Questionnaire on Bereavement

We are students on our BA (Hons) Degree course who would like to understand your views on bereavement. The results of this research will be used for our course presentation module.

We would be very grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete our short questionnaire.[IT1] 

Please be assured that we will anonymise all responses.

Question: -                                                        [IT2] 

1. What does bereavement mean to you?

 

 

2. Have you ever experienced bereavement?                               Yes/No
   (please circle your answer)

   If No, thank you for your time.              If  Yes, please go to question 3.

 

3. Have you talked about your bereavement in counselling?[IT3]          Yes/No
    (please circle your answer)

 

4. Was your counselling:-
    (please circle your answer)

    a) Person-centred?       b) CBT?          c) Psychodynamic?

    d) Don’t know?              e) Other?

                          

5. Did counselling help you?                                                          Yes/No[IT4] 
    If yes, please briefly explain how/why counselling helped you

 

Thank you

                     

 

 

Emily

 

 

 

The feelings of a lifetime in a single encounter

Every sense alert and connected

Winter had not yet ended at the Old Vine

A dozen broken hearts sharing the pain

As many absent partners were not given the choice

But you were proof that life can begin again

 

The straight back and shoulders, hair red and brown

Chestnut eyes so alive as mine focused on your lips

I watched every word from the other end of the table

As they formed and you breathed them out

I knew before we spoke that a connection was made

that I’d be yours and you’d be mine

 

It could have been the prayer I uttered in one of Gods houses

Or perhaps it was our minds that reached out and decided

Just like Noah knew he had to build a boat

I had to introduce myself to you in your charity shop coat

when we spoke for the first time which was a long time coming

My heart opened up and let you in

I soaked up your warmth and gentleness and was enraptured by your beautiful smile

And discovered the truth about love at first sight

 

We’ve had our hearts broken; you and I

We had to say goodbye for the very last time

I am now happy to be saying such a simple word

Hello it is and it is meant for you

Hello to you and welcome to my world

I love you Emily because you are warm and kind

And I love you being a part of my mind

 

I know we will not forget the past and all that it represented

We won’t forget it because we can’t

I’ve made all the mistakes and taken love for grated

When it should have been clear and celebrated

How lucky I am to have been given a second chance

To love and be loved as we walk life’s path

 

I’ll take your beautiful slender hand in mine, fingers entwined

Turning my head to look into your eyes

So warm and enchanting, so full of depth and soul

Full of stories that are complete and ours that is unwritten

We will write it together as our children grow

And I’ll love you forever and never let go

I blamed God for changing my life and all of the pain

Now I thank him for leading me to you so I can start living again.

 

Emily

Give it time

 

The sun rises up into a blue sky
Light filters through the cracks and the trees come to life
No leaves fall as I sit and stare
Searching for answers that won’t change who I am
My eyes suddenly open releasing the mind trapped inside
What a wonderful world we live in but with so little time.

So much is taken for granted and what should be easy, is not
It isn’t easy to fall in love and accept that the pain of loss will come
But you can’t make the decision that belong to your heart
The sun lights up my face through the coffee shop window
There is a clear reflection but it does not smile back
I get angry with myself for being scared of life
When I should be living in the moment and having faith.

How long does my mind spend in the past?
Probably as much as it does mapping out the road ahead
The future and the past does not exist
It is what we do now under the sun up above
That determines whether we are happy or not.

Life isn’t about money, success or pretence
It’s about giving and giving and giving without expecting it back
Being selfless and being true to ourselves
Is important as understanding trust and accepting love
It’s often the days when we are miles away
That we can clearly see what we cherish is close.

What do we do when the sun doesn’t shine?
When the clouds are an obstruction and they shut out the light
Unresolved issues and unfinished business
Put a strain on our health and bring tears of rain
But just like the clouds that block the sun
The darkness will lift and make us smile again.

I am a father, a son and have a job that I love
I dance to the music that touches my soul
And I laugh without warning and cry just the same
Life is beautiful if you look through the clouds
You might be grieving and completely lost
But the beauty remains when the clouds lift.

If you’re having a bad day and the clouds are thick
Look long and hard for all that is good
Hug your children, parent or dog
You’re as important as the sun up above
And just like the trees we change and we grow
But it doesn’t just happen all in one day.

