Eternal Bond

never truly lost

Forever Young you shall be. Forever in our hearts you shall remain. I wrote this song for you a few years ago and my good friends Samuel Jones, Ben Jones, and Christopher Roach breathed eternal life into it… And for that I am forever grateful.

Happy 60th birthday Dad xx

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So short lived were my chocolate raisin days
The only thing I have now are the memories of your ways
No more bear hugs, no more Match Box cars today
I’m holding on tight cause this doesn’t feel right
Don’t let this slip away
 
Cause I will never forget you
Your with me in everything I do
My smiles a reflection of you
I live my life through you because it’s all I can do
Your my parachute
 
Your brief time here, it was rocky it was rough
Never said you were giving up, my gentle giant was too tough
No need for fast cars, brief cases or expensive suits
Your love was just enough and your love was all for us
Don’t let this slip away
 
Your descent upon this material world
It was oh so brief, I was left in disbelief
I had to stop being Daddy’s girl
Your courage was reborn deep in my heart
The realisation that from you I shall never part
I’m letting go because I know I must grow
But you’ll always remain forever young
 
Cause I will never forget you
Your with me in everything I do
My smiles a reflection of you
I live my life through you because it’s all I can do
Your my parachute
 
My king of hearts has flown
But I’m willing to take the thrown
To your legacy I live
And I’ll give as you’d give
 
My parachute. My strength. My breath, my parachute. The reason I’m living so free…
 

Soulful Sunday #29: Happy Fathers Day

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Dad greeting me into the world xx

Welcome to my twenty-ninth instalment of ‘Soulful Sundays’. A weekly share where I post a roundup of soulful reflections, each including recipes, songs, quotes, blogs I have read and/or any other inspirational discoveries to sooth the soul.

For me, Sunday’s have become a day of quiet contemplation and simple pleasures. A time to reflect on the week gone by and to consider my hopes and dreams for the week ahead.

My hope is to extend some love outward and to share some simple pleasures with anyone who cares to receive them.

Soul Reflections

Wishing my Dad a Happy Fathers Day in the sky. Heaven knows how much you are missed each and every day; how grateful I am to have had you in my life, and how privileged I feel to get to call you my Dad…

Thank you for blessing me with your love and for always being my guiding light. Loving you always, forgetting your never xx

Soul Strolls

During the Queen’s birthday weekend here in Melbourne last week, we took a day trip to Daylesford to enjoyed a lakeside lunch at The Boathouse. The sun was shining, the lake was peaceful and still, and the food was yummo! The perfect get away we’d been craving. We strolled around the town perusing the antique shops and boutiques.

The simplest things makes life so rich.

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The Boathouse, Daylesford

Soul Food

Today I would like to share with you this Raw-ish Caramel Ginger-nut Slice from one of my favourite health and wellness sites. It looks incredible. I’m always looking for healthy alternatives to satisfy my sweet tooth, and this one seems divine! I hope you have as much fun trying it as I will.

raw-caramel-gingernut-slice-paleo

Soul Music

In memory of Dad, I am sharing Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. Dad was a huge Dylan fan, and this track, which was played at Dad’s funeral, reminds me of the way Dad lived his life. He will always be forever young in our hearts.


Soul Sisters

I am sharing a beautiful post titled To The Beautiful Women Who Is Striving To Be Skinny by My Own Private Idaho. A powerful piece that acknowledges the way women become so entangled by the numbers on the scale. Here we have a stunning reminder of our inner worth and beauty.

I wish you all a peaceful Sunday. On this day, may we remember our Fathers past and present and send them peace and love.

In love and light,

Hayley xx

A Letter to My Younger Self

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Dear Hayley,

It’s me, Hayley. Your future you. I wanted to write to you because, well, I guess there are some things you don’t know yet that I think may help you along the way. Let’s begin at the start shall we?

See that photo? That’s you on the day you were born, all red faced and new in your Dad’s arms. In years to come, when he is gone (don’t panic – you have nineteen more years together before that happens…), you will look at this photo a lot; at the way his hands, which are almost as big as your body, are holding you tight in case he drops you. You’ll wish you could remember being held as you look longingly at the presence of you both together. Don’t worry – see how Dad is looking down on you even though your eyes are closed tight? Your eyes do open eventually… And when they do, you can see the bigger picture. Although there are many years of feeling bereft, in time, you do heal. So don’t fret little one – he’s with you now, just enjoy the warmth of his embrace.

