9th January: Back to Work

Lazy days are over.Over the holiday we gradually slid further and further into brunch, waking later and later. Without tennis to play, we’d be lucky to be out of bed (though not washed and watered) by midday. My poor lover who went into work on the three days between Christmas and New Year has had to readjust himself to our idleness.

620am: Alarm bells ring and I roll over into the warmth of my lover’s body.

630am: Alarm bells ring and we both roll out of bed. Today my Hero goes back to school though much to her disgust the eldest stays home for another day. Showers follow. Breakfast at 7am then 720 and he’s off to work.

Hero and I head out of the house at 740am to collect the friend without attitude (FNA). Friend with attitude (FWT) is staying with her mum after three weeks in South Africa with her Dad’s family. By 8am the girls are dropped on the high street and I’m heading home.

Because it has just been Christmas I’ve joined the local gym. The membership card isn’t here yet so I challenge myself into a run around the heath. By the afternoon I can’t walk without feeling like an eighty year old. I give this a couple of weeks at most.

 25th January: Stalker

I do not talk to my family, my birth family partly my choice and partly theirs. A lack of conversation doesn’t mean a lack of curiosity and so once a year or so I find myself turning into a google stalker.

My father died when I was expecting my oldest daughter and I remember coming home from a trip to New York to increasingly irate telephone messages from both of my sisters.I have two, I and R aged 10 years and 18 months older than me.I hadn’t spoken to R since leaving home at 18, so probably ten years or more. I’d spoken to I a month or so earlier and so I called her.

The conversation was fractious. I remember being snapped at for being absent but also being challenged on who was going to pay for the funeral (I shared the costs with I) and why on earth was I to inherit the house. The tone only changed with the knowledge that the house was subject to mortgage and so probably not worth a great deal. She never offered to share any proceeds from the sale of the furniture  which was left entirely to her. Should it matter? It does.

So why was R excluded from the will? Probably because she had over the years asked for and received endless handouts. She lived closer to home, had achieved less in terms of education and employment so maybe it was only fair that she should receive more upfront. Any qualms at the possible slight disappeared when told Dad’s debit card had been used to wipe out his bank account after his death.  If it hadn’t been slipped from his corpse, it had most certainly been stolen from the house at the first opportunity – charming family heh?

I attended the funeral, sitting at the back with I. I didn’t go to the burial afterwards. I still don’t know where he was buried. Partly through cowardice, laziness whatever, I refused to have anything to do with the settlement of his estate. The mortgage company (Halifax) sold the house and presumably there is some minimal sum sitting in an account somewhere waiting to be claimed. Every so often I think of following up now that life is more settled. Every so often I wonder whether the money was given to the sisters I no longer keep in touch with.

On the birth of my daughter I decided to call her by a family name, one already used by my sister for her daughter. Does that make me a miserable bitch? We live at opposite ends of the country so not much chance of confusion. She wrote me a letter disowning me and saying she never wanted to talk to me or see me again. We never have.

2nd February: Man Flu

Call to cancel tomorrow’s piano lesson again. Last week it was his fault for bringing it home and infecting the youngest,  but this week it’s all down to me. Husbands and children are plague carriers of the worst sort. They bring it home and with a total lack of hygiene, spread it about until everyone else falls ill. I have a temperature rising up and down with every cough and sniff. Even worse, I have a thermometer obsessed lover insistent on measuring the stage of my illness with implements. I feel shit.

A couple of years ago I developed pleurisy from the cold brought home by a child who shall remain blameless. Pleurisy is a Victorian disease like TB. I thought that I was having a stroke, with an unbelievable pain shooting up and down my left side. Remember that I went through childbirth twice with no pain relief whatsoever (would have taken everything going, just blame the midwife) so I do know what real pain feels like.

It is the one and only time I’ve ever had a home-visit from a doctor. After the usual “Take 2 paracetamol and calm down dear…” he stopped off on his way home. He took out his stethoscope to listen to my chest as I forced myself to breathe in and out. I’ve never seen a man so excited. He positively bounced up and down on my bed with glee.