 

Give it time

The Titanic by Samuel Cockle aged 10

THE TITANIC

 

Once there was a boy named jack, who loved exploring, however he also liked resting. One day he went searching for a cave to build a secret den but instead he found a box lying on the floor. Carefully walking over to the strange object, he lifted the lid and to his amazement he saw…nothing. Carrying it home he slipped and the lid flew open. Although this time there was some sort of purple vortex swirling around.

 

Scared he put his hand in and in the blink of an eye it disappeared, and as most children would, he jumped in and seemed to be on some sort of boat. The crystal blue waves as far as the eye could see were crashing against the boat. Then he just made out R.M.S Titanic. What?  He asked himself. Enjoying himself he then felt a huge stop.

 

The place went silent and there was no movement. Then the water seemed to be moving up but it wasn’t the water it was the ship it was going down. As you may know captains can’t leave their ship. However jack did not care about that he needed to get out. Then he remembered the box maybe if he found the box he would get out. Then finally  he found it in a big room. After 30 minutes he found it but it was locked. Then he noticed a hammer on the side. He forced it open. He jumped in and returned back home.

Finally he was safe at last in his home. Although he had left the lid open. He thought he was safe but no one was safe. Something had followed him. What was it?

 

 

The Titanic by Samuel Cockle aged 10

Because I love you

Because I love you

 

Robert and Rebecca had everything they wanted and needed when they were together but holding hands, kissing and making love was more often a longing than a shared experience owing to Robert’s career in the Army. Real love is a natural progression that cannot be forced or answered in a prayer but occasionally it blossoms faster than the trees in spring. Robert knew that his heart belonged to Rebecca during a weekend at a cottage in the Lake District that he had booked to celebrate their first year together. It had rained every day and apart from the occasional saturated walk where their hands never parted, they remained inside the cottage where a roaring log fire provided more warmth. Rebecca had never loved so deeply and she wanted the snow to fall like it had never fallen before so that she could have more time in a state of heightened enlightenment where her heart shone like an internal star.

Another year had passed and the two of them became closer even though they had spent most of the year apart. Rebecca had two more agonising days to wait until Robert landed on British soil again after a spell of three months in a very unsettled region of Afghanistan. Her suitcase was already packed at Robert’s request but she had no idea where they were going or doing at the weekend.

Robert loved surprising Rebecca as much as he loved her. He couldn’t even begin to describe the depth of his love to friends and family but he often tried. She was more satisfying than the tastiest meal and more relaxing than the most comfortable bed were just a couple of his comparisons where words always fell short of how he really felt. The numbers on the calendar increased and the closer they got to the 24th which was to be the day of his departure, the hours of each day seemed to double. Every day Robert tried to think of a way to give up on the army so that he could spend all of his time with Rebecca especially after his planned proposal in four days’ time at a castle in Inverness.

Robert had told a little white lie about his time of arrival and in doing so had bought himself about four hours. The extra time was necessary so that he could take a taxi to Bond Street and purchase an extravagant engagement ring. He was too young and naïve to realise that a ring from a market stall in Kabul would have brought about the same reaction of heart-warming joy.

Robert proposed as planned on a balcony overlooking a loch whilst enjoying afternoon tea. Rebecca’s smile was equal to that of a new mother clutching a baby to her chest. She wanted to pause this moment with an imaginary remote and then throw the device into the loch. Today was the happiest day of her life but in two weeks’ time she would be alone once more. Why did Robert have to be in the army? Why do we live in a world where there is anger, hatred and greed that requires people like Robert to balance the peace? These were two of the many unspoken questions that filled Rebecca’s mind on a daily basis.

A date for a wedding which allowed for ten months of planning was set before Robert returned to Afghanistan where he expected to remain for three months before seeing Rebecca again.

As the plane lifted off the ground Robert prayed for a miracle so that he could leave the army and start a new life as a family man. So many young men sign up without really knowing or thinking about what the future might have in store for them. Army life was fine until love came along and nobody can explain or understand the power of love until it takes charge of your soul and turns two people into one. Being apart was unbearable and Robert grieved like the bereaved.

Just three days after re-joining his regiment, Robert and five of his closest colleagues were hit by a massive unexpected explosion on a quiet dusty road. Robert was the only survivor and his prayer had almost been answered.

