Blue, I love you…

Dear Son,

Today has always been hard, but this year is worse. I always thought I’d give you siblings & they would help remembering you to be less painful. It never occurred to me that I would be reliving your loss over & over again. I hope they’re with you. I wish you were all with me. I’ll always love you.

Love

Mum

Sapling in moonlight

Along with the sunshine…

Years ago I had a genius idea. I thought it would be lovely if we could have a real life version of those romantic montages you get in films. You know the bit in a romcom where someone thinks back over their relationship and we see all the best bits. Now imagine being able to replay the special moments of your own life. That would be lovely right?

Not just the romantic high spots. A full on motion picture, this if your life best bits to play whenever you need a boost. It’s been a tough year so far. So allow me to wander through the memories that feel dreamy. I give you a snippet of my highlight reel.

This one probably doesn’t seem that special, but it still gives me butterflies every single time I summon it. I was just meeting someone for lunch. He was waiting on the steps of a gallery looking stern. As he saw me approaching his expression relaxed. When I reached him he kissed me in a way I hadn’t experienced before or since. I’ll never be able to explain what made that kiss different from all the others, but it made me feel completely wanted. Safe & desired & understood. Then he half turned, caught my eye over his shoulder and took my hand. I melted. It wasn’t a special day. We didn’t do anything extraordinary. There were no meaningful declarations. We definitely didn’t live happily ever after. Yet it is without a doubt the best kiss of my life. It’s funny the things that leave a mark.

I’ve been been consuming a romanticised version of New York City my whole life. It appears in my favourite books, music, art & films. It’s famous streets were home to idols real & fictional. From my early teens I was desperate to get there. I knew it would be incredible, but I was always a little afraid that the real thing couldn’t live up to the fantasy. NYC is turns out, is one of those rare things in life that never lets you down. It is every bit is as magnificent as I had hoped it would be. Everything looks exactly as you thought it would, but still seems unreal. It is a wonderful surprise to find that the place you’ve been dreaming about actually exists. The Empire State makes you believe Cary Grant might sweep you off your feet. The Dakota looks exactly as John left it. 5th Avenue is just like all those advertising posters from the 40’s. Every corner turned reveals a spot where that other Carrie might have swooned over Big. The skyline is as impressive as you imagined and the lights of the city twinkling from the park will take your breath away. More than that, it feels just like I hoped it would. It’s buzzing with creativity & promise & resilience. Wandering alone in Manhattan made me feel exactly as I had anticipated that it might. That swelling of excitement in my core was magical.

ly h Kerr NYC

During my fourth pregnancy I was offered an early scan. A chance to check everything was going to plan. I was terrified and excited. I can’t remember much of what was said. It’s all just a fear stricken blur until the glorious sound of my unborn child’s heartbeat made everything clear. That steady, seemingly irrepressible beat filled a gaping hole that I had worried was bottomless. Hope, it seems, can breach any gap. I’ll never forget that feeling. Whatever came after, I’ll have those precious minutes & that wonderful sound.

When my niece was a toddler my brother & sister in law took her to visit family in South Africa & Zimbabwe. They were gone for nearly a month and I missed her so much. I couldn’t wait to see her on their return. It turned out the feeling was mutual. When she saw me she screamed. She guided me to sit in the floor and climbed into my lap. The way her little face beamed at me is the closet thing to pure happiness that I’ve ever witnessed. Knowing that this precious little person could love me like that is one of the greatest feeling imaginable.

Muffin

On a girl’s holiday in kavos a huge group of us went out for Mexican food. As happens in places like kavos they gave everyone a free shot of tequila. Of the 14 girls assembled only my bff & I liked tequila. So, with a combination of confidence & stupidity that 21 year olds possess, we drank the lot. With 7 tequila shots in each of our bellies we embarked upon a night of awesomeness. The drinks continued to flow, we danced on bars and beaches. We sang at the top of our lungs. We lost the rest of the gang & met a variety of interesting strangers including a guy we named jiminy cricket (we never worked out why). Pam fell asleep on a giant pounding speaker and I mistook a goat for a dog. Finally we witnessed the sun coming up over the booze soaked island as we stumbled our way home. It was the ridiculously messy kind of night you only have when you’re young & far away from home. It was highly irresponsible and probably pretty dangerous, but I wouldn’t change a second if it. I’ll always be glad I had those party days. I’ll always be grateful I had the best friend possible to share them with.

