The bonds that bind us: true friends, new friends, girlfriends

2012/13 may be my annus horribilis but it isn’t going to stop me feeling tremendously lucky. Close behind lucky I feel honoured and extremely grateful.  This overwhelming sense of bliss has been inspired by some truly lovely ladies.  These women spur me on, they share my sorrows and they help me keep smiling.  Every time the crap container tries crapping on me the girls join forces and put Mary Poppins umbrella over my head.

I know some of these wonderful women very well. If it wasn’t for the fact we have different surnames we could easily be devoted sisters.  Some of these ladies are new friends; we didn’t know each other so well until 2012 but the compassion and care they offer makes them true friends in every sense.  Some of us have yet to meet in person, technology and shared experience brought us together. Although we may never be able to meet it doesn’t make the friendship any less endearing.

These women all have busy lives, they all work extremely hard, they have their own families to take care of and they also have to take care of themselves.  Many of them have seen tough times, they have stories to tell too.  But astonishingly no matter what else is going on these amazing women find time to watch-out for me. They show such humanity, kindness and affection that thinking about it brings me to tears.  I cannot adequately convey the emotions behind the bonds that bind us but this, my friends,  is a sisterhood to be proud of.  I am lucky, truly honoured and so, so grateful to have these lovely ladies in my life.  I hope very much that I’ll be able to give them the same love and friendship they’ve given to me.

(Image courtesy of

When bittersweet holds no comfort

I try not to think, too often, about the darker side of where I am today. But every now and then I do reflect on past experiences. That’s when I hope above all else, that history stops repeating itself.  For the eight wives, husbands and numerous children in our family who’ve walked this path before me, history is cold and cruel.   Over four generations – more than a century – all of these women died before they reached the age of 50.    Surviving  husbands and children have been crushed, critically injured by the wake.  Inevitably life for them goes on but there are many scars. No-one ever recovers from this kind of tsunami.

Loving another human being, truly loving them unconditionally for who they are, how they are and rejoicing in what you are together is a pretty rare thing. Some of us spend a lifetime looking but never find ‘the one.’  Some think they’re in love only to realise a little down the line that it’s a charade. Lust, loneliness or an irrational fear of being left on the shelf masquerading as the real thing.  But when two people meet and time stops still around them, when they light up while the rest of the world suddenly fades away, they know.  The know they were always going to meet and they know they’re always meant to be together. For them, from that moment forward, being anywhere else isn’t going to work.

It doesn’t really matter whether you believe pheromones or fate causes this phenomenon.  This kind of love makes a couple greater than the sum of their parts, better together than each on their own.  Not just in the beginning when everything is new, fresh, anticipatory but all day, everyday, forever.  I know this sounds like a fairytale but it isn’t.  This kind of love happens in my family.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful and all too often its been  heart-breakingly short-lived.  Truly loving another, loving every single thing about them until you’re so close you’re one spirit with two physical bodies means any kind of separation – temporary during treatment or permanent through another untimely cancer-death is worse than intercision*

“Its better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is, possibly, still true.    But I’ve seen and felt what intercision has done to my family,  to devoted people in the prime of their lives. I’ve looked into the raw chasm, felt the excruciating pain.  Time marches on, days become weeks become years.  But these wounds don’t heal and bittersweet holds no comfort.

That’s why this time, cruel history, the past must stop. It’s a new century. It’s time our story ends  ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’

* Intercision: Read the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman or try