I am dead

You said

How will I know?

You said

I am dead

When did I go?

Where is the slide

From one to another

When one has died?

On one side

I have died

On another thread

I am dead.

If I hide

Will Death walk on by?

Or will he see me walking down the street?

Will I defeat Death

With my last breath?

Or will we meet

And greet?

How it is

Spooling down, further down, where the air clogs the lungs and the blood thickens

And the dark slips over the shoulders like the arms of an old friend helping towards the edge, slowly, easily.

I thought I saw you there but no, an illusion. Of course, it always is.

Dark folds itself into more dark and there is nothing.



Last Night

My parents visited me last night.

Separately, but united in purpose

Each took the time to look at me with deep, sooty eyes

And remind me of my callousness, my superficiality, my failure.


Except they didn’t.


I am an end of life orphan, abandoned in death a few years ago.

My parents visit me in my sleep as I doze or as I wake

And by their presence provoke my despair,

The longing for their true absence, which will never come.

And breathe….

So I can now claim, confidently, that I can breathe without pain. The Old Man and I have experienced the Coronavirus to varying degrees and are now on the way up – he is quite a bit younger than me which may be why I am taking that little bit longer. It has been a challenge. We are lucky, we are emerging, and for that we are grateful. Not quite there yet but very much within touching distance. And what a journey, individually and corporately!

One of my organisations, based in beautiful Folkestone, responded quickly, intelligently and well to the original challenges and transformed, almost overnight, from being  a very much in-person service to an effective online support service with the people working within behaving almost as if they had been preparing for this for months. Astonishing, uplifting and rewarding to see such agility and dedication. And that has been replicated across so many organisations and individuals, with another of my organisations setting up, again almost overnight, an entire volunteer system to support those unable to get out or access other means of help; the local NHS Trust with which I am a governor really upped its game and demonstrated genuine and intelligent care for the people within and drew some positivity – despite the very real and distressing events – as an outcome. People have been quite simply brilliantly creative and selfless. One of my daughters works in the NHS, another in a charity offering supported living as does my son and they have been beacons of care and support.

And in the midst of it all I found myself confined to bed with abdominal pain and struggling to breathe. I was a nurse about 150 years ago and so of course avoid hospitals at all costs and have remained at home, through the scary bits and now emerging into the less scary bits; I have been worried that I may have passed it on to people I care about and scared because the act of breathing, the thing of life itself, could no longer be taken for granted. The people about whom I care seem to have been untouched so, tick for that concern. And I can now breathe without concentrating so tick that too – but the inability to pull quite enough air into me remains, and serves as a tangible reminder not to take anything for granted: waking up in the morning, holding my family to me, walking further than  the end of the bed…so many things. I have promised myself to remember this. Always.

And another thing to pack carefully onto that shelf in the back of my head and remember: I am used to working from home running my own business as well as working for other organisations so initially the jump from site to home was no big deal. The issue became when to stop…as I was home anyway, and being who I am, I cracked on behind the screen, sounding like Darth Vader on zoom and conference calls,  refusing to scroll back but becoming ever more irritated that I couldn’t do as much as I wanted. Quelle surprise, I was sick, but the ingrained work ethic and the brain are slow to acknowledge that. At last, and bizarrely only once I started to improve, the fatigue made the decision for me. I rested. Memo to self: don’t be a fool. The love and care of my family and friends has warmed and sustained me and I will not spoil that by taking less care of myself.

So, much to take away from  this. Gratitude, empathy, relief, some self awareness, a shedload of admiration for people, a wake up call. To witness the love, kindness, resilience and commitment that people and communities have shared has been humbling. I am glad I saw it. I am changed as a person as a result. I like the change.

Health improving literally daily and normality hoving into view, a kaleidoscope of new perspectives tumbling around my head and bringing a fresh Spring scent to life and a bright and exciting horizon. I am joyfully climbing back into that saddle any day now and I do not intend to waste  a moment of my second chance.

Onward and Upward, truly, madly and deeply.


More bird food, not fewer birds…A bigger table not a taller fence.

Back in the day people hated sparrows. My Mother used to say “filthy dirty little beasts” “too many of them”, and shoo them away so the other birds could feed. Then it was starlings – same thing, shoo them away, hate them, too many of them coming here to take the food away from native birds….And people, that vast apparently intelligent group called humans, always seemed to think they knew best.

Can you see where I am going with this?

I watch the sparrows in our garden with a pleasure that never fails. The pigeons too, and the seagulls, the magpies, the blue and yellow tits, starlings, we even have swallows who nest in our bathroom cavity. Each species seems to be hated by someone somewhere for some reason, usually because they are wrongly perceived  as taking over, eating the other birds food, eradicating the other birds. And people shoo them away from the food because they think they know best. The birds just get on with it and left to themselves just eat what is there, none of them starve, none of them die out. And the answer, of course, is just to put out more bird food, not prevent some feeding….






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