“Ooh Ooh I know what this is. You’ve got pleurisy. It hurts like hell doesn’t it?” “Your chest is ripping itself apart every time you breathe. It sounds just like sandpaper.”

 5th February: Social Networking aged 11

Half term starts now and the fateful text has been sent. We will not be driving to school next have term. My Hero has decided to catch the bus. It’s a lie of course.

What she’s actually decided is that she’d rather come home alone on the bus, in the miserable dark and dank weather that passes for a London Winter, than come home with her two “friends” in the mother’s car. She doesn’t hate them but at least once a week, my ear drums have been split with the cries of “She was so mean to me….. She called me names….They threw snowballs….” Enough already.

A cunning plan has been hatched. We will leave for school  earlier, to synch up with her sister and father. If we give them a lift to the nearest tube station then drive straight on, I should miss any drive-by with the mother now committed to taking her angel to school and back again.

It isn’t very ecologically sound. It isn’t very honest. But what else could I have done? If I was a mature individual then no doubt I could sit down with the mum, have a calm conversation about maybe how we could manage the girls better, get them to adopt a more sensible pattern of (non-aggravating, non-bitchy) grown up behaviour.

At least I know my own limits. I’m not calm. I’m not mature. And those little girls are bitches who have upset my baby and therefore upset me. Bite me!

 15th February: Best Birthday Party Ever

Best children’s birthday party ever. Sweet and smooth drop off. Early to collect and be social – glass of good fizz on arrival – with decent non-child related people to talk to.

The gay self-defined godfather was suitably camp and collected. “Vegetarian – you shouldn’t be allowed…” Of course, when you add the labels “housewife”, “ex-banker” and “Christian” to the pot we had a wonderful time. He only fell slightly out of character when talking about the death of his stray tom-cat and outrageous vet behaviour.

BTW I have it on good authority (chair of GAYSOC at the US Investment Bank Previous Employer) that cats are more of a lesbian thing but what the hell…we can move cross-species.

But there was no mum at the party. It dawned on me, slowly because I’d already had a glass by this stage, that this was the party of the little girl whose mum had died.

I was talking to the Dad, a lovely guy, a bit (quite) older with children my age as well as M aged 12. We talked ethics and morals and IVF. Apparently they’d been advised that conception was likely to be impossible after chemo for the mum. They could try to match up donors to a close physical type. He was horrified at the thought that anyone would go through life not telling their child that they were in fact a donor child, much loved but genetically “not”. How do I feel about this?

Clearly honesty is best, wisest and most sensible. Secrets are always found out, and inevitably at the the wrong time. You can see why people don’t tell though. It must be hard to find the words and even harder once a couple of years have gone by. Why rock the boat?

His first wife died of cancer. His second wife had chemo for breast cancer and regular check-ups. She was in the clear. Stomach upset and cramps were investigated but to no conclusion. She went to a spa for a break.

Her daughter was taken out of school as soon as her mum was rushed to hospital. Stomach cancer – spreading out of control. She never came home.

Two wives dead. An 11 year old girl with a lovely dad, an excellent fairy god-father, a competent nanny and loads of lovely friends. No mum though. It makes me weep.

 26th February: Grown-up?

I’m 45 today, time to stop pretending and to finally accept that I’m a grown-up, a responsible adult. The problem is that I don’t feel at all grown up. I can’t help feeling that if it’s true for me, then it must be true for everyone else as well. Maybe all of those mature people out there are just pretending, maybe they’re fakers just like me

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t anything to do with a failure to take responsibility. I take full responsibility for every disaster under the sun – I’m a mother and that pretty much defines responsibility. Any bits of responsibility that escape the motherhood umbrella get scooped up in the Christian tag. If we’re not responsible for doing it, we at least feel responsible for fixing it.

But I still don’t feel anything like grown up. My children are safe, healthy and being educated. I have savings in the bank and a working husband who still wants to have sex with me more than we can manage. What would it take for me to finally admit that I’m an adult?

