Welcome To My New Look

Welcome To My New Look

I don’t really like change, but sometimes change can be a good thing.

When I started this WordPress blog in February 2014, it was because some of you were telling me that you were signing up to Facebook for the sole purpose of gaining access to my writings. I felt embarrassed about this, as I didn’t really want to be recruiting for Facebook.

I had never imagined myself as a blogger, I barely knew what a blog was and I certainly didn’t know how to go about setting up one.

Thankfully with the help of Mr Google and a few YouTube tutorials, I was soon well on my way. It’s been quite a learning curve, but I’ve learned on the job. I am constantly tweaking my old blog posts, as I gradually learn my way around the blogosphere in general, and wordpress in particular and figure out better ways to do things.

Thankfully, almost all of the tools and materials come free – except for my time and inspiration, of course. WordPress has proved an excellent host. The pretty theme that I had been using up until now, was one where much of the customisation was pre-set for me. This arrangement suited me very well when I was starting up, as I would have been totally out of my depth trying to create my own customisation.

However, now that I am gradually regaining the use of my brain, I am keen to personalise this site a little more. I’m enjoying being able to experiment with free tools such as canva and picmonkey, although it is of course quite time consuming trying to teach myself all of these new tricks. I’ve also installed GIMP on my laptop but I haven’t tried it out as yet.

Since I started blogging eighteen months ago, I’ve greatly benefitted from reading a variety of other people’s blogs. I regularly read several blogs, which include My Journey Through Grief Into Grace (kathleenbduncan)Mama’s Haven ~ Grief, Joy, Grace, Mundane FaithfulnessIn One Of The Stars I Shall Be LivingGrief Is A ClicheThe Accidental MissionaryWriting On The Sly and many others. When I’m very busy I fall behind on my blog reading and then I do a mega catch up whenever I get a bit of free time.

As I read other people’s blogs, I’m struck by the diversity of layouts and styles that people use. Obviously some styles are only available to premium (fee paying) users, however I gradually became aware that by changing to a different (but still free) WordPress theme, I would acquire a little bit more versatility and freedom.

The photograph used in the header at the top of this page, is one that I took at the top of our road, with my iPhone 5c. It’s a road that I travelled with Leah on many occasions as we headed to her hospital appointments, so it literally does represent a part of our journey. Now, I often travel that way to work or even to the cemetery and of course to many other places as well.

I’ve learned so much since I started blogging, like this:

One small positive thought blog post in the morning can change your whole day.

Or this by Andrew Sullivan:

Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.

Last, but not least – and with this I will finish – I have only recently discovered an author called Anne Lamott. I am currently reading her book Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life.

Here is an extract (I used Canva to create the image) –

Writing and reading decrease our sense of

Alexandra – A Very Beautiful Girl

Alexandra – A Very Beautiful Girl

When Leah was on the lovely purpose built Adolescent Ward in Bristol, she was in isolation and could only avail of the excellent recreational facilities whenever none of the other patients were using them.

Adolescent Ward,  Bristol children's Hospital
Adolescent Ward,
Bristol children’s Hospital

However some of the other young patients were well enough to be “out and about” and they clearly enjoyed a break from the confines of their room.

I also liked to ‘escape’ periodically from our lovely little room. I used to get an opportunity to do this when Leah was watching television. Leah liked the fact that I would bring back the ‘ward news’ and thereby give us something different to talk about.

Some of these young patients were bored and only too glad of an adult to interact with. Others were more shy. One of those whom I regularly saw, pushing her IV pole around the ward, was Alex Lacey. I used to smile at her and she would smile shyly back.

The adolescent ward catered for teenagers with any kind of medical condition, but Alex’s chemotherapy baldness, indicated to me that she was there for similar reasons to Leah.

Then, in October 2013, Leah and Alex were both discharged to Sam’s House, the Clic Sargent Hostel. Leah and Alex met and chatted. Leah said to me afterwards: “Mummy, I wish that I had met Alex at the start of my time here, not the end, she’s so lovely.”

I wished that they had met sooner too, Leah had longed so much for company of her own age. I could see that she and Alex had immediately ‘clicked’ and were clearly very compatible.

I met Alex’s lovely Mum and we hugged – relationships tend to be ‘fast-tracked’ in these ‘life and death’ situations. The Lacey’s were getting ready to celebrate Christmas (yes, in October), as Alex would shortly be going for a bone marrow transplant and was not expected to be home in time for Christmas.

Leah and Alex exchanged contact details and promised to keep in touch.

Shortly after we returned home to Ireland, Leah and I were absolutely heartbroken, when Alex messaged Leah to say that there would be no bone marrow transplant – Alex’s lymphoma was incurable.

I really struggled to get my head around this.

As I subsequently encountered so many ‘firsts’ without my darling daughter, I thought of Alex’s parents – they were potentially having their ‘lasts’ with their darling, only, daughter.

My first Christmas without Leah, was their last Christmas with their daughter. I tried to imagine what that must feel like, but I couldn’t, not really.

Can we really and truly understand what anyone goes through, unless we have gone through it ourselves?

This morning Alex’s Mum posted the saddest message on her Facebook page – the kind of post that no parent ever wants to have to compose:

Our beautiful, precious daughter Alexandra has flown away to join the Angels. She passed away peacefully yesterday at home with David and myself by her side. Our hearts are forever broken. Xxx”

Alex

Please pray for all who mourn.

A few months back Alex recorded this very touching video in which she speaks so candidly about her illness, but without a trace of self-pity. I’ve watched it several times, but I have never been able to watch it without crying.

Alex’s lovely, gentle, sweet nature is so very evident.