Saturday, 31 March 2012

Significant for the right reasons

Well I've debated this blog entry in my head for a few days now.  I could explain why but because my blog is reflective of my life and of those around me whom I care about it is difficult.

I would like to point out, or perhaps highlight for newer readers, that this blog started to form some 18 months ago as a way to communicate with friends over the progression of a terminal illness.  Since then it has become so much more and has been referred to by others as an inspiration, a comfort and a glimmer of hope.  John F. Kennedy once said, "We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes".

That's where I am at right now I guess.  I am hopeful.  Hopeful of a future that is as bright and as sunny as these past few days.  There are many reasons for this renewed hope, including the weather, a change of attitude and a chance meeting at a business function recently.

I've pondered whether the chance meeting is a chance meeting or fate playing it's part.  There is little doubt that it is fate.  The circumstances and situations around us both are complex and, had this chance meeting happened just one month earlier then it may not have been significant but right now, attending that one business event has had a significant affect on my life.

I am trying not to be cryptic, it is simply that someone has come in to my life and reminded me what it is like to live, to smile and to be happy again.  I feel and hope the feeling is reciprocated and right now I  am enjoying this new phase of my life.

Is it a happy ending to a tale about a terminal illness or is it a new beginning.... hopefully it will be both.

As I mentioned though before, the situation is complex, there are real people and emotions on the peripheries who are or may be finding it difficult to adjust but, for me this isn't about moving on or forgetting Steve but respecting him and in a way thanking him for reminding me life is too short to be unhappy. 

A few months ago I could never have imagined being in this situation, with a chance to take a second bite of the happiness cherry but here I am on unfamiliar territory, a happy place.  I could go on but I wont, for now.

Aside from that snippet of info things are normal.  I say snippet but for me it is very important. For a start it features here, there's so much trivia I censor from my blog so yes, this is more than a fleeting fad.... I hope.

Work this week has been OK, a lot of meetings and quite a lot of stuff to sort through really but it has been OK.  My "reward" came today in the form of a networking lunch at the Midland Hotel a fancy hotel, and a fancy schmancy lunch too.  I really like it there and Steve always reminded me how it is where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce.  They've had loads of famous guests and to me it is the type of place you host a function where you are looking to impress people.  It's just lovely.  Apart from that though it is next door to Steve's old office,it was odd walking past there but it felt good too.  Good that it didn't "creep me out" or make me feel uneasy, it simply brought a warm smile and happy memories so again this re-assures me that life is getting better, so much so in fact I have to pinch myself sometimes to check if its real.  It is and I am!

Have a great weekend whatever you're up to xxx


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Is it possible to overdose on this?

That's what I am finding myself thinking right now.   Better than any drug I am of course referring to happiness.  Things have taken a distinct upward turn lately.  Life is much brighter and I have started to notice a glimpse in the mirror of a Mark I once knew some 18+ months ago before Cancer brought my world crashing down around me.

There have been happier times over that period but for the main I have become used to a certain numbness.  That seems to be lifting, like a chick breaking out of its shell so I am emerging from the fog.

I know what has caused this change and for now, as it's a new change, and a new outlook for me I am going to keep it under wraps.  I will share with you once the time is right but rest assured that despite some difficult and challenging situations around me, not least the lack of a buyer for our house, I am still managing to smile and rediscover the happiness within. 

Work is ticking along nicely and other things are moving around me.  There is so much I could write.  For now though I'm going to sign off and I'll write soon but, before I go, I'd like to say thank you to all my/our family and friends, in person and online, who have borne with me through the bleak times.  I really appreciate all the support I've received.

Xx M xX

Sent from my iPad

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Wonderful Weekend!

Well all I can say is that Spring has Sprung and a things are good. There's still part of me wondering how life would be with Steve now and how it was but it's less acute. I look around now and feel his influence in the people around me and those I'm drawn to and are drawn to me. I think Steve may be working some magic, I hope helping the house to sell is on his agenda too.

On Friday I had a nice day in work, meetings all day and then back to the office till late but it was all good. It was a beautiful sunny day and it matched my sunny mood.