Pam & I

My Gran died young. She had cancer that recurred & spread. I was too young to understand the ins and outs at the time. In fact, I didn’t even know she was ill until close to end. I was the first granddaughter and she basically spoilt me rotten. She called me The Queen. She took me everywhere with her & made it her business to satisfy my whims. From my eagerness to ride horses to my heartfelt opposition to Mum’s chewing gum ban; Gran fixed it. What I’m saying is there are countless highlight worthy times to pick from. The one I always come back to is an uneventful Saturday. We were at Gran’s house & she was debuting what she described as her new look. She had started putting her hair in a tiny ponytail & wearing track suits. In my head it’s pale blue and pretty smart for a track suit, but my memory may be wrong. In any case it was a departure from her usual put together style. She was making jokes and asking how I liked the new image. I didn’t know at the time, but in hindsight it was a change prompted my necessity not fashion. She was getting sicker. She needed more ease and comfort. She must have been in pain. She had to have been scared. I never knew. I do know now how hard it is to be sore & sick all the time. I’m not facing what she did. I’m not dying. She never wavered. She took her narrowing horizons and made it something fun for the grandkids. When I think of her in that sweatsuit she’s laughing & living. That feels like real love.

When I went to Brisbane I was just getting into body positivity. The idea that my body wasn’t wrong was very new. Finding myself in a tropical climate with most days reaching at least 35 Celsius shunted my body acceptance journey into a faster gear. The heat was too intense to cover all the bits I thought needed to be hidden. I was compelled to wear things that would normally have scared me. Guess what happened? Absolutely nothing. I explored the city with my flabby arms & thunder thighs on show and no one cared. After a few days I stopped thinking about if I could wear certain things & just put things on my body. I began to notice that I actually liked how I looked in these items that I’d never usually have dared to wear. I felt comfortable. The day we went to an animal sanctuary was crazy hot. I wore a tiny little flippy blue vest dress. As I wandered amongst kangaroos I realised that I felt completely at ease. The animals were beautiful, the sun felt good on my skin. I was happy & free. It was one of those perfect days when I not only felt amazing in the moment, but I knew I was experiencing a breakthrough. If I could bottle up that feeling, I’d put weight watchers out of business.

Brisbane sunset

I was lucky enough to have a fairly delightful childhood. There were a lot of happy times. One of my stand out memories is the time I spent with my siblings after dinner & before dessert. My parents would send us into living room to let our tummies settle. Looking back I suspect they just wanted 15mins of quiet adult conversation. In any case, no settling of any kind went on. We took advantage of that unsupervised period to behave like mini maniacs. We played a variety of very rough & tumble games of our own devising. To be honest I’m surprised that both the room & all four children survived gems like ‘crocodiles’ & ‘pile on’. We did & those times were golden. This was before the boys got too cool to want to actually play with their little sisters. Back when my baby sister was still an adorably chubby cheeked little monster. It was long before any of us had any worries beyond how good pudding would be. We were securely encased in the family unit. We always had someone to talk to, someone to carry on with & someone to tease. We never doubted that our parents could handle any difficulty we encountered. Life was good.

Young Kerrs

It occurs to me that some of my happiest life snap shots are bittersweet. I’m not sure if it’s that just the way of life or a testament to what happens when the universe beats you up a bit. Either way, I’m glad I’ve mastered the art of counting my blessings. I suppose sometimes the cliches are true; you can’t have the rainbow without the rain.

For your babies…

I’m sitting on the sofa trying to be still because my baby nephew is asleep on my shoulder. He just shifted a little, gave a big sigh & squeezed my arm with his chubby fingers. I can feel his breath on my neck & smell his milky breath. I’m in heaven. This is as close to complete contentment as I get.

