Highs and Lows

Nearly two weeks after we got married, it’s been a time of enormous highs and some crashing lows.

I’ve been loving all of the pictures that we have been getting from our friends and family from the wedding. Some of them are gorgeous, some are less that flattering, so I’ve been collecting them into folders and I’m going to make a montage of all the awful ones and hang it on the wall. It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

However, it didn’t help that two days after we got married The Bloke was told that Ofsted (the national inspection service for UK schools) would be coming to inspect the school he works at. Anyone who has ever worked in an educational institution in the UK knows that there is nothing more stressful than Ofsted – I’ve seen grown professionals reduced to tears – and as an IT Technician The Bloke receives enormous amounts of tasks and pressure from every area of the school, so he did incredibly long days and was shattered. I felt awful for him – not exactly the start I was hoping for.

We’ve been excitedly preparing for our honeymoon, getting together the last items that we will need for five days in NYC. Despite being given a large luggage allowance, we are repeating the same process that we did for Barcelona a few years ago and just taking a small, capsule wardrobe of outfits each in a rucksack that we can take onto the plane as hand luggage. We figured that it was going to be cold, we are spending most of our time being tourists and therefore we can get away with taking warm sweaters and t-shirts and just one nice outfit for something posh we have planned. It also means that there is zero chance that our bags would go missing (this has happened to me on flights before) and we don’t have to waste time at the baggage section when we land – we can just take our stuff and go. Because of the time of our flight, we’re traveling down to London and staying overnight at the airport hotel, and it’s that beautiful time of year where the lights have just gone up for Christmas so we can have a nice touristy time in our favourite city too.

We also had the opportunity to meet up with a group of Blogger’s Bash bloggers in Birmingham last weekend. We met at Bacchus, one of my favourite bars, and it was lovely getting the chance to catch up and say hello. The Bloke was in town doing some shopping so he joined us afterwards, and we indulged in lovely food and had a nice chat. I always find it strange when meeting bloggers that I have known online for years – I’ve met most of the people who were there just a few times before, but I feel I know them a little and the conversation is never boring or stunted as we all know each other’s stories from the blog posts that we read. I think they stayed for a while, but The Bloke and I had to leave early because we had to get ready for the fancy dress 40th birthday party for one of my favourite people, as you do.

The theme was film characters, so we decided that the obvious choice would be to go as Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World, of course. I managed to find the hat and wigs from eBay and then I bought the rest from charity shops. What resulted was a Wayne and Garth that looked like they had been on a steady 10 year binge of hard drugs and alcohol. The party was fun – there were lots of friends and former colleagues that I hadn’t seen in years and some that came to the wedding but I didn’t get much chance to speak to them properly at the time, so it was great to be able to catch up with them all and find out how they were doing. I found it quite amusing that some of them didn’t recognise us because of our outfits – we were staring at one former colleague and even though she looked directly at us she walked past and The Bloke had to go over and say hello at the bar.

The other day, I was working through my social media checklist and saw I had a Facebook message. I was then greeted by a whole group of members of my Facebook group who had secretly been collectively scheming and squirrelling a donation for The Bloke and I for our wedding and honeymoon, and I was presented with an enormous sum of money. It isn’t often that I’m lost for words, but this was one of the rare occasions where I had no idea what to say, and I knew that thank you wasn’t enough. What an unbelievable surprise – we were totally gobsmacked. Em, Lorna and everyone who contributed – thanks so so so much… Yet another reason why the blogging community is a wonderful place to be, and I’m so lucky to know them!

And then, we had some devastating news. Our friend and former colleague passed away earlier this week. She came to the wedding and I spoke to her last Saturday via Facebook messenger, and on Monday of this week she had a sudden and unexpected illness and passed away a little while later. She had only retired a few years ago, was a devoted mother and grandmother and loved by everyone who worked with her – staff and students alike. It was a total shock, and I’m still reeling from it. She was such a fabulous woman – never forgot a birthday, always had a kind word and offered many (including myself on numerous occasions) a shoulder to cry on, and the outpouring I’ve seen since her passing has shown just how many lives she touched. I’m so grateful that I got the chance to see her and tell her how much she means to us before she passed, and that she saw so many of her friends. She very kindly gave us some money for the honeymoon as a gift so we’ve made a donation to the RNLI (of which she was a huge supporter) in her name and we’ll have a drink for her when we’re away.