W, my oldest friend (literally his age not years known and loved, though we’re getting there) has one of the most childlike sense of joy in the world. He is one of the simplest people in some ways. He is also the most wicked, the smartest most stubborn and infuriating. To me, he seems most clearly to be a grown-up because at the end of the day he is also one of the wisest people.

When I was younger, I dabbled with the idea of psychology as a degree course and was quite taken with the idea of transactional analysis. It argues that we have within us various ego states: the child, the parent and the adult. The child is the centre of all creativity, all spontaneity  but also our self-destructive egocentric “me-me-me” kind of temper tantrums. The parent is the place where we have all our learned behaviour, our rules and codes about acceptable behaviour, not all of which are rational.

The adult state is logical and sensible. It is the machine within the human soul, the processing and the processor. It manages and mitigates our illogical animal creativity and sensitivity. It allows us to look once more at our learned behaviour and to change.

I like the idea of change. With my family background, change has to be seen as an excellent step forward. But I don’t like the idea of all of that sense without the sensibility.

I want to be like W. How do I grow up to be an adult but still keep tight hold of all of that joy?

 27th February: feeling the Pressure

At 45, I have passed some kind of medical threshold. Suddenly my doctor is taking my blood pressure (102/68: low/normal) and asking me about dietary factors. Advising a cholesterol check because “You are getting older now…”

Having gone to my doctors to check vaccinations etc for an upcoming trip (plus an annoying  lump on my arm – benign) I wasn’t expecting to be quite so depressed. The blood pressure is good but she didn’t let on at the time. I had to look it up on the web where it corresponds to the blood pressure of a young child or athlete.

I am ridiculously pleased by the idea of having a sporty blood pressure – payback for the gym time. there’s less upside with a cholesterol check. She seems concerned that a lifetime of vegetarianism will have inexorably led to high saturated fat.

It’s true that I have spent my life eating butter not marg. and full fat milk rather than skinny. But on the other hand, I haven’t been able to indulge in too much pre-prepared rubbish with hidden fats.

 28th February: A bridge too far

Dinner and cards at BF2 tonight and I finally remember why I love her. I even manage to like him a lot. How can people who are so civilised and sound, turn into such a disaster as parents?

It isn’t that they’re bad parents.

They clearly love their children. They provide all sorts of material comfort to their kids and at some level try to inculcate (great word) a sense of right and wrong. But they are very different parents to me and clearly that’s a problem

Without their children they are great company, charming and kind, great hosts and the right balance of comfort and controversial. We had dinner first – I’d brought desert as agreed with BF2 but had made the mistake of mentioning the calorific load value to my husband. Being a man who has never (NEVER< EVER< EVER) had a problem with his weight or counted the calories in anything he’s eaten, he thought it hilarious to mention that the cake contained upwards of 6000 calories in total.

Most people content themselves with saying”the cake is very rich, so let’s just have a small slice”. I defy anyone to bite into a a small slice of cake knowing it’s costing you at least 300 calories without it tasting like ashes. My friend’s face dropped. Too polite to renege on the arrangement she felt obliged to eat the damn thing but it clearly tasted bitter to her mind if not her taste buds.

 29th February: Text Efforts

Sent a text to J asking if she’s ok. Haven’t heard from her since a text at Chinese New Year. The longer it goes the more convinced I am that she’s dead already. Brutal?

Jibla door

We’ve all had this rolling series of flu infections but even so that has no weight versus the “dying of cancer” scenario. I’m feeling guilty for not keeping up the momentum, the everyday discussions about nothing in particular.

Talking to other cancer by-standers I need to watch out for a number of death indicators – MacMillan palliative care nurses come out for the last week or so and usually are accompanied by serious opiates on a drip.

I’d have thought people would welcome the cancer care nurses but now I’m not so sure. If it means that you’re clearly on the way out then does making the journey easier outweigh the whole angel of death thing?

