As you may know I lost my Mum 17 weeks ago, and it's completely turned my life upside down. But despite the heartache of longing to see her; touch her; speak to her; laugh with her; just be in her presence, I have gained so much from the experience.
I admit to being so frightened of death and dying before, but for me my Mum's last hours conversely turned out to be the single biggest achievement of my life thus far. You see, I never thought I'd have the strength to sit by her side, holding her hand, till her last breath. To watch her slip away in front of my eyes seemed incomprehensible. I was tormented by it for years, and had built up the most horrific picture in my mind of how it would be.
My mum was incredibly resilient and fought a real fight right until the end. I saw it; I felt it. And upon that last breath she passed that grit and determination resolutely to me! I have become less fearful, less anxious because of her. Because of the determination she showed in those last months of her life, I am a different person. It changed me.
She witnessed me take my first breath and I her last. We had come full circle.
I've always appreciated the beauty in nature, and the simple things in life. But now I have a renewed enthusiasm for all that this life has to offer. I wrote a eulogy for Mum where I promised I would make the best of every day, and that I would now breathe for her. Taking every breath with purpose. In her memory I plan to do my best to fulfil that promise.
I didn't know whether to post this today, in the aftermath of another tragedy in our capital city. A high rise block in West London turned into a real life towering inferno in the early hours of yesterday morning, trapping it's residents inside. It took just minutes to engulf almost the entire building, leaving hundreds homeless and worse.
But I think it's entirely appropriate to share my thoughts as I had planned, for the simple fact that my Mother succumbed to severe respiratory disease. So sadly I know all too well how frightening it is to fight for your breath. The minute I heard of this tragedy unfolding I just thought of those desperate people, almost certainly fighting for breath as the smoke filled their homes, and I've not been able to shake the horror of that since.
The pictures that I'm sharing with you today are from a recent trip to Scotland. I spent a wonderful week immersed in the stunning surrounds of Argyll, specifically staying at Hunter's Quay, Dunoon. My cousin very generously offered her holiday home to us as a base to explore the magnificent highlands.
The main purpose of the trip was to attend a family reunion on Saturday 10th June in Glasgow. My father's cousin had painstakingly organised this event to reunite all the descendants of my Great Grandparents Sarah & Thomas. Extended family from all over the world were invited to congregate at The Woodside Hall in the city.
Having suffered such a great loss so recently, I felt really compelled to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and be amongst my relatives from far and wide. People I would pass on the street and not realise were my bloodline. Extended family have become so much more important since losing Mum, and ashamedly I hadn't seen much of my Father's side of the family for more than 13 years.
We spent the first part of the week staying at the Hunter's Quay holiday village just off the banks of the Holy Loch. It was such a beautiful location and the perfect place to call home for a few days. There is a regular ferry service from Gourock to Hunter's Quay which is the shortest possible route across the Firth of Clyde.
We made sure to explore as much as possible. It did rain very heavily for some of our stay, but it didn't matter one bit as the scenery is spectacular come rain or shine. We took the coastal road from Strachur to Otter Ferry one day and came upon the most wonderful bar & restaurant called The Oystercatcher. You can see it here on Google Maps.
A truly wonderful setting. The interior is beautifully styled, and would be the perfect venue for a special event. It is remote, but totally worth the trip. We enjoyed some refreshments while admiring the view. I just had to get a picture using the window as a frame. To think this time last week I was sat there!!
I admit to feeling a little melancholy as I gazed at the water and highlands beyond. Mum wasn't there, and that was hard. My father was supping on a pint of Guiness, as we reminisced a while. We talk about Mum all the time, and remember happy times. My parents often holidayed in this part of Scotland, so my Father couldn't help but be reminded of special moments spent there.
I took the opportunity to pull over and stop the car at many different vantage points, where I stood in awe at the majesty of the landscape. I just wanted to be 'in the moment' and to admire the wild beauty. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs. Then slowly exhaled, committing to memory the outstanding panorama in front of me.
After all, this is as much my country as any other! I was born in England, but I have Scottish and Irish blood running through my veins, and I am proud of my Celtic roots. Going back to my roots has been very cathartic for me. Being embraced by all my extended family has helped immensely with my grief. My cousin's (who's holiday home we stayed in ) beloved Mother also died at the same time as my own, so we were able to find consolation in each other's struggle.
It was very emotional, and uplifting at the same time. Being surrounded by those you love, and that love you unconditionally in return is something to be cherished. I don't know what I was looking for. Perhaps I just felt the need to belong. My mother was ripped out of my life, and I felt adrift. I couldn't have asked for a better homecoming. I will not be leaving it another 13 years, I can tell you that...........
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