Jan, we love you and thank you for everything that you have done for us… We’ll miss you and your friendship very much. May you rest in peace xx

I’ll be away from the blog for a while – I hope you all have a calm and peaceful time and I’ll catch up with you soon!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

A Lost Little Cat and a Ruined Birthday Surprise

imageI’m tired today.

I feel a little raw and bruised, mainly because of the trauma of yesterday. The atmosphere of the house is different, almost empty. Daisy’s brother, Poppy (yes, I know it’s a girl’s name – long story) settled down well last night until 4.00am, at which point I think he realised that she wasn’t there, and took it upon himself to investigate every room downstairs, crying as he went. It was quite heartbreaking to listen to – this was only the second night in eleven years that he had spent without her and he was clearly feeling lost.

He’s spent most of today being extremely quiet, fast asleep on my lap. It’s odd – normally he has a mad half-an-hour of running around, playing and making lots of noise after he’s been fed, but today he’s just… sad. Continue reading

Goodbye Daisy

imageI lost another little friend today… The only bad thing about having a pet is when they leave you, and it never gets any easier.

I’ve had Daisy and her brother since they were 5 weeks old. Normally, that would have been far too young and I hadn’t intended on getting two more cats at the time, but the state that they were both in meant that if I didn’t take them in they would have almost certainly died. She was so small that she could fit in the palm of my hand and I used to laugh at her enormous ears, particularly as she looked like the love child of Yoda and Gizmo the Mogwai. Continue reading

Mother’s Day: Things To Say To Someone You Love Today

It’s Mother’s Day in lots of countries today and my reader is filled with bloggers stories and poems dedicated to one of the most important in people in their lives. While we celebrate Mother’s Day in March here in the UK, I am lucky to have been blessed with the best mother in the world…

Others aren’t as lucky. A tear is always brought to my eye with the heartfelt memories of loss, of grief, anger, and from those who would give anything to have more time, even if it just for a minute. Combined with the loss that my friend suffered recently and the untimely passing of Grayson Queen, they serve as a reminder of just how short life is and the missed opportunities to tell the important people in our lives just how much they mean to us.

Here are things I am going to be saying to the people I care about today…

1. Thank you. It’s amazing how often that these little words are forgotten. Take the time to thank somebody who has gone that extra mile to support you.

2. The fact that you like having them in your life and that you enjoy spending time with them. It’s taken for granted that we spend time with the people (usually) who we enjoy being around and who makes us happy, but have you actually ever said this to them?

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3. What you appreciate about them. My mother, The Bloke and my friends are funny, intelligent and talented people. They listen to me. When I’ve had a bad day, my friend V meets me in the pub, buys me a drink and let’s me rant. M invites me round to her house for dinner and regularly listens to stories of my blogging exploits. When I was in the hospital, C and M visited me. When my cat Wobbly died, G brought round cupcakes to my house. They buy me flowers, send me messages of support, make me laugh, entertain me and invite me out to places so we can spend time together.

4. That you find them attractive. This is something that would probably be best saying to your partner – I think my mother and friends would be concerned if I suddenly said this to them. However, a compliment on how they look and what they’re wearing would potentially make somebody’s day.

5. My best memories involve you. The ‘do you remember when…?’ conversations are always good for strengthening a relationship. Reminiscing about hilarious past experiences never fails to remind us of why we have the friendship in the first place.

6. That you support them. They may already know this, but it wouldn’t hurt to let them know that you’re there.

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7. That you love them. There are different kinds of love that are reserved for different people, but take the time to let them know (where possible – verbalising love for somebody may be taken in the wrong context in some situations).

