star lit sky

13 Years Later and You Shine Brighter Than Ever

I was about to write a short caption on a draft photo upload to Instagram, then I realised that I had more to say.

You can’t fit into one blog post how having someone in your life makes such a significant impact. I spent 13 years with him and now it’s been 13 years without him. My grandad was my biggest hero. He taught me how to be strong, brave and kind. The most generous hearted person. He was the only one who would play shop and post office with me more than twice at a time. He encouraged me to go on my first huge rollercoaster ride when I was absolutely terrified. And since that day, I’ve learnt the importance of being brave and coming out of my comfort zone. The one person I could share everything with and made it all better. He always gave me the greatest hugs and tickled my arm when I needed to go to sleep.

Nothing beat the love he had for his grandchildren. He wanted to give us the world. The amount of happiness he brought into our lives will always give us something to look back on and smile about.

I never thought anything could break grandad. You know, it was as if he was unstoppable. There’s been two instances that shown me otherwise. The first – when granny passed away on 9th February 2002. Stood alone, I watched him crumble, crying so hard, putting his head into his hands. I was in the hallway at mum and dad’s house and I looked into the kitchen to see him, heartbroken. As much as it’s a memory I’d like to phase away, I don’t think it ever will.

You build such a strong bond, share adventures and they hold your hand throughout childhood. They watch you become a teenager and then…

The second – the day his heart stopped on 21st May 2007. My dad told school that he needed me and my brother to come home. A guidance counsellor who got to know me though being bullied at the time, found me straight away. I was so confused. I didn’t say much until we walked to the car waiting for my brother to come. “Is it mum?” “Is Gaz okay?” My dad didn’t know what to say even though he was trying to tell us. I asked, “N-no, no, Grandad?” and my dad’s face said all it needed to. The car journey home was probably the quietest moment I’ve shared with one of my brothers. It was happening all over again. That was us, home, ran to our bedrooms and cried uncontrollably.

I remember visiting grandad in hospital and him telling me, “You’re growing up so much”. Getting on a bus to visit him at the hospital on my own didn’t phase me one bit. Walking through the hospital, seeing Ward H2, seeing him lay in the hospital bed didn’t scare me. No longer being able to hold his hand scared me. I used to bring 2 of my high school friends to stay on many weekends at his house – his kindness spread to others like them. They seen, no matter how old I was, the relationship we had didn’t change. I only wish I could’ve seen him when he went home this time.

I could spend my life hating coronary heart disease but hate isn’t something that grandad would’ve wanted. Hopefully you’ll see, why I love doing all I can to support the British Heart Foundation. Also, I think it’s crazy how, ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted a golden Labrador/Retriever and that’s the breed of dog grandad sponsored and almost had one as a guide dog for his visual impairment.

Grandad, just as we used to do for granny, every time I look to the sky at night and I see a star, I’ll think of you. “Love you millions!”

I haven’t written this blog post to give myself a good cry, as much as I’ve had to fight it whilst putting it together. It’s more to remind myself how special life is. Time and love is everything. There’s no escaping loved ones, they are in each and every little thing we see or do. You find yourself thinking about or doing something they taught you. And I hope this teaches anyone who’s reading this post, to hold tight onto everything that makes you happy.

birthday cake with candles lit

Making the Most out of a Birthday in Lockdown

Have you got a birthday coming up and you’re thinking, oh great, a birthday in lockdown? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can do to enjoy your special day. It might not be quite what you had planned e.g. cocktails with the girls, dancing the night away, or whatever it might be. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy it.

You can still enjoy lots of food

I’m an early bird and of course Danny is very much aware of that because he hears me pottering around the house most mornings. So, to be prepared, he set his alarm for 6am (yep, I don’t do lie-ins, not even on my birthday haha). Danny walked into the room holding a cake with candles lit singing happy birthday to me. You know the emoji with the little face that looks like its about to start blubbering with tears, that was me.

You might not be going out for food to your favourite restaurant but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good food. Luckily, the sun was out for the afternoon so I was able to have a mini BBQ in the back garden with Danny. As you can probably imagine, wherever food is involved, is a pretty good sign that you’re going to enjoy yourself. Burgers and chicken lover over here, so I was in my element.

Being the Little Miss Piggy that I am, I received quite a few boxes of chocolates AND some sweets so, you bet I’ve been eating them all. So much so that I might resemble a pig after all of this, but it’s all about enjoying yourself right?

There might be some surprises along the way…

I had a lovely surprise when one of my best friends turned up (keeping 2 metres apart of course) to drop my card off along with some unexpected gifts. She also brought a card from another one of my lovely friends. Talking of surprises, I also received a bouquet of tulips, box of chocolates and teddy from Danny, along with a card from my best friend and her baby boy. You know those things that pop up with confetti when you open them and they turn into a little gift cube? Well, I had one of those but unfortunately I opened it too quick and obviously didn’t now what it was prior to it being delivered so I didn’t get a video. Part of the message read “auntie Tasha… can’t wait to see you” so you can understand how that melted my heart.

