Stop the clock, open the window cover the mirror

Today has been hard

The lady I have been nursing for almost a year as her soul midwife has possibly only a few days left.

She and I have over the last year become close friends and I know had we met under different circumstances we would have been good friends.

We have so much in common spiritual beliefs, sense of humour and we are both strong minded and stubborn.

Our grand daughters have been friends since baby school they are now 13

Tamika and Jayden both nannys girls.

It was through Jadens Mum I met Karen .

She had told her about my work as a soul midwife and our cancer retreat

I think you will get on she said and passed me her phone number.

She was right .

Karen was streight talking a good looking very proud women. Oh and did I mention stubborn in a very fabulous way.

She had lost her husband two years previously to cancer she had been his princess we sat and chatted about her journey.

At the mention of his name there was always a smile and a story.

He had been her Knight in shining armour

She was determined to stay as well as possible for as long as she could for her boys.

Before I knew it two hours had flown by.

So shall I come back next week? I asked .

Yes she smiled I’d like that and tell Lisa thanks for pointing you my direction.

Just before I got into my car she called me back.

The cancer she said.

Yes?

I told them I don’t want to know how long I have.

What would you do?

I don’t think I’d want to know either I said.

But it’s completely your choice

Someone giving you a time scale on life.

No one really knows.

I’d rather say I’ll die when its my time and I’m ready.

I like that she laughed.

See you next week.

So I’d call in we would chat about anything and everything.

I’d do some reflexology or massage.

We wrote funeral plans and lists.

We put everything in order.

That’s a massive part of my job

It gives back some control and reassures my patients that when the time comes

All their wishes will be honoured

I am a celebrant I trained so that I can confidently offer funeral and wedding services too.

So we plan everything nothing is left to chance

We write wills.

Then when all the serious stuff is sorted

We get on with living.

Quality of life.

Being comfortable.

Getting out and about

Shopping , for coffee.

I’ve even had one lady request we go on a roller coater

Twice! She loved it.

I didn’t

You get the picture.

I spent this evening making memory jewelry from karen’s finger print and her grand daughter jaydens.

It’s solid silver

So that Karen will always be with her.

Karen has been my friend even if only for a short time.

Her grand daughter has been amazing for a thirteen year old.

She has sat chatting with her in the hospice gone out with her on shopping trips.

It’s a joy to see Karen’s face light up when she sees jayden come in.

She told me she isn’t afraid of dying just afraid of not being around for Jayden.

Last Wednesday was her last good day we spent it together laughing drinking tea and watching T.V I put he in bed before I left and tucked her in.

As I kissed her head she caught hold of my hand.

You’ve been my nurse and my friend she said smiling at me I love you Joolz and I want to thank you.

No thanks needed I kissed he head again try to get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning

Night mam she joked.

I walked out into cold October air and a tear ran down my cheek.

Let it be peaceful I asked the universe.

The next morning I walked into her room towel over my arm to wash her hair how did you sleep I asked.

She looked at me blankly.

Talking about painting the ceiling and how wiccans and dwarfs were playing rugby for Wales.

My heart sank.

Last stages of liver cancer often present a dementia like confusion

I sat by her holding her hand.

joolz it’s you! I’m sorry I can’t go shopping today.

I kissed her forehead.

That’s fine I reassured her the weather is awful let’s rest today we can go next week.

I called the doctor to her as I rang her family.

Things changed quickly.

36hrs later I received that call can you come back to the hospice Joolz it’s time.

My clothes are ready I’m dressed in minutes. Kiss my husband goodbye and step out into the cold night air.

As I’m walking to the car I’m ringing her son’s to tell the the news as I then drive to pick up her Jay grand daughter.

All of this has been planned.

Everyone knows it isn’t set in stone you have no idea how you will feel.

when ‘that’ phone call comes.

As I pull up outside the house jay comes out the image of her nan in younger years

As she gets in the car I ask ar you sure you want to come?

She’s stubborn just like her nan I know the answer

She nods and we head to the Hospice.

The roads are empty she looks at me and asks.

“Joolz what will it be like?”

How do you answer that

Shes 13 her nanny’s girl.

She’s sleeping I say, hoping I can find the right words.

She can still hear you. Talk to her tell her your there.

