Dearest Stef

It was really good to talk to you on Saturday, as I said I have been concerned about you lately. I am writing because I have been thinking about you, and I guess for my own cathartic needs, I want to tell you how important you are to me. I am priviliged to be part of your family and likewise feel blessed that you are part of my family. As you know I don’t give and trust to a wide circle of people, it is only those for whom I truly love and care most deeply about.

It is often said that true friendships are only counted on one hand, I count my blessings dearly, for those who hold my hand are valued and loved for all that they are. It is the food of life which carries, sustains, protects and cherishes us; these hands are for holding too, to hold each other through our paths and journies.

You recently told me that I should lean on you, well I am telling you that it goes two ways, allow yourself to do the same and feel what is given to you; trust those who give to you and know that they return what you have given to them.

I know there are dark places that you travel and I accept what you say in that you battle with connection in the here and now, I also accept that you have the right to decide about completeing suicide….for the record I don’t agree that it is the only solution….BUT it is also your right to know that you have someone to talk to in these times, I offer you ears which will listen freely and openly to you; especially when your plan feels like it is the only answer. You will always have my love and friendship, you are unique and I love you most dearly. Bev x

Stef finally carried out his plan and died on the 16 May 2011, six months after I wrote this letter to him. He touched many hearts, his mum was given a standing ovation after she delivered her eulogy at his funeral. His passing has left a Stef shaped hole that cannot be filled, this is shared for all of you who have been affected by suicide and the deep sadness it leaves. With love to those who are finding a way through the heartbreak xXx





Anniversaries can mark many things, a point in time when something significant and out of the ordinary has happened to us; they allow us to pause and remember those events which are part of our lives. A symbolic date in the calendar comes to represent that event, sometimes anniversaries are for the living and sometimes for the dead.

As a general rule I don’t tend to dwell on the anniversary of a death, it is only my father’s death date that I remember.
January 26th 1990.
He was dead by the time I arrived home, our alcoholic neighbour picked me up from the train station, he tried to grope me and kiss me; the dirty drunken bastard. Got his commupenance in the end though and died of liver failure, I had no sympathy. He stole a collection box from his local church, and in court defended himself saying he was testing church security; got away with it at the time, but karma gets us all in the end. I didn’t tell anyone for years as to what had happened on that night, alcohol was his demon, I still sometimes feel guilty and wander how many other drink fuelled gropes he attempted and the women he plunged himself on; a pathetic, pissed, lecherous man.

I was 19 when dad died, I have now been alive for more years than I knew him for. It has been 23 years since he passed, his insides eaten away by cancer. His anniversary is a hard time for mum, I think there is still rawness that has never healed; and I am always acutely aware that this for her is a difficult date. As with all previous years I make sure I at least call her and speak to her, now that we are closer geographically I often spend time with her on the anniversary.
I cannot heal the hole in her heart that the passing of her husband has left, he is missed, loved, remembered fondly, never far from our thoughts; we raise a glass to the man we proudly knew whose love is always with us.

The Birthday Boy


The Birthday Boy

I think it is safe to say that youngest son was just a little bit excited about his birthday, he woke us up at 4am asking if he could open his presents; he didn’t get a very positive response. What only seemed like 5 minutes later, we were rudely awakened by the smoke alarm going off very loudly; to be honest my first thought was that the little bugger had deliberately done it by turning the toaster up as a way of getting our attention. The toaster antagonises the smoke alarm and frequently sets it off, no known cause is found as to why the bloody thing is blaring away. So at 5.45 am, husband is making tea and the family tradition of opening presents in mum and dad’s bad still holds true for the youngest. The eldest has discarded the tradition, but he comes for a cuppa and joins in the excitement.

We have learnt over the years that Birthdays and Aspergers have a unique combination; the presents will be counted, cards are only interesting if they contain money or a cheque, if a present isn’t liked it is discarded, if the wish list hasn’t been fulfilled, no matter how expensive a listed item might be, it will be noted and expressed usually in a loud and repetitive way. Presents have, as he has got older, needed to be negotiated, he has been demanding an Xbox for several months and despite consistently being told we will not buy one because we do not need 2 in the house; he is still insistent . Before going to bed last night, he asked what he was getting for his birthday, and did I perhaps mean that he would secretly be getting one and I was just really pretending, so that it would be a big surprise.