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This is your first birthday. (Healthy right?) This is pretty much your diet growing up as a kid. In fact, you’ll eat nothing but white stodgy stuff right up until the age of about eighteen. It’s surprising you don’t resemble a loaf of bread really! (And by the way, you go through a really weird phase of eating nothing but instant noodles and meatballs.) But fear not, after much trial and error you finally discover the beauty of fresh ingredients, and by the time you are thirty one, you are eating a diet rich in wholefoods – you’re even eating organic! (I know – madness right?) But I just want you to know that you’ll be ok and that miraculously, you manage to avoid any fillings or cavities despite the copious amounts of fizzy pop you’ll consume far into your late teens. In fact, you haven’t drunk a drop of sugary beverage for the last seven years! Can you believe it? I still don’t know how you manage to survive not drinking a drop of water until you turn eighteen??? But you do. And now you can’t get enough of the stuff!

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This is your first school photo. I don’t know how it became all speckled like that, but it looks as though you have a terrible case of the measles. Behind your smile is a frightened little girl. This is the year you first witnessed Dad have an epileptic fit and it’s made you very fearful. You’re scared of the dark, of sleeping on your own, you still wet the bed and you’re even scared of your soft cuddly toys because you think they come to life at night! You hallucinate quite a bit and have scary dreams too… But I’m here to tell you that everything will be alright. I know it makes you sad when Mum won’t let you sleep in her bed; I know you lie awake all night in terror that something will eat you… But I promise that you won’t get killed by the freaky looking pot doll Mum bought you, and you don’t need to long jump into your bed in case an arm pops out from beneath it to grab your ankles and swallow you up! You are totally safe. And yes, there will be times in your teens, shortly after Dad dies, that you begin to have nightmares again. In fact, you will experience a year of terrible insomnia, but you get through it and, although you are still a light sleeper, you now have a healthy sleep routine. You’re even brave enough to walk to the toilet in the dark! (I won’t lie, your heart does beat a little fast as you do) – but the affirmations you say whilst tip-toeing down the hallway help! I am safe. I am protected. All is well…  And all is well!

Hayley - film (5)

Heyyyyy twenty year old you! Don’t you look fresh? But behind that smile is a sadness so great I can almost feel it rendering me paralysed again now… In fact – here is another shot taken whilst you were off guard, and it reveals the true emptiness behind your eyes and your smile.

Hayley - film (2)

You are numb. You are confused and your heart is heavy. You are also smoking a lot (thank God you’ve stopped that filthy habit) and drinking to numb the pain. Recreational drugs are taking their toll on your relationships and your job. You feel as though life is grim and grey and it is. You have recently lost your gentle giant, and Dad’s absence weighs heavily on your heart. Why pretend you are happy when you are not? It’s ok to feel grief, it’s ok to feel pain – just roll with it, everything is in divine order. I want you to know that things do improve. You have a few more years of losing yourself in drugs and alcohol, and unhealthy relationships. So if I could give you any advice right now, it would be to stop putting on a brave face. Stop worrying that your grief will effect others. This stuffing down of your emotions is causing you to turn to external ‘pleasures’ and false sensory highs. You needn’t numb the feelings. It’s ok to allow them to just be. I know you feel lost, I know you feel lonely and misunderstood, but this, in time, will pass.

hayley-paris

And this? This is me (you) now. (Well – actually that photo was taken last year in Paris) but still! – this is you at thirty one! Not as bad as you thought eh? How could you ever think thirty was old?

So a little of your life now…You are learning to love yourself. In fact, most days you look in the mirror and say, I love you Hayley. And guess what? You actually mean it! Some days it’s harder than others, but deep down you know that at your very core you are love. You have replaced drugs and alcohol with yoga and meditation. You love to spend time in nature (just as you did when you were little.) And you are a teacher too! You love working with children and seeing the world through their eyes. In fact, it has reminded you of the importance of embracing your own inner child and to follow your childhood dreams of becoming an author (just like Roald Dahl! Remember?) You write again and feel so much joy when you do. You have neglected your passion for drawing and sketching – but we can look for an art class here in Melbourne if you like?! (Oh yes – you now live in Australia!) And behind that lens is your best friend and man of six years, Mark.

