother. Continue reading

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Leave Wayne Alone

WayneListen, I don’t like football, don’t watch football and can live with the fact that England didn’t play terribly well and crashed out of the world cup after two games.

However I really don’t like the current trend in the media and social media that seems to accept it is OK to publish to a wide audience cruel, insulting and hurtful personal comments about a young man just because he is a celebrity sportsman. I was driven to write this post after reading a snippet in Amanda Platell’s column in the Daily Mail today.

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