What about you guys? Is there a special person you are grateful for?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.

 

If We Were Having Coffee #7

imageIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that it has been quite an emotional week.

On Sunday, my oldest friend, M, lost her mother to cancer. Yesterday, The Bloke and I travelled up north to attend the funeral. I’ve been quite lucky in life in that I haven’t had to attend many of them, but this means that I don’t cope very well during the service section of the day. True to form, I was a snivelling wreck, particularly when I saw another old friend, J, that I hadn’t spoken to in quite a while. All the way through school, M, J and I were a trio, and over the years we’ve created hundreds of memories, but over the last year J and I had drifted apart – busy lives got in the way. J is currently six months pregnant, and when she and her parents arrived we both burst into tears and gave each other a massive hug. It was truly nice to see her, although I wish the circumstances for our meeting would have been better.

The service was beautiful, and so many people had turned up from all over the country to say goodbye that there weren’t enough seats in the crematorium. M was able to read a poem that she had written herself. I admired her strength – I don’t think I would have been able to do the same – and we all laid a single flower on top of the coffin as we left. It was a beautiful send-off for a beautiful lady…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I went back to work after a thoroughly wonderful few weeks, and I’ve had one of the best teaching weeks that I’ve experienced in a long time. I think that it’s mainly because my boss has returned from maternity leave so my timetable is lighter and therefore the pressure is less. I have still had a lot work to do, but for once I’ve been able to deal with it without being interrupted with random bit of paperwork that need immediate completion. I’ve been able to get in the classroom and enjoy my lessons – the weather has been beautiful, the students have been in a good mood, and we’re now reaching the final stretch of the academic year. After handing in my resignation about a month ago, the weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have just over 40 working days left, and the job hunt begins!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been a blogging douchebag this week. Comments have been left unanswered, posts have yet to be posted, and I’ve barely touched any social media. The next few days are going to be spent catching up – on busy days I miss the interaction and enjoyment that I gain from the blogging world. I’ve decided to start a mini series about the different places to eat and things to do in my beloved city, Birmingham, and I fully intend on enjoying all the things it has to offer over the next few weeks. I rarely do guest posts, but I have one lined up for the 1st May over at Hugh’s Views and News, and hope you can join me there! I also have lots of advertising opportunities available!

The ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ series was created by Part Time Monster. Everyone is invited to join in, and you are welcome to share your coffee posts on Twitter every Saturday with #WeekendCoffeeShare – hop on over and join in the fun!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

For M

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What do you say to your oldest friend when she loses her mother?

I’m sorry.

I’m here.

Thinking of you.

Is there anything I can do for you?

I’ve searched the Internet for poems and quotes that may inspire me, but it all seems so patronising and full of cliche. I don’t want to talk about heaven, or the fact that she isn’t in pain anymore. I can’t pretend to understand how she is feeling right now.

J was a wonderful woman, and a wonderful mother. She was warm, kind and generous. She always made me, and all of M’s friends feel welcome, and we all loved her almost as a second mom. I could talk to her about anything, and did whenever I saw her. I remember her fabulous sense of humour, and how much she made me laugh. It was a privilege to know her, and I know that she’ll be hugely missed.

Love you lots x

 

A Quiet Goodbye From a Feisty Little Dog

We never really worked out what breed Jess was. She resembled a small Alsatian, but seemed to have characteristics of collie and whippet in her too. She found a place with my mother not long after my father left in 2002. We think that she was about three years old, and her previous owners no longer wanted her because they were relocating to Spain. My mother, upon seeing her sad face when they left, knew that she had taken the made the right decision in offering her a forever home, and within weeks Jess had transformed from a rather nervous little thing into a ball of boundless energy, with a cheeky personality and a seemingly big smile. She adored my mother and her other dog, a bumbling retriever named Ollie, and the two complemented each other perfectly.