His army days were over but opening his eyes for the first time in weeks after endless hours of surgery and unconsciousness was too disturbing for any living person to endure. Rebecca was there but his legs were gone as was his right arm and his genitals had also been claimed by the blast. Rebecca despaired with the volatile world that they were part of. Soldiers wouldn’t be needed if everybody lived by the rules of the Ten Commandments. Love, respect, consideration and appreciation would mean a brighter future for our children and their children. Rebecca asked the same questions to a silent God. When are you going to intervene and cure your world of hatred, jealousy and greed?

Rebecca held Roberts remaining hand and told him that she loved him and that she still expected them to get married. All Robert could manage was a tear from each eye. He wanted to tell her that his life was over but the devil would not grant him permission to speak. All Robert could envisage was a future of self-loathing and pity.

A year later than expected, Robert and Rebecca did get married. Robert had been given two artificial legs and a new arm but he was still unable to feel like a man and show his love as nature had intended. Words of love and encouragement from Rebecca continued as the months passed but could not mask the pity within and Robert sensed it. He would not be able to father a child and evolve in the way his father had once described. “When you become a father it completes you and your eyes will truly open and look back at the selfish boy that once was. You will be the person that you always wanted to be. Unconditional love is pure and the reason for our existence.” Robert couldn’t escape from his father’s words especially the word “unconditionally” because he didn’t want to be loved unconditionally. He wasn’t a child but felt as helpless as a crawling baby. Robert wanted to shower Rebecca with love and live the life that should have been. Time had stood still even though the world had not. Robert knew what he had to do and he produced a genuine smile that he thought only belonged in the past.

Robert took out his notebook and began to write…

My dearest darling Rebecca, I cannot continue living a selfish life and expect you to miss out on children and the life that you had planned. Please promise me that you will find a man who will make a good father and love you as much as I do. The only way I am ever going to be content and happy is by letting you go. A wise man once said that if you love someone then let them go and I used to wonder what the hell he meant by that but now I know. I will always be there for you and do hope that you will always remain in my life so I can see you glow again- A single tear dropped on to the page as Robert wrote the last four words… because I love you.

Because I love you

Love vs Presents

 

Driving to school this morning I asked my children what they liked best about Christmas. Sam answered with “presents” before I had finished my question, firing the answer at me like a bullet. Olivia said “love” and she probably knew that her answer would impress me. Love doesn’t just come once a year like Santa or the Queen. The best thing about Christmas day for me is that all of the shops are shut and it is about the only day of the year that we overdose on family life. Sadly, it is a day of extremes because it is also the worst day for so many bereaved and lonely people. As the families of the world sit in their pyjamas and new dressing gowns exchanging presents, smiles, hugs and appreciation, it is the biggest reminder and painful time for those thinking about a recent loss or broken relationship as they dream of a better place and time. I pray that happy days will return for them again.

I have loved Christmas ever since my memory began. I can remember back as far as being about 5yrs old and my dad pointing out of my bedroom window to the lights of a distant plane in the night sky on Christmas Eve. He would tell me that it was Father Christmas delivering presents to all of the boys and girls that were asleep in bed so if I wanted to get some, I had better hurry up and sleep.

Most of us take our feet for granted as we walk, run, drive cars and kick balls but for me Christmas day started with my feet. I was always awake first and I would listen in the darkness for movement or voices to let me know if this special day had officially began. My knees were bent and I was always nervous about stretching out my legs in case Santa hadn’t left me a stocking in the night. My feet would come into contact with a heavy object on the end of my bed and I knew that he had been during the night. I would laugh uncontrollably with excitement as every cell in my body danced to my own Christmas hymn.

I was around 9yrs old when I caught my dad putting a stocking on the end of my bed. I couldn’t sleep owing to excitement and I nearly wet myself when Santa walked into my room and I almost said hello. I could see him quite clearly because the hall light was on and I wondered why he was spending a long time on my bedroom floor. Was he a house proud Santa that cleaned carpets? I didn’t move and kept opening and closing my eyes. I realised that I had been holding my breath because my lungs needed air. I resumed normal breathing and deserved an Oscar for feigning sleep so spectacularly. Santa stood up and looked in my direction but couldn’t see that one of my eyes was open and looking at his face clearly. His beard had slipped down revealing my dad’s face and the unmistakable handlebar moustache that had tickled my face on so many occasions.There was something in dad’s hand that looked like a bag of sugar

There were three possible explanations.