Receiving birthday messages

I still received a generous amount of cards and birthday messages over social media, text, WhatsApp etc. As I’ve already said, my two best friends made a special effort, where one of them even made me a card. My brothers came to see me from their cars as I stood at the front door which made me smile too. Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love a good card. I received a cute personalised one from my nephew too. I’m so thankful for all of my family and friends who thought of me. Each of them made it a birthday I’ll always remember even though they wasn’t there in person to see me.

There was so much thought put into my birthday this year with so much to smile about throughout the whole day. One thing that was missing was a hug from my mum and dad but at least I was able to be healthy and safe in my home and still enjoy the day. This birthday made me realise how to make the most out of any situation. Whatever it might be, there’s always a positive outlook on the horizon if you look close enough.

So, it’s your birthday next? How are you planning to spend your birthday in lockdown?

paper star decoration hanging

The Magic of Christmas Never Disappears

The festive season, a time for thankfulness and having fun with your family. For those of us who don’t have to work over Christmas, we get to make the most of lounging around, wearing several pairs of new pyjamas and eating lots of food and snacks around the house.

25th December 2019 was mine and Danny’s first Christmas in our first home and our seventh Christmas spent together as a couple. This year has been much more significant than other years and I think living together has played a huge part. Not only has the friendship side of us which sparked way back when grown but we’ve fell in love even more than I imagined we could.

Since we bought our first real Christmas tree and decorated it, I knew this year was going to be more magical than previous years. Call me emotional but I cried. I think it was the whole idea of looking how far we have come together and finally being in a place we have always dreamed of. Danny is the most warm-hearted person and he’s the one who will remind you there’s always so much love to give.

It showed when I couldn’t hold back the tears on Christmas Day morning. We opened presents from family and friends first and then what we got each other. The final present I opened from Danny got me. It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m quite the sentimental kind of person so this gift means so much to me. The thought that went into it made it so amazing. He bought me a map of how the stars looked on the night of our first date and it even has the time on it. Some say that men don’t remember things, I must’ve got lucky! The colour even matches our bedroom so once we’ve got a frame for it, I’ll share a photo.

Of all the lovely gifts we received this year, for me, the best of all was spending Christmas morning with each other, just the two of us. And of course seeing family for the rest of the day and night made it as enjoyable as it was.

I’m a reflective kind of person as it is but I find that Christmas and New Year brings us more time to think about the year and previous years in comparison to the present. Some years bring the loss of loved ones just like uncle Dom in June, and challenges arise but it’s important to remember that you can always feel the magic of Christmas if you look close enough. Smiling and laughing over Christmas season doesn’t mean you forget about the people you miss the most.

This December, I’ve thought about many things including what the future has to offer. If you don’t feel it right now, I hope that 2020 brings a new perspective. A year full of happiness surrounded by those that you love.

angel wings coming out of a love heart shape

Just Because I Smile Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Miss You

Today I smiled a whole lot more than I have done over the last few weeks. Losing someone can tear you to pieces or it can help you to become stronger. There’s nothing anyone can say that really makes it better but it does help to know that there are people around you that care. When you start to smile more, it doesn’t mean that you miss them any less.

The person you lost wants you to be happy

They want you to continue to cherish all of the amazing things there are to life; even though there’s evil. Looking over you, they want to see you making more memories; even though they’re no longer there to make them with.

Listen to sad songs from time to time but don’t dig yourself too far into a hole where all you have are sad lyrics and darkness. Be grateful for all of the good times you’ll forever hold close to your heart. Remember the upbeat person that they were and add their spirit to your life.

There are going to be times that aren’t as easy as others

Finding ways to smile more can help. Don’t neglect the possibility of laughter and warmth from your loved ones.

Uncle Dom, whenever I smile, remember it doesn’t mean I don’t miss you. The acceptance of losing you has hit me hard. Knowing you would want us all to be strong as difficult as it can be, is what I hope for.

I’ll smile when I think about your vocabulary of words; those rock ‘n’ roll dance moves, the classic Irish accent; the time you gave to listen; your strength when suffering; most of all, your love for us all. You’re not here in person for me to tell you all of this so I hope that by using some of your magic, the message will get to you.

Here’s to the next challenge

Race for Life is getting closer. I’m going to do my best to hold it together. At the end though, it’s likely I’ll cry wishing you were here. It’s time to accept that there’s nothing we can do about that. We have to do everything in our power to live your life on. A piece of you will always remain a part of us.

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/team/tasha-and-danny

balloons in cloudy sky

Wishing You Were Here on All of Your Birthdays And Every Day

Hey granny, I can’t believe it’s your 77th birthday today. Whilst I’m wishing you were here I thought I’d dedicate this post to you. February marked 16 years since you became an angel looking over us. It seems like yesterday when I was sat on your knee whilst you were singing songs to me. Me, you, grandad, Phil, and Gaz taking spontaneous trips together. Saying no when I wanted to play shop so I only had grandad as my customer. But I loved you then and I still do now.

You and grandad were the two people in my life who shown me that, no matter how many years go by, the people you love stay in your heart forever.

I always liked how yours and grandad’s birthday are close together – 22nd and 26th July. Two dates which never disappear from my mind. It’s the same with your anniversaries too. It’s like my body is on auto mode, with a reminder in the lead up to them days before.