It’s been a journey of self-discovery, of learning to love and be loved. But do you know what? You finally feel joy again. You have a deep and profound gratitude for life. You’ve discovered your true nature, your authentic self, and with that comes a knowing far greater than ever imagined – a knowledge that you are whole, connected, one – despite being imperfectly you. Dad is in your heart, you are in his, and that, my dear child, will never change.

Love always,

Hayley xx

Finding My (Self)


be-still-and-no-that-i-am-god

Last week I identified my early disconnection from God, tracing it back to my childhood. I wasn’t raised a Christian, and even now – with a deep and profound knowing of Gods existence – if asked if I am religious, I would admit that I am not.

For me, God is non-denominational. Whilst I am respectful and accepting of everyone’s individual faith, my personal pathway to God takes place in daily communion with the soul; in my interactions with others; during prayer and meditation; when facing adversity and personal growth lessons; whilst walking in nature – God is everywhere, and I know that I can make conscious contact with Him any time, any place.

That’s not to say that I don’t take great comfort in God’s scriptures, because I do (especially the one above, which reminds me that the pathway to God is through peaceful awareness.) I own a beautiful Bible in my favourite shade of jade green and often find passages that speak to my soul. Yet, for me personally, God is not defined by religion and churches and rules, but instead, through connection. God is not a separate entity with judgements and commandments, rather, God is the Source of all being. I am God. You are God. We are all God. Therefore, to reject God is to reject a part of ourselves. How should we ever become whole and complete if we are rejecting our very essence? Our true nature?

At a yoga class, recently, an inquisitive girl who I’d just met asked me; Are you searching for something? I paused for a moment, then replied;
I used to be. I searched for a long time, years even. But then I realised – all I was searching for is already within me. 

And so today, after my walk – after pondering how to follow up my previous post about losing myself – I decided I would write a poem. For years I doubted the existence of God, I saw myself as separate, disconnected. If ever I doubt the existence of God – I need only Be Still And Know That I Am God. 

Be Still And Know That I Am God

When tears of lost dreams stream down your face,
When you are out of sorts and feel misplaced,
When all is forgotten, shamed or disgraced,
Be still and know that I Am God.

If ever you doubt the existence of me,
Cast your gaze to the gentle, sturdy tree,
Who sways His dance to the promising breeze;
Be still and know that I Am God.

When you feel as though I have let you down,
When all that was once yours cannot be found,
When tortured cries of empty souls resound,
Be still and know that I Am God.

Be still and know that I love you my Dear,
All that seems to be lost is truly here,
For you are never alone when I am near,
Be still and know that I Am God.

God's Saving Hand reaching for the faithful

Five Reasons Why I Am Grateful For My Dad

It is but a simple shift in perception. From one of sorrow to joy; of envy to inspired appreciation; of lack to fulfillment, gratitude and abundance. With this shift in perception comes a renewed love of all things – even the ones that bring with them great heartache and despair. For it is precisely from knowing and experiencing such heartaches that we come to recognise and appreciate the rainbows after the storm.

Flowers grow out of dark moments.

– Corita Kent

Five Reasons Why I Am Grateful For My Dad

  1. You were, and still are, my greatest teacher. You were my biggest heartbreak, and yet my most profound awakening to a deeper kind of love. In losing you, I gained another part of you – a part that is ever infinite and always guiding.
  2. You taught me not to take myself too seriously. Ever the joker, you showed me that the quickest and surest way to ease my own sorrow is through laughter. Laughter really is the best medicine, and you had an ability to make others laugh uncontrollably. Whenever I feel glum or despondent, I turn to laughter. ‘Daft as a brush just like your Dad’ my best friend says. ‘Nothing embarrasses you’ Mum tells me, ‘you get that from your Dad, not me!’ It makes me smile to know that I will always have this part of you.
  3. You showed me the true meaning of grace. In moments of darkness you faced the terrors head on, never the victim – always accepting what life threw at you with an earnest grace. If I have learnt anything in this life, it is that our most trialing experiences are often our biggest teachers. Through your adversity, you remained steadfast and strong, despite your obvious pain – your love for us never wavered.
  4. Because of you I have an endless well of patience. Any man who can live with four hot headed females as you did, has reached a state of tolerance to rival that of taxi driver working the drunk o’clock shift. It takes a strong man to not react and continue navigating others home whilst all his buttons are being pushed. If ever my patience is tested, I need only remember your poise and ability to remain calm and nonreactive under testing circumstances!
  5. Without witnessing your life lived with epilepsy, I could never have developed such a profound empathy towards others. Through watching your struggles from a very young age, I have come to stare with deep sincerity into the heart of every soul regardless of their condition, social status, or circumstance. This has led me to undertake work that brings me great purpose and fulfillment. At the heart of every person lies a beautiful soul – and I am committed to treating others with compassion and understanding at all cost. I owe this gift to you.