1. My dad had the best job in the world and I was the son of Santa.

2. I had been naughty on too many occasions and wasn’t on the real Santa’s delivery list.

3. My parents had been lying to me for years.

4 My dad dressed as Santa to clean my carpet with sugar in the middle of the night.

I decided that number 3 was most likely and it immediately made me feel less guilty about all the lies I had told to get my sister into trouble. I always thought Santa was a myth and now I knew.

The stocking at the bottom of my bed was no surprise to my feet in the morning but the flour I stepped in as I got out of bed was. Dad had sprinkled flour across my floor and left footprints to replicate snow. I love Christmas because of its unpredictability and acts of pure love.

I was a spoilt child at Christmas and I am now spoiling my own. I try not to go too mad but with all the 3 for 2 deals starting in September and the enticing crappy Christmas gifts that surround the checkout areas in most department stores and supermarkets, it is hard not to get carried away. I do believe wholeheartedly that whether there are two presents or twenty, Christmas is about love. “I wish it could be Christmas every day” by Wizzard is a song that has been played on the radio every year since 1973 and it can evacuate a building more effectively than a bomb scare warning. I get the sentiment and the importance of showing our love every day and not just when we are wearing silly hats, pulling crackers or eating a week’s worth of food in a single day. Obviously if the shops were shut every day and nobody went to work the economy would collapse like one of my soufflés or a bouncy castle on a battle field. I think we would all be single parents within a year and filing for divorce.

There is a garage near my house that offers a free car wash on Christmas day and has done so every year since I have lived nearby. I am always amazed by the long queues and the fact that the cars are mostly driven by men. A whole day at home with the family is just too much for them to bear and the garage is the only excuse for a bit of peace and a break from claustrophobic family life.

Those that have read my posts or my book know that I lost my wife to breast cancer in 2009. Since then I have kept Christmas as consistent as possible and made sure that my children have had a fantastic day. Love is at the core of Christmas. There is not a single present that could compare, especially as I know what it feels like to lose a loved one.

Love is in our lives every day and it is easily put aside like a present and enjoyed at a later date. Some of my children’s presents are still unopened from last year but I’m not going to wait that long to show them my love.

It has been a tough journey of grief and living as a single dad. A recent review of my book called me a selfish man because of my behaviour during my grief, especially in the angry phase and shouting at my adorable children. The review is true to a degree because grief is selfish but if I hadn’t shouted I would have probably ended up in a river or in front of a train. I have not tried to make excuses or to defend it because it was how it was but even during the darkest and angriest days the love I had for Sam and Olivia was obvious to them. Thankfully, we have lived through the pain of loss and are stronger and more appreciative than ever before. Whatever criticisms or difficulties come our way we can deal with them because nobody can take away or understand my unique situation.

I want to enjoy the Mulled Wine, gifts, food, music and the moment so I guess Wizzard is a Wizard because it would be great to appreciate the joy in our lives every day. I wish you all good health and a wonderful Christmas.

 

 

Love vs Presents

Survival

Millions of beings live in this timeless place where life expectancy is practically zero and no man or woman could ever survive. There is no sun or moon but there is an intense heat amongst the darkness.

Volcanic eruptions are not uncommon at the centre of this unusual place. Sleeping in sacks doesn’t sound very comfortable but nobody ever complained because it had always been that way and God had not created a language for these complex life-forms to engage or communicate.

The rising temperature was always temperamental when another eruption was imminent. As the heat increased, it shook the entire population awake and they had to flee because staying put was not an option. A force so great took everyone by surprise as hot lava exploded from the core and catapulted the inhabitants upwards towards the unchartered opening. Millions died instantly and more joined them with every passing second. It took a further second to disperse the living and the dead out of the volcano’s darkness into a new perilous world of equal gloom.

‘Oh God! Oh God! Please don’t ever stop. Keep going.’  These unfamiliar sounds and unknown words were muffled noises coming from above and below.  Uncontrolled Screaming consumes every unformed sense until silence returns, which causes just as much confusion.

The mass alien race continue on their aimless journey forward owing to complete loss of control and a natural instinct for survival. The vast river of lava engulfs everything and everyone. The remaining survivors swim for their lives, away from a place they call home. The fate of their brothers and sisters are unknown. The leader of the living senses company although it does not feel alone it is somehow  aware that this race is about a survival of the fittest. It is impossible to know whether the winner will be crowned king or queen before being given an important name and role in a new kingdom. The senseless beings will not be reunited with comrades or even remember them once the gravitation pull has ceased. Swimming to stay afloat is no longer necessary or plausible. The surface of this new domain is restrictive and more controlling than anything ever experienced.