On Saturday H and I were off on a mini gay adventure. We went to Scarborough for the day. I'd never been before and it was lovely. The train journey was 2 hours from Manchester and H and I chatted the whole time or more like she listened as I gave her LOADS of updates.

When we got there we went shopping first for a hat for H. Not a sun hat and not for a wedding but for a day at the races next month. We laughed about it being a sign of 'growing up' when a lady has her first hat... She's decided that given the amount of money she's spent she's wearing the outfit to my next wedding!

No, you've not missed anything, we just fast forwarded through to the fairy tale endings of movies and those mushy romance books Granny reads. The point being she will now be looking for opportunities to wear her posh outfit do she gets her money's worth!

Anyway, as for Scarborough It's one of the few coastal towns which combines the traditional British seaside with what seemed like a reasonable fishing port.

It's a fantastic place for people watching. Within minutes of arrival we were treated to the visual and auditory feast of "Rasta Reggae Pensioners", two old guys in Rasta hats with a set of bongo drums and dancing puppets which included an emu, a goat and a camel and a bingo playing Bart Simpson performing Tom Jones songs in a reggae vibe. Really. I'm not jesting and I understand it may have to be a case of "seeing is believing" so take a look at the pic!
Rasta Reggae Pensioners should be the next big thing as you couldn't help but smile and chuckle when you heard and saw them. After that excitement we wandered down to the beach and were amazed to see people in the sea!
We wandered along the seafront and got some fresh cockles to snack on as we got to the fishing harbour.  They were lovely and fresh and yes, just a slight crunch of sand. 
From there it was off for a beer and lunch then we took a slow walk along the beach toward the beach huts that were there.  By this time we realised the walk back, uphill was enormous so we took the street lift to the top.  It seemed an old clattery thing, probably Victorian but most notably it had been "sponsored" for the day by the Federation of Small Business so was adorned with their posters, including this one.....
H and I couldn't help but laugh, who could resist a seminar which is Guaranteed to Disappoint?!?!  I think someone somewhere had a bad day when they approved that.

From there we wandered back to the train and chatted about loads of things, including H's new car, (which she picked up yesterday).  On the way home I decided to go and get some munchies for a picnic on Sunday.  I was looking forward to spending time with another good friend J, the person who had made me smile a lot earlier in the week.

Saturday evening was spent vegging in front of the TV but again I ended up on Twitter until around 3am in deep conversation.  I was surprised to be at our meeting place early on Sunday.

We met up at 11 and then headed off the the countryside.  J didn't know about the picnic so it was nice to see the surprise as I presented a picnic basket from the boot (trunk) of the car.  We walked for a while before we found a spot to settle.  I managed to put my foot in a particularly squishy bit of mud which came up to my ankles but it was all in the name of a nice day out.
We finally settled on a grassy verge and looked out over the Lancashire hills and valleys and sat there for hours, chatting.  It was lovely, a calm uncharacteristically warm spring day punctuated by the sound of Lambs, Horses and one potty mouthed Polish security guard who took a dislike to some nearby walkers!

As we wandered back to the car at 17.28 I remembered the sign in the car park saying the gates would be locked at 17.30...... it had taken us well over 30 minutes to walk there so we started to run.  Well, I guess it was more of a jog but, as I'm not known for my athleticism we reverted back to walking and left it to fate to decide whether we'd need to make a rescue call or not.

We returned to the car at 17.48, not a bad effort we thought and, as it turns out the car park locking man was late so we got out!  On the way back we called in to a pub for a beer and of course even more chatting, to be honest Steve dominated the conversation but, J re-assured me this wasn't an issue.  I could probably go on and on because it was just such a lovely day and I felt happier than I have in a very long time. 

As another friend said, maybe someone somewhere has decided that it's time for a change and happiness, hope and sunny days are in order for me.  I'd like to think that may be the case.

Anyway, we finally went our separate ways at around 8.30 last night then I came home, sorted the picnic stuff and relaxed.  I still ended up tweeting until gone 11pm but it was a lovely end to a lovely weekend and this morning I am still full of the happiness of the weekend.

Have a great day, I'm going to try to.

Sent from my iPhone=

Thursday, 22 March 2012

My face aches from smiling....