Hold her hand.

If at any point you need to leave the room that’s okay.

However you want to do this it’s okay.

She nods and we pull into the car park.

She is lying in bed much the same as when I left her last night

Breathing heavier I kiss her gently on her forehead

Ive brought your girl I tell her taking her hands from under the blanket

I sit her son’s beside her jay sits holding her hand gently like precious porcelain.

Im here nan she says.

I remember her as a cheeky four year old no teeth full of mischief slurping jelly at my granddaughters birthday party.

When did she bloom into this beautiful caring strong young.

My heart breaks for her.

I tell them all I’ll just be outside for ten mins to give them some time to say the things they need to.say.

Tell her anything you want I say. I’m right outside the door.

As I come back in I stand back and take in the picture before me.

Hands holding hands words softly spoken a room filled with love.

I sit beside Jay.

We silently watch her breathing slow her youngest son looks at me and asks is she going .

I nod

I love you mam he sobs .

It’s okay my friend You can go now, Leon is waiting.

At 5.45 she leaves us peacefully.

This passing was beautiful. A family holding vigil no pain as she quietly stepped from the earth plane to spirit plane .

I can’t help but feel my world will be a little less bright without her in it.

I kiss her gently and whisper safe journey home my beautiful friend.

As I picture her husbands joy at having her back in his arms.

His princess.

Goddess bless you Karen ❤️

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Meltdown in a layby

I hate you grief.

Your cruel and uncaring.

It’s almost a year.

Eight more days.

You’ve poked at me this week.

Reminded me constantly.

I know how long it is since I lost her.

Since I lay beside her.

I have had our grand daughter today.

I brush her hair and sing nursery rhymes

Telling her of her two nanny’s adventures.

She goes home with her dad and I get in my car and head out in the rain.

I’m meeting friends in the next village.

Your there waiting as I pass the old colliery

Hunched craftily waiting in the shadow of the derilict pit head.

Like one of those police sting traps thown infront of my car covered in nails

You make me stop my car and pull over.

I can’t breathe.

There is a screaming a howl from the depths of my soul.

A year

Almost 365 days

It’s raining .

Pouring the mist covers the mountain tops like grey cotton wool.

Like the storm on the bay the day you left my arms.

I miss you.

I sob into the air of this dimension knowing you hear me on the astral.

No one

Not one of my family has ever asked how I am.

Don’t they know that

I’m lonely without you

That I miss you every minute of every day.

For fucks sake I shout

Everyone always thought that I was the strong one

They were wrong

My strength was you Donna.

The rain runs down my windscreen cars wizz past the layby.

Get a grip I tell myself

Grief flows like the rain

As it turns to drizzle

I catch my breath.

Please stop for just awhile .

I dry my eyes as I breathe in i catch my breath as I smell your perfume

Beside me you are always thee at my side.

I take a deep breath and keep going.

It’s the only option I have.

Climbing mountains

Some people your meant to meet.

Our first cancer break this year was in June. The cottage was back up and running and the break was gifted to an old friend of mine Viv.

A lass from my home town she had recently finished 20 plus weeks of radiotherapy at claterbridge hospital for two agresive tumours in her neck.

She is one of the most funny hard working and kind people i know

So I was beyond relieved when the news came she was in the clear.

So Viv and her partner Julie were coming back to.the canal.

The week before they were due to come I received a message from a mutual.friend Sharon

Asking how many bedrooms are in the retreat?

She asks if she can come down the same time as Viv and Julie her friend Bex has cancer she has two young children and is struggling she’s terminal

Yes of course she can come you and Bex can have a week to yourselves I tell her.

But Sharon goes on to tell me she has a broken foot can’t drive and so if they can all come together that would we better.

So after discussing it with Viv and Julie

They all meet up and agree to come together.

Now as I said they are from my hometown.

Salt of the earth so we go into overdrive to make sure everything is perfect for them this is our grand opening after the flood damage.

I was a little worried about the journey here they were coming in Sharon’s beetle

Julie driving as Sharon has a big boot on protecting her foot.

Thankfully they arrived safely but tired .

Bex fitted in from the start.

Bear in mind that I’d known the others for 20 plus years

Funny, bubbly with a wicked sense of humour.