It’s all moot. She could be alive or dead and I wouldn’t know. I assume I’ll get a call for the funeral so am hopeful for the “still breathing stage” otherwise imagine how dreadful writing this makes me.

1st March: Military Campaign

The best bits of the holiday have nothing to do with being on holiday: before and after are much less stressful with everything to look forward and all the best bits to remember.

The decision on where to go and when is one of the best bits. There are the many discussions with friends and family not to mention reading books, surfing across the web and talking to travel agents. Once a decision is made as to general location, there are hotel arrangements, travel plans, trains, planes and boats to be considered. There is always the thrill of trying to price up a trip and weighing up where a bit of luxury will make the most difference, not to mention the delight when one strikes a bargain.

This year I’ve been amazed at how straightforward organising guides and trips half way across the world can be thanks to the joys of www. Trip advisor is brilliant at pointing out the things that most people want to do in far off places. Using their web addresses I can send an email to check availability and prices straightaway receiving confirmation just the next day. If anything fails to materialise then I’m no worse off than before – no money passes until the trip itself.

I’ve booked guides in Bangkok (only there two days so who wants to waste any time) used a worthwhile charity to arrange a trip to the Tonle Sap Bird Sanctuary in Cambodia and another guide to Angkor Wat. I decided to wait and see, organising nothing ahead of time for Luang Prabang in Laos given that we’ll have a lot of organised tribe visits etc on the boat up the Mekong. We may just want to hang out in the town or around the pool.

I’m so excited.

When we get back, there are the photographs to be considered. Digital is a miracle. I take millions of pictures and even have some with members of my family artfully posed pointing at the temple, walking up the path etc. Once home they have to edited, sorted rejected or accepted for the book! We don’t print individual pictures anymore but rather load them into a photo book using the i-photo app. Recently, I’ve invested in an apple tv so I can load my pictures onto the cloud and stream them onto the tv in our living room as a personal screen saver – joy!

Actually being on the holiday can be fun, exciting and stressful all at the same time. Flights even if upgraded are just too long and too dull. Spend enough time together and there will be a fight of some sort, a bit of a tantrum from someone. Afterwards, we can forget the tricky bits and just point out the beautiful scenery. The book, and the tv screen can tell an idealised story.Tell the story often enough and it becomes at least as real as the event.

3rd March : Period Pains

Puberty hurts the mother as much as the daughter. Leaving aside the existential angst about losing ones fertility through menopause just as your daughter starts the whole cycle, there is the sheer practical nuisance of it all.

When they bleed, they do so without sense, reason or discretion. White sheets are never the same again. No matter how much you explain that “yes, pads and tampons are a good thing for the nighttime”  at least until she’s worked out how much blood she’s going to lose, they don’t believe you.

There still seem to be more marks in the bed than two girls could produce never mind one skinny bint with not a hint of anaemia. How can one girl bleed so much? Write off the sheets if I have to but how did the pillow get bloody?

And what do I say to “Mummy it hurts! It aches and is painful!” I’m not sure that I believe it will get better. I know that it will change just as surely as a woman’s body is one constant state of . But better?

Take two paracetamol and lie down seems such a feeble response. We’re not going down the route of days off school for period pains or excuses to stay out of PE classes. Being strong is a better response even if it does feel totally brutal.

We’ve moved onto black pants, away from pastels in the hope of a more than monthly lifespan. The sheets are washed weekly and put back even if the stains don’t entirely wash out. When they stop appearing, I’ll invest in new sheets (and pillows, and quilt covers).

By the time my eldest has it all sorted out, the youngest one will be starting out so we’re in this for the long haul. How bad can it get?

10 March : Birth

They promised me a 12 hour labour. They were wrong. Twice.Each time I called for pain relief. Each time the pain was unrelieved. And let’s not talk about the idiocy of birth plans.

My labours were each around three hours long from the first contraction to the birth with maybe another 30 minutes or so to expel the afterbirth, the placenta. I had both girls at home, the first at our tiny two up-two down cottage and the second at the house we all live in now.