Tonight I don't think my fingers will type fast enough as there are so many things whizzing around in my head right now.  Things flit in and flit out of my mind.

This week has been SO hectic again, meetings and a huge amount of email but I have been really happy and positive.  After Sunday's "wobble".

Yesterday I had a lovely day though for lots of reasons.  I was up early, a breakfast meeting at 7 at the Lowry and spotted some rowers on the Quays on the way back.  It was a mild morning and it looed so serene as they just cut through the water silently.

From there I headed into Manchester for a meeting about the new Police & Crime Commissioner which will affect everyone, it was really interesting.  Some real issues though which will need ironing our but still interesting and really quite exciting as theres potential for a lot of positive change.

From there I went to see some friends, they are going through a tough time at the moment, again as a result of Cancer.  It's such a difficult position.  In some respects I feel hardened to Cancer, losing Steve has "toughed me up" but I still wish I could take all the hurt away and stop the suffering, for the patient and family.  Soap box away though, I can't work miracles.

Last night I ended up in deep conversation online, right through till well after 2 this morning and thats after being up at 5 ish yesterday morning.  I was chatting to a friend, something I've not done for ages online, (via Twitter actually), I can't remember smiling so much in a while.

When we finally went offline I put my phone on charge and the music started up on my iPhone automatically.  Odd really as I'd last been listening to Accuradio, (an app based station) on my phone.  I don't know if you read my blog a few weeks ago about 'signs' or 'messages' (read it here if not) but the songs went like this, (and this isn't on any playlist etc).  "Forever in blue jeans", (a song which has become associated with Steve, see here why) then "Marta", (a song from a musical about someone who is "over the wall", I've always thought this is because she'd died, listen here) then it was "It Takes Two" then "Make it Easy" finally it was "He Makes Me Laugh" from Phantom, Steve's favourite musical.

A completely random and eclectic mix and, I couldn't help but wonder if this was a message to me from Steve?  On reading my blog re 'signs' or 'messages' again tonight I can see the last sort of coincidence like this came when I was happy too.  Perhaps Steve is liking seeing me happy and is trying to tell me that he is happy for me too?  Who knows?  I don' but I like the thought that that's what it is.  And yes, I am happy.

Today, I have just been in a super good mood.  Spring is here and I feel like my life has started again.  It's that old 9 month thing maybe which I debated months ago in a blog.... hmmm there is a lot to ponder there.

Anyway, tomorrow is going to be a good day too, I have work meetings but also hope to finish at a reasonable time as my 4pm appointment has been moved.  Saturday sees the return of the wandering widower as H,(a different H to real ale H), and I are off to Scarborough.  She was very disappointed to learn that a Priest's Hole may not feature in the day out but the promise of an ice cream should distract her, (I hope).

OOH I almost forgot too, I did have a lovely and exciting invitation today but, I don't know if I am allowed to tell you what it is yet but, I nearly let out a bit of wee!  Sorry it's cryptic but it'll be worth the wait and it does go some way to explaining part of my sickeningly sweet smile!

Well goodnight folks, I've taken ages writing this as yes, I have been writing, reading, listening, tweeting and googling whilst trying to make sense so apologies if it doesn't make sense.

xx M xx

Monday, 19 March 2012

A bad decision or a way to de-stress?

I really don't know if it was a bad decision or not.  I didn't plan to do it and I suppose even though I knew it was there and what was in it but I just did it anyway. I suppose maybe my sub conscious needed it.

I was thoughtful on Sunday morning.  I realised I needed to earn more.  This isn't through want but necessity.  As a rise at work is highly unlikely, the chances of a lottery win remote and there are no reserves to draw on then I need to work more. Life back on the road working the cabaret circuit again is not really an option, my costumes have gone and, whilst I am fortunate enough to have the skills and tools to make more I really don't want to.   I'm not sure what I'll look for but I need a part time evening and/or weekend job.  

Following on from that train of though I busied myself ironing and sorting and photographing stuff for eBay.  This, between doing chores such as sorting the washing.

It was then it caught my attention.  Steve's memory box.  It wasn't his per se but it is full of his stuff that I've put together in a nice red leather trunk since he died.  That is what I was wondering about in my opening paragraph.  