Happy Fathers Day Dad – Loving You Always, Forgetting you Never xx

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My Music Map

music

Hello fellow bloggers! I trust you are all well, and should that not be the case, I pray for better days to come your way and extend my warmest wishes to you.

Me? Well, I have successfully moved myself from the UK to the other side of the world, and am currently in a (rather shaky) Christchurch, New Zealand, whilst awaiting our move to Melbourne in March. Since I made a promise to myself to complete November’s Writing 101 challenge (I know, I know – that was three months ago!!! But I have a strange OCD for things being in chronological order and I cannot possibly blog about anything else until I complete it!) I am therefore persevering with the challenge, even if everyone else is crying out “That’s such old news Hayley!”

Call it genius (or just plain lazy) but I have decided to combine three prompts into one blog post and kill (three) birds with one stone! (For all you bird lovers out there, I am speaking figuratively here and besides, my aim really isn’t that good. Plus I love birds too!)

Day 15: Compile a playlist of 10 tracks that represent you. (My list will consist of 10 standout tracks from my childhood to the present day. (A difficult task since my music collection is so varied) however, I am sticking to tracks that remind me of certain times and places so as to tie this prompt in with the following prompts…)
Day 16: Mine your own material. Think about the things we leave behind. Tell us about a time you’ve left an object, place, person, or even an idea behind — and had to move on.
(I will be meditating on the different eras I have left behind as I have moved though life and music)
and finally,
Day 17: A map as your Muse. (Music has the ability to transport us to a particular time and place, so I will (attempt) to include maps along my music journey!)

I hope you enjoy my trip down Musical Memory Lane!

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.
~ Oscar Wilde ~

My first memories of music are whilst travelling in the back of Mum’s car. A particular song which Mum played almost on repeat, was Jimmy Cliff’s I Can See Clearly. I remember this song, not only for the way we’d sing along to it on our drives, but for the joke we’d tell inspired by it’s lyrics. The joke was about a man who was married to Lorraine, but was having an affair with a woman named Deirdre. The rather untrustworthy (and murderous) man decided to push his wife off of a cliff! Pleased with his efforts and making his way back to Deirdre’s house, he sang “I can see Deirdre now Lorraine has gone!”

Another favourite of Mum’s was Bryan Adams. Whilst most people will remember Mr Adams for Everything I Do, which remained at the Number 1 spot of the UK singles charts for a massive 16 consecutive weeks, I will mostly remember Bryan for Please Forgive Me. For reason’s unknown to me, I am moved to tears each time I listen to this song. When this song was released, my Mum had separated from my Dad. Since she played it so often, I guess part of me feels that she may have been singing this song to him. Although they parted, Mum always remained Dad’s friend and carer, and I know that for Mum, Dad was always ‘the one.’ I know she regrets separating from him for a man she no longer has anything to do with. One thing I do know, is that my Dad loved Mum until the day he died, and that he forgave Mum for moving on. I just wish Mum would forgive herself.

Other favourites of Mum’s were Wet Wet Wet, 10CC, Meatloaf and Cher. We were mostly driving in the car when listening to music with Mum, and so I haven’t included a map for these tracks.

Dad’s taste in music was less Pop inspired and more Rock n Roll, preferring to listen to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Dire Straights, with a few stand out solo artists who were favourites of his. One of my earliest memories of listening to music with Dad was when my eldsest sister and I, who were no more than six and eight at the time, would dance around the living room air-guitaring with him after school whilst Mum was at work. Message In A Bottle by Police particularly stands out as one of our most danced to tracks. Dad would shine the lamp at our feet in a make shift spot light and we’d rock out until Mum returned home and it was time for tea.