I’m exhausted. My back hurts. My knee is throbbing. Yet, I feel happy & at peace. Soon he’ll wake. At first he’ll be confused. He always wakes up suspicious, checking all around him. I think he forgets where he was when he fell asleep. Once he has his bearings his face will break into a big smile. He’ll look at me like he is utterly delighted to discover I am here & I’ll melt for the millionth time.

I feel the same swell of love with all niblings. At the weekend I listened in wonder as my 2yr old nephew sang me the whole alphabet. My heart almost burst as these two beautiful boys played together. Bigger cousin being so gentle with his smaller counterpart. Baba giggling & crawling, so eager to play with his best friend. Every new skill he masters is wonder. I still relish every time he says Auntie Lynsey. The pride & excitement never wears off.

Earlier I FaceTimed his big cousin. She’s 8 yrs old & nearly as tall as her Mum. I remember her being this size like it was yesterday. I’ve watched her grow & learn, loving every single stage. Gone is our baby girl. My Muffin now wants to share her thoughts on cubism & send me animated gifs representing how her day went. Her report card not only applauded her academic achievements, but noted how she goes out of her way to be kind. She’s incredible. They all are. My siblings make good babies.

I am so honoured to have the to opportunity to help mould these precious little lives. They bring me a joy that cannot be replicated. Every smile & giggle & kiss & ‘I love you’ make all my struggles seem void. It is easy to be overwhelmed by what I don’t have. Life is bloody hard, but it feels ridiculously easy when I cause a smile to light up their faces.

Perhaps the next best thing can be enough. You have to take your wins wherever you can find them.

I am ready now to fall…

Dear Baby,

I still write baby even though you’d be almost grown now. You’d be pretty much a man, which is very scary. I bet you’d be amazing, though. I picture you as tall & sensitive & just a tiny bit reckless. I know we’d have butted heads, but I’d love your fire. 

 I’m feeling pretty raw this year. You have another sibling who didn’t make it to life. I have another reason to cry. I have reasons to smile too. I’m doing ok. 

I’d be better if I was buying cake & wrapping presents, but life had other plans for us. I had to learn to be strong & you were destined for somewhere more beautiful than this world. 

I’m ready now. Love, loss, life, I can take it all in my stride. I am ready to to mother a child I can hold in my arms as well as my heart. I have wonderful new little people to cherish, I have hope & I will always carry you with me. That’s enough for now.

Love always,

Mum.

Xxx

Daddy Cool….

It’s Father’s Day & what better way to celebrate my lovely Dad than to take a trip down memory lane. 

My dad worked shifts when I was a kid. He’d do a twelve hour night shift & arrive home just as we (I have three siblings) were getting up for school. Instead of retiring directly to his bed he would make us breakfast. Cereal with bananas hidden in it. Mountains of toast or boiled eggs made three different ways to suit out picky tastes. The really special thing about it was he always did it with pleasure. He didn’t rush us or shirk our requests. He kept making that toast until we were satisfied & he made sure every banana slice was hidden in those rice crispies. Making your kids breakfast is a simple everyday  occurance, but when I look back at my childhood these small acts of love really matter. 

  

My sister & I sometimes call our father Daddy Cool. I think it started on a holiday in Mallorca & it stuck. It sums up so many aspects of him. From his little air guitar dance when he hears a tune he likes (which are often by edgy new bands) to his random fancies for designer clothing. The now famous ‘ porno’ moustache he sported my entire childhood also played into the nickname. Wether he’s sporting some Armani or hitting some cool new restuarant he is totally our Daddy Cool. 

  

My childhood is bursting with good memories of Dad. He used to pick us up from primary school & let us walk home through the park. While we galloped along he would be cheerfully carrying all our super girly school bags & paraphanelia. He frequently took us walks in pollok country park, allowing us to carry on & explore. He introduced me to The Burrel Collection  & highland cattle, both life long loves. Dad always had time for us to check out the Rangers station, or the ancient tree or a million other things. 

  

In Glasgow there’s an old tradition of people singing at parties. Right into my teenage years I remember family & friends always calling for dad to sing. I loved it when he did, he usually choose rather meloncholy songs. He sang them so clearly & with real feeling. I fell in love with John Lennon & Janis Joplin after hearing dad’s renditions of Jealous Guy & Bobby McGhee. 

