Peeks up tentatively to say hello…..
And yes, I know that a few months ago, I said I was going to wind Frankie’s Legacy as a blog down.
I know I said I was going to get a new blog going called “Happiness Personified”.
But that didn’t happen. None of it happened. So what DID happen?
In a word, once Christmas was over and Big Ben had struck to herald the start of 2016, I became….paralysed.
That’s the only way I can describe it.
I had all sorts of plans for this year. I was going to join the Voices For Health Choir founded by my good friend Rev’d David Southall and his wife. I was going to set up my new blog “Happiness Personified”. I was going to get some projects off the ground finally that I have been working on for some time. I was going to do all kinds of things.
But then the paralysis set in.
I don’t think the full magnitude of everything I had been through hit me until Big Ben struck to bring in 2016. I keep getting told all the time that I’m strong, brave, inspirational and amazing because I’ve coped with all I’ve been through.
But I don’t feel it at all.
Let me recap on exactly what has happened to me since I found out I was pregnant with Frankie in May 2013. There were some things that happened before then, for example my ex-husband and I separated and divorced and I had 6 early miscarriages, but although they make me sad those things don’t figure as much as what happened since I saw those 2 pink lines for the first time in May 2013.
In September 2013 I was betrayed by people who I thought were my friends who took something that I started and founded when they had no right to do so. But because at the same time I got the devastating diagnosis of Frankie’s severe cleft lip and palate, it put what happened right into perspective; what they did didn’t matter, despite the hurt and things that were said at the time. I would be a full time Mum to Frankie – end of. No events, no work, no business, no going out, no nothing. He would come first 110%, because of all the extra care and operations he would need. I would be a Mum first and foremost, and nothing else. I would no longer be a festival organiser, a business woman, an employee, a wife, a daughter, a friend. I would be Frankie’s Mum, and only Frankie’s Mum.
I prepared for life as a full-time Mum to Frankie. Then on November 25th 2013, I was told seven words that changed everything for me – “I’m so sorry, but there’s no heartbeat”. The path I was on changed dramatically and without any warning at all. Frankie was born sleeping on November 29th 2013, and I am no longer a Mum. I had given up EVERYTHING to be a full-time Mum to him, and then it was, “Now what? Where do I go from here?”
In June 2015, Frankie’s Grandad Allan passed away in horrific circumstances when the Worcestershire Royal Hospital completely missed the fact he was riddled with cancer. The lead up to that was hell – he was taken in to hospital the day after I left after giving birth to Frankie and he was in hospital more than he wasn’t until he died. Our lives revolved around this and his care, and we threw ourselves into fundraising in Frankie’s memory to fill the gap that he left in our lived, and losing him meant that there was an even bigger gap. My husband had to organise the funeral, and we thought things would settle down a bit. I also had 2 further early miscarriages leading up to my father in law’s death, and was in hospital for one of them.
Then my cousin Brenda passed away out of the blue, which was a huge shock. I hadn’t even come to terms with Frankie or my father-in-law, and then I had another person to grieve for.
My husband and I were betrayed yet again by three more nasty people who again took and idea and something I started and ran off with it as their own. This wasn’t a bad thing when I saw the end result last August, and I felt like I had dodged a HUGE bullet, but at the time it stung and hurt massively. I thought I would have learnt from the first time it happened to me by people who I thought were my friends, but to have it happen a second time was unbelievable.
Then my cousin Tony passed away out of the blue aged just 57 of a massive heart attack, leaving behind his wife, son and my Aunty and Uncle (his parents) who are still going strong in their 80’s. His death hit me very hard, as the realisation that our lives are fragile and that we won’t live forever really hit home on top of losing Frankie, my Father-In-law, my cousin Brenda and now my cousin Tony. Just 5 days before Christmas Day 2014 I had to attend another funeral. I also suffered a further two early miscarriages, one over Christmas that year, which led to my being referred to a recurrent miscarriage clinic at Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital.
In early 2015 I received the devastating news that I had hyper fertility. I was put on some treatment of progesterone and steroids to help me get pregnant, but this made me so ill I had to come off it. My dream of being a mother lay in tatters. I would forever be a mother, but an empty armed one. There would be no child of my own to love and take care of.
Then in June 2015 I had to make the heart-breaking decision to have my beloved German Shepherd Curley put to sleep at the age of 13 as she had cancer that had spread everywhere. She died in my arms while the vet gave her the lethal injection and me telling her I loved her more than anything, and a piece of me died with her, just as it did with everyone else who had passed away and of course my Frankie. Just 3 short weeks later, my husband and I rescued our gorgeous and amazing dog Poppy, a German Shepherd/Husky cross, who has brought so much to our lives it is untrue.
Over the course of 2015, I began to notice very worrying things about my beloved Aunty Marie. This finally led to a diagnosis of a rare form of dementia called Rapid Progressive Dementia, which meant I had to watch this wonderful, amazing and beautiful lady disappear bit by bit, day by day, week by week. By the time October 2015 arrived, there was nothing left. She had stopped recognising many of us, and as she lay in a hospital bed in early October she looked at my parents, bearing in mind that she totally idolised my Dad and the ground he walked on, and said to them, “Tell me something. What is the connection between you two?” My heart broke all over again.
I was the last person she knew and recognised before she died, her recollection of everyone else had gone, and she finally passed away on November 1st last year. My Dad was in bits, so I had to step in and be the strong one – I had to organise the funeral, keep everyone together, sort out all the paperwork, register the death, see the solicitor, organise her headstone – when all I wanted to do was fall apart and grieve for the beautiful woman I had lost. The funeral took place at the end of November, and I had Frankie laid to rest with her. I then spent the next few weeks making all sorts of plans for things that I wanted to do that I couldn’t do in 2015.
2016 arrived, and I was ready to go with all those plans!
Or so I thought….
Instead, the “Black Dog” arrived. It was not a dog that I wanted in any way, shape or form. And the deaths in the celebrity and music world were relentless which didn’t help – Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Sir Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, David Swarbrick, Carla Lane, Frank Kelly, Tony Warren, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Prince and most recently Muhammad Ali. It seemed that I just couldn’t get away from death! On top of that my Uncle (Dad’s brother) became poorly and was hospitalised a few times, but at 87 it was to be expected. He’s now on his feet and driving around again and even planning a trip to his daughters down south. I have to applaud him, I hope if I am still here I am just as active at his age!
I had to try and keep things in perspective. Just ONE of the things that I have mentioned in my recap would be enough to put someone under, for them to fall apart and to not cope, yet I am still here, still breathing and still alive after all of them. There was no let up and no break – no sooner did I start to try and come to terms with one death, another would happen, and another, and another. It is no surprise and no wonder that I felt paralysed, unable to move forward, stuck , down, depressed and unable to see the wood from the trees.
I also had to try and stay positive, which wasn’t easy. I tried to start writing my blog “Happiness Personified”. But it just wasn’t happening. Everything was wrong – I couldn’t get the right look and feel for it. I couldn’t get the right words for it. I couldn’t find the right graphics for it. It just didn’t feel right, so I abandoned it.
There was one thing that made sure I got up in the mornings. She is my saviour, my love, my life, my companion and my rock. She is Poppy, the dog I rescued last July. I say rescued, but the reality is she rescued me. I have to get up, feed her, let her out, take her for a walk, play with her, cuddle her and make sure she is happy and loved. She is my baby and I don’t know what I would have done without her.
Slowly but surely the fog started to lift. Thanks to my daily walks with Poppy, things seemed much clearer and brighter. Life started to get just a tiny bit better. I started trying to find some good in my life again despite all the death, grief and loss, and tried to live in the moment more. I also started a lovely group on Facebook with a lovely lady called Mary called “Sheba, Poppy, Kizzy & Friends” and every day I get to see pictures of all kinds of lovely dogs, cats and pets – as well as post photos of Poppy in there every day. I’ve made some lovely friends in it, Mary included, and being a part of the group warms my heart so much.
I know that no-one who I have lost though death, including my Frankie, would have wanted this to happen to me. It was probably the biggest fight I had in my life, to try and get out of it, but get out of it I did, somehow. I’ve been told I have post-traumatic stress disorder; I constantly have flashbacks to when Frankie was born, seeing my father-in-law’s lifeless body after he died and my Aunty’s lifeless body after she died, and I have a lot of anxiety now as a result of all the deaths. I hate leaving the house and going anywhere or driving because I may not make it back. I hate it when my parents and my loved ones go out and drive, because they might not make it back. But death will come to us all, it is the only thing in life that is as certain as paying taxes and when your number is up, it is up. I can’t change it and I can’t beat it, so I thought I might as well join it and do everything I want to do, take risks, be positive, try to be happy – I knew that anything would be better than staying stuck where I was.
When I made that decision, a few things became clearer for me. I now want to keep this blog going. I can’t write about my grief in other places because this is the platform I have for expressing my grief, and it is the right platform. So I will carry on with “Frankie’s Legacy”. I may not write in it every week, or even every month, but I will keep on writing. Yes I have started things and not seen them through, but part of the problem of not seeing them through is the fear that something else will happen that will get in the way, that someone else will die, someone else will be ill, that the “next big thing” to happen to me is just around the corner. I can’t live like that anymore. Frankie wouldn’t want me to, my father-in-law wouldn’t want me to, my cousins wouldn’t want me to, my Aunty wouldn’t want me to….and I don’t want to.
I have plans, big plans. I have realised my full potential, got some of my old confidence back, and I have some new projects and events that I want to work on. I’m working on an other festival – the Worcestershire Digital Festival – which will take place next year from 4th to 12th February and I’m proud, privileged and so lucky to have a great group of friends helping me with the organisation of it but make no mistake, this time on this festival and this event I will be keeping a VERY tight rein on it and ONLY allow people in who I trust implicitly. If I have to, I will do it on my own rather than run the risk of getting hurt for a third time. I will not let that happen again.
I am also working on a writer’s group for Worcestershire with my good friend Liz, the Worcestershire Writers’ Group., and I’m getting on with some writing that is just for me again. So what if I fail? Question – what is worse than failing? Answer – not trying.
I have a new name for my main blog, a name that is more “me”, a name that feels right, a blog that I will be happy writing and developing. I attended a blogging event last weekend in Birmingham run by Ella Stearn of “The Lucky Truth”, and this inspired me to do better and to do more. I won’t reveal it just yet, but when it is up and running, you guys who have stuck with me on here will be the first to know!
So for now, all that remains is for me to say a very big and heartfelt THANK YOU! Thank you all for sticking by me. Thank you all for your support. I could not have got through all of what I’ve been through without each and every one of you – you know who you all are.
So, it is onwards and upwards, and on to the next stage and leg of this journey called life for me.
Thanks for reading and getting this far!
P.S. This is a recent photo of me. I don’t normally like having my photo taken, but I like this one. It represents a new start and new beginning for me. I hope you like it too xx