Another song from my youth that Dad would regularly sing to us was Purple Rain by Prince. I can’t listen to this song without being cast back to a memory of Dad with his dark shoulder length hair, strumming his imaginary guitar and becoming completely lost in the music. I am, again, moved to tears each time I listen to this song. But I love it for the memories and the emotion it ignites.

The house we lived at when we were rock stars.


Dad and I would be reunited in our shared music tastes later on in life, but in the meantime, it was time for me to discover my own individual taste in music. When I was about eleven, I remember hearing a band from Hull on the radio called The Beautiful South, and promptly asked for their album for Christmas. This was the first tape cassette I owned that wasn’t recorded straight from the radio’s Top 40. I would listen to it again and again until I knew all of their lyrics by heart. Don’t Marry Her was a favourite of mine for the simple fact that it had a swear word in it, which implied there would be some ‘bonking’ going on. At the tender age of eleven, it seemed rather daring to listen to this song with headphones on whilst Mum watched Coronation Street, blissfully unaware of the music content she’d purchased for her daughter. The lewd content of my music, however, did become more apparent when I bought the Marshall Mathers LP and no longer felt the need to wear headphones to hide my rebellious side! For now, however, the suggestive lyrics of The Beautiful South were plentiful enough to make me snigger at what they insinuated, even if I didn’t fully grasp the extent of the meaning just yet. Whilst there are many songs by The Beautiful South that I love, I can only post one here, and so have chosen One Last Love Song on the basis that I’m a hopeless romantic who hopes that the guy gets the girl in the end.

A female singer-song writer who I’d heard through a good friend of mine became very influential to me when I was around the age of 16. At the time I was living next door to my previous house on 54 Barleycroft, and now lived at number 56 with my Gran. I wont provide a map since it was only one door along the same street. My Mum and (now two) sisters no longer lived next door and lived about a fifteen minute drive away. Dad lived alone in a one bed apartment in the next town. I had gone to live with my Gran because Mum and I were fighting an awful lot. We were, I guess, just two hot-headed females who desperately wanted to feel loved by one another but didn’t know how. Gran suggested I move in with her, and for that, I was very grateful. But I also felt so lost and lonely and misunderstood. For a young hormonal teenager, being separated from the rest of the family left me feeling like an outcast and I ended up gravitating towards the wrong crowd in a desperate bid to fit in. My sensible friends didn’t get why I didn’t live at home, or why my parents weren’t together, and it was just easier to hang around with ‘friends’ who didn’t ask questions. Who seemed more confused and troubled than I was. I began to date a guy who was older than me and I suspect he was into some dodgy dealings. I began drinking and smoking marijuana, which only heightened my pain and confusion. I felt lonelier than ever. During these times, Tracy Chapman was my comfort. Many a nights I cried myself to sleep to Baby Can I Hold You and I would dream of escaping in my Fast Car. A year later I did escape. Not in a fast car, but in an aeroplane to Spain.


Within a week of moving to Spain, I met a girl named Katie who was also from England. Like me, she had no family there, other than her Scottish boyfriend, Cameron, who she always seemed to have a troubled relationship with. I think she was pleased to have some female company; we’d often go shopping or dancing together, spending long lazy days on the beach. At seventeen and nineteen years of age, we were troubled, yet care free – both trying to find our place in the world, and so found comfort in each others company. Katie and I quickly became friends. So much so, that within three months I’d moved in with her and Cameron, and Cameron’s Dad, to help them (and of course me) with reduced rental cost.  However, shortly after I moved in, Katie came to me in tears and told me that she and Cameron had separated – that she’d be moving out. I was, of course, sad to see her leave, I’d never felt comfortable around Cameron and his Dad. Two weeks later, Katie was dead. We found her in her apartment the morning after her nineteenth birthday. I was, of course, completely traumatized by Katie’s death. At seventeen, Katie dying was my first real experience of losing someone. Katie’s death was treated as suspicious, I was scared and frightened and had to give a statement to the police. Still, to this day, we never truly discovered what caused Katie to die. Her boyfriend was sent to prison but was released on bail and returned to Scotland. We never heard more after that despite our inquiries, the Spanish police didn’t want to release any information to us. During this time I found comfort in Puff Daddy’s Missing You. Eventually, I had no choice but to simply move on. But I will always remember Katie for her kind and caring friendship, and for her sweet giggle. Nineteen was far too young for her to leave this world.

