When we find time to breathe, to get off the treadmill, to escape the rat race, to be alone and at one with ourselves, we find we can love ourselves more…..

“The only constant in life is change”



There is a freedom in letting go

And the unfurling of knots and grip, and sinew, though

at first feels wrong, strange and painful, soon becomes

loose, light and lethargic.

Yet in that looseness, a new strength is constructed,

and in no length of time consciousness truly awakens,

and brings fresh breath to each cell, each nerve, each muscle

as though, it has been reborn, rebooted and realigned to

its own self,

to embrace, to understand and accept, that therein lies

the true reality of duty and obligation.

To first, clutch oneself, love inwardly, one’s own mind and body,

for everything else is just weight…..


Why do we do it, hide behind our demons. What are we afraid of, to step out and share? A problem shared is a problem halved, right?

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Did you, do you, feel trapped. Trapped in a situation, a relationship and feel like you are drowning, disappearing? Did you know, there is a way out, you just have to put your trust in someone….. YOU!

I was 19 when I realised that I had this ‘power’.

I got engaged when I was 18. It was a magical, deep emotional love. A whirlwind romance. We got engaged after 3 months. I was completely swept off my feet.

He was kind, funny, attentive. Until after about 6 months, when attentive and kind, turned to possession and obsession.

It was a slow and gradual transition, so slow and gradual, that it almost evaded me. I was young and naive, and in love.

It started first with words, then a shove, a push, a punch, a kick and a strangulation. There is a new word for how it begins these days, ‘gaslighting’. Back then, anything to do with gas light, was exactly that, a light.

How easy we can be manipulated without really knowing what is happening.

It went on for 18 months and all the while in silence. I was ashamed and had no voice with which to tell anyone what was going on in my ‘secret life’.

On the outside, all looked fine and dandy, because that is the picture you want to portray. We all portray a fine and dandy picture one way or another, at some time or another. Yet, we all suffer, one thing or another.

It may be a bad relationship. It may be caring for a sick child, a disabled child. A sick or disabled parent. A job we hate. Ourselves, that we despise. What ever it is, there is something that we all tend to gloss over and hide.

At almost 20 I had decided that it was time to find my power to escape this secret life.

He came back from the pub, drunk, so drunk and I pretended to be asleep. It was after 2.00 a.m in the morning. He decided he wanted a fight. First he raised his voice to ‘wake me up’, then he smashed a few ornaments before throwing me on top of them. Next he hurled the bed up onto its side, before sitting astride on me and placing his big hands around my neck while screaming and shouting and strangling me.

I was terrified. I screamed in the hope that the neighbour would bang the door down, or at the very least, call the police. They did neither.

Next, he grabbed me by the skin of my chest and swung me from the floor to the window, all the time holding on, and bashing me against it, over and over and I screamed some more, thinking I was going to die by falling through the upstairs window to the ground below.

Exhaustion took hold of him and he finally let go. Thank god it was a sash window. The horizonal wood across the middle almost certainly saved my life.

I tried to calm him, apolgise to him, appease him. Eventually, it worked and adrenalin had left his body and left him as weak as a kitten

I escaped. I quietly tip toed down stairs, opened the front door and ran, in nothing but my bare feet, underwear and flimsy dressing gown, into the night.

I told myself I would rather be raped and murdered by a stranger than stay with this monster who purported to love me.

I realised, as I finally made it safely, to a fiends house some miles away, that the choice was mine to make.

I loved HIM dearly and with all my heart. However, I despised and was terrified of his behaviour when he was drunk.

We had been in this abusive situation many times, but that night, I decided, would be the last. Love was not enough to endure this abuse any more.

We all have our demons, our faults, our capacity to deal with adversity, whatever the adversity may be. However, we all have our strength, our power, our resilience, there within us. It is a matter of choice, not chance, when we decide to tap into it, hold it by the hand and bring it to the forefront of our battle.

That time of making that choice, is usually when we have had ‘enough’. Our ‘enough’, not some one elses. We have to decide, when we want to stand up for ourselves. Ask for help, for ourselves. Let others know what our demons are, what our cross is that we have to bare, and share the load.