Less than a thousand of the original population of around three hundred million remain but many of them are unable to journey any further. Hundreds become caught up in traps whilst others simply admit defeat and die. The surface of this new world is very much alive yet extremely uninhabitable. Occasional bursts of acid disintegrate those unfortunate to stray from the path. A powerful surge breathes new life into the few dozen that have been fortunate enough to make it this far and once again a race to infinity ensues.

A dead end awaits and a wall that is quite possibly impenetrable. Scrambling and wriggling in the darkness, looking for an opening and a way through is more about luck than judgement. A small opening gives hope a chance as only a few make it to the other side. The prize is near and it is the source of power that has drawn everything towards it like a black hole in space. There is no fear, excitement, anger or any other emotion. Emotions such as love and hate will be learned or inherited. Time doesn’t stand still because it didn’t exist before this moment. Time is about to begin because against all odds a single sperm enters the waiting egg and a new life is created. The name of this unborn child will be determined long after this miraculous, inconceivable moment of conception.

 

Survival

Love in rhyme

I hope you enjoy this selection of poems. The first was written by my son Samuel. He is 10 and made this up on the morning of his sister’s birthday. It made me smile, cry and be even more proud of him because they usually behave like Tom and Jerry in the morning. The other poems were written by a dear friend of mine- Sue Moon. Sue works at John Lewis and provides me with coffee and toast when I go there to write.

 

A SMALL AND SPECIAL GIRL (Olivia) by Sam Cockle

 

A small and special girl turns 7 today

I shout come here but she does not hear

I run to her room without any fear

I tap her shoulder and whisper in her ear

Get up get up get up

Because someone small and special turns 7 today

 

 

 Poems by Sue Moon

LEX

 

We couldn’t wait for you to arrive                                                   

You filled our hearts with Joy

We wish someone could explain

Why God took our little boy.

 

Deep inside we feel so empty

We have never known such pain

If only we could turn back time

And have you back here again.

 

Lex, to us all you are so special

That will always be the case

Little baby gone to heaven

No one can take your place.

 

 

SEAN

 

Walking through the churchyard

Some roses clutched to my chest

You thought you found a way out

How was this for the best?

 

Each time I visit your grave

I think of what you’ve missed

I should of said I love you so

And your face I should have of kissed.

 

I kneel & pray & cut the grass

I just feel I want to cry

How can this be the end?

We didn’t say Goodbye.

 

 

Winnie  

 

 

I received a phone call the other day

I couldn’t talk through my tears

She said she had another job

After eight long glorious year’s

 

A cloud has fallen over us all

It feels like another recession

Murray please stop her now

And end this deep depression!

 

But our ship was sinking fast

My god there was a racket

But you’ve just left us all behind

And taken the last life jacket

 

Walk tall from the cupboard

And rise into the sun

Remembering times of laughter

Of which today isn’t one

 

Curtain maker football fan

Loving wife and mother

Many stages of her life

And it is just another

Loyal at the beginning

Loyal to the very end

a person to rely upon

a really special friend

 

 

 

Jill  

 

I can’t put into words, What you mean to me and

For all that you have done

You took me under your wing

And became my second Mum

 

I never knew how to cuddle

Until I watched you with your kids

Then I knew what I hadn’t had

And all the things I’d missed

 

You have made me a better person

Giving love throughout my life

I think you’ve done a brillant job

I’m now a better Mother & Wife.

 

 

 

Cancer

 

 

We have got to stand up to Cancer

And kick it into touch

For ruining a lot of peoples lives

Of people we love so much

 

When you have seen such suffering

And then you have the loss

If only we could turn it around

And show Cancer who’s the Boss

 

We all shouldn’t be complacent

The day must come for sure

When Cancer is gone from all of our lives

And we finally find a cure!

 

Love in rhyme

Yuk! I’m not eating that!

 

 

 

Growing up in the 70’s was a lot different from the way we live our lives today. I wasn’t born into a rich family unless you count the richness of love but I didn’t have to go out each night to get my dinner from the neighbouring bins either. I remember asking for a biscuit about a hundred times a day and made the request even more annoying by saying bickeee. My children are now helping me understand the level of frustration that my mum had to endure back in the day.