There came a period in Spain where I felt a sudden urge to move home for a while. After two years of living on the Costa Del Sol working as a waitress, I felt that I was being wasted. Working in a bar was fun, but I didn’t want to waitress for the rest of my life. I’d dropped out of college to move to Spain, and at the age of nineteen, felt the need to get some further education under my belt. I came home and studied a computing course for four months from November to February. Little did I know at the time that this would be my last Christmas spent with my Dad.


During my brief return home, Dad and I rekindled our shared love of music. Still separated from my Mum, Dad would sleep over at Mum’s place at the weekends so he could spend time with his family. Our favourite bands at the time were Oasis, Travis, Keane, Maroon 5 and Coldplay. Coldplay was an all time favourite of ours and in the past when Dad had come over to visit, we’d regularly fall to sleep listening to their first album, Parachutes – Dad in the bottom bunk, me in the top. So it was natural that we would play this album again when I returned from Spain, along with some of their newer music. It’s hard to choose just one track of Coldplay’s that reminds me of my Dad, but the final song of the Parachutes album, Everything’s Not Lost (which includes a hidden song at the end) seems fitting.

Once I had completed my computing course, I returned to Spain in hope of better employment prospects. Three months later, I received the dreaded phone call with news that my gentle Dad had died. It was, to say the least, the most excrutiating experience of my life, and anyone suffering from the loss of a loved one will empathise greatly. Even today, I still feel that I connect with my Dad through music. Sometimes it’s the only way I can feel close to him. That, and through my writing. One of Dad’s all time favourite artists was Bob Dylan, so it seemed fitting that we would play Bob Dylan at Dad’s funeral. Forever Young is therefore the 9th song in this playlist. I have blogged about Foerever Young previously, and so you can listen to the song and its significance to me here.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

— Maya Angelou

The final song in my playlist is One by Shapeshifter. After I lost my Dad I traveled Australia, Thailand and finished up in Christchurch, New Zealand. I moved to New Zealand completely alone, I literally didn’t know a single soul when I arrived there. As much as I fell in love with New Zealand, it was, at times, very lonely. That was, until I bumped into my current partner of almost six years, Mark. Being a lover of Angel Oracle cards and the guidance they bring, they showed me that Mark was my ‘answered prayer’ and my ‘twin flame’ (which basically means soul mate in Angel Card speech!) A song Mark would often play to me, and that we still play today, is One. This song fills me with hope, with courage and reminds me that I am never truly alone.


Thank you for journeying with me through my life in music. Which songs resonate with you and why?

A Heavy Departure

Writing 101, Day 14: Recreate a single day
Write a post that takes place during one single day. Zoom in even further, limiting yourself to just one hour of your chosen day.

door ajar

It is the early hours of the morning. Mum waits downstairs with my case, ready to take me to the airport. Time to return to Spain – to return to the man I love and will eventually become engaged to. A man I shall never marry; a man I eventually part from with no regrets.

I creep into the room where my Dad sleeps, the aftermath of last night’s argument heavy in my heart. I peer at the man I am leaving behind. A man I love dearly; a man I shall part from with a lifetime of regrets.

I kiss Dad gently on his cheek, startling him from his sleep. I whisper, ‘Goodbye, I’m leaving now.’ As Dad murmurs, drifting between sleep and consciousness, I tip toe from the room, taking with me all of my heartache – all of my regrets. I close the door, unaware that this is the last time I will see Dad alive.

***

“Have you got everything?”
“Yes.” We walk up the garden path, the sound of my suitcase harsh and uninviting, the quiet of the morning disturbed by its heavy drag.
“You sure? You haven’t forgotten anything?” A sigh, a glance towards the bedroom window, a sinking feeling.
“…No.”

Faded Photograph

I like to finish what I started, even if it is a month after Writing 101 ended. In the wise words of Ben Huberman, ‘Self-flagellation shouldn’t be part of the writing process — all of us have work, family, and other obligations to attend to. Our lives are complicated, which is why they’re worth blogging about in the first place. (It’s also why you should never start a post with “Sorry I haven’t posted in so long!”‘ With that said, I will be picking up where I left off with no apologies.

I first heard about six word stories whilst browsing through the archives of one of my favorite blogs here on WordPress, Stranger In a Strange Mind. I just love the way this diverