Monthly Archives: November 2009

Open letter

This is a letter I’m thinking of printing out and having handy in my pocket to give to people who try to give helpful advice, seeing as I am struggling to say it outright. Even if I never use it, it’s probably useful to get it off my chest. 🙂

Please don’t tell me how to feel. I know you’re doing it with the best of intentions, because you care, and for that I am grateful. I appreciate that you care enough to give me advice, but until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you cannot know my life, my feelings, my motivations. You cannot tell me how to feel. So please don’t tell me that it’s time to let my son go.

He’s not just my adopted son, he’s my son. I love him. I love him and his brother more than anyone in the world. He may be 17, but in my heart is the six-year-old, the seven-year-old, the ten-year-old, the fourteen-year-old, each moment of the life that we’ve shared where he’s been deep in my heart and my whole existence has been centred around keeping him safe and helping him grow. In my heart, too, is the deep sorrow that I never held him as a baby, never carried him in my womb, never fed him at my breast, was not there to protect him from the bad things which have so blighted the rest of his life. This is the boy to whom I made a solemn promise before God never to abandon him, to love him unconditionally and always be there to support him as he made his way into the adult life he so feared.

If he had died, aged 16, how soon would you expect me to stop mourning? How long does it take to get over the loss of a son. If he had caught meningitis and been severely disabled, would you advise me to leave him to the professionals now and get on with my life? This is a bereavement with no closure. My son is gone, but is still there. The house is full of reminders, my daily life is full of reminders. I do get on with my own life – don’t tell me that’s what I need to do, because that’s what I do. Mostly. My youngest is my priority, and keeping myself fit and sane is important for all three of us. I know that. I do that. As far as is humanly possible. And my life is full of blessings.

And please don’t tell me I can’t do anything for him now. I know that too. Do you think that makes it somehow easier? This isn’t a faulty camera that you throw away and buy a replacement for… and how difficult is it sometimes just to throw those away? How many households have a collection of cameras which don’t work any more? But this is my son. Through what has happened, I have lost a whole lot more than just him, than just my hopes and dreams for him, than just the companionship of him, than just the joy of watching him grow to manhood. I have lost friends. I have lost financial security. I have lost my health. My extended family relationships have been shaken and tested to the full. And the life I had anticipated for myself has fallen apart and can only be rebuilt one day at a time. But if being there for both my sons can make this worthwhile, then I am there for them, and the loss of one of my treasures will take a lifetime to overcome, whether I want it to or not. My life isn’t over, my heart isn’t completely broken, I have hope and determination – ask me and I will tell you about them and each day they get stronger; but allow me to grieve, allow me to worry, allow me to think of my sons and do all I can to help them both achieve what success and happiness and sanity and goodness and security they can. I have two sons – I do that for each of them, no matter what.

And incidentally, I don’t feel guilt. I don’t feel that I’ve let him down. So you don’t need to keep telling me not to feel guilty. I have given him everything I could, to the best of my ability. His problems are not caused by me, well, no more than anyone’s problems are caused by their parents. There are things I could have done better. There are things I am disappointed in myself about, just as all parents are. But this goes back to what happened to him before he came to me. But it doesn’t stop me wanting to do my best for him still. I can’t put it right. I’ve never been in a position to put it right. But I love him and care for him and want what is best for him, even when that is that he stays in prison for a long time.

I am working, with support, on building my life, but that life that I’m building includes both my sons. I am working, with support, on keeping myself healthy despite the stress, but this can only be done by working through the emotions and the situations, not by denying them.

My youngest son has a game he plays with his friends. It’s called “The Game”. The object of this game is not to think of it. If you think of it at all, you have to say “I’ve just lost The Game”. The game lasts all day, but if you remember that, you’ve lost. Try it. Then realise that telling me to let go and get on with my own life is just like telling me not to think of The Game. Please be there for me, please listen, please continue to care. But I am who I am – letting go is not an option, and it will take time to let this sorrow find its natural level in this life which is still mine for the living.

Weird dreams

I know full well (even if I hadn’t read Rosamundi’s blog) that tamiflu can cause some weird dreams.

Of all the dreams I’ve heard of, I do believe none can be as weird and unbelievable as the dream the Smudgelet had the other night, courtesy of Tamiflu…..

He dreamed he was helping me with the washing up!

Oh, the irony

I can’t go to the gym.
I was all set to do it. I’ve not been for a week or so because of the Smudgelet’s flu and my lack of get-up-and-go, but this morning I woke with renewed determination and a wanting to do something positive. Exercise is good for high blood pressure, but sadly high blood pressure is not good for exercise. I had expected to have to modify my exercise, but was a bit taken aback when I rang them and they said that they don’t want me to exercise at all until I’m on the tablets and have a doctor’s note.

First time I’ve ever needed a note to get me IN to exercise. I’ve usually used note to get me OUT of it! 😉

I hope lifting the kettle doesn’t count as exercise.


I think we know why my eyes are dodgy.
High blood pressure.
Now there’s a surprise.
In fact, very high blood pressure.
In fact, sky high blood pressure.
Shame I started the anti-depressants as I can’t start the blood pressure medication until we know whether I get any side-effects to the anti-d’s, so in the meantime I am booked in for a barrage of blood tests, an ECG, and merciless nagging from my sister about my diet.


My eyes have been far better since being told that the brain scan was clear. It adds credence to the optician’s theory that it may be stress-related migraine, just affecting my vision rather than causing the splitting headache.

Rather paradoxical to think that a contributory factor leading to the degree of stress I was under being sufficient to trigger the vision distortion may have been the worry over why my vision was distorted. Still, the doctor will tell me more about that on Thursday, I’m sure.

Though I’m anxious to get back to work and worried about the financial implications, I’ve decided to ask her for one more week of absence (as long as my eyes are OK) before I return – long enough to let the anti-depressants kick in. She said I’d know when the time was right to start taking them. I think that time is now. Despite the improvement in my vision, I can recognise symptoms in myself which have occured quite naturally as a result of recent developments and which I’d actually like to combat before they become any more established. If I go down, I’ll go down fighting 😉

Now, I guess doing that pile of ironing and then going to the gym would warm me up just as well as putting the central heating on and going back to bed. I wonder why it doesn’t seem quite so appealing a prospect!

I’ll get up then, shall I?

A loud ringing by my right ear and I wake with a start. This does not sound like my alarm going off. What can it be? Ah, my mobile. Yes, press any button to answer works, thank goodness. A blearly eyed “Hello?”

“Hello, is that Miss Smudgie? This is….”
“Ah, no! No” It’s the optician, isn’t it? You’re ringing to tell me I should be there. What time is it? AGH! It’s ten past ten. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t panic, you’re only 50% right. It is the optician. I’m ringing to tell you the delivery has arrived and your glasses aren’t in there, so you don’t need to come. They should be here tomorrow, so you can go back to sleep”

I must learn, when I set the timer on my mobile so that I can have an extra hour in bed, there’s a final button you have to press in order to start the timer running. Otherwise time simply doesn’t pass and, phonecalls permitting, you could sleep for eternity.

On parade

My dad would have been so proud of my Smudgelet, I think. I hope the Smudgelet will be able one day to understand fully what Remembrance Day is all about. We watched the service on TV last night (despite the late night) and he remarked on how many poppy petals fell. A struggle for him to deal with something which has so many grey areas, but he was thinking about the impact that conflict had on my dad and also my brother who was involved in the Falklands.

This morning we didn’t manage to go to a Remembrance Day service, however, because he was otherwise engaged with his new band. He plays with a marching band – well, he marches or he plays, at the moment it’s a bit of a challenge doing both at once! This morning he marched, and carried his euphonium, as his band were invited to lead the Remembrance Day parade through Kingston town centre. My word, they are a fantastic band – I was gobsmacked at how well they play, and so proud to think my boy is part of it, even if it will take a little more practise before he’s confident enough really to make his mark.


I am not going to admit that I nearly cried at a firework display. But my, those fireworks were stunningly beautiful.

My experience of the organisation in the run up to this evening caused me to introduce the Smudgelet to the expression “couldn’t organise a coffee morning in Starbucks” (OK, so I know the actual expression is slightly different, but the Smudgelet IS only twelve!) so I was a bit wary of what I was going to find, but it was extremely good.


I do not want a nice relaxing bath

Not with a bath bomb in. At least, not with a bath bomb made by the Smudgelet.
Unfortunately, my chance of having a nice relaxing bath with a bath bomb made by the Smudgelet is quite remote anyway. In fact, until I’ve vacuumed the remains of said bath bomb off the entire bathroom floor and somehow got the bright blue food colouring out of the landlord’s light brown carpet, I won’t be doing anything in the bathroom at all.
I knew I was doomed the minute he realised his big brother had only used the bath-bomb-factory-set once.

PS If, in the run up to Christmas, you see a Bath Bomb Factory set and think of buying it for a friend’s son or daughter, first contemplate how much you wish to remain friends with that person! If you do, go to Lush instead and simply buy them and their child a bathbomb each.