Saturday, 25 July 2015

The emptiness of silence...

Matt July 2006,
 I am sitting in the summerhouse at the top of the garden. You would have loved it out here.
Your grandad had given us some money in January 2010, and we decided to buy something really special......only he never lived to see it being erected as he died two months later.
   The sunlight, which is lower in the sky in the late afternoon of a waning July, is filtering through the windows and making dappled shade on this as I write.
I am writing in a notebook sitting in the comfy armchair, with the door open.      
 The sounds are coming in.....some faint, some clear........
A blackbird's song breaking out at intervals, wood-pigeons roo-cooing, muffled traffic, a sudden flapping of wings in the maple, and a fluttering in the apple tree.
Two bumble bees are humming amongst the ground cover plants.
Large patches of blue sky are being eroded by high cloud gradually thickening in the west.
     Rain is expected in the morning.
The house sits as it  always has done, at the end of the garden. The house in which you once lived from the age of five, after we moved into the area, until you went to University, then began your first job, eventually being married in your 24th year of age.          
So many memories are contained within it's walls,
So many here in the  garden......
Only now there is the silence of you......................
Where once there was the presence of you...........
          On 10th September this year, it will be the 9th anniversary of that fateful night which saw you and Chris, our church pastoral minister, tragically taken from us, too soon.

Some things time can never heal.
Oh we learn to live again, to breathe again,
But as we begin to drift towards August, the rowan berries are turning red,
My heart aches with missing you.
My irreplaceable son.
          September is coming.
  Next year would have been your 40th birthday, and next September 10, 2016, 10 years since that awful, awful night when we had a phone call sometime after midnight, from the traffic police.
       Some things are so deeply embedded in our memories that time can never erase them, nor blot them out.
                We bear a scar forever your dad and I, your brother, and all who ever loved you, even now.
Then, as now, the memory will surface almost as if it had only been yesterday.

And oh how I long to see you again,
To hug you,
Feel the aliveness of you,
Hear you laugh...........

One more year without you,
And the rowan berries are turning red............


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Yosemite remembered. May 2014

My lovely son, 
In May 2005 you came back from a trip to see a friend in California with Heidi, and I can still remember what you said about being in Yosemite. I have the short video clip of you, which you made when standing in front of the magnificence of Bridal Veil Falls. They were in full spate and thundering down the sheer rock face, the noise was incredible. That particular month, there was a lot of snow melt coming off the Sierras. It flooded into the valley itself and eventually the park had to halt visitors that point. Fortunately you were there before that happened. You just said "You would absolutely love it, you must go"  
Washburn Point Yosemite.
 We then made the trip to see the same friends in September 2005. This included a trip to see Bridal Veil falls and the Giant Sequoias at Mariposa. After the heat of a Californian summer most of the falls had dried up! Bridal Veil was running, but not as spectacularly as earlier in the year.
   Your dad decided he would like to make a return trip, for our deferred Ruby Wedding holiday which was July 2013, when I could not fly long haul due to a health problem. So the month of May saw us returning across the Atlantic.
Glacier Point 
Glacier Point 
 Our three days spent in and around Yosemite valley were so moving. We arranged it for the last part of our trip, almost like the old saying, "Keeping the best till last" When we arrived at Washburn Point on a beautifully clear morning, where there was still snow on the higher Sierras, I stood and looked at the view and silently let the tears fall, as I could hear your voice and see your face....... it was so very, very, special.           

 Other people around us were drinking in the panorama for which I cannot really find any words. The beauty of it is overwhelming. It speaks for itself..............    
Yosemite Valley. Tunnel View.
 Bridal Veil Falls in the far distance.   

  The majesty of the glorious unfolding Valley.

So, my lovely, lovely son, we remembered you in the vastness and breathtaking, emotional splendour spread out in front of our eyes. Love you now and always, mumxx       

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

St George's Day once more...23rd April 2014. Your birthday.

Matt's "selfie", before selfies were invented! 
 This year, Matt, I wasn't going to write anything on your birthday...........but here I am once more. It's the eve of your day, 22nd April 2014.
It would have been your 38th birthday in the morning.......... at 4.40a.m. How well I remember that exact time on the day you were born!
     Such excitement....

Now it is hard to find any new photos of you in the albums and boxes. They stopped after September 10th 2006.

But it's good to see your smiling face........however many times I look for you amongst the souvenirs.

What to say?
What to write that hasn't already been written?

And yet, in the depths of my heart I have an overwhelming need to hold those memories of you so tightly.

Tomorrow approaches once more........inexorably.............

I peep into it.............