Home birth seemed like a good idea after a couple of years in Holland where no one goes into hospital for babies unless there is a problem. I do also have a slight phobia about hospitals as places full of sick people with germs. Plus the latest teaching hospital is only 10 minutes away by car. Half of me thought that we’d start at home and maybe transfer over to the hospital when things got tricky.

When I first went into labour, we called the midwife who told me to take two paracetamol. We called her twenty minutes later to say the paracetamol really wasn’t working so could she come out now? She suggested a long bath. By the third call ten minutes later, we’d stopped asking and started telling her to come out – it hurts!

My lover started the taps on the water bath we’d hired but was told to stop. The baby would arrive within the next twenty minutes whilst the bath would take at least an hour to fill even half way. I stood. I walked. I bent over the back of a chair. The midwife was calm and methodical putting down waterproof sheets to guard the carpet and reminding me to breathe out. No one forgets to breathe in but they do often holds their breath for too long with the pain.

She was born quietly in the early morning and placed almost straight into her daddy’s arms. Some 15 minutes later I was encouraged to cough to dislodge the placenta – sudden jerky muscle movement – and the whole thing was essentially over.

Two years later almost the same experience with my Hero but for a new house and a nervous midwife. She was terrified I’d deliver the baby into the toilet so kept discouraging me from going to the toilet. Women should  clear out their bowels before giving birth, else they’re left having a midwife wipe them clean between each contraction – not great.

In the end I ignored her and went to the loo. Despite our best efforts to get the second midwife to attend with air and gas as pain relief she didn’t get to our house until after Hero was delivered. This baby came out cross! She wasn’t at all convinced by this bright and shiny world. It wasn’t as warm and comfortable at all. Daddy held her tight and made it all better.

15 March: Skinny People eat less

Women who are smaller than me, eat less than me. They don’t eat more healthily, they just eat less. At the end of the day when I tuck into the bar of chocolate, they say, “You know what, I just don’t fancy it. I’m full”

The reason I exercise is so that I can eat more. It’s all very functional.

Tennis doesn’t count as exercise because to be blunt, I’m not good enough to use up serious calories running around a court. Plus, I play doubles which is basically an excuse for a competitive chat more than a sports event per se.

Since my major occupation doesn’t count, I either go for a run or go to the gym. It’s winter in London which means lots of rain usually, occasionally snow. The appeal of gym membership is greatly increased but then I looked at the cost.

What I want is a monthly membership that I can drop in the Summer when the kids are at home or we’re all on holiday out of town. The cheapest private gym is £75 a month though to be fair the site is lovely with a cafe that I’d want to hang out at. I price up the local state gym at the Lido. £25 a month. The equipment is at least as good as at the private gym but the changing rooms are manky beyond bearing.
I decide to shower at home.

So if it’s all about calories how does this regime work?

The average woman uses 1800 calories a day living, breathing and walking about. Regard it as a purse full of calories that you can spend each day. Time on the treadmill will earn extra calories to spend.

The nice thing about a machine is that it will tell you fairly precisely what you’ve earned. The worst thing is the actual hard work required to work up any kind of calorie balance.

Breakfast = porridge (made with water not milk) with honey (1 tsp) a glass of juice and a black coffee.
About 200 calories

Lunch = soup, either two bowls each having a dollup of yoghurt or one bowl with a slice of buttered toast.
About 300 calories.

On the treadmill, I walk very fast (6.7km/hr) up a very steep incline (15%) for 35 minutes to use up a balance of 500 calories.

A pound of fat contains 3000 calories. To lose 1 – 2 pounds a week means running a shortfall of 3000 – 6000 calories over the week so even with my treadmill workout Monday to Friday, I would need to save an extra 3500 calories over the week to lose 2 pounds.

To make sure that I lose fat not muscle, I would spend 20 minutes on the weights machines trying to build any upper body strength, give my arms a bit of muscle definition and work my abs (lost cause but desperate).