Jess was a constant in my mother’s life from that moment. She followed her around, making sure that she knew where she was, and was fiercely defensive of anyone who came near her, or indeed the house. She only seemed to truly relax when she knew that Mum was asleep, inevitably taking the opportunity to curl up next to her. She was a happy, contented softie, always enjoying a cuddle. For the last twelve years she’s been a friend, a protector and a member of our small, rather dysfunctional family. She helped Mum though a nasty divorce, several house moves and a number of jobs, and I always felt a little comforted by the fact that she was there to keep Mum safe when my sisters and I moved into our own houses.

As she aged, her little personality grew into that of a stubborn old woman. Armed with bowels that could be used for chemical warfare, she knew what she wanted, and made sure everyone else knew it too. It was a regular occurrence to be woken up in the early hours of the morning with a slobbery chew toy being placed on my pillow, and despite my protestations she would quite happily chase it as often as I was willing to throw it. She would sell her soul for a crisp, barked at other dogs on the tv, took great delight in shredding any post that came through the door and made a point of threatening the postman in the process. She had her own box of toys, and a preferred place on the couch. At Christmas, her presents would be placed lovingly under the tree with all the other gifts.

When Ollie passed away, she gradually accepted another two dogs into the family, but always managed to maintain her position as top dog. She was the boss. She knew it. They knew it. We all knew it.

Mum took her to the vets today after seeing a quite a sudden deterioration in her health. After receiving X-rays, she was brought back home this evening. Jess jumped on the couch with the other dogs, curled up, and quietly passed away. She knew. She waited to come back home, to be with her family, and said her goodbyes before she left.

I’ll miss her very much. I’ll miss the cuddles and the constant affection, I’ll even miss the slobbery toys. Most of all, I’ll miss the unconditional love that she brought to my mother’s home and to our lives.

Goodbye, my feisty little friend. I’m sure that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you’re showing them who’s boss.

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She Was There – Goodbye My Little Friend

Today, I lost my little friend.

I often see the phrase ‘I have no words‘ written after the death of someone important. I have plenty of words. Hundreds.

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My Little Friend

From that very first day when she pushed against my hand at the RSPCA centre she has been a huge support in my life, the only constant that has been with me for thirteen years. She’s seen me through my graduation, she sat on my lap when I typed up applications for job interviews and she celebrated with me when I got them, she was there when I began new relationships, she was there when they ended, she was there during the highest and lowest points of my life. She has moved house with me six times, taking every move in her little stride. We’ve seen in countless New Years, birthdays and Christmas’s together. She would chase me around the house with her stuffed toys, her eyes growing wider just before she was about to pounce. She was there when my family broke apart.

She was there.

When others have judged me, insulted me, put me down and dismissed me, she has been the one thing that has never failed to greet me after a bad day and show me unconditional love. Every night, as I got into bed, she would lay on me and give me a kiss goodnight before retiring to her own little bed in the corner of my room. If I cried, she would jump up and push her head against mine. She was always an independent soul and made it perfectly clear when she wanted to be left alone (I have the scars to prove it) and right to the very end her feisty nature and her hatred of the other cats never waned. She was funny, she had a quirky little personality and could never quite establish a normal miaow, instead creating something that resembled more of a squeak. Her presence allowed me the confidence to feel safe on my own in the house at night. She was my little safety net in times of darkness, and made the happy times seem so much brighter.

Some may role their eyes and proclaim that she was ‘just a cat.’ To me, she wasn’t just a cat, she was my company, my confidante, my family and at times she was my only friend.

She was there. She was mine.

I was with her in her last moments. At the age of nineteen I know that she had a good life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I did everything I could for her and I know that she was happy and loved, but I wish that I could turn back the clock and live it all over again with her. I want to bring her home and protect her. I want to feed her, play with her, cuddle up with her, talk to her.

What I don’t know is how I am possibly going to do the rest without her.

Goodbye, my little friend. I’ll miss you forever.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

Thank you so much for all the comments of support that I have received since publishing this post… Your messages have made me smile, made me cry and are helping me to come to terms with things.