Starting Over Again. Again.
I have always been afraid of something bad happening. As a child, when the war in Iraq began I was convinced that was it. It was all over.
I worried constantly that in exchange for an amazing family and friends that I adored, something bad was bound to happen to ruin it.
Now don’t get me wrong my life was far from apple pie. My parents had divorced when I was seven, I went to a slightly dodgy comprehensive school, and I was, as my mother affectionately put it, a chubby child.
But none of that mattered to me. I saw my Dad all the time, did well at school, and enjoyed my food! Besides I had the most important thing of all. The only thing that really matters. All you need, said the Beatles. Love.
At the grand old age of 25, my husband, and his dog came along, the two great loves of my life, and of course my worrying worsened. Life was just too perfect – well bar my husband’s father dying, several health scares, and incredible work pressure – that something just had to give.
And then it did. I had Cancer. This was it, the bad thing I had been waiting for. I knew my life was too good to be true. Not that I ever, for one second, and I mean this honestly, considered I would die. It’s just, it changed things. I knew things would never be the same again. Our perfect bubble burst.
And then my husband had all his photography gear stolen, and he had let the insurance lapse, his mind on other things, like holding my hand while they stuck yet more needles in me. Hang on, what’s this? Not more bad luck.
And of course they say it comes in threes, and well, they certainly saved the worst for last. Murray died. On day one of radiotherapy. The end. Life over.
But of course it wasn’t. It was just very bad for a very long time. But then we decided to stop feeling bad. To not look back. Move forward. To live our life after crap, which was very nearly the blog title by the way.
Seriously though, I thought that was it. Bad stuff over. We had had our share. I mean of course I knew there would be other difficult times to come. Family members can’t last forever, time moves on in its tick tock, countdown way. But I thought I knew what to expect.
Wrong. In February I received the kind of phone call you never want to hear.
An unknown number and a voice on the other end, saying ‘Hi is that Jo? It’s Alex. He’s been in an accident’.
It turned out he had fallen out of a car while travelling at 30mph around a race track and while he had managed to save his camera, he had forgotten about his skull which bounced, quite hard, off of the tarmac. And for several awful hours, no one could tell me if he would be okay. He couldn’t tell me, he couldn’t even remember who I was. If you ask him now, he’s still unsure what happened in those lost hours.
Fortunately, several months later, he appears to be okay. A nice jagged scar on his scalp, but otherwise a very lucky man.
So that was bad. Then two weeks later, two hours after stepping off a plane in Saigon, Vietnam, I was mugged by two men on a scooter. A classic drive by bag grab. Fortunately I wasn’t seriously hurt, a little shaken up and bruised but otherwise okay.
Unfortunately my bag had gone, and as we had just stepped off a plane contained passports, phone, bank cards, oh and a St Christopher belonging to my Grandad that I had been given before travelling at 21. Now this really was bad. Not just the mugging, the loss of our holiday in Vietnam while we spent time trying to obtain new passports and visas, but the whole feeling of being threatened and scared at every turn.
To steal my belongings is one thing, to steal my sense of adventure is quite another.
So it was a very bad ten days away and although we tried to make the most of it, we couldn’t wait to return. Until that is on our return, we discovered our beloved van, basically our home on wheels, had been taken from the car park at Heathrow Airport hotel.
But worse, so much worse, was that Murray was in there. Albeit her ashes in a box, but yep she was gone. As was my Bugs, my rabbit that I have had since two years old, and our clothes, and walking boots, and my book shelf, and my festival tambourine, and our dashboard sunflowers… This wasn’t just stuff, this was our life. Yes we had insurance, but these things, these memories, worthless to anyone but priceless to us. They were gone. Someone had stolen them. And even though they could be seen on CCTV driving away, three days before we returned, they were never caught.
I never sought help after cancer, but I had to after this. I truly thought that life wasn’t worth it. My exact words were what was the point of surviving cancer, of rebuilding our life, just to get knocked down again. It’s not fair.
But you know what I’m going to say don’t you. Life isn’t fair. Shit happens all the time. You just have to find a way to accept it and move on. Because what else can you do?
We have a new van now. We call her Leaky, as, well she leaks when it rains. She’s the VW van we always wanted, even with her imperfections. We had tiny tattoos made with the small amount of Murray’s ashes we had left, kept in a vial around Alex’s neck. One tiny dot for each of us. And Dad travelled all the way down from Scotland to hand deliver me a new Bugs Bunny.
Life goes on.
I know now that bad stuff just happens. For no reason other than it does. And when it does I’ll just keep on going, because I am lucky. I have a great life. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, the best husband in the world. I have love.
I have survived the bad stuff, but I want to do more that just survive.
I want to live.
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