The smell of sulphur filled the room and woke her up. It was pitch black. She hurriedly turned on the bedside lamp, knocking over the famed naked photo of herself washing a car.
The stench was putrid now. She moved tentatively towards the closet, goosebumps pricked her skin. An ice cold breeze swept by her face. ‘Ahhh’ she screamed as the door flung open slamming her to the floor. Scrambling to get up, screaming and punching the air, she was silenced. Cold hands around her throat, eyes bulging.
Breathe, said the river as it whispered to the sea Something is happening, the cowslip is growing free Bees are feasting on the broom, a delicious yellow delight Happy in their busy dance, what a wondrous sight Birds surveying the landscape in noisy melody Observing all the changes as he flies from tree to tree And the mountains echo as the hawk and eagle soar The beasts, the deer’s the elephants, gave a triumphant roar Breathe whispered the estuary as it washed into the sea Look at the fishes dancing, oh so merrily The crabs the sharks the jellyfish, maintain their habitat No longer caught in the destruction of man, and all that came with that but as the mist is lifting, like a bride to be’s veil We see the glorious beauty, of a world that never fails Just as mother nature, intended it to be Her creation will provide enough for the likes of you and me For a while she was raging and her arteries were blocked Choking, coughing spewing and dying with toxic shock So breathe said the wind, as it sent out clean fresh air The people get the message and now they’re feeling scared Let’s hope they remember the devastation caused As they watch the planet breathe again, when they were put on pause
Not many of us expect to be talking about our ‘final wishes’ at a young age. That is usually for the very rich or the very old, who make provisions for what is to happen to them at ‘the end’. This pandemic may give us all a different view on that now.
I was thinking about the Oscars, I don’t know why, because I never watch them fully, but I do sometimes watch the edited highlights. I watch as the camera pans to the celebrity that has been nominated, all of them tentatively smiling, looking coy or bashful, but hopeful that they will win the Oscar. One of them will read the speech which they had prepared, in the hope that they might win. So many potential speeches waiting to be read, full of thanks and praise for many, including their loved ones
We are currently going through a pandemic; this time it has the full attention of the world. When it was the Bird Flu, or SARS or even Ebola, the whole world didn’t quite take note as they are now. I myself, carried on as normal at that time, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I am sure there are many people who thought the way I did then.
This time it is a different story. This time the virus is spreading like wildfire and like other viruses, it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, disability, marital status or religion. This one is abiding by the Equality Act and each of us must take note.
We have all become accustomed, at this stage, to know what ‘Social distancing’ ‘wash your hands’ lockdown’ and PPE mean. It has become part of our everyday dialect and vocabulary. My 3-year-old beautiful grand-daughter calls it the ‘Virusy’ and wonders when it will go away so that she can give me a hug again. How I long for it to be over now, so I can give her and my 3 other grandchildren a big squeezey hug. I cannot answer her with certainty, no-one can. Instead we have to ‘make do’ with the occasional ‘window visit’.
What I do know is that the longer people flout the rules and don’t engage in social distancing, washing hands, remaining in lockdown or having the required PPE, the longer this virus will dance with us and pick us off one by one and none of us will know for sure, if we will survive it.
From healthcare workers to people on the street, Actors, models and even the UK Prime minster, young, old and in between people are contracting this virus and people are dying. It’s like a lottery, people are chosen at random but there are no winners, only losers. Sure lots of people will get over it and survive, but with what long lasting damage to their lungs? Others, not so lucky to survive.
This brings me to the Oscars. What if you get it? You don’t know if you will survive it. You have to be prepared. You have to have your ‘speech’ ready. You have to tell your loved ones, not only that you love them, that you will miss them, that you don’t want to leave them, you have to tell them what they have to do with you, if you do indeed, leave them.
Some families only think about having to bury their elderly relatives, but this virus can take any of us and we need to let our families know, what and how we would like to happen to us at the end. Whether that is to be cremated or buried. Whether it is to be repatriated home if you live/work in another country or indeed which graveyard to be buried in. Is this morbid, no I don’t think so. It is necessary. Not everyone has made a Will. Talk to your loved ones, let them know what you would like to happen to you, ‘just in case’ you are the one.