It is not weak to ask for help. It is not weak to walk away. It is not weak to stay. Transition often takes time. As gradual as this new situation crept into our lives, can often take a gradual transition to deal with and cope with and understand or even break free from it, depending on what ‘it’ is.

In one way I am glad that I encountered such horror so early in life because it set me up, on alert for every situation that I found myself in ever since. It prepared me to weigh up my options, to accept or become absent. To seek help or to walk away.

Each relationship, good, bad, indifferent teaches us something. There is learning in every single encounter that we have. It is in the learning, that we grow stronger and more resilient.

But, it is in the choices we make whether we decide to stay stuck in our secret lives or whether to share our ‘secret life’ and offload our pain, our troubles, our worries and tales of woe with others so as to feel not so alone, ashamed or isolated.

The power of sharing is the secret to unlocking the power within you, me and everyone.

That time of year….

The season to be jolly, is now upon us, but is it all twinkles and sparkles?

I took this picture yesterday. It is one of Brown Thomas’s windows in Dublin City. You will see the writing at the bottom left says ‘possibilities’. To me there is drama in the photo, a space woman and her space pod surrounded by baubles or mini planets, but isn’t she fabulous. The possibilities for her starting somewhere new, starting something new, are endless, if she is brave enough to try.

At this time of year, as Christmas approaches, we may all take time to reflect on the year behind us. The hopes and dreams that were realised, the gains and the losses we have experienced, the paths we did not intend to take, but took nevertheless and the new goals and wishes we intend to set for ourselves as we step into the next new year.

I love the idea of Christmas. I love the twinkle and sparkle of the lights, the decorations, the shop windows, the excitement of children looking forward to Santa. The reality of Christmas though, is often a stark contrast what we perceive it to be or believe it should be.

As I walked along the streets in Dublin, where decorations adorned the buildings, cardboard and makeshift beds, with damp sleeping bags lay in an alcove, or by a railing, tucked to the side, to be used later in the day and night.

Where some people were busking and demonstrating their many talents, others were sitting, despondent and defeated, holding out a cup, in the hope of getting a few coins.

I wondered where both cohorts would sleep that night. How warm, how comfortable, how joyous or how full of dread they would be, heading into the Festive season or whether it would be just another day rolling into the other for them.

It is a season of conflict, a season of extremes. For some children there will be no Santa on Christmas morning, no food, no comfort, no warmth, but instead deep sadness, loneliness, perhaps fear and despair and wondering why Santa had again, forgotten about them and not called to their home.

Each year many children telephone Childline, for numerous different reasons and this is a critical support for children of all ages. Most of Childline’s funding comes from fundraising and donations from the generosity of ordinary people like you and me. I once organised a fundraiser for them and raised almost a thousand euro, and the event I organised was fun and interactive and the people who came had a great time and were very generous with their donations.

Barnardos, the ISPCC, Make a wish, Jack and Jill to name but a few more charities that actively support disadvantaged and sick children, could not do it without the help and generosity of us, joe blogs, by donating money, goods, our time etc etc. The possibilities are endless when we come together, seek out, dig deep and remember that so many of us are more fortunate than others, and at this time of year, especially, seek out what can we do to help those less fortunate.

Times are tough, and some people may just want a listening ear, or a call to see if they are OK. Christmas is, after all, about giving. Even giving someone a hug or a compliment can make their day.

It may be someone’s first Christmas without a loved one, and they may be struggling with that, knowing their future will never be quite the same. I understand that feeling, having lost my dad and best friend withing 6 months of each other. It is tough. What can we do for people who have suffered loss? We can just try to be kind and understanding and offer hope and our presence, that is often the best present someone can receive.

Like the spacewomen entering her new phase, starting out somewhere new, or something new, it doesn’t have to feel or be hopeless, it can be hopeful, exciting, curious, but it has to start with what she will seek out, what she will try, what she will surrender to and what she can offer. It is often in the offering and giving, that the greatest joy is felt.

Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

‘Good will to all men (women and children)’, is the best way for ‘the season to be jolly’. We cannot fix everyone’s problems, but for those of us who can, we should try to give what we can to those who need it most.

Happy holidays!


How we take this form of writing for granted. We do it without thinking. It is quick, instant and can land near and far in a nano second. It can be swiped, discarded, deleted and forgotten about at the flick of a button. This is text!