My dad did all the things that storybook father’s are supposed to do. He taught me to ride a bike & to swim. He checked my homework, helped me fill out UCAS forms & grounded me when a boy gave me a nookie. Besides those things he has given me so much more. He gifted me the wonders of 60’s & 70’s music. Whilst my classmates were loving techno I was discovering Joni & Bob. Dad also played a big part in developing my political views. From asking him questions about the night’s news to talking over what I’d been learning in history. I’ve always respected his socialist values. Dad has been unceasingly present throughout my life; encouraging & advising. He has also been tolerant if bemused by some of things I’ve gotten up to. 

  
  

Now that I’m grown & some of my siblings have had children I have the joy of watching my fantastic dad become a wonderful Granda. He will hide under tables, bite balloons & get down on his knees to become a horse who gives rides. He’s exactly the kind of Granda every child wants. 

  
   

  

In conclusion, I love you dad. Thanks for raising me right. 
Happy Father’s Day. 

I get by with a little help from my friends…

Chronic illness can be overwhelming. When every little thing is a struggle it’s hard to remain stoic. In the midst of a severe flare I really have to fight not slip into a morose frame of mind. 

When life is just too hard what keeps me going are all my wonderful people. My incredible friends & family are so supportive. I really couldn’t do it without them. I am a big believer in saying how you feel out loud, so I’m taking a moment to say thank you. Thanks for all the chats, the midnight drives to a&e, advocating for me when I am unable to do it myself, the cuddles, the laughs, the understanding; thank you for the love. 

Not only are my people the best people, they are also a bunch of lookers. Big love, darlings. 

  
   
     

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time….

Merry Christmas!
I hope you all had a wonderful time. It’s been a bumper yultide for me & mine, loads of food, fizz, family & friends. I love the festive season & the opportunities it provides to let those you love know how much they mean to you. By the wonder of facetime I even got to watch my niece open her presents in brisbane, nothing can beat the look on her face as she discovers she’s been given all the things she’s been hoping for.

Talking of presents, I have also been a very lucky girl. My family & friends proved once again how well they know me by buying me the perfect gifts. There are a lot of ticks on my wish list & I am one happy lady.

First from my wish list was an early xmas treat from the lovely people at Bonmarche. As you know I desperately wanted something gorgeous & velvet to adorn myself in, this dress was exactly right. The midnight blue colour is so perfect, the fabric so soft & the fit oh so flattering. I felt amazing in this dress.

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I have actually never shopped at Bonmarche before, but had heard good things, about their plus size dresses in particular. After perusing their website I suspect that some of their ranges are aimed at a slighter more mature woman. Having said that I saw several dresses that I would rock and some faux fur jackets that are to die for. Considering I not only looked super sexy in this dress, but it was also as comfortable as my birthday suit, I will definitely be adding the Bonmarche website to my bookmarks.

Bonmarche also sent me some pretty accessories, which will be featuring in another excellent post incredibly soon.

Another slightly early xmas present arrived in a suspiciously shoe box shaped package. Sure enough when I tore it open nestled inside were the most beautiful shoes ever created. Someone clearly read this blog & liked the idea of having me at their beck and call. I am madly in love with these beauties. Should they ever change the law, I may well marry them.

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Irregular Choice

Last, but not least my darling sister got me this shiny & sleek clutch that she spied on my wish list. Lauren also cooked us all a delicious Christmas dinner, including the cutest dessert ever amp; clearly my little sis has been hiding her culinary skills. Now that her secret’s out she can expect me over for dinner much more often.

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Asos

All of my people gave me marvellous pressies & I appreciate every single one. However, the finest thing in my life is undoubtedly belonging to my warm, loyal & hilarious family. The fact that I’ve been able to add to that family with my magnificent friends probably makes me more fortunate than I deserve to be. So, I’ll leave you with some snaps of our Christmas because I believe this is what it’s all about.

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* disclaimer – all the fizz impaired my ability to take photographs in focus, which some special folks don’t appear. I love you all, people!*

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