Friday, 25 October 2013

Oh good grief - it's another torrent of tears!

I feel as if I have let myself down.

Today was supposed to be a good day, a grown up day where I left to catch the train before the boys had even left for school.

I was heading for York for a radio interview to be aired on Christmas day as part of the Archbishop’s Christmas broadcast. It had all come about because of the Faith Stories book published earlier in the year, in which I am a contributor.

(Here's another post about my experience - A leap too far? )

Everything connected with the book has been exciting but every event always leaves me in tears and today was the worst.

I think it’s because we are approaching the anniversary – three years, so much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same.

In the early days I thought these feeling would be over by now and I would have moved on both geographically and emotionally as if putting down one novel and beginning another set in a different world with a whole range of new characters.

Real life is not like that – I can’t quite believe my thoughts were once so na├»ve! 

Today as soon as I started talking about Andrew the tears bubbled up and have been raging like a flood on and off all day.

My radio interview was a total disaster! I was speaking about having hope in my faith without an ounce of hopefulness in my voice. To be honest I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide under the desk.

This is the life I long for,  I want to be a writer with days interspersed with speaking engagements and radio interviews talking about my writing, sharing my words of wisdom on grief – ha – what do I really know.

I could always write a book about how to fall apart ungracefully and blub your way round a city – remember to always carry tissues in you handbag especially when venturing out alone and don’t overdo the mascara.

Grieving is such hard work - am I doing something wrong after all this time?

I complained on Twitter and Facebook 

“What I hate most about grief - its ability to ruin what could have been a great day with a torrent of tears & an overwhelming sense of loss.”

A friend posted this in reply

“Grief is not bad though, in that its depth measures the love we have enjoyed and thus is a foundation of our character as long as we do not defend against it or avoid it in the future.”

On reflection perhaps I am actually grieving well after all and if I had moved on it would should how little I really cared. Maybe if my voice hadn’t cracked exposing my emotions it would have been more telling. In the grand scheme of things three years is a short space of time.

Well that’s my positive spin on things for today – now pass me another tissue…

Thursday, 24 October 2013

More than a handful of conkers

God has been speaking to me recently, sometimes I even turn my ear to catch what it is He has to say. 

The word he repeatedly whispers and often shouts at me at the moment is ASK!

The trouble is I can’t decide what I should be ASKING for, something holy or something more personal and therefore seemingly frivolous. I don’t want to present God with a shopping list of wonderful wishes but I get the impression he wants me to ASK Him for much more than I do.

On Sunday afternoon I went down to the bottom of the garden to collect conkers, we have several horse chestnut trees. I took a shoe box and within a short space of time I had filled it with lusciously glossy fruit. 

I am so aware that God has given me much; my own shoe box is full of abundant gifts and talents that I don’t always know what to do with. And there are so many more conkers within my reach.

I can’t ASK for anything more but maybe I need to ASK what I should do with what I’ve already got. 

ASK for help when I don’t know where to begin.

ASK how I should be filling my days, protecting my writing time, which I know as I sit here and write this is important and crucial for my wellbeing.

ASK for wisdom as I sort my paperwork and clutter – what is necessary and what can I throw away?

ASK for peace as we approach November and the 3 year anniversary of Andrew’s death.

And ASK for some more of that JOY I wanted to find in the summer.

As for the conkers I have left some in a box by the front gate for children who pass to find, or if they venture as far as my front door and ASK nicely I will gladly give them a handful with a smile.

So how much more will my Father in heaven give me the good gifts that I ASK for.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Christmas Story in October!

Yes it might seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas but I am joining with my online writing group otherwise known as the Dark Fairy Queen and her Brilliant Minions to produce a collection of Christmas stories.

We have collaborated on an anthology before and hopefully this time we will have enough stories to print a proper book not just an e type one - just in time to wrap up for the perfect Christmas present. The deadline is the end of the month!

I really must mention Laura, Ruth, Nick and Missy who are doing all the really hard work of pulling this together - hands out cookies and chocolate to you all - you need to keep your strength up!

As per rules and guidelines:

my story is: "The Angel who didn't like Christmas" by Sarah Nicholson

eBook: definitely YES!

genre: angel fairytale (is that a genre? kind of just made it up!)

word total: 986

Dedication: A story for the Dark Fairy Queen and all my fellow Minions, with love and thanks for the support and laughter received in equal measure over the past year - Merry Christmas xx

OK I think that is all the official boxes ticked - now sit back and enjoy the story!

The Angel who didn't like Christmas

“Tinselitis?” Angel Anna raised an eyebrow suspiciously.

“I’ve got a sick note, signed by Dr Laura. Had all the tests confirmed.” His nose was already starting to twitch, must be that fake twinkling Christmas tree strategically placed to make Anna’s desk look festive.

She tapped efficiently on her laptop. “’Tin-sel-i-tisan allergy to tinsel, glitter and sparkle.’ Such a shame this time of year.” She said without a flicker of sympathy.

“So if you’ll just stamp this letter, verify that I’m too sick for duty I can be getting off home to recover.” Jeff had it all planned out, a quiet Christmas in front of the TV for a change. He hated being an angel this time of year.

The telephone rang just as he sneezed.

Anna listened intently to the voice at the other end, nodding her head. Jeff found a handkerchief in his pocket and blew his nose with more force than was necessary to make the point that he was still here and he was sick.

“It seems the Big Man upstairs has a mission for you.” Anna put down the phone while flashing Jeff her sunniest smile.

“I can’t go down there at Christmas; you know how crazy those humans get.”

“Special orders.” She hit the send button on her laptop and he was on his way.