Photo by Lady Escabia on Pexels.com

Since time began what connects us with each other is communication. Before text, communication came in different forms such as symbols, drawings, paintings, dancing, smoke signals or different sounds.

We have always managed to find a way to communicate and have evolved so that each nation has their own written word and language and communication has become much easier to read and translate.

When mobile phones first appeared and became the most sought after device in almost every house hold, we learned a new way to communicate; TXT. Abbreviated from Text. It was the new order, the fashion, the new next big thing. Words were shortened and abbreviated all the time, so a new form of language evolved, like LOL, BRB, FML, BFF and our fingers and thumbs worked at quick speed to send txt to our fiends and families and everyone else.

Social Media came next and a whole new degree of communication was possible. But, with all this evolving of communication and txt, something went missing and is almost extinct, because we have been so progressive in moving forward. The art of letter writing. The only letters most of us get these days are perhaps hospital appointments, bills, summonses (perish the thought) and maybe a post card when on holiday.

Friends and families send txts to eachother, thousands every day, and it is a great facility. It works at quick speed and is instant and we would be lost without it. But, I do find it sad, that me included, do not send letters, written on note paper, popped into an envelope, stamped and sent to our nearest and dearest. It is sad, because it is a record, a physical record of not only the text contained, but the art of seeing and recognising the senders handwriting, whether good or bad or illegible!

I sent a letter to my daughter who worked during the summer at a camp in Canada. I wrote her a couple of letters, rather than only sending txts and emails, because, I wanted her to have something arrive in the post that she could open and read at the end of the day, and keep it safe somewhere, so that when she is an old woman and I am not here, she can open that letter and be transported back to her summer in Canada.

I have a stack of letters from my youth, from when I moved from the UK to Ireland. My friends and I only had letter writing to stay in touch. I kept my letters, and to this day, they are so precious to me because I can be transported back to my youth, laugh at the tales of woe and glee contained in the letters. I can see the post mark on the envelope denoting the date. Feelings and emotions rise up in me as I hold and read the text and it feels like treasure in my hands and brings warmth to my heart.

I am not saying we should go back to only letter writing, but I am saying, we should reintroduce it, don’t let it become extinct. Send someone you love a letter, the old fashioned way and I bet you will get a surprising txt back saying how wonderful it was to receive it!

My father…

My Father

I never thought about him being vain or conceited

Proud yes

In his work, in his family, in his faith

He wanted for nothing, except that his line be happy

A man that wandered as a child over cliffs and strand

But never learned to swim

It didn’t bother him

For he would run

Over sand and grass, field and bog

Catching waves, catching breath, catching ball

with a hurl in one hand and a sliotar in the other

what luxury this simplicity was

for a boy who walked three long miles to school bare foot

paying no heed to distance or time 

counting rhythm and beat of the mooing and bleating

of cows and sheep

crows and curlew over – head crooned their symphony

and on his 12th summer, books and pencils were exchanged

 now it was time to pick up the shovel, the pitch fork, the mantle

and work the land until he too could fly south for the winter

and migrate for a different labour

Soon the sea would carry him to foreign shores and foreign places 

The sound of the cattle replaced with the sounds of the traffic

The hum of the curlew exchanged for the drumming of the drill

Leather now cover the soles of his feet  

pressing down on pedals and pulling on levers in his JCB 

the pull of home tugging at his heart strings

my father, and thousands like him, come rain or shine, built the English motorways.

A stab in the dark….

Modern medicine saves so many lives, increases our life span, but sometimes we need to trust in the alternatives and ‘give them a shot’. To listen to our body and try to get to the route cause of every day irritations than can impact and cause us major problems on a daily basis.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

We put a lot of trust in other people such as, experts, professionals, doctors etc. The other night I was woken up with the most unusual pain in my abdomen that slowly grew worse and worse, a real stabbing pain that was gripping the entire, of my now very swollen tummy. I often suffer with bloating. Apparently I have the worst bloating my consultant has ever seen in 35 years, but it never came with pain. IBS. That is what he said I had a good few years ago now, when I was referred to him, and he told me I was to cut out certain foods which ‘I THOUGHT’ might trigger it. It was a case of trial and error, but I never quite seemed to master it!