Write your closing speech. Your speech of acceptance, in the event that it is you. Write it in a letter. Tell your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren, your friends. Tell whomever is dear to you, what they mean to you, in your closing speech. Be prepared. You may never get this virus and the letter will then never have to be read out, just like the nominees at the Oscars, they go home with their unread speeches if they didn’t win. You get to keep your letter if you are lucky enough to not contract this virus.
In the meantime, follow the rules to slow the spread and flatten the curve. Keep our Healthcare workers as safe as possible, by staying home. Allow them to not to have to be crushed by an overwhelming workload, in these extraordinary circumstances, and often, without the proper PPE. Give them some respect. If you do not stay home and follow the rules you are risking their lives as well as your own. They already have enough of a burden to bear, being in the midst of this pandemic and watching people suffer and die on a daily basis. Please do not add to their burden unnecessarily.
Take care, stay safe, stay home and give your ‘speech’ some thought as well as your wishes.
When ugly is more than what the eye perceives. Ugly comes in many disguises
I hope they are not ugly….
What does that say about me? What do I mean? I don’t know really. When I signed up to take in other people’s children and when I would get the phone call from the social worker asking me if I would take in someone, ‘I hope they’re not ugly’ would always spring to mind.
Rewind to years before I ever became a foster carer but to a time when a seed was planted. Working on placement whilst studying law, with young offenders in a secure unit I was horrified that they were so young and yet were locked up due to their ‘behaviour’. Having read their files, I was more appalled at the level of neglect they had received from their significant care givers. I knew then whose behaviour was uglier.
Through this placement my path crossed with foster carers, caring for a very pretty little baby girl. My heart broke. My 2-year-old was safe at home and surrounded by a loving family. The seed was truly planted.
When my 2-year-old was 15 I took in my first child. It was to be for 2 weeks. Having been given some of the back ground, it was with nervousness, excitement and even a little bit of trepidation that I agreed. Not only wondering how this would all go, she was also the same age as my 15-year-old, I would try to imagine how she would look, based purely on the information I was given about her circumstances.
In total I have fostered 13 children over the last 15 years and none have them have been ‘ugly’. But what does that even mean. Ugly can be determined in different ways can’t it
The dictionary definition is: –
unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance
involving or likely to involve violence or other unpleasantness
At times, over the years, there has been an element of ugliness with regard to unpleasantness, bad or undesirable behaviour. There have been challenges, battles, disagreements and it doesn’t necessarily come from the ‘child’ who has been fostered.
I have had battles with school teachers, my own biological children, social workers, my husband, family of origin members, my family members and of course, the children themselves.
I had wanted to foster children between the ages of 0 to 10, because at the time, my youngest children (twins) were 10 years old. I wanted all of my children to be older. As I said, the first child which was placed with me was 15, the same age as my oldest child.
As the two-week period came and went, turning into six months, things eventually became difficult during this period of adjustment, for my oldest child felt that her ‘life’ as she knew had been completely changed and taken over. She had to share her home, her school, her friends, her mum and dad, with this new girl. There was nowhere for her to ‘escape’ apart from her own bedroom. It was junior cert year and it was a difficult time. She felt for the girl and her circumstances, but was that really her concern, she was after all, just a kid herself and didn’t really need that sort of responsibility, did she? Wasn’t she already dealing with enough transitioning into and through teenage hood? So at times, it got ugly. The twins however, felt differently because to them, it was just another older sister. She didn’t impact on their friends, their after school activities or their school life.
Even now 15 years later, we are in touch with this girl. Lots of other children have made a way into our lives and most have stayed a part of it too. Fostering is not an easy task by any means, because there are many different angles, perspectives, personalities, dynamics, challenges and ugliness. There is however, also a sense of joy, a sense of satisfaction and a sense of hope that you can make a real difference in someone else’s life. Not only the child that you foster, but actually, your own and your biological children’s life. It teaches tolerance, respect, understanding, responsibility, sharing, even when they don’t want to and acceptance, even of the ugliness. It teaches people to grow, to have empathy, and to care, to care enough for someone else, someone who has to deal with the ugly.