If there was a Tesco or an Asda in our area then it was a very well-kept secret. Every week I would walk to our nearest village which was about a mile away to help mum with the shopping. In fact, I shouldn’t use the word help because I was only there owing to being too young to be left home alone. Begging for chocolate along every aisle isn’t particularly helpful but it was always impossible to know from one week to the next whether I’d get some. One week I would be enjoying and exercising my jaw with a Curly Wurly and another I’d be nursing a sore bottom.

Our local Supermarket was fairly small which probably explains why similar items filled our trolley each week. In would go the Spam, Corned Beef, Faggots, Liver and some processed peas which proceeded to piss me off but I wouldn’t have dared to complain. I guess the peas could be considered as three of the five a day vegetables that are recommended today because they were almost the same size as sprouts. I didn’t know what Spam or Corned Beef was. I knew they came from an animal but had no idea from which end and as for Faggots, I didn’t want to hazard a guess. Hannibal Lector would have loved our trolley and it might have saved lives had he got his hands on it. We were suburban cannibals that enjoyed the occasional vegetable. However, I did love the butterscotch instant whip, Blancmange and French Fancies because I had the sweetest tooth in school. I had the most fillings too.

At dinner time, I had to eat without a fuss. Complaining or playing with my food wasn’t an option. I don’t think the word “Yuk” existed during my childhood which is surprising. Were my parents a whole lot stricter than the parents of today? I have had endless arguments with my children about not touching or finishing a perfectly decent meal. Hours spent creating the finest dish from raw ingredients is wasted on children. I have been tempted to find a vintage supermarket and bring home some food that even celebrities in the jungle would refuse. I would understand if I put out a plate of food and said “come on kids, eat up your Crocodile penis and don’t even think about dessert until all of the spider’s legs and the Gruffalo droppings have gone.”

I am really fed up of hearing the word Yuk and “Have I eaten enough?” or “I don’t like it” but I know that I am the one to blame. I need to be as consistent as an Olympic champion. Some days I’m too tired to argue and I give in easily. I make the mistake of handing over a pudding that I promised I wouldn’t.

Party food hasn’t changed that much apart from now there is a party to go with it. Sausage rolls, triangle sandwiches, crisps and carrot sticks have survived many decades. I loved the fuss that was made of me on my birthday. I would get one present and really appreciate it. I loved my aircraft radio and switching it from music to the voice of a pilot overhead and I am still trying to complete the Rubik’s cube today. I can’t even do it with the instructions in front of me. I am amazed by the amount of money spent today on a child’s party. The hiring of halls, paying a clown or a magician and buying enough food to feed twenty fussy kids amounts to a ridiculous amount of money that won’t make a child love you more.

“Where is my party bag?” A popular question by an invited kid who has just been entertained by a two hundred pound an hour magician and spent some considerable time on an expensive bouncy castle. I have given them their dinner which is still sitting there untouched and they expect a bloody party bag full of presents. The party bag didn’t exist in my childhood. The grand finale was jelly and ice cream topped with hundreds and thousands. Mmmmm, I think I might have that tonight after my curry.

I’m pretty sure I could give my son a giant Cadbury’s bar and a pair of Moshi Monster pyjamas for his birthday and it would suffice, but I have got into the habit of spending a fortune to spoil him. I could say the same about Christmas but he might read this and realise that Father Christmas doesn’t actually exist. It would be nice to take the credit for once as I’m the one with the wallet that ends up bulk buying as soon as September is upon us. My mum often reminds me of her childhood and the contents of her Christmas stocking- A Satsuma, a piece of coal and a pair of knitted socks which isn’t as exciting but would have cost considerably less than the dreaded party bag.

 

My parents didn’t let us eat in the car as children and I’d probably be refused as a passenger now if I was carrying a sandwich. My dad’s car was and is always spotless whereas mine looks like a McDonald’s skip. It is hard to believe that seatbelts were optional and so we didn’t wear them. We were allowed to roll around the back seat like a couple of bowling balls . It wasn’t uncommon for cars to have six kids in the back seat and two in the boot. The baby would have to go on the roof rack and the family dog would move from one lap to another yet food was prohibited. Spotless upholstery was higher on the list of priorities than safety. Millions risked a trip through the windscreen but made certain that biscuit and bread crumbs never came into contact with the interior of their car. At least with a food-free environment a child doesn’t get the opportunity to say-“Yuk! I’m not eating that.”

I dread to think how our children’s children will be. Will they be given a menu at meal times or say “I’m not eating this crap.” I expect they will be complaining on their birthday about the taste of American chocolate in Disneyland, as they hand out the party sacks.