I woke up another day, also a few years ago with the most horrendous pain in the center of my chest, which spread across my entire chest. I rang the consultant. ‘Its just your IBS’ he said. ‘No, No No’ I said, this is something different, there is pain its a different sensation’ I continued. I could sense his irritation coming down the phone. ‘What do you want to do’ he asked….Isn’t he supposed to suggest what ought to be done, I thought? ‘Well’ I said ‘I think you ought to maybe put a camera down or up or somewhere to see what is causing the pain’. He had an opening a few days later in his diary and I snapped it up.

‘You have to sedate me’ I said ‘otherwise I will gag and you will never get that tube down my throat’. I know he thought I was being ‘precious’ but I know my gag reflex. He agreed, reluctantly.

I was unaware of it all, thank goodness, and when I woke up my other half was patiently waiting beside the bed, bored to tears most probably as these things do tend to go on! The consultant finally came to see me, pulled the curtain around so he could talk in private. That makes me smile, because of course you can hear everything going on the other side of any curtain! Anyway, its a gesture I suppose. ‘Well’ he said,’ I have to apologise, you have an olympic sized ulcer on your duodenum. No wonder you were in pain’ he smiled as he showed me an image of my said olympic sized ulcer…. delightful! Prescription at the ready and follow the instructions and all will be good, adios amigos….

Fast forward to the other night, the stab in the dark, that I could have done without. There I was pacing the room like a woman in labour, swollen to the point of a woman in labour about to give birth execpt there was no baby. Just enormous swelling and pain. Was it my ulcer again, was it my IBS or was it my rare cyst?

Cyst, what cyst I hear you say. Oh yes, I also have a rare mesenteric cyst in my abdomen, behind my intestines and right beside my aorta, the shape of a hot water bottle! A fancy cyst, not your normal circular ones!

This too, was caught or diagnosed quite by accident. I was having what I thought was kidney pain and was eventually sent to a urologist. Who couldn’t find anything wrong who sent me to someone else who on first sighting couldn’t find anything wrong who sent me back to the urologist who sent me for an ultrasound….

‘Voila, there is something there, but I don’t know what it is’ the Doctor said. He needed to consult with other professionals and consultants and would get back to me.

I got the call whilst giving a facial to a client (this was in my Beauty Therapy days, when I used to be a beauty therapist, one of my many,many jobs) anyway, I digress. I could hear my phone buzzing and was berating myself for not turning the phone to silent. Once I put the mask on my client, I left the room to let her relax, to let the mask work its magic and to see who kept calling me.

It was the consultant. ‘You have a rare cyst, a mesenteric cyst’ he said but I sensed apprehension in his voice. It is hot water bottle shaped, behind your intestines and beside the aorta. You will have to come down to get it drained. I have never come across one of these in the 30 years that I have been a doctor, he continued…. mmmm I have heard that before I thought!

That was also a good few years ago now and I carry on, as you do with life, hoping the pesky little thing will just remain quiet and not give me any bother. So, you see my dilema, the other night whilst, rocking on the bed, pacing the floor and wondering if morning would ever come so that I could go see a doctor and figure out what was going on. Was it my cyst, my ulcer or my IBS, was it all three deciding to rock up together and give me a hard time…….

The lovely Doctor saw me, performed an ECG (to be sure that the old ticker was behaving itself), he wrote a prescription for pain killers, tablets to take down the swelling and tablets treat any ulcer that might be there. He then wrote a letter for A & E for a CAT scan, should my condition stay the same after taking the meds, in case it was in fact, the cyst.

‘It could be an ulcer, it could be your cyst, it could be the IBS, OR, he continued, it could be gall stones! Wait, what, gallstones….. hell no, not something else to be joining the party in there I thought, feeling very despondent.

The tablets eased the situation so I didn’t bother going to A & E to sit with possible covid patients for 12 hours. I thought about the alternatives. I googled, dieticicians, Nutritionists, Hebalists etc until I came across Kinesihealth… Kinesiologist….. I really felt that if it was the IBS or indeed the ulcer, or indeed gall stones, aren’t they triggered by diet? so instead of treating the symptom, I wanted to get to the bottom of the cause of all this pain and bloating. The Cyst? well, there is nothing I can do about that, that just appeared, perhaps had been there since birth an no one knew, but food wouldn’t disturb it.

