stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


The bus of opportunity

Since moving to London I have been wondering how I should best use my time, my spare time that is. For the first time in a long time I have felt that maybe in amongst all my normal day to day commitments I had just a bit of spare capacity, some space in my mind, some energy in my bones, a longing in my soul to do something different… The problem was, I didn’t know what.

Seriously. Not a clue.

The peculiar thing about this was that every time I set time aside to pray, and think and plan, I came away with a big fat zero. No ideas. No vision. Just silence and an empty page with the word “ideas”, underlined and doodled around staring blankly back at me.

This had started to become quite disconcerting and I started to get frustrated. After all, now Jonty had started nursery I had a spare six hours a week which I needed to fill (I know! Don’t laugh!)

The years of university teaching me to be a rational economic agent, and productive member of society working and contributing to the economy weighed heavy on my mind… But still, nothing! No ideas at all!

It was at this point that I questioned why I never got a profession. Surely if I was a doctor, or a teacher or an electrician, I wouldn’t be having this crisis (this probably isn’t true but this was my thought pattern…)

But then, one day a few weeks ago an email popped into my inbox inviting me to apply for a job. It was part-time, with an organisation that I thought was brilliant. Hooray! The opportunity to become a productive member of society appeared once more. I duly filled in the application form (all the time wondering if it was a good idea… Mummy guilt and all that jazz) and waited to see if I would be shortlisted and invited for an interview. I was. Another hooray! This was going well.

The interview was on Tuesday. I had lost my voice over the weekend and it was just starting to return so I sounded like a chain smoker, but nevertheless, I was excited, if a bit apprehensive.

The interview was fine. Not spectacular, not terrible, just ok. Underwhelming I know. The problem was that I just didn’t feel at peace about this job at all. It just didn’t feel like a good fit for a host of reasons. But, of course I wanted to be offered the job. No one likes a rejection. No one likes having their ego squashed.

But, late on Wednesday night the email came through. I had been unsuccessful. There was someone more suitable than me.

There went my chance to be a productive member of society. There was my ego being squashed.

But, slightly surprisingly, I felt ok about it. In fact, other than feeling embarrassed they didn’t offer it to me, I felt relieved that the decision that I had no peace about had been taken out of my hands. And the next day I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. This sense of freedom hit me square between the eyes as I walked on the bridge over the Thames on my way into town the following morning. The river looked beautiful, the air was fresh and it was quiet, and I felt myself physically give a sigh of relief.

However, in spite of this sense of freedom, I found myself once again thinking about my lack of vision (old habits die hard). Why was my mind, that is usually so full of ideas and schemes and plans, suddenly blank?

Maybe it’s something in the water? Maybe. But more likely, I realised, maybe it is because now isn’t the time for a hundred new ideas and for filling up every scrap of time I have. Maybe now is a time of waiting. But not waiting and spinning my wheels. No, this is different. This is waiting with purpose. I suppose a bit like waiting for a bus.

This waiting comes with knowing that the next season full of opportunities and creativity and ideas is coming, in the right time, without me rushing to meet it.

I don’t want to miss it because I was so busy filling my last little scrap of time. I want to have the space to see it coming and have the capacity to jump on board when it does!

So, for now, I am waiting. I am parking my “productive member of society” hobbyhorse somewhere out of the way of the bus of opportunity and am allowing myself the time to enjoy the gift of the space to wait.

A view of the Andes from my last Peruvian bus of opportunity!


February joy

Where did January go? I can’t believe it is already February and I have yet to put pen to paper! I love February, in spite of its biting cold and the feeling of never ending winter. I love February because it is the month of my boy’s birthday!

This time next week my big boy is turning three. Hooray!!

He is so excited! He is having a little fireman party which he is thrilled about and he talks every day about his birthday. He sadly still hasn’t overcome his dislike for cake (read more about that here!) although he did amazingly have one tiny bite of a friend’s Frozen/skiing themed birthday cake on Saturday. He said it was “ok” (which wasn’t hugely encouraging considering I had made the aforementioned cake!)

Nevertheless, he is determined to have a birthday cake of his own. A few days ago he said, “Mummy, for my birthday, you can make me a beautiful fire engine cake… But I’m not going to have any of it!” For some inexplicable reason he is also adamant that while the rest of us will eat party food on his birthday, Daddy should be provided with yogurt to eat!?! So it looks like Joel will be missing out on this fire engine cake too! 😉

Just like Jonty I am also really excited for his third birthday. But for quite different reasons.

For me, anticipating this third birthday kicks up a whole lot of emotions and a whole lot of memories.

When my cancer was first diagnosed I was so sure that it would kill me. And soon. When I was diagnosed I decided that my goal was to live until this beautiful baby, who was then just eight weeks old, turned three. Just three more years, please God! I obviously had no way of controlling or ensuring that this would happen, but still, this was my aim.

I figured that as I have a few memories from when I was three that if I could just live until then, maybe, just maybe, my beautiful boy would remember me if I was no longer around. Maybe he would remember the intensity of my love for him, how wanted and cherished he was by me. Maybe he would remember my voice or my laugh or the way I sang to him or rocked him to sleep. Maybe he would remember just one of those things…

If I could just make it to his third birthday.

And so now here I stand, just one week to go until the moment that I wished for so fervently.

Just one week to go and I am so thankful.

I am so grateful that I am not yet a distant and hazy memory in Jonty’s mind, that he doesn’t need to remember how I loved him because he still knows it in his every day. I am so grateful for each day’s hugs, laughs and even struggles, because they mean I am still here. I still get to love him and share this crazy, wonderful and beautiful life with my crazy, wonderful and beautiful boy!

Happy birthday precious boy!