United In Grief And Hello To 3AM Biscuits.

Hello to the all too familiar small hours. Insomnia, you are such an unwelcome guest, yet once again here you are.

The grieving process has been an active part of my headspace for the last twenty months. Since my dad’s stroke in July 2018, I’ve been grieving the loss of a great mind. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my familiar mum too, but I’ve had longer to accept her dementia. Never more have I felt so connected to my dad as I do now. Not connected to the man he is today, but the man he was. All his old philosophies are currently screaming in my head. His life mantra, “Make someone smile and make sure that someone is yourself,” is constantly on repeat in my mind.

When Dad was Headmaster of Bradninch school, I was so upset that he would not let me go to it. Upset because I wanted to see my crazy dad in action. He refused to have me there as he never wanted to be my teacher, just my dad. Today, I know that he was my teacher anyway, my teacher of life. In any case, I know he refused to have me in his school because he knew I’d have let the side down and been a talkative little shitbag in class! (Cannot blame him for that!)

Speaking to a staff member from his home yesterday really lifted my tired spirit. I’ve not seen my dad for twelve days now and I’m so used to seeing him all the time. I was telling this member of staff how my dad always had the ability to bring sunshine to times of adversity. She replied, “Soph, he walks around the home smiling and we all say he brightens our day.” Sat in the car park of Axminster Tesco, I was reduced to tears. Dementia has devastated our lives, stolen my dad, yet his smile is prevalent when others need it. I’m so proud of that scrumptious man, unbelievably proud.

When his home went into lockdown, they set up Skype to allow families to see their loved ones. Unfortunately, this does not work for me. I Skyped the home once, but I knew instantly that it would not help me. Seeing Dad and already witnessing the deterioration in him after just one week rendered me heartbroken. As I’ve seen him so regularly, the changes have been subtle, but after a week of isolation, the decline was so painful to see. He was simply repeating my words in an echolalic fashion. I knew immediately that Skyping him was not the answer to keeping myself mentally strong. All I want is to be able to sit with him and cuddle him in his most vulnerable chapter of life.

With this horrendous situation we’re all facing, we’re all grieving for our former lives prior to this evil virus. We’re all united in fearing its destruction. We’re all united in fearing it taking one of our loved ones.

Yesterday, as I was walking into our school meeting, one of the senior leadership team told me I shouldn’t be in school as they had read my medical information. All weekend, I’d been battling with my family to not mention my asthma to my school. I don’t want to be considered one of the vulnerable on that list, when I should be helping others as much as I possibly can. This mad March hare does not find defeatism easy to accept at all. I have to admit, my heart sank when I was told I’d be going home. However, I soon learnt that my whole team was being sent home anyway, to work with children “remotely,” so this eased my guilt. All these unfamiliar terms are sadly now the norm: teaching children remotely, self-isolation, social distancing…

Since Lou moved to Taunton last November, my empty nest syndrome has been so prevalent. With both my babies now living somewhere other than with me, I’ve had to grow up fast! (Not too fast, think I’ll always be Clive’s third and problem child!) Post Boris’ speech, the grim reality that I won’t be seeing Hats every day, or Lou at weekends, is an absolute destroyer. Envy is an ugly emotion, yet I find myself envying those who have children still at home, as they can do all they possibly can to try and keep their babies safe. I just feel powerless, I cannot give my adult children hugs and kisses.

Everyone is currently having to sacrifice something in order to do their utmost to prevent loss of life. I have friends who cannot see their grandchildren and my heart absolutely breaks for them. Especially those who have newborn grandchildren and cannot indulge themselves in that euphoria. It’s totally heartbreaking.

As adults, we’re struggling to come to terms with this invisible threat to our loved ones. How must children feel when they cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of this killer virus?  It’s all so heartbreaking.

What do we do to keep our spirits up? We do our best to smile and laugh when we can. I don’t believe in a God (and I’m not knocking those who do, we all have the right to our own beliefs), but what I do believe in is the human spirit. A random act of kindness lifts you for a whole day, so it’s things like this that we need to focus our efforts on.

My mum, Mrs Snakeskin Shoes herself, is keeping me busy on the phone. “Soph, can I still go down to the paper shop and buy my chewing gum?”… Yes Mum, you can no longer see your family, nor can you have people in for coffee, but you can still go shopping for Wrigley’s Doublemint!!! I’m now beginning to think I need an automated message constantly played to her explaining the complexities of self-isolation!

It’s 3:30am and my stomach is rumbling, so it’s that McVitie’s time again! I despise anyone who can boast a full night’s sleep! Haha! Not really, (but you are a slightly annoying knob!)

Let’s all dream of a world, post COVID-19 that is more grateful and less entitled. Xxxxxxxxxxxx








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