She was so relieved to get away from ‘ cancer’ to just be Bex on holiday with the girls.

We sat around my fire pit on warm evenings drank red wine laughed lots shared stories hopes dreams

Went over to vivs favorite place the mumbles had lunch and sat by the sea.

Lost Sharon’s car keys spent a hour looking for them

Found them in a flower bed 🙈🤣

Bex said she wanted to walk up a mountain she was wearing a back brace due to weakness caused by cancer so Everest was out of the question.

But the tide was out and the light house stood on a small mountain.

Fancy that I asked nodding at the small mountain.

She laughed do you think I’ll make it up?

Yeah why not.

Go on then I prompted..

You not coming with me she asked..

If you want me to or do you want time on your own?

She smiled and off she went.

I sat on beach with my baby grand daughter and watched her become smaller and smaller as she climbed up towards the light house

Viv Julie and shaz where on the pier I walked up to them

Look I sad pointing at the tiny figure striding purposely up towards the light house.

The three of us watched as she got to the top.

Stood beside the light house sun shining wind in her hair

Arms outstretched to the sky .

This is what the retreat is about I thought

I felt so proud of her.

She stood up there for awhile then took her time walking back across the causeway.

She almost shone.

That was amazing she said.

I was just ME with the wind in my hair .

That’s the picture of her I shall keep in my head that day by the light house.

The rest of their time with us flew by.

Viv and Bex had healings and reflexology.

Although trying to get Viv to relax is a task in itself

And all too soon they were leaving with another holiday booked with us

Hugs and kisses exchanged and they drove off the canal top down on the car singing to the radio four beautiful lasses with so much to give.

Since then Bex got married went to Italy and sadly cancer became more aggressive.

She never lost that warrior spirit raising £670 having her hair cut last week for the retreat.

I bloody love that canal.she told me on video chat.

I’ll be back watch out for me.

I don’t doubt you will I laughed .

She died yesterday peacefully in her beloved Liverpool.

She knew it was time

I’m so glad I met her what a girl.

I see her smiling wind in her hair on top of a mountain.

You asked me when we were doing your healing what I believed.

I told you energy can’t die. It can only go on.

I like that you said.

You were a bundle of beautiful energy Bex.

See you on the canal soon my friend.

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Its 7,45am the bus is packed making a groaning noise as it climbs up the steep hill into town like a giant dragon spitting out passengers when it stops and taking on more before moving on jerking as I stand holding onto a overhead strap I’m focusing on a pair of pointy black heels wrinkled feet squashed into them. The bus stops by the church the pointy heels are also getting off here I shuffle myself carefully past people staring into space, reading news papers and telling off small children the doors of the bus swing open and the cold December air hits me stinging my face. I’m so glad I had bus fare today it would have been awful walking in this weather. I thank the driver and a small pang of pain niggles at my back as I step onto the wet pavement.

I stand still for a minute close my eyes leaning on the wall of St James Church. Women rush past with small children on their way to school. Snippets of conversations I push my long hair out of my eyes the milk man is pulling crates of school milk of the back of the co op float and pushing open the playground gate leaving the milk by the infants door.

I look at my watch 8.30am don’t want to be late make my way to the playground gate.

‘Alright?’ says the milk man ‘good weather for ducks.’ He laughs rain dripping from his glasses I smile and rush past him pick up the first crate, little bottles blue foil caps and packet of straws clicking of heels behind me and Mrs Smeltser the reception teacher pulls the door open and hold it whilst I carry the crates in.

‘Awful accident on the east lancs road lorry and a motor bike oh I do hope no one was killed, so close to Christmas. ‘She says.

‘Put the kettle on I’m parched and she rushes into the staff room to hang her coat fix her hair and apply her pink lipstick as she does every morning.

I put the kettle on in the small kitchen take out four cups and a jar of Nescafe. There is a hole in one of my shoes my left foot is soaking. I look into the mirror above the sink.

A shy sixteen year old girl damp mousy lank hair scraped back into a pony tail red cheeks, split shoe head full of dreams looks back at me.

Voice behind me makes me jump.

‘Oh you look really flushed are you feeling okay? Half my class were off last week with a bug I hope you haven’t got it?’ Its Mrs Jackson she’s always got a kind word for me dresses in marks and spencer skirts and jumpers large glasses hid her tiny round face I hand her a cup of coffee.