It’s a punishing regime in many ways. I can go to the gym straight after dropping Beloved at school. I hate every minute of it until it’s done and then find myself feeling incredibly pleased with myself.

It makes me very aware of the value of calories that I spend through the day which in turn means that I probably spend fewer of them. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far and feel almost human, certainly competitively smug.

I’m not doing this for my health! Tennis will taken care of my cardiovascular system and probably my insulin levels etc. I’m not obese but I’m trending ever so slightly upwards year on year. I don’t want to be overweight. I want to be a comfortable UK size 12, not a squeeze in and hope for the best.

Sorry but it’s all about vanity. A recent tv programme said that 80% of the UK failed to take any exercise at all. It also concluded that people vastly underestimate the amount of exercise required to burn calories. For the vast majority of people, exercise does not make you lose weight.

Staying at home is a rational choice if vanity is your motivation for exercise and for most of us it is all about what we look like and can we fit into our jeans.

We should be concerned about heart disease and diabetes or the many types of cancer that have a food or weight related component. Arthritis and other joint problems are greatly exacerbated by carrying too much weight. These are all killers that will shorten the average lifespan unnecessarily but do we care?

We should care but we don’t. No one in their 20s or 30s believes that they will die, never mind die from heart disease.

To get the maximum benefit for your heart and/or insulin levels requires the minimum amount of exercise investment. A UK university suggests 1 minute of intense cardiovascular exercise three times a week, really pushing yourself to a borderline state in terms of heart rate.

You won’t lose weight. Your bum will still look big in that dress. You won’t be able to eat more or just eat something sweet or salty that you really fancy any time you fancy it.

But I’ve decided that losing weight isn’t really the triumph people expect. It seems more like a lifetime commitment to losing a little, monitoring continually and chipping away at any gains on a monthly basis.

Losing weight is not for the fainthearted. Some of the people best at losing weight are also the heaviest, finding themselves trapped in a cycle of weight-loss, weight-gain, weight loss and so on and on for ever. I’m one of these people. The best I can do is probably try to make it a pound or two on and then a pound or two off rather than leaving it for 10 years and rather more than 10 pounds to take off.

My relationship with food is dysfunctional, always has been and probably always will be. Now all I need to do is try to stay on top of monitoring my weight and try to stabilise the amount I eat with the level of exercise required. Maybe I can wean myself off the treadmill, 100 calories at a time.

18th March : Codgers

Only gay men look good in gyms.

There are two types of men who attend my local gym, none of whom seem to be gay. There are the young hopefuls, desperately trying to pump up their ego along with their muscles and then there are the old codgers.

There are a number of reasons for liking the more mature man better but the reality is I find myself simply disliking the young and shiny. There is something very dislikeable about vanity in men especially when so clearly on display. Then there are the grunts and groans, the constant need to put oneself on display.

The boys are desperate to get laid though clearly not by the middle aged harridans (myself included) who constitute the female attendees. Having said that, they seem so very needy for attention all of the time with all of that huffing and puffing. The problem arrives when having got crosser and crosser waiting for one of these puffers to get off the damn abdominal weights machine I find myself moving up the kilos. All of that noise and ‘look at me’ bravado and he can’t pull more weight than a girl!

Walter asked me what I thought about the men who are regulars at the gym, meaning body builders a la Schwarzenegger but I can’t see many of them.

The codgers are generally chatty in a low key kind of way. They’ve learnt to ask a woman questions to pass the time and to listen to the answers. They seem to be pretty functional about why they’re there in the first place – to manage their waistlines, their cardiovascular system, to keep themselves from going to seed.

Nobody should ever really enjoy going to the gym. It’s functional and dreary not to mention bloody hard work. Hetero people look shit at gyms. They sweat and not in a good way. If they’re not sweating, they’re the overweight ones pretending to do something about their problem.

20th March : Textmate

Haven’t heard from J for so long, think she may be dead so call friend K to see if she has news…

“Saw D (her husband) on Saturday.  J is in a very bad way, confined to a chair day and night and constant pain. She has a full body scan next week. Not long to go now. Looks exhausted. Keeps asking will she know, will she know that death is coming close?”