Last night he was troubled and upset about being a year older and nearer to death, asking if he or anyone in the family had cancer or any illnesses. He was sobbing as he told me that he didn’t want me to die, he told me that he loved me. Until recently he had only said he loved me on 2 occasions, now he tells me a lot, he says that he wants me to know in case I die. I cuddle him and hold him close when he tells me, my arms and heart full of love for him. I know that death worries him, its finality scares him, he knows what death means, he has experienced loosing people and at times gets overwhelmed and fixated on those he loves dying. I tell him as I always have, that the love we feel for someone and the love they give us, stays, it gets called many things, energy, spirit to name a couple; but its love connects us.

There are many times when his feelings and emotions burst out, he has intense rage which explodes sends massive sparks and charges the atmosphere. Asperger’s and the neuro-typical worlds collide with great thunderbolts, all of his pent up emotions needing to be released; Birthdays are no exception.

The school disco also happens to be on Toby’s birthday, so whilst there is excitement, the half an hour in which he has to get ready and leave, is intense. He thunders at warp speed up and down the stairs, demanding to know where his new jeans are, screams at the top of his voice, slamming doors and throwing his weight around so that it reverberates throughout the house. He battles with his dickey bow tie, which he insisted on as a birthday present and chose when we went shopping in Norwich last weekend; after much struggling he finally lets dad help him before deciding that it feels to uncomfortable and discards it. Eventually he is ready and the boy is transformed, looking cool in his new bomber jacket and jeans, his short recent hair cut has meant you can see his beautiful face again; he indulges us and lets us a take a photo.

He stands tall, his blonde hair and big blue eyes captured on this his 11th birthday, my youngest boy is growing fast.



The secret club


The secret club is our facebook network of mums, some have known each other for a number of years, with children ranging from 6 -17. Friendships which have developed because of our offspring, we have done the mother and toddler groups, pre-school committees, play dates and pic-nics in the park.

Playgrounds can be hostile, enemy territory, stand in the wrong place and you can be ousted instantly, you re-learn the routine when your kids start school, only it is never mentioned and no manual is issued on what protocol is expected. The rules are similar to your own school days, avoid the bully, the snobs who look down on you and for fucks sake never give eye contact to anyone with a clipboard, if they get as far as asking you…”can I just put your name down”, your doomed, be warned.

An assumption is made when your child starts school that you will instantly want to enter the ‘school community’, it sounds cosy and idyllic. The reality is a constant bombardment, helping in class, book sales, after-school clubs, PTA, fetes, discos, bake sales all come with a rota for which you are expected to sign up willingly and gladly, you are not expected to groan inwardly or outwardly at yet another fund raiser. You are meant to find it endearing at having to suffer school assemblies and nativities, there is always a tussle for front row seats so the cam-corder or rather these days the ‘smart phone’ brigade can hog best spot to capture their little darling performing like a seal club. The reality is that someone’s child is more interested in picking their nose and eating their bogies; another has a panic attack, forgets their lines and bursts into tears. Whilst all the pre-schoolers who have been dragged along get bored and restless, no amount of sshhing stops a pre-schooler from talking incessantly or whining constantly that they are bored and want to go home. We have all been there, got the snow globe, the coaster and Christmas cards all sold at inflated prices, at least it provides a token seasonal gift for the in-laws.

I swear that if you could bottle this it would make a fantastic contraceptive;  the competition between yummy mummys is fierce,  you know the ones always hovering vying for teachers attention as the kids file out, the ones who immerse themselves in the PTA, needing some identity within the pecking order that marks them out as special.  It is easy to lose yourself, which is why the mums who are your friends become your lifeline; the ones who you can share a problem with, knowing it won’t be gossip the next day, the ones who you can go out with, get pissed with, the ones who are there for you, the ones who support you and don’t judge you.  If you are lucky you find mums who you build a connection with, laugh with, cry with and tread the path of parenting with.