‘Im okay’ I reassure her. ‘Just cold’ I follow her into the staff room she chats about her weekend and asks about mine. I like her I’m working with her today. She tells me again how she thinks I’m going to make a wonderful nursery nurse and how the two years at college will fly by.

She loves my art work I smile I wish she could be right but I know she’s not.

I find it so very hard to fit in the weeks that I’m in college but the six weeks blocks that I’m here at St James church school are so different.

It’s a different world but one I know I can only dream of being a part of.

Women who work have a career a car nice clothes more than one pair of shoes. Friends they meet up with out side of work. Its like a parallels universe `completely different world to mine.

I’ve not been here long I’m shy awkward and quiet but they always include me. I wish I knew what to say how to be more like them confidant and funny.

Iris year three teacher asked me to her party last week. Pre Christmas party she laughed it was at her home on a canal bank in Warrington huge house three floors brightly coloured tiles in the kitchen hot mulled wine and nibbles music and a huge garden.

Id wished I knew how to ‘be’ but I’m a fish out of water so different from the sprawling council estate drunken violent father and his home brew bottles that live in every room of our house. But dispit feeling like this I was glad to be there. In their world away from the chaos of mine for just a little while.

.

I was trying hard day by day to be more like the joolz I imagined could fit could be a nursery nurse have a life like Iris and her hippy dresses with friends and hot mulled wine people laughing no one fighting or arguing I wished really hard, maybe one day.

Dad had took some persuading to let me start college. Id begged he was furious. ‘Bloody college who do you think you bloody are? Walter bloody mitty gunner do this.. want to do that.’ He had ranted pouring another bottle of home brew into a cracked pint glass. Id wished it had cut of his tongue.

‘Get a job and pay your bloody way.’

Careers office had told me I could go to college to do my NNEB, as part of a government scheme twenty three pounds and fifty pence a week. To cover bus fares and the rest I would have to give to Dad for my ‘keep’.

I promised Dad I would take a bar job too to bring in more money and eventually he had agreed but only until a better job came up.’ No one in this bloody family goes to bloody college.’ he had said.

So I had took a bar job at weekends in the cross hotel so that I would have bus fare and money for dinner but some weeks Dad took that too. So I would set my alarm for six and I walk for two hours in all weathers I was determined to keep this job I loved it. The kids the way I was treated but most of all I loved the escape.

It gave me hope.

I was like a sponge in work I would do anything they asked. I loved art work I helped the children to paint we made a huge tree from printed painted tiny hands, decorated Easter eggs, painted with potato’s, made pape Mache pigs, cut out Christmas decorations with plastic scissors, made coffee for staff who were now friends read stories to wide eyed children supervised playtimes, put plasters on knees I was blossoming relaxing I was genuinely happy and I was begging to ‘fit’.

That old stone wall around the school and church yard was my fortress I felt safe and different there.

Today was going to be busy the children were attending the church service, the church and the playground were separated by a small iron gate. I was going to stay behind to finish putting up the nativity scene we had been working on.

Mary Joseph and the three kings. Five six year olds had been drawn around carefully cut out then with the help of lots of PVA glue cut up material and tissue paper we had the main characters ready to staple on the main wall of the assembly hall along with a manger made from the used milk straws and some borrowed straw from the guinea pigs cage! I stood holding the big foil star that would lead the wise men to Jesus as the children lined up in pairs holding hands ready to leave for the church.

The radio played Christmas songs and I hummed along balancing on a small ladder positioning each character carefully before stapling onto the wall. Star up there Mary and Joseph two shepherds and a wise man.

Ouch the pain came again it had been niggling me all morning but it was worse now both my sides hurt I felt hot and dizzy.

I went over to the kitchen got a glass of water another pain.

It’s raining again I can hear the cars splashing through the puddles outside the kitchen window it’s starting to go dark.

Water runs down my leg like the rain down the windows but it’s warm.

I grip my belly and water runs down my cheeks. ‘No I beg please no not here.’

A hundred thoughts run through my head what ifs? I’m so scared the pain is so much worse I can’t stop it my body feels out of control I push open the stock room door there is a pile of cut up clothes and shelves of paper pens PVA glue boxes of staples.