I sat on the bed and opened it.  I started to read cards he'd received when he was first admitted to hospital, that's 18 months ago now.  So many get well wishes.  Then the tears started and I couldn't stop them and, I couldn't stop reading either.   I didn't read them all, I got side tracked with photographs, photos of Steve as a child, with his Mum, his Granny, his Dad and Brother too.

I'm sure they are lovely memories for them of Steve but for me I just see the smiles and wonder what it's all about, life that is.  The smiles give no indication of the future how cruel it can be.  It's tough and there are a lot of questions.  Some people find answers in religion and others have different reasoning.  I don't need answers though but yet I still wonder why.
The picture is Steve and his Aunt.  She passed away on New Years Eve 2009 with Cancer.  Stephens Uncle was also claimed by Cancer a few months before he was born and then My Steve too.  Why do bad things happen to nice people?  Obviously I'd be biased toward Steve but his Aunt was lovely too, so warm and friendly and a real lady.  Obviously I never met his Uncle but I have no reason to suppose he was any different.  There is no answer though, these are just things that make me think.
After I'd shed a few tears I got on with what I needed to do and I sort of felt better. A lot less worried with a better outlook really.  I was still emotional and thoughtful but it made me realise that despite my positivity and polished facade sometimes things do still get to me.  Perhaps my guilty feelings about Mothers Day and thinking about other peoples losses was what did it.  For the most part I can hide from my own feelings but am often moved by other peoples journeys.  Still, I suppose it did me good to have a reality check.
Today has been a busy day, there's lots happening at work so I've been concentrating hard on the work I've been doing for most of the day.  I've enjoyed it, oddly.  Yes, I suppose deep down I am one of those people who says they would still work even if they won millions on the lottery.  I may do a different job or work in a different way but I'd struggle to do nothing for a sustained period of time.
Anyway, it's time for bed, reasonably early for me too.  I must be getting old!  Oh, and before I sign off please share my blog, if you got here via Facebook or Twitter please Share or Tweet.
Thank you and Bye for now,

Friday, 16 March 2012

Nine Months, Real Ale, Gin and Friends

Nine Months, I know it’s not that long since I posted but that’s where we were on Thursday, nine months on from Steve’s passing. A lot has happened, nine months has flown by, as did the nine months from his initial diagnosis to his passing. It’s odd as I don’t feel the hurt any more on thinking about the passage of time. Maybe I have just got to the point of acceptance? Who knows. It’s still tough but memories of Steve make me smile, such happy times but, they also give me hope for happy times to come.

I’ve recently seen and accepted that I have to get on with my life and, whilst I know nobody could ever take Steve’s place, I know I am comfortable being half of a partnership. Lately I’ve noticed people. Not in a bad way but just noticed things.  A lovely smile or just a nice personality. It’s interesting, slightly exciting and scary too. I don’t know what the future holds but I’ll take it a day at a time. I know some will be upset or annoyed about me reclaiming my life but tough, Steve has proved life is too short. It’s too short for me to worry what other people think.

Right, now it’s time to re-wind. My last blog was on the evening of 2nd March, it was uploaded early hours of 3rd March so I didn’t get to tell you about my jaunt. On Saturday 3rd March I was up early again and headed off to town to catch the train, I was off to Hebden Bridge I met with H and we decided to go for a walk along the canal. She’s also looking to move to life afloat at some point in the future so we enjoyed nattering. We wandered through the crafty shops and then stumbled across a pub, well, more like aimed for.... We sat outside and had a beer, it was well earned, (we’d walked a fair way) and it was sunny.
From there we wandered along the canal in search of a waterside pub. To cut a long story short we walked out of town for about 40 minutes and didn’t see a pub. The grey clouds looked ominous but H suggested we walked just a little further. Nothing, no sniff of a pub so we walked back. On our way back it started to rain, nay not rain but pour down! We were soaked through as there was no shelter anywhere. We sloshed back to the town and into the first pub, a warm bar and cool ale which was lovely until a group of locals arrived with a tribe of children wailing and screaming. We went on to the next, this one had an open log fire, the warmth was nice but the smell of the open fire was lovely.