22nd March: Finals

At last I receive a text from my friend.

J: Son a triple scholar. Cambridge. Won French debating trophy. Spanish and French prize.
So very proud. He has worked so hard he deserves it all. Cancer spread. Nothing to be done.


 23rd March : No reply possible

No quality of life. In constant pain. Can’t walk. Not pleasant. Nothing they can do. Don’t think O believes it still.

How are the girls? J

23rd April: EndGame

My friend died today. Two days before her birthday and she’s gone, long gone.

30 April: 

Dear Dave,

I am very sorry to hear that Jane has died. Even knowing that she was so ill, it came as a great shock to realise that she had gone – I can’t quite believe it still. I’m still angry at the unfairness of it all.

She fought such a long hard battle to stay with you all. Looking through her texts and remembering our conversations, the overwhelming feeling is one of determination.

She was sometimes angry and often frustrated but never seemed sorry for herself. She was scared sometimes, but not really so much for herself as for leaving you and the children without her. She worried so much about leaving you and David and her Lily. It seemed to chase any fear for herself out of her mind.

She talked a lot about David and Lily – she was so very proud of them both. In March she wrote: “ My son, a triple scholar. Cambridge. Won French debating trophy. Spanish and French prize. I am so very proud. He has worked so hard he deserves it all.” He won’t be surprised that she was proud of his academic success but I remember sitting over coffee a couple of years ago as she beamed with pride because David had been kind to some poor girl at a party the night before.

She worried about drugs and alcohol at school. She was comforted that he didn’t lose his way with his much wealthier friends but stayed at heart a good person who she felt would treat women well, who loved his family. She described David as a young man with a strong moral sense of right and wrong. The academic success was always important but time and time again she came back to what a good person David was growing up into. She was so happy when he brought home a girl friend.

Reading through Jane’s words about her Lily breaks my heart.

Before she got ill, I can remember her laughing because Lily was not at all competitive, didn’t feel any need to be top of the class. Jaen was so proud when Lily was offered a place at Henrietta Barnett but more than pride, she just took a real delight in her daughter’s gentleness, in loving her so very much. Mostly, Jane talked about Lily as a kind hearted person, someone she could see becoming a nurse or a teacher. She described her as someone who cared, someone who loved you all so very fiercely.

From our very first chats over coffee it was clear that you were always in the back of her mind, steady as a rock, an anchor, a partner to share the ups and downs of life. Her very last text to me a couple of weeks ago worried over you. She wrote of plans, trying to make you all safe.

Jane was such a good person who changed the lives of so many children for the better. She ended up loving all of the children that she taught. She has a real and meaningful legacy in the lives of all of the children that she has set upon a more successful path. My daughters’ lives were both changed by her for the better. She was so bright and chatty and full of life.

Didn’t she love to talk?

We’d sit down for coffee and end up many hours later with the whole world put to right. The world seems a bit shabbier without her. Just a couple of weeks ago she wrote offering to help out with contacts on our Asia holiday – she was always trying to help even in the middle of all her own troubles.

Towards, the end she wrote that she felt tired. My faith comforts me that there is a place with God for Jane where there will be no pain and lots of laughter, lots of children to watch over and her mother to welcome her home. I am sure that she will be busy making heaven ready for the three of you. It doesn’t make anything better or easier though. I cannot imagine how very dreadful these times are for you and for David and Lily.

If there is anything that I can do to help then please let me know.

 30 April: Dark Days

Text received from J’s phone: “Thanks for the support you’ve given us. Just to let you know the funeral is tomorrow at 930am at Golder”s Green crematorium.”

My Hero wants to go as well. When I drop my letter around the doorbell has been removed so I leave without talking to anyone. I call later in the afternoon. L picks up and I’m handed over to her Dad. It’s fine for my girl to come. L and her brother D will be there.


All about me!