I take off my wet knickers and crouch it was all over so quickly much quicker than last time.

Tiny not much bigger than my hand eyes fused shut, skin almost translucent. Smaller than the rabbits dad makes me skin when he’s been shooting. Hand the size of the tip of my little finger. Lifeless and still. Perfect baby boy I kiss his tiny head.’ I am sorry I whisper’’

I sit on the tiled floor take off my cardigan and wrap him in it, Noah I whisper because of the rain. I place him gently in a box placenta still attached. My legs are shaking smeared with blood. I take some of the cut up fabric and wipe up the floor. Push the box gently under the bottom shelf in the stock room.

.

I pick up my wet knickers look for a tea towel in the kitchen to use as a sanitary towel.

I wash my face brush my hair, children will be back soon. Im convinced there is some kind of sign above my head and everyone will know.

Dad will kill me if they find out. I’m beyond scared things like this don’t happen in their world.

The door swings open gust of cold air and the chatter of exited children.

‘You did it, it looks lovely miss you’re so clever’ a little boy with huge blue eyes bright blonde hair chatters. I smile and wonder what colour Noahs would have been if he had lived.

‘You look terrible I’m betting you’re getting that bug’ Mrs Jackson fusses into the staff room now she says no arguing sit down have nice hot cup of tea.

I’ve got the last two kings to go onto the wall. I protest.

Well the kings can wait she smiles clicking the kettle on and squeezing my hand. A tear runs down my cheek I catch it as she chatters on making tea.

You’ll feel much better after tea and a rest she says handing me a mug.

Somehow I don’t think I will.

Where do you live Mrs Smeltzer is asking? I wince not wanting to tell her.

Im sure I go past your estate on my way home she continues I’ll give you a lift the weather is awful and Mrs Smeltzer is insistent you’re not going home on two buses so you can tell me on the way home.

Before I know it every one is ready to leave, Mrs Jackson hand me my coat and we walk to the door I pick up my bag panicking. ‘My cardigan.’ I say as she turns off the light to close the door.

‘I’ve left it in the stock room’. I take my bag with me pull-out the box and gently pick up my tiny baby and place him in my bag. ‘I’m sorry’ I say again ‘but we have to go home to Dad’

I sit in the car next to mrs smeltzer clutching my bag. She’s chatting about visiting her father in Dorset and her husband’s new car, she asks where to turn as we approach the traffic lights near the estate.

I direct her past the shops my old primary school and the pub here my Dad drinks it’s still raining we get to the church at the top of our avenue and I ask her to stop.

‘Which one is it?’ she asks I point at the nice house with the roses painted on a name plate which reads mardale house in the garden with a black painted gate.

‘See you tomorrow’ she says ‘early night hope you feel better if not ring tomorrow day off won’t hurt.’

‘We don’t have a phone’ I want to say but I thank her and nod.

Her little red car drives away and I walk away from the nice house with the door plaque.

Slowly walk further down to our house the lights are out I walk around the back and into the kitchen Dad is sat by the fire Rollie in his hand I start to cry. He looks at me I’m shaking I sit down and open my bag.

Tears drip and I’m aware of him slowly standing up.

What the bloody hell he almost growls.

I’ve held it together but now the tears won’t stop.

He looks at me and I see the temper flash why didn’t you come home he barks at me. I don’t get a chance to answer. The slap hits hard.

He takes the bag from my hands sprizing my fingers frothe handles red fingers white knuckles

My legs are shaking my belly hurts I ache everywhere.

Get to bed.

He places the bag on the fire place and opens the door of the rayburn

I catch my breath

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Please make it stop..

Raven Wordsmith 🖤

Flashback letter..

I know what the books and therapists say about flashbacks

I don’t disagree.

Every theory is valid in its own way.

But spiritually I look for lessons in everything.

So I try to make some sort of sense of everything.

The flash backs started Donna when you left.

Trauma they say .

I know that and I can hear you singing beautiful Trauma by Pink to me.

Typical.

So I decided to ask for help.

Nhs Oçcy health was my starting point.

It couldn’t hurt could it?

Making an appointment to see a counselor?

I could always change my mind.