I had to take a stab in the dark here and try the alternative. So I headed off to see the Kinesiologist a couple of days later. We chatted, talked symptoms, talked previous medical history, talked about stress…. sure I have stress this year, a move, 2 significant deaths and my other half having a significant operation to deal with. We all know stress can affect the body.

She pops me on the the treatment couch I raise my arm, my leg, I press against her arm and she’s checking my muscle reaction I think. She taps here and there, and places a jar by my neck, puts something in it and this rotation happens for quite some time. All the while she is saying, yes, ah OK, yes, great, etc etc.

The diagnosis is that my body is totally intolerant to Gluten and Dairy and completely overloaded. I have to take her word for it. She is the expert. She is the professional and I am open to try new methods of medicine. She makes up a concoction of Bach flower remedy for my emotional state to help heal and calm my internal state. Prescribes a digestive enzyme and some liquid zinc with the promise of sending on a list of food products which are gluten and dairy free.

I can’t do any harm can it, to give it a try? What have I got to lose. But all I can think of is how wonderful it would be, if for once, we could get to the bottom of all this bloating, the indigestion, the fluctuating bowel movements.

Don’t get me wrong. We need medical doctors and I will continue to visit mine and I will now ask for him to refer me for my CAT scan, just to make sure the old rare cyst doesn’t need draining. Sometimes, though, instead of relying on medication to treat symptoms, isn’t it better that we try to find out the route cause of the problem and treat that?

Some people say they are quaks, but remember this. Long before Medical schools and medical doctors, we had alternative healers, like homeopaths, chinese medicine, witch doctors. Didn’t our own grandmothers treat us with salves and balms and poultices for different ailments from herbs and leaves and bread and all sorts of foraging.

Even in the Salon, I would often tell my clients to make their own home made masks. Pineapple for example, on the skin is great for exfoliation, provides vitamin c. Its great for sun damage and uneven skin tone. Just lay a piece of gauze over your face, then on top of that lay some fresh pineapple and a bit of the juice, lay back for 10 minutes and wash off feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Oats, eggs, honey, strawberries, cucumber to name but a few more, all natural, all have healing benefits when placed on the skin and hair. They do the job that a salon manufactured mask would do, so I think these alternative practitioners know their craft and have as much of a place in helping to heal our bodies as our medical doctors do.

Wish me luck….. Gluten and dairy free, here I come!


We get through time, somehow, after loss. This too shall pass, they say, and the intensity and immediacy of it does fade, but the feeling of loss and grief stays and reminders are what keeps us going through each new day that we have without them in this world….. blessed to have known you….. for Jackie

“like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow”

Robert Louis Stevenson
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At some stage in our lives we all have to experience loss. Loss of a relationship, loss of money, material things, loss of a loved one. Many many years ago when I was courting, my now husband, I broke off our relationship. He was very upset and so was I at the time, but I just felt that the time wasn’t right. Someone said to him ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. He told me this when we got back together.

Throughout our lives we have many different types of relationships with family, friends, partners, teachers, work colleagues etc, each with varying depths and ties of commitment, love and connection. Sometimes it is easy to break the ties and other times it is very difficult, impossible even. Some ties will never be broken, whether the person is here or not. So we must count ourselves very lucky when we are able to say ‘Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all’. Loving some one and feeling love is just the most precious gift and one to treasure forever and be thankful for.

Having lost my dear friend one year ago today, I am thankful for the years we had together as friends, like sisters, thankful for the experiences we shared and the memories that linger on, to keep her alive. This post, is for her…….


