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The Birthday Cake

September contains, in quick succession, the anniversary of my sister's death, closely followed by my niece's birthday.  This year inspired me to write a poem, kind of commemorating both. 
Making my niece a cake has been a painful privilege each year - I'm glad I could do it for her, whilst, at the same time, it underlines, afresh, the missing person who would make it for her, before.  This year I didn't actually make the cake, as her Daddy has become a cake-master, but, for poetic licence in the poem, I did!  
Anyway...here is the poem.  Enjoy...I think!
The Birthday CakeMummymade me a cake,once, in the shape of a dinosaur.Its long, fondant-icing neck, stretchedto the edge of the board, bulbous and pink.She had tears in her eyes, as she carried it in.The adults exchanged glances.One guffawed.Mummy giggled.I wasn’t sure why, but I think they liked the cake very muchand were proudof Mummy, as cakes weren’t really her thing.I remember it, because I asked for itand she made …
Recent posts

A Week in the Life of Lockdown: The Highs and Lows

Hi everyone!
Sorry I haven't posted for so long!  This week, I took part in a writing exercise where the prompt for writing was "juxtaposition."  My mind immediately went to the highs and lows of lockdown, particularly in family life.  A few people were amused by what I wrote and said it resonated, so I thought I would share!  Do share it with others, if you enjoy it and let me know!
A Week in the Life of Lockdown: The Highs and Lows
Monday Feeling optimistic about the week ahead. Gave myself a pep-talk. Ancestors faced worse. No more over dramatising. Big girl pants on. Home-schooling planned and resourced. Confident children will comply. Diet starts again today. Let’s do this!
Tuesday I hate my life! How can anyone simultaneously be a Maths tutor, French vocab specialist, sibling-squabble negotiator, IT consultant and meal provider, whilst retaining any shred of sanity? Working from home is near-impossible. Taking refuge in wine and Dairy Milk.
Wednesday Sleep is a great heal…

Ten Years On

After our daughter Grace was stillborn, at 25 weeks of pregnancy, a midwife came to visit to check how we were doing.  I told her of our plans, for me to take the “maternity leave” that I was still entitled to, to spend time with our son, then 19 months.  Her reply took me aback – “I know it might not feel that way, but consider that time Grace’s gift to you,” she said.  Truthfully, I wanted to poke her in the eye at the time, finding it impossible to see any good in the loss we had just experienced.

Over the years, though, as the jagged edges of grief have softened and healed, I understand more, now, what she meant.Losing Grace was one of the hardest things I have been through – but, ten years on, I can see that she has left many gifts for us in her wake.I had a year, enjoying time with Ben, before Samuel came along.I have a wonderful, second son, our rainbow baby who followed Grace here.Her loss has enabled me to connect so much more with others in their struggles and losses.In our m…

When Words Fail...

I wanted to write something for Bec’s anniversary.Something moving and thoughtful and profound to commemorate her in a fitting way.Something epic to reflect the enormity of the gap she has left.Something comic to represent the humour she always brought to a situation.
But my heart won’t let me, this year.My fingers can’t type all the thoughts in my head.My heart can’t withstand the tsunami of emotion that breaks if I try to form words and sentences in poetry or prose.
I want to write her a letter, a poem, a song, an article about surviving grief, a reflection on being the only one left now, with no sibling to recall our shared history.But I can’t.Not now. Not this year.
All I can do is look through photographs and smile and cry and remember what we had and regret what we don’t have now.All I can do is try to join the dots and connect some of the jigsaw puzzle pieces that fall between the photographs.The memories of blackberry picking and whispered shared-room conversations and showing-me…

How Content Are You?

My latest 'Thought for the Week' made it into the Lynn News this week - here it is, for anyone who is interested!

Finding contentment is something I believe we all struggle with, at times – probably more often than we care to admit! We look at the size of our house, the state of our garden, the ‘perfect-looking’ families, smiling from their Facebook photographs and we feel the discontent stirring within.  What is the answer to this endless conundrum?  How can we find contentment and peace in a world that screams, all the time, that we need the next thing – the best, the biggest, and the brightest?

Paul, the writer of the letter to the Philippians, in the Bible, tells us that he managed to “[learn] the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I am amazed by this, whenever I read this verse or ponder his story.  Paul was writing this from prison, of all places, and yet was able to declare this, confidentl…

The Last Jar of Jam

I wrote this a little while ago, as an attempt at a short story, for a competition.  It didn't win anything, but I thought I would share it here, for anyone who is interested.  It is based on real life, with my Nan, who was a very capable lady and an avid jam-maker, right up until she had a debilitating stroke, last August.  We are still working our way through her stock of jam and, knowing that, soon, we will reach the last jar, is heart-breaking.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story!
The Last Jar of Jam
It had always felt as though the jam jars had a life-cycle of their own – a perpetual circle of being: Nan would spend hours in her kitchen, humming as she stirred bubbling saucepans and filled jars by the dozen, lined up like soldiers, with matching red and white berets, on the kitchen side board.

My boys (her great-grandsons) would charm and beg more jars from her each time we visited, hastily making the desired exchange: a clanking bag of empty jars, for two fresh jars, re-filled.Th…

“I accidentally wrote a sonnet…”

“I accidentally wrote a sonnet,” I told my husband, when he returned from the swimming run last night.He laughed, understandably.
I hadn’t set out to write anything that evening – he had taken both boys swimming and I was supposed to be sorting washing, hoovering the house, getting things sorted for the working week ahead.But I sat down, first, to read some sonnets a writer friend had sent through – and there it was – inspiration struck!
I haven’t written much about grief for a while.Partly, I think, because it isn’t so raw now, so emotions don’t pour from the pen so readily.There is, though, still so much I want to write about it – but I often don’t know where to start, or, scarier still, if I start, where it will end.

This is where the sonnet form came into its own.The rhyme, rhythm and structural limits felt like they gave me the relative safety to explore some of my thoughts, whilst, at the same time, constraining them.I couldn’t get carried away on a torrent of emotion, whilst I was…