It was angel rush-hour, thousands of them were gliding up and down the heavenly staircases off to work, each one chattering loudly, all decked out in their shiny best. Sequins twinkled in every direction like millions of eyes conspiratorially winking at him. 

He shuddered, feeling hot and cold all at once. He should be in bed sleeping off this fever but it was impossible to escape. Pushed along in the melee he was trapped and descending earthwards.

He sneezed some more which at least kept his fellow angels at a distance giving him some much needed space to breathe.

“Special orders”,  well that was an honour he supposed, he couldn’t remember the last time he was singled out for an important mission, but before he had chance to ponder what it might be he felt the ground give way beneath him.

“You have reached your destination.” The voice was cheery yet mechanical as he gracefully floated to the ground.

He stood outside an inauspicious looking house, number 67 with a green door.

Most houses in the street were festooned in bright lights. There was a lopsided plastic reindeer opposite with a red nose that flashed rather alarmingly. 

Jeff was glad this house was plain and ordinary looking. He shivered feeling chilly, not feverish this time, just cold, there was snow on the ground and he had no coat.

Unsure what else to do he rang the doorbell.

It took an age before it was opened by an old man wearing a cardigan and slippers.

“If you’re selling double glazing I don’t want it. Or a new driveway. I don’t want a time share and I’ve got enough tea towels to last a lifetime.”

“I’m not selling anything.”

“Well you’ll freeze to death out there lad, letting all my good heat out too. You best come in. Don’t suppose you’re a murderer, I’m too old for this life to care anyway and if you’ve come to rob me I’ve got nowt worth having.”

Jeff followed the man as he shuffled down the hall into a stuffy over heated room with the TV turned up loud.

“I was just about to watch The Great Escape, you seen it?” He didn’t wait for Jeff to answer, “Sit down then lad, you’re making the place look untidy.”

The room was uncluttered, TV, two armchairs, clock on the mantelpiece with a photo propped up beside it, mum, dad, three smiling children somewhere in a sunnier place.

“Family?” Jeff said nodding in the direction of the photo.

“Son, daughter-in-law, in Australia. Now shush, film’s about to start.”

Sometimes it didn’t matter where you went, heaven or earth, you were destined to be ordered about.

They watched in silence, each of them so caught up in the familiar story there was no need to speak.

As Steve McQueen was shut in the cooler for the last time the man got to his feet, “Cup of tea?”

“I’d prefer a beer.”

“Oh what the heck, it is Christmas I suppose.” Said the man with a definite twinkle in his eye.

They chinked their glasses together.

“So what’s your story then? Turning up on an old man’s doorstep on Christmas day out of the blue.”

“Would it surprise you if I said I was an angel?”

“An angel! So what’s your name then Gabriel?”


 “That’s not an angel name. Jeff?” The man shook his head but he was beginning to grin.

“So what’s your name then?”


“Now that is a good angel name.”

“Pah! You can call me Wombat.”


“Always fancied having a nickname. Don’t you think it suits me?” He tried to twitch his whiskery face which made them both suddenly roar with laughter. “It’s good to laugh ain’t it. I ain’t laughed properly for … well for a long time.”

Jeff studied the man, looked at the photo on the mantelpiece and surveyed a room devoid of Christmas cheer. He guessed his mission was just to keep this man company, not much of a special order but he had to admit this wasn’t a bad way to spend Christmas.

They sat companionably, laughing at the festive entertainment on the flickering box in the corner.

All of a sudden Jeff was aware of another presence; the room had become still and quiet for the first time. Anna stood beside Michael’s chair.

“Is he gone?”

She nodded, “Peacefully and happy.”

“And that was my special mission?” 

She opened the folder she was carrying. “Last heartfelt prayer of an old soldier: please don’t let me spend my last Christmas on earth alone.”

Monday, 21 October 2013

Letter to the monster under the bed…

 ruthbadgev2_zpsbb523273 I am just in time to link up with Ruth @ Learning (one day at a time) for another Letter to... 

This week We are writing to the monster under the bed...

Here's what I made of the prompt and as I wrote I discovered to my surprise that I am not quite as fearful as I once used to be...

You are a black smudge on my cream coloured bedroom carpet.

Did you think you’d escaped my notice completely?

Or do you quite like to be seen dancing your exotic eight legged quickstep?

I saw you out of the corner of my eye scurrying as fast as those long lean limbs could carry your bulbous body.

Now you are hiding under my bed.

I can’t see you but I know you are there, lurking amongst the dust and snotty dried up tissues that I’ve neglected to hoover. 

A place where both angels and us lesser mortals fear to tread!

You are the overdue tax bill I found the other day,

The falling down house next door,

The gathering leaves on the lawn.

You are the face in the mirror that wonders “why?”

The paperwork that’s piling up,

The rattling door handle that threatens to fall off,

You are a scary version of the future where I end up alone

The fear of not being a good enough parent

The dread of just getting it wrong

In reality you are a spider pure and simple. But there was a time not very long ago when I would have screamed and physically been unable to move. To actually sleep soundly in a bed with a spider beneath would have been practically impossible, but one by one I am facing my fears...

the death of a loved one
and the uncertainty that follows.

Curiously I struggled to make a list of things above that frighten me because I have grown stronger in the past three years. 

I know completely that God is ever present, even when I momentarily forget what I know to be true and the fears creep out for a merry little dance.

God has got this all figured out all I have to do is trust. He’s always there reaching out to hold my hand.

Today I have come to realise that most of the monsters under my bed are merely tissue shadows covered in dust and maybe it’s time to get the hoover out.