The many times I reach for the phone, then realise

No, no now

As I take the milk carton from the fridge and in bold writing the ‘use by’ date

Is that specific date

A wasp as it weaves its way in my direction, like it’s on a mission

Reminds of you running and screaming down the isle of the bus to avoid it’s sting

When the person next to me orders a J D and Coke at the bar

When I see a Sainsbury’s bag, ad, Next, River Island or Karen Millen Label

All signs

A packet of Benson and Hedges, Marlboro Menthol, Vapes

Reminds me of players No.6 and us getting suspended from school for smoking on the bus

And having cigarettes on our person

Oh how we howled with laughter

Vaseline cream and cotton wool to take off your make up and moisturise

how you swore by it

Progressing to Lancôme, Miss Dior and any brand of lipstick, so long as the colour was right

Sunbeds, sun bathing and prickly heat

Strong tea, strong coffee and bacon ribs

Dundalk, Coventry, Nuneaton and South Carolina

Place names remain, all reminders of you

Every time I walk through my front door and your photo is there to greet me

Every pic or meme I post on Facebook, the absence of your like, emoji or comment

Reminds me of that empty space

Laughing, crying, celebrations and times of sadness

My mind transports to you

Every time I see two old ladies, talking, laughing, sitting together

My future longs for you

In the noise and the silence, every morning and the last thing at night

All reminders of you

The staghorn tree in rich rust red, standing prominent and tall

Planted in memory of you

Laughing eyes and a bright white smile

A plethora of ordinary things will continue to, thankfully,

remind me of you.

24/03/1965 – 23/09/2021

For my best friend, my sister from another mister, my heart and my thanks

Mutability [“The flower that smiles to-day”]


The flower that smiles to-day

          To-morrow dies;

All that we wish to stay

          Tempts and then flies.

What is this world’s delight?

Lightning that mocks the night,

          Brief even as bright.

   Virtue, how frail it is!

          Friendship how rare!

Love, how it sells poor bliss

          For proud despair!

But we, though soon they fall,

Survive their joy, and all

          Which ours we call.

   Whilst skies are blue and bright,

          Whilst flowers are gay,

Whilst eyes that change ere night

          Make glad the day;

Whilst yet the calm hours creep,

Dream thou—and from thy sleep

          Then wake to weep.

Safe place….

A child has no say in the family it is born to and when that family break downs, it has no say it the family it is placed with, when he/she goes into care. Imagine how terribly sad and frightening that must be for them. Fostering a child is both rewarding and challenging, but so badly needed. Foster carers are in short supply so if ever you were toying with the idea, go for it. Give a child a chance………

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Imagine leaving home and all you know which is familiar to you and not know where you are going or when you are going back. Imagine being told you have to stay there now. Imagine being 7 years old.

Imagine your child, your niece, cousin, grand daughter, friend…. imagine if it were them that had to leave. Isn’t that just the saddest thing to imagine. In that situation you would at least hope, that they would be happy, safe, cared for and loved…..

As a foster carer, I have looked after 13 children for various duration and various reasons and I would hope that they all feel that they were safe, cared for and loved. As a foster carer I know I put my and heart and soul into them, to take care of them and keep them safe.

This is a poem I wrote about the journey, a sample if you like, of what it must be like for the child……


A door stands between them, white pvc

Nothing extraordinary, just a typical front door

She is small.  Blonde hair and big blue eyes

barely seen as her fringe lays a screen over them

Her shoulders raised, tort and tense, almost

Touching her ears

Nerves and fear swimming around every cell

In her little body

Politely she whispers ‘hello’

As she crosses the threshold  

The door closes behind her

It takes a village they say, to raise a child

Soon they would find out

Small steps and quiet voices, calm

Kind, encouraging, acknowledging,

Knowing and Pausing

Curiosity unites them both

Of what the other is like

What the other likes and doesn’t like

Inquisitively, she wanders from room to room

Gently she touches the surfaces of inanimate objects

Observing her demeanour there is something

Soothing about her, but also something

Akin to sadness

And as it seeps from her it connects the two

Together, and so the bond is formed

A sense of permitting the arm of trust to reach out

And be held

Gradually the shield around her

That guards her

drops down

And so too do her shoulders

One day, many years from this one

She is able to shout and protest and make

Noise and scream and punch and stomp

And laugh and cry

Knowing it is safe to do so

She is safe in this place

That this place is her home

Like plasticine, they have moulded to the ways

Of the other

They have integrated, assimilated and absorbed

The others’ disposition

They understand and know

That when the day comes for her to leave

They will still love

They will still care

They will still be open

and the door will revolve

For the bond is resolute


The thing to do is to ‘not expect’, for it is really a folly and foolish to believe that just because we expect it, that it will be…..