I almost did first appointment as I drove up to Singleton hospital I was tempted to drive past keep going to the mumbles to sit on that rock you liked by the sea.

I could people watch maybe?

I was too early sat in the car.

What are you doing I asked myself get a grip I need coffee.

I walked up stairs thinking about the last time I was here in that corridor was with you

Going for a scan 7.30pm

You laughed as you sat in hospital gown it was on back to front bloody exhibitionist 🤣

Should be in the cross keys not sat here it’s 2 for 1 cocktails

Nutty Russian I could just drink one now if my liver wasn’t fucked you laughed just as they shouted your name.

I squeezed your hand three times .

Me to you said.

I smile at the woman now typing I’m here to.see Adrian I say

Take a seat I pour myself a water wishing it was a large gin and t and look at the door.

A smiley man steps out of the office and before I know it I’m sat in a tiny room that really could be a large cupboard

It smells like burnt fish fingers it’s really hot and I’m menopausal. The fan is crap

I’m babbling and apologizing.

He asks be the standard how do you feel questions on scale of 1-5. There isn’t a question that asks where are you at moment if there were I’d tell him im completely lost.

He’s a nice guy. Genuine I hear you beside me.

Tell him . It’s okay.

And so I do.

I tell him everything I think if I say it all at once it’s out there.

Floating about the universe.

Real.

He can start to help me pick up the pieces

Or section me 🤣

Mental health workers are shit at talking about their own shit. Or is that just me.?

He listens and we agree on a plan

You’d like him Donna

I’ve seen him three times now.

Its helping I feel safe

He asked me today what would I say to my father’s voice

I didn’t really know.

But it’s given me something to think.about

I’d tell him that nothing he has ever said will break me.

That everything that Donna held for me hadn’t died with her I have trusted someone else.

I don’t have secrets.

I’d tell him im sometimes sad that he didn’t get to know me.

That I accept all the things I wanted he wasn’t capable of giving me.

He didn’t know how

I’d tell him that’s okay.

I’d ask him to stop shouting

Stop being angry

That I hope next time around he has a better life.

That I send him healing.

That I remember good things like him holding the back of the old blue bike saddle teaching me to ride a bike .

I remember crying because a black bird was stuck in a bramble bush and begging him to save it.

Watching him push his arm in holding the frightened bird then letting it go

Scratches and blood

As we walked home he told me that the bird had gone to tell.all it’s friends it had been saved because of me.

I’d tell him that no matter how hard life is it is always beautiful.

That I wouldn’t change a day.

That I’m so blessed in my little cottage by the water in Wales kids geese ducks dog cat and a man I love.

This is my paradise.

I’d ask him if he remembered me saying I’d live in Wales one day when I was a kid.

He would call me Gunner…

Because I was always Gunner do this or that.

Power of positive thought.

The universe listens

Expect amazing and get amazing.

Dad that’s what I’d tell you

So I can’t listen to your negativity.

It no longer serves me.

I’ve been so very tiered

Lost

But I’m.getting there

Yes Donna as bloody usual.you were right I needed someone in my corner someone with the right words

I’ll get there . I’m too bloody stubborn not too.

I’d sign my letter wishing you love healing and light.

Because you taught me Donna that’s all there is.

There is nothing else

Only love ❤️

I still miss you…

Sitting in circle last week I had a reading ..

Beautiful lady looked into my eyes and said..

‘i want to say you have lost half…. Of yourself.’

Can you take that? She asked..

That is so accurate.

Yes I can take it I smiled.

My best poker face

I miss you I miss the half of you that was me.

You always said we were meant to be together.

Well this is a shit way for you to prove a point Donna.

I miss opening the door to you moaning about the state of the tow path.

You asking me for a cwtch the top of your head fitting under my chin

Breathing in the smell of your hair

Sitting together,

Lying on the grass watching clouds finding pictures.

Your random facts and infectious giggle

I hear you saying you know I’m right boi!

Emilia is looking more and more like you everyday

That’s such a comfort.

But I still miss us.

Me without you

How can that be?

I got into my van packed to do to camp and just sat for a min

‘ your supposed to be there on that seat beside me I say out loud ..

I feel your hand squeeze mine

I’m here you tell me .

The sun is shining.

I’m sure it was brighter when you were here.