There are videos and photographs of you feeding me in my bouncer when I was a baby. I might not have the vision of that but I do have a mountain of memories shared with you. Adding salt to a packet of chicken super noodles; using jam and butter without getting either into the other jar; leaving nails everywhere around the house (the ones you put on the walls to hang photos up with); taking me on your shopping trips with you; putting my hair in that little bun I always liked with a million hair grips; and a whole lot more.

We had a special little bond didn’t we? The seven years I got to spend with you were some of the most magical times in my life. I still imagine you being here. Looking over my shoulder like you always did. There’s a photo in a frame on my bedroom wall. It’s of me, you, and grandad. And you’re smiling and looking down at me with your hand on my shoulder. I can still feel your hand. And I remember my smile from that exact moment.

Being your flower girl is going to stay as the most amazing memory in my heart from all the weddings I’ve been to yet.

I held those rings on a cushion thinking that yours and grandad’s love would last forever. And the truth is, I believe it has. A love that always stays with one another is something I’ve always wanted. The world took one of you away. But I think a dream came true for the both of you before this happened.

When you were no longer here, grandad was my go-to person growing up. My best friend. I could confide in him about anything. The most frightening things I’d seen, he heard all about them. And of course, the happiest ones. Most of which were the times we spent evenings chatting about you. I think you knew he’d have a huge job looking after us all. But you didn’t doubt him. And that’s why he never let go.

I learnt that no amount of tears could bring you back.

I’ve said before that I wish you both would’ve seen me growing up together. I’m more than three times the age I was when you were here. But I can only hope that I’ve turned out to be the young woman you imagined me to be. I pictured you at the school gates for quite a few years. It took me a while to understand that you weren’t here. I spent time alone crying. And I even cried when I was with my friends. I burst into tears not being able to say my lines for a school play. And I even let the teacher shout at me for it, as they were unaware.

Grandad taught me how to be strong showing me the importance of being able to love someone no matter how near or far away from you they are. He shown me that the ones you love won’t ever think you’ve forgotten about them. And he was always referring to his love for you. I understood this more as I got older.

Happy birthday, granny. Wishing you were here today, on all of your birthdays, and each day we spend apart.

Stick to Being Happy Rather Than Wondering

Sitting here wondering what to write when deep down you’ve had an idea of something you’ve been thinking about writing – being happy. You hear the sentences through your head on your way home from work. But getting to grips with how to put it all together is another story. So here goes. This is going to be a post which literally comes out as I write down thoughts that pop into my head.

We spend so much time wishing for things. And sometimes they can be for things you want to happen that probably won’t. I don’t mean the game console you’ve been dying to by or the outfit you’ve had your eye on for ages. This is more about longing for something to happen. I’ve come to terms that it’s okay to dream of nice things. I’ve always told myself and others that it’s okay to dream big. Do what makes you happy.

But here’s something to think about… 

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could go back in time? Perhaps you wanted to change something? Or relive a moment all over again. Reality can get you down. But it can also be so worthwhile. You can think you’ve had the worst day/week/month, whatever. There’s always something who’s really struggling. Be grateful for those who love to be around you. Make it a whole lot easier on yourself and disregard the ones who couldn’t give a damn. You’ll be happy then.

walking on the sandy beach

Memories can come flooding back, good or bad. But where you are right now in this moment is what counts. Everything you’ve experienced in your life so far is shaped who you are today. So what, you could’ve done that differently and you certainly couldn’t handled that better. But you know what? Life goes on. We shouldn’t spend time going over and over on things. It’s so damaging.

Hold onto the good things that make or have made you happy.

Hold the memories that made the smile. The ones that made you feel like you were the most careless, free-spirited version of you. There’s nothing stopping you from being that person again. I like to think that even when there’s silence between people, it doesn’t mean to say either of them doesn’t care about the other. Time teaches us so much. It can show you that you can genuinely drift away onto different paths.

There’s another side I like to look at. And that’s the people who would probably never get it. But it can make you feel so happy when there’s a little bit of conversation there. Or even more than you imagined. When they haven’t forgot things. And it’s as if nothing’s changed no matter how much time apart – that’s another good thing to hold onto. You might wish you had the chance to see someone again. Don’t lose perspective. We all have our lives to live and so on. There’s so much in your life to value. And there’s probably things you wouldn’t even realise that people value about you.

So yeah, it’s been a bit of all things tonight. But there’s got to be someone out there who can grasp what I’m trying to say. Drifting away from this a little bit here’s a little update with me…

Maybe I’m getting somewhere, maybe I’m not?

Since more tests and investigations, the mystery continues. I kinda had a feeling this was going to happen anyway. All of my tests are complete. The kidney and bladder scan came back normal (so the receptionist said) yay! Just one more appointment to go before holiday now. And that’s something I really can’t wait for. To just relax and not have to worry about a thing. I’ve been referred to the hospital in June once I’m back though. And I can guarantee they’ll think my body is a mystery too! But they have to keep searching I guess. Staying happy is the main thing. I better try to keep at it…