Unexpectatations meaning ‘Absence of expectation; want of foresight

“Expectation is the root of all heartache”

William Shakespeare

This time last year we were getting ready to close the sale on our new house.  In just a few days’ time the deal would complete and we could collect our keys and finally be ‘home owners’ again.

Actually it was quite nice for the short time that we weren’t home owners.  It was great having so much money in the bank from the sale of our house in the July, just sitting there waiting, making the bank balance look lovely and healthy.  For a while, we could feel rich, well, money rich.

We were getting a little nervous because the other half was scheduled for major heart surgery a couple of weeks later.  We planned to go away for the week-end.  A nice relaxing spa break in a hotel set on the shores of Co. Sligo. 

It had been a rollercoaster of a year, him getting sick unexpectedly, provoking the decision to sell up, moving away from our family and friends and heading to the North East, but we took it in our stride.  The spa break was just what the doctor ordered.  Good quality time together, relaxing, being pampered before he had to face into the enormity of his operation.

We went up on the Saturday and were booked in for two nights then off to the Agents in Leitrim to pick up the keys to our new house on the Monday.  We were both so excited.

The excitement was short lived and soon replaced with utter shock and fear.  One of my dearest and longest friends, who was like a sister to me, received a devastating terminal diagnosis that her cancer had returned.

The next days occurred in a blur and was further hampered by the fact that she lived so far away in the USA and I could not get over to see her because of Covid and because in a just over a week’s time, my other half needed to go ‘under the knife’.

I would go see her, just as soon as I knew he was over his operation….

We picked up the keys as arranged on the Monday, but there was no excitement, no sense of joy for me as I turned the key in the door, knowing, my dear friend, would probably never get to visit this new home after all.  She had been planning to come the following month, but that prospect was looking very grim.

A new sensation also fell over me – what if he doesn’t make it.  What if the operation is not a success?  What if he is one of the percentage that dies during the procedure.

Very quickly you realise, that no matter what money is or isn’t in the bank, making you look or feel rich, it is of no real consequence at all.  The richness in our lives are the people in it, those that we love and cherish.

Ten days later, my husband had made it successfully through his operation and was in intensive care on his road to recovery. 

I came back from the hospital to the hotel I was staying in as his operation was in a county, three hours from where we were living.  I was feeling relieved and happy that he had gotten through it and happy to know that he should make a good recovery.

That same evening I had my final face time with my dying friend. Somehow, she knew she would go that night and arranged with her family to have me there too, one last time, to say our goodbyes. 

There would be no flights to America to see her, to comfort her or give her a hug.  There was only a screen between us but thousands of miles apart.  This was social media at its finest.  It allowed me to be with her, when I physically could not be with her, and I am so grateful for that.  So grateful that I could tell her I loved her, thank her for her friendship and wish her a safe and calm passage and that I would miss her.

I cherish that face time and I play it over and over again in my mind, every day since the day she died.  I still mourn her, cry for her, grieve her.  I talk to her every day.  I talk about her, every day.  I laugh about some of the things we did or said or got up to and I cherish her and the memories of her.

Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II died.  What a very sad day and also a shock, as we had watched only two days prior, to her greeting the new Prime Minister.  Isn’t it funny, how we just take things for granted?  Sure, we knew one day the Queen would die, but certainly not now, this week, this month or even what’s left of this year.

I certainly hadn’t expected Jackie to die either quite the contrary.

Now, as we edge nearer to her one-year anniversary I can’t help but feel a renewed sadness, not for me, but for the Royal family.  I can grieve and mourn in private.  Even earlier this year when my dad died, unexpectedly, whilst my daughter and family were visiting with me, I could carry on for them, but step out of the room when I needed to cry.

When I think of Charles now and the rest of the Royal family, who so publicly must carry on with their duty and service, I think how sad it is that they cannot simply step out of the room to have a cry, or curl up in bed for a day, or two or a week, to mourn the loss of their mother, grandmother, great grandmother.  They have to plough on. 

Though death will come to us all and we must all experience loss, those public figures that often get slated, one way or another for whatever reasons, are still human beings with feelings.  I feel so sad for them that they must put on a brave face, and carry on regardless, much as the Queen did when she lost her husband last year.  I have nothing but respect for their loss and their hidden suppressed grief, in the name of duty and service, and hope that the people and the world will be kind to them….