Who knew. Birthday & Christmas without you.

So today is the second birthday you’ve been gone.

I miss you Donna.

Everyday there is some thing new to miss.

Last night I drempt of you.

We were in your old house in bay street.

Decorating the Christmas tree.

Well you were it had to be perfect.

Symmetrical 😂🌲

You were dancing to Pink

Who knew.

Glass of vodka and lemonade in your hand laughing long black hair shining

Happy eyes.

We sat together on your huge sofa

Guess what I’ve bought you.

I sigh roll my eyes.

Shall I give you a clue?

Tell you what it begins with?

Nooooo I laugh I’ll wait.

You loved Christmas.

Everything about it.

I woke up I could still.smell your perfume.

The rain battered at the window.

I heard your voice “raining on my birthday!”

Happy birthday I whisper.

I miss you.

Im working but plan to go to the cemetery on way .

I’ve bought you a happy feet penguin it’s so heavy

Concrete it’s a garden ornament.

I know you’ll love it.

I ring your daughter tell her I’ll meet her by the cemetery gates at 11.30 after I pick up flowers

Drive over to supermarket to pick up sun flowers for you.

As I’m driving pink comes on the radio.

Who knew.

I smile your everywhere I know your by my side.

There are no sunflower left I stand there and something catches my eye.

A Christmas tree a potted one with roots.

I think of my dream

Pick up the tree and a pack of baubles

Ten mins later I meet Sarah and Chloe and after I decorate the tree as symmetrically I can whist sat in a car in the rain

I take it to you.

Happy birthday love I say as we all get out of the car .

Sarah puts the star on top

Chloe ties a balloon to the little fence we put up in summer .

The dancing penguin and tree are just you Donna.

The rain has stopped .

Hope you like the tree I say

She would love it Sarah says

I know you do.

If someone said three years from now
You’d be long gone
I’d stand up and punch them out
‘Cause they’re all wrong
I know better
‘Cause you said forever
And ever
Who knew

Happy birthday Donna ❤️

.

You really couldn’t make this up

I walked through the gate
there standing before me was a huge 1930s detached three story house.
I’d driven past here hundreds of times and never noticed it.
hiding behind tall fir trees.
it was drizzling rain a dull damp day.
angry clouds above this huge house
I stood beside my friend Chris he looked at me.
looks a bit run down I say choosing my words
old-fashioned rooshed net curtain that haven’t seen a washing machine in a long time adorn the huge windows
I hear my mother saying “they need steeping in some Sally white bleach ‘
your not wrong mam I think.
come on then I say to Chris as we walk past the huge cars on the drive shining and polished complete contrast to the grey and dismal house.
the Adams family comes to mind says Chris as we walk up the stone steps to the first floor front door.

Rocky horror I smile
I ring the bell and we wait.

nice view across the city I say as the door is opened by a well dressed man in a suit

he struggles to open the door pushing boxes to the side of the hallway and beckons us to come in.
I introduce Chris and we take a seat in the waiting room.

Dust in corners of ceiling cracked paint spiders webs and if the windows were cleaned there would be a fabulous view across the city.
the furniture is 1970s g plan in a faded green ancient Wilton carpets thread bare in places tell of better times and I wonder if families stuck within their grief fail to notice the neglect around them as they sit here being advised on their loved ones funeral.

Waiting to pick up ashes or to view a loved one before a funeral.

I’ve worked in many funeral.homes but this is, well run down. shabby and cold. It’s shocking
The man who runs things is lovely a little aloof but I didn’t see this coming.

He asks if there’s anything I need.
No I smile
Okay I’ll go and get her, I’ll put her in the chapel of rest then I’ll come to get you.
off he goes .
I look around.
is there a secret camera I say?
Chris laughs..
we are hear as part of my soul midwife work.
I’m doing the hair and make up of a lady I’ve worked with.
before her family come to view her.
Then next week I’ll do her funeral.
Chris has come to help
for the first time
probably the only time after this.
after few mins he comes back up stairs guides us down stairs to the chapel of rest.
I swear you couldn’t make this up.
It’s under the house next to a garage

Bang bang bang constant hammering of coffins being assembled.
he opens the door creak. musty damp smell
why didn’t I video this …
blare witch goes to funeral home
there before me is a huge room set out with old wooden folding chairs
very dusty chairs
I’m wishing I’d brought a feather duster and some polish it’s set out as a chapel
wow I say.

Chris nudges me
this “could” be fabulous obviously it’s not used now
no says funeral director.
not for years

He smiles shuts the door behind us it’s dark and dismal and I’m reminded of a Steven king film

Here is chapel of rest
a door to the side is opened into what can only described as a large cupboard with a gurney trolly in there body on it looking like it’s been dropped out of a plane and landed very akwardly.
head twisted mouth and eyes open not just cold but bordering frozen.

I look around almost sureal slow motion
now first and foremost I’ve seen alot of corpses in my job
I’m not afraid or shocked I care for the body
when I go to funeral directors they are usually lying with dignity eyes mouth have been closed head straight .
You know what I mean.

Everything okay says funeral director?

There is a arched window behind him covered in dust and spiders webs
it’s winter but the flies are alive one lands on the face of the body

I flick it off
are you going to put a stitch in the mouth I ask?
(usual practice)
Oh no he says I don’t like that..

would you like a tea or coffee?