The night will gradually fade,
The blackbirds will sing at dawn,
The day beginning,
The flag of St George flying on churches,
Cherry trees in blossom,
Spring freshness,
Sudden showers,
Bright sunlight splashes,
The beauty of finding the first carpet of bluebells under a canopy of trees,
Wide vast skies,
A myriad, myriad of things................
There is no you.
We have to remember your birthday without you..............
There is no escape
Just a gaping hole
An empty space
The silence
No presence.

Love you Matt. Now and always.
Mum xxx



Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mothering Sunday 2014

                             I did not think it would be as hard this year. I was wrong.  
Matt at Yosemite May 2005. 
 We are making a return trip to Yosemite in May. Your dad wants to see Bridal Veil Falls in full spate. How you extolled it's praises on your trip in May 2005! We followed in yours and Heidi's footsteps in September of the same year, but the falls in the park were almost dry! It is a deferred Ruby Wedding trip from July 2013.  And this is your dad's choice. :-)  So we will be thinking of you as usual, when we feast our eyes once more on the majesty and splendour all around.
Bridal Veil Falls.Matt's photo 
At our house. 2005

Grasmere July 2006. 

Grasmere July 2006

Cowplain. Hampshire. 1978  

Isle of Wight. Ventnor. September 1977

August 1976. At a friend's wedding.
Cowplain. Hampshire. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

This is one of those times....March 28th 2014

Dear Matt,

Once again Mothering Sunday will be celebrated on 30th March, this weekend. I miss you. 
These few days hold a number of "those" anniversaries....................
It was 4 years ago today that your grandad's life slipped away in hospital. 28th March 2010.
   My own mother did not live to see her 71st birthday in 1990, the end of a very hot summer,            when the roses were a riot of colour in their garden. Now I grow roses. 
                    I  miss them. More silence where their voices used to be. 
                               No mother on Mother's day, and no you. 
Alan and his grandad. January 2010
           I will miss Alan too, at home with his own lovely family, and our grandchildren.
                     Oh how I miss you more than words can ever say, Matt.
              And last weekend a lovely thing happened, one of your old friends we hadn't seen for                years paid us an unexpected visit. He talked a lot about you, and how he felt you had left a legacy among those who knew you. Another old friend of yours contacted me this past week, and this is what he said:

"I think of Matt often. It was such a blessing for me to share a home with him for those two years and our trip to Australia together changed the course of my life"

Dad in his beloved Rossendale. June 2008

Matt and his grandad. The Duckworth Arms. Rossendale.
                       So my beloved Matt, I will forever and always simply be your mum.
Dad on the walk from Lizard Village to Kynance Cove.
September 2004. 

                                                              And on the 31st March mum and dad always celebrated their wedding anniversary, being married in 1942 during the 2nd World War.
                                              A weekend of poignant memories.      
Mum. 1940 

Mum. Rawtenstall market. 

Mum and dad in Cambridge. July 1973

Mum with her brother Ernie, and his wife, Lily.
Whinlatter Pass. Lake District. 
Love you, mum, love you dad, and love you deeply foreverly, (my word) my beautiful son. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

People never die if they live on the lips of the living..........

                                   "You were the summer of my life."
                             Song heard everywhere the summer of 1976.
                              The year you were born                                                 

      My lovely son, here you are, that playful cheeky grin on your face, looking into the camera. It wasn't taken by me, and I forget who did, but I know I wasn't at that particular family gathering for my sister's Silver Wedding, in 2005.  I had Post Viral fatigue.
I seem to have only been writing in this blog about you with 3 month intervals recently.
   I pondered on this for awhile.........
There may be several explanations
1. I go to see the grandchildren fairly regularly, and so love being greeted by their beaming smiles.
2. I have been in so much better health the last 6 months and have been taking up my various activities once more, like the Choral Society, the Anglo-French group and the small group of us who have a French book club.
3. I have been painting, and made some Christmas cards from one of my watercolours. (I know you would have been pleased by that!)
4. Visiting friends, far and near, going for walks, then having your widow and her hubby of two years, (married in December 2011) come and stay once more from Dallas in November.
 And, dare I say it?  A sense of my life being re-formed from the smashed up pieces into which it was broken and catapulted 7 years ago last September.
   I have to say Matt, that, at times, I can feel a tinge of guilt, as though I've left you behind........
That is not the case, but to be able to really enjoy my life as it is now, is a completely new experience.
     Yes, there are the times when the reality of your loss overwhelms me at an instant, unexpectedly, when the urge to take myself off to a safe place for awhile is strong. Whether it is in the garden, or just going for a walk, or reading a book, and shutting the door to the outside world for a bit is necessary to recover.
  You will never be forgotten, and we talk about you all the time, smile and remember you.