Yuk! Im not eating that!

Closing time

Adam wandered aimlessly along unknown paths in the darkness. He wanted to get home and sleep for a very long time because he preferred his unconscious and alcohol fuelled mind to the despair of reality. It was only a ten minute walk from his house to the bar that he frequented most nights. Adam was a 43 year old father of three girls and in his twelfth year of marriage. His girls loved him far more than he loved himself but his recent redundancy made him feel worthless. A third redundancy in as many years after his own business ended abruptly when a close friend disappeared with all of the money. How could he possibly feel anybody’s love when he hated himself for letting everybody down and held a grudge that was larger than his heart could bear?

His stress levels were at an all-time high which was pretty dangerous for a heavy drinker and smoker. He was no stranger to stress and was known as the king of drama queens during his school days.

The rain was falling hard and thunder roared in the distance and grew louder as Adam neared home. A wrong turn between some sheltering trees that were familiar led down a new path to somewhere else. After ten minutes of staggering and shivering in the darkness, Adam’s soaked clothes clung to his body like Clingfilm. The ground beneath him softened and Adam surrendered to the night and his loneliness. He wasn’t destined to make it home nor did he deserve to be there. Turning his head skyward Adam screamed back at the relentless thunder. ‘Why do you make my life so tough? I’m a good man for Christ’s sake.’ Years of unhappiness with so much love in his life was disturbing and left him feeling dumbfounded.

Adam had become accustomed to an affluent lifestyle but life had changed dramatically since his redundancy and he felt a failure. Drinking was a big part of his life ever since discovering alcohol aged 17. A few drinks had given him a confidence with girls that only the cool kids possessed. The buzz he felt from those early drinks were untouchable but led to a life of booze as an over indulgent social drinker.  As time passed those feelings of merriment and enthusiasm were eventually replaced with despair, forgetfulness and self-pity. A bitter grudge which was Adam’s first and only one was suffocating his soul and his spirit as much as the alcoholic spirits were suffocating his mind and his struggling organs. He had read somewhere that to hold on to bitterness and hatred would only damage oneself and was like drinking poison but expecting someone else to die. The poison in Adam’s life that he sipped daily was stronger than the surrendered will of a weakened man.

As the storm continued to rage above, a silent but thunderous pain spread across Adam’s chest which he clutched with both hands. Falling to his knees Adam succumbed to the night bringing the journey home to an abrupt end. Darkness always comes before the light but joy comes before and after sorrow.

The light arrived moments later and Adam’s eyes opened but his hearing adjusted before any visible familiarity. A song from his childhood vibrated its way through his veins…

You ask how much I need you
Must I explain
I need you, oh my darlin’
Like roses need rain
You ask how long I’ll love you
I’ll tell you true
Until the “Twelfth of Never”
I’ll still be loving you

 

A few blinks and a lake became visibly clear in front of him. The bright sun reflecting from it didn’t hide the man with a long white beard sitting beside it holding a fishing rod. Was this man God? Is this my final resting place? Adam was feeling too alive to be dead. He turned his gaze towards the music source as the song brought a smile and the necessary emotion to create a tear…

 

 

I’ll love you ’til the bluebells forget to bloom
I’ll love you ’til the clover has lost its perfume
I’ll love you ’til the poets run outta rhyme
Until the “Twelfth of Never”
And that’s a long, long time
Until the “Twelfth of Never”

On the balcony of an apartment block behind him there was an elderly couple looking at him. Adam smiled nervously and turned to look at the lake. The fisherman ignored him and focused on the lake and its ripples. Adam tried to piece together the string of events that led him to this place. He remembered closing time at the bar and the intensity of the rain even though his clothes were now dry. A buzzing from his trouser pocket was the biggest wake-up call of his life. Twelve missed calls and twenty two unanswered texts shocked him to his feet.

He had a lot of explaining and apologising to do but Adam was feeling strong, confident and alive. There was love in his life and he wasn’t going to ignore it anymore. He wasn’t going to share his valuable time with strangers that wouldn’t miss him if this was his last day. Closing time was now his to control as closure was what he needed to move forward and be happy again. Just like a new-born baby that travels from the darkness to the light for a new beginning, Adam would find his way too with the love of his family. He was now running to take them into his arms and show them that life was his choice and he was going to embrace it until the twelfth of never.

Closing time