I’m tempted to ask for a gin I bloody need one

I shake my head
he leaves closing the door and I wonder what the fook is going on.
Chris is standing in the corner with a is this a sick joke look on his face .

I take out my kit and get to work.
talking chatting to my lady as I work.
well I’say to her
ou chose this place I’m betting you”ve never been here before!

Chris come help me hold her mouth closed.
I work gently hair make up fix her body into an acceptable position and close her eyes and mouth.
there is still rope around her feet from when she was brought from the hospital morge

a sticker across her chest her name and date birth.

I flick away flies

There I say as we finish
goodbye my friend

I pray her family don’t come to view in this room
it’s just beyond unbelievable and I’m glad Chris is with me or no one would believe this
we go back up stairs he is sat at an old desk.
where the sink I ask?

sink? He looks puzzled.
Yes I’ve just been handling a body id like to wash my hands.

Chris laughs nervously.
We wash our hands say a polite goodbye tell him I’ll see him to do the funeral.
we get in the car
sit for awhile
seriously that place is beyond I say.
I wonder what I can do
vow to get funeral over with then go back to speak to him
he needs to sort that place out he needs help says Chris.
help…
he needs a mop and bucket and a complete renovation I say.
The funeral went well cars staff everything was good
but behind the scenes there was a completely different story .
I wouldn’t tell the family
what could it achieve?
but I plan to go back and have a chat to see just what the score is there has to be a reason such a beautiful place has fell into such disrepair.

what do you think?

Going home

Earth, water, fire, we have walked through together.

I know we have only hours left as friends.

Air will be the last element to leave.

Like a cocoon of protection we are together on the final part of this path.

A journey I promised I would accompany you on

You told me you were scared.

What if there is nothing at the end of the road?

What if it’s simply a snuffing out of a candle, lights out.

Darkness then nothing?

How could I tell you what I knew to be true?

It is like the lighting of a candle the opening of a new door.

Walking out of the darkness.

I know because I’ve been here before.

The first time they said was a near death experience.

I had to disagree.

It was near life utter calmness floating watching quizzically at the panic below.

As they fought to bring me back maybe it wasn’t my time to go.

Many times I have had the privilege to vigil to hold hands as souls leave.

Chanting in whispers

Mirroring those last breathes

Catching sight of loved ones who come to greet you at your death.

Death of the body but not of your soul.

As you let go of my hand as your welcomed back home.

I stand in the calmness then trace my steps back alone.

Connections like rain drops

So today I went to a spoken word poetry event . One of my favourite venues chilled and friendly. Beautiful old church.

This is the story I told after I’d finished reading I was approached by a lovely lady who is possibly a relation of Matthew the man in the story.

As she spoke I was reminded of what I already know

Without doubt we are all connected. We are a circle within a circle with no beginning and never ending.

Read on tell me what you think?

Ancestor connection.

I worship the old gods of this land the isle of Albion.

I follow the wheel of the year. Tonight the wheel turns it is Samhain eve in a 13c churchyard.

Its 3am and almost a full moon. There is a avenue of yew trees and it’s without one of the most magical places I know.

It’s my favourite place for ritual. The place I come to give thanks, to show gratitude. To talk with spirit.

To think to read. To just to be.

I wonder from my usual path many of the tombstones are overgrown covered in ivy surrounded by knot weed.

Standing back from all the others is an old stone old coffin shaped base it is covered in ivy.

I’m always drawn to it but no details are visible.

I stand in the moonlight. I ask ‘who are you?’

Touching the base of the cold stone.
I start to pick at the ivy..

it has pushed its way into the grey stone clinging green fingers into the details of intricate carved words.

I chant and hum quietly to myself it becomes quite mediative

As I pull at the vines they come away in narly sharp lengths sometimes tiny pieces that cling with remarkable strength.

We are a circle within a circle with no begining and never ending. I sing to my yet unknown companion
Time slips by slowly and the winter sun begins to rise birds begin to sing.

The carved words become visible.
I read out loud. Matthew Goodridge. Age 43
Mellincreethin a shiver runs through me as I read the next line .

Died 31 Oct 1888 Samhain..

Further down I read the names of Matthews daughters .Sarah Anne 14. Tirzah 9.
I catch a glimpse of someone watching me from the avenue of yew trees a tall man he nods smiles politely lifts his cap as he walks slowly through the avenue of sacred yews.

Matthew I whisper.

The sun shines as Celtic new year is born.

I sit there beside Matthew his two young daughters .

I will remember you Matthew.

My samhain ancestor of this place I love.

We are a circle within a circle. With no beginning and never ending.

All of us connected. The stuff of stars.

That was four years ago Matthew.
Your stone stands straight and tall cleared cleaned and cared for.
I remember you often.
This poem is for you.

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
on centuries old welsh stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I would exist
You died centuries before I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you. stardust connected
in flesh, in blood, in bone.

Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
entirely not our own.

Dear Matthew goodridge , the place you filled
hundreds of years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left

who would have loved you so.
I wonder of your life you lived of those l loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
and stand here to honour you.

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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http://www.ravensretreat.wales

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.