Having the grandchildren has brought back a lot of memories of when you were a baby, then a toddler. It was such a long, hot summer in 1976, beginning in early May and finally ending the drought in early September.
I pushed you out in your pram for miles, around the area where we lived, in Hampshire, and sometimes took a sandwich to the nearby small park, along with a bottle for you. We lived in a two bed-roomed flat on the first floor, with no inside staircase and an outside balcony. It was quite a feat to get the pram, all the accoutrements and you to the ground floor. I had to do it in stages. Leave you safely in your cot or the playpen, when you were older, and take the pram down first. Remounting the two flights of stairs, which were enclosed, but on the outside of the building, to bring you down.
  Then I had to do the whole thing in reverse coming back up to the flat.

The thing I remember most vividly about that summer, was one of the songs constantly on the radio. It just summed up how I felt about watching you grow and develop into a chubby blond happy baby.
      When I got to September and October and beyond, the title words came to mean so much more to me.

      You were indeed, the very summer of my life. never to be forgotten days of sunshine, glorious sunsets, baby snuggles and first smiles, baby chatter, and teeth.
                                   One of a long line of "firsts"

I still have your baby shoes, and your baby shawl and bonnet in which we brought you home from hospital.
And now we have your last pair of sandals, your Australian bush hat and didgeridoo, alongside your wedding shoes. The whole of your life being lived in between.
 Late summer 1977

   I read a quote recently..........
                          "People never die if they live on the lips of the living"

                                     And you are always on ours.



Sunday, 29 September 2013

Two little words..........

Me and Sammy. Playing  
Here I am.........on a quiet morning....waking from sleep with tears in my eyes. 
It  is always the unexpected remark or memory stirred that takes me unawares and stops me in my tracks.
It is birthday season again. 
Yesterday we went to see your brother and his family for the day. It is his birthday today, his 29th. Next weekend it will be Sammy's. He will be two years old. 
So for the second time in a week, I drove the 90 miles south, having done the return journey mid week on my own. Yesterday Stephen drove us home. 
It was a lovely time. 
We were greeted by a very excited grandson exclaiming as he came to the door with his dad, 
"It's granny, AND grandad!" And a beautiful smile from our grand-daughter Libby, now 8 months old. 
The house was decorated with banners and balloons and we had a birthday cake with candles at lunchtime, a celebration shared. Family time. 
  We had a "one day early" birthday so they could decide how they wanted to celebrate Al's actual one today.  
    Later on we went to a nearby pub for a meal, being joined by our daughter-in-law, Jen's, brother, also called Matthew, and his family. 
Sammy and his cousin, being 6 months apart in age, greeted each other with great glee and proceeded to play together  in a whirlwind of chasing about and eventually sitting down together in matching highchairs, alongside Libby in hers, and Sammy's older cousin, who is now at school, sitting at the table 
      So, why the tears this morning?
     It is so hard to explain how it sometimes rears up and wells over. 
Yet there was a reason for how I feel now, and how I felt at one particular point yesterday afternoon....... in a public place, surrounded by family and excited laughing children......
             Two little words...................
              Unexpectedly hitting me like a shock
              My stomach feeling suddenly tight
              A stab of pain
              A stifled sob
              A wanting to shield myself from others seeing the tears
              Which had suddenly arisen unbidden
              From the well which is always there...............

              Two little words.........................
               Coming from the lips of our grandson........
               Excitedly declaring 
               "Hello Uncle Matt" 

But it wasn't you. He would've had two Uncle Matt's.
Now there is only one.
In those words I knew your absence......................... a deep, cutting, aching absence.
Hearing my grandson speak those words for the first time reached deep into my being to where the loss is held. 
It gushed suddenly to the surface and spilled over.
Your brother, sitting across the table, realising I was wrestling with the welter of pain, and came round to hold me, sharing the understanding. 
I had not thought, nor realised, that one day I would hear those two words spoken, but not to you.   
Oh, Matt, I struggled to stop myself from sobbing, but I made it.
Not wanting to upset the others, especially the children. 
But the pain is still there 
Nagging, aching, bubbling......
It will subside,
I have learned that over the last 7 years
Only for now it cannot be contained,
A part of the wound has been damaged once more and needs a little time to recover. 
Today I will give you that time Matt. 

Next weekend it will be Sammy's birthday, and he will greet his Uncle Matt once more.
At least this time I will be more prepared, maybe......maybe not.
I only know I wish the words were for you.     

"Come on grandad!"