From there we found another bar, possibly Hebden Bridge’s only gay bar judging by the clientele etc but no real ale, so following a swift pint and a bite to eat we headed on to the next. The White Lion was lovely. It was very busy too. Again the distinct waft of an open log fire and the sound of traditional folk music coming from the back of the bar.
We’d inadvertently stumbled upon a sort of folk music jamming session. It was perfect. Real Ale, Good Music and an open log fire. Needless to say we didn’t make it to any other pubs. We spent a fair few hours there and tried all the ales on the bar at least once. We eventually left around 9pm and headed for our trains home.

I later learned H ended up going to a house party of a random person we met on the train platform. I’d taken her for her 3rd pint of the year as she’d been reducing her Ale intake and it seems I was the bad influence she needed to party on.  I don't mind having the blame for her poor resistance to temptation.

On the Sunday I didn't do much but, on Monday I received a visit from some other friends.  It was planned and, as I was home at a reasonable time I cooked dinner.  I set off in the kitchen, chopping, cooking and being creative whilst listening to showtunes and supping Gin & Bitter Lemon.  A refreshing change.  It was nice to sit and eat with friends and natter the night away.  I Think one of my friends had a little too much though as he sent me a text the following day complaining of a hangover.  I was fine.  Maybe he's just the sort to be affected easily... haha.

I dont remember much of the rest of the week.  I passed uneventfully as far as I remember and last weekend came around all too soon.  On Saturday I was up early as had a few things to sort then headed out to meet a friend for coffee and a late lunch.  We walked for a while along the canal and enjoyed putting the world to rights.  I called in to see some other friends on the way home and eventually got to my own house around 8 where I made myself a lovely dinner then sat and watched a film before a reasonably early night. 

Sunday was spent uploading stuff to eBay.  There is still loads I want to get rid of.  Fortunately all the drag stuff has gone, there is a few bits and pieces we had bought for the "shop" Steve was working on and I have loads of fabrics and other stuff to sell so I think this weekend will involve an element of photographing and uploading too.

This week at work has been pretty hectic really.  Quite a few offsite meetings too but I've enjoyed it.  Maybe it's spring in the air or just the sunny weather but I've enjoyed being so busy and have enjoyed getting out and meeting new people.  Today has been a busy day too resulting in me not leaving the office until after 7.  I'm in again tomorrow as have a few things to sort but, I'm not complaining as I rarely work weekends now.

Last night I visited Granny, really it's Steve's Granny but she's lovely and as she put it last night, "We have a special bond".  Obviously this "bond" is Steve but I think she actually likes that I am open and honest with her.  If you have read Steve's blog for a while you'll recall it was me that had to tell her about Steve's illness.  The immediate family had tried to shield her from it but she's not daft, (even at 88), she had put 2+2 together and got 4.5, she was close but not quite right. 

She had correctly guessed Steve had cancer but had imagined a far worse picture because she was being kept in the dark.  When Steve found out he got upset and he asked me to tell her the truth, obviously I didn't tell her the prognosis as Steve didn't accept it would be true and she had no need to worry when it was just a guide but she appreciated my honesty when she asked me, "Is my Stephen going to die soon?" I told her I didn't know, I told her how well he was and how positive he was and how determined we all were, and the Doctors were, for him to get better.  I know it's not really an answer but she was relieved I think that someone was being open and honest with her.

Granny was the first person I went to see after Steve died.  I'd spent all of the previous day in the hospital and all through the night but when I left the hospital around 8am it was her I wanted to go and see.  The nurses had removed Steve's jewellery when he took a turn for the worse and gave it all to me.  In there was his Grandads wedding ring which Granny had given to him.  He had never taken it off, even when we performed and Granny knew this.  I felt it right to return it to her.  I was pleased I did and I think she was too.

Anyway, as it's Mothers day this Sunday (I know for readers outside the UK it falls on a different date), I went to visit Granny and take her a gift. I gave Steve's Mum her gift earlier in the week but, as expected, she opened it early. She wouldn't open it here as she was going to "save it". One thing I learnt early on in Steve and My relationship is that she has very little will power so despite best intentions it would have been opened the same night, no way would she have waited till Sunday. She liked it anyway which is good I suppose.

