Thursday, 29 November 2012

A letter...

Hey Lovely,
I know you can't hear me but as I keep thinking about what I'd say to you, I thought I'd put some of it down in writing…
We all really miss you and on the build up to days like your birthday, it can just be so overwhelming….I was really on the edge of the precipice some of the time for many of the days before to be honest. Sometimes I really want to curl up in a ball and hope the aching pain will all go away but of course that would really make no difference….so I just try to occupy my mind with something else…..
Anyway, I know that you are having a blast and probably laughing all the time and drinking cappuccino after cappuccino (is there coffee there ??!!)
I'd love to know what it's like to be able to actually look into the faces of Jesus and the Father….it must be incredible ! I guess my time will come soon enough and I'll find out for myself but it's a little mind-blowing! I'm so glad about the confidence that we have ….where the bible says that "we don't grieve as those who have no hope"…it's very reassuring for us when we are hanging off the precipice !! I talked to our daughter about that yesterday as she was having a bit of a sad moment.
Our children are doing really well….I'm a bit confused to be honest about what you actually know when you're in heaven - people who don't study the bible often talk about loved ones "looking down on us" but I can't find much biblical basis for that and I'm not convinced that it's all that helpful…..anyway, I've got 2 more children now…their Dad, Ben, died over 12 years ago and they don't really remember him - so now I'm being Dad to five children and my beautiful wife Ellie is being mum to five too….it's very busy and very noisy. You'd really like Ellie…she's a delightful Christian woman, she's the treasure of my heart, my very best friend, a top-class mum, and she understands the weirdness and pain of this journey (what more could I ask for?!).
It's funny but I have been thinking recently about what you must have prayed for when you were in your last days here and I'm quite sure that on top of your list would have been a fabulous Christian step-mum and wife.…thank you for those prayers my Love, because our Father has answered them in a way that is more than I could possibly have expected or imagined.
Ellie and I both delight in our five children but the journey has been so tough for us both and is still fraught with pain which can so often jump out without warning…. it must be so fab to be in a place where there is absolutely no pain, no fear, no tears, and no sadness!
I guess you've met Ellie's Ben by now - you can tell him that I'm doing the very best that I can for his children and I'm really looking forward to meeting him one day quite soon.
I used to describe you as being "the wind in my sails" - you still are but now it's in memory only….and Ellie of course has become the wind in my sails in the 'here and now' sense …. I still love you of course but I also love her too….if that makes any sense whatsoever ?!
A couple of weeks ago I was out cycling with guys from my club and we went past the place in Windsor Great Park where we scattered your ashes…it's on the downhill slope going into Windsor and as we approached that place I hammered it full pelt…I hit 65kph according to my bike computer….it was exhilerating for a few minutes and perhaps relieved a little of the angst that I felt in my heart approaching that place once again. I think the guys in the club thought I'd gone barmy but I waited for them a bit further up the road !
Anyway my love…..I'm glad you're home safe and sound and I'll see you there soon.
All my love, as always.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


We've had two birthdays this week.

The first was on would have been Karena's birthday, and, as has happened in the past, the build up to the day was worse than the day itself.

I heard from two of Karena's closest friends that they went out for coffee and cake in her honour on the day - a fitting tribute to my lovely wife.

For me, it was more of a "Beam-me-up-Scottie" type of I wrote to her instead....(a bit odd maybe but seemed like an ok thing to do).

Our second birthday was my step-son's my opinion, he's an outstanding young man...and we enjoyed a huge birthday breakfast, lots of presents, take-away food, cake, family movies and sweets !    He got a sword amongst other things ..... it's a fencing epee so not quite as horrific as it sounds perhaps?!  I feel very privileged to be filling the 'Dad' role in his life even though of course I can't ever fill it biologically ! 
One day I will meet Jesus face-to-face myself and I will meet Ellie's Ben too - and I will tell him of all the joy that his son and daughter brought to our combined family.  That will be a good day.

One of the things you realise about this journey is that all birthdays have a measure of pain associated with them.  Because I love him, I feel so sad that my step-son's Dad isn't there for his it is I feel delighted that this young man has been adopted into our family (and me into his), and I can now call him my son. 
My relationship with my step-children is a great reminder to me that as a Christian, I have been personally adopted into God's family - I am now a son of The Father, an heir, chosen by Him and called by name...all made possible because of what Jesus' has done.

Happy Birthday Son!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The mask

Sometime ago, I blogged about how on this grief journey, there is pain and angst just bubbling away beneath the surface, ready to totally erupt and overwhelm at a moment's notice….it hasn't changed, and to be honest I'm not sure that it's ever likely to.
The whole world changed for both Ellie and I when those that we loved (and the parents of our children) died, so why would either of us expect to ever return to any kind of 'normal' ?
Looking in the mirror though I realise I must seem fairly normal to onlookers (as 'normal' as I ever have been that is!), and it's only me that really realises the turmoil that can be behind the smile that I purpose to pull so often. 
Whether we like it or not though both Ellie and I wear a mask a lot of the time…a mask of 'normality', of 'coping'…but behind it we are never very far from the precipice of huge emotional pain….as we both got reminded of in different ways over these last few days (I'll spare you the details!)
However, for both Ellie and I, now doing our grief journeys together (and absolutely delighting in being together), we have an increasing sense that God has plans for us to be a part of binding up other people's broken hearts, and comforting others who mourn…..and helping others take off their masks too…
For us, the answer lies in what direction we're looking in….if we look backwards from behind our masks, there's just pain and heartache.  If we just look forwards it all can seem so daunting (but with some glimmers of hope of course), but when we stop for a moment, are honest with ourselves, remove the masks we wear…and then gaze upwards into the eye's of Jesus there's simply everything that we can possibly need….love, comfort, strength, compassion, confidence, hope, purpose and a future too. 
And so we will leave the last words of this blog to our master who delights in helping us take off our masks and meeting our real needs….
Isaiah 61:1-3ff (Luke 4:17-21)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour….to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve….to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.   They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour…..