It's going to be difficult and different for her this year and I suppose for my Mum too as she saw Steve as another Son. Unfortunately I cant change that. It's difficult having to give those gifts with that in mind but, I can't change that either. One thing is for sure though, being 9 months on it is not as difficult dealing with these events. The tears may be less but the thoughts aren't. I may be looking forward but I still look back over my shoulder and think of the good times but it's easier to do now.

I saw a quote a few weeks ago, "The past is a great place to look at but not to live in". I know this is true. Moving on doesn't mean forgetting, it means accepting and learning and growing in to the new you. Steve will always be permanently etched in my memory and entwined in my past but my future is a blank page. My immediate past has put a few scribbles on that page, people, places and experiences. My jaunts and adventures but the story continues and this whiff of spring in the air, the daffodils and sunny days is making me excited for the future.

Have a great weekend, I will, I'm sure of it. xxx

Mark x

Saturday, 3 March 2012

No More Denial and One Less Facebook Friend

Well, it may not be the end but it is the end of a chapter in my life and, now as we live in a world where social media rules then today has seen the end of a small part of that world too. What am I babbling about? Stephen of course.

If you are a Facebook friend of Stephen’s you may have noticed that his profile was turned into a “memorialised” state a few weeks ago. Basically, facebook have a state they can put your account in where access is denied. I had Steve’s password etc as he’d wanted his story to go on. Oh and just for clarity I am talking about his Enid Whiplash profile as he hasn’t used the profile with his real name for years. Steve loved interacting with his friends and, in this, the last picture taken of Steve just a few weeks before he died, he is actually sat with his laptop open, he would have been either writing his blog, (this blog) or meddling on facebook. It makes it even more sad that we are where we are with facebook right now.
Anyway, whilst in this memorialised state friends can post on the wall but cant invite you to events etc but, anything can be posted on the wall. The idea is that friends can post their messages of remembrance but, as Steve and I used our facebook profiles for “work” as our alter ego’s many of the “friends” there only knew the character and not the person behind the character. If you have a facebook account you will know that sometimes your wall ends up covered in all sorts of nonsense from “friends” and Steve’s was no exception. I could however until recently remove the spam posts and leave the genuine messages from friends

Bing in this altered state and not being able to remove spam messages which could have come from any of the almost 4,000 friends on there was a concern for me, I guess in part the lack of control. I mentioned it to Steve’s parents when the account changed state and they said the same, it would be more upsetting to see inappropriate posts which cannot be removed than to not have the profile there so, I reluctantly took the only action I could and asked for it to be removed.

That’s it, it’s happened today. He’s gone. One less friend on facebook but, more upsetting for me this means my profile has gone from listing me as married to nothing. Steve’s removal meant I had no marital status. For the first time I have had to list myself as Widowed, publicly. I’ve not had to of course but I would rather that than nothing, than trying to deny I have a history. It was really evocative, just another step on the route to realising he’s never coming back and I have to move forward.

In many ways I am pleased this has come this week. It’s been a good week, if you read my post earlier this week you would have seen I’ve been in a good place these past few days. I’ve been able to take this change on the chin as it were, who knows what I would have been like if the change had happened at the end of a week of downers.

I feel numb about it now though. I guess I may reflect a little more in the coming weeks as I get used to seeing that word and not seeing Steve listed as “in a relationship with”. It’s probably for the best though that I do feel numb because I am extremely pissed about someone REPORTING Steve as deceased. Facebook may have a wide reach but it can’t tell if you’re alive or not, they rely on people informing them. I have a pretty good idea of who has instigated this. Of course I can’t prove it though and, the fact is Stephen is deceased.

This doesn’t make it easier. Without sounding too bitter I just want to say how I believe in Karma. One day they will realise how it feels. They may not realise or recognise it as Karma but, I smile at the thought that someone or something somewhere will ensure that every little bit of pain and upset they have caused me, the rest of Stephens family and his true friends, will be brought right back to them. I have nothing but contempt for the spiteful bastards.

Well, that’s my rant over for tonight, tomorrow I still have a jaunt planned so I’ll no doubt write about that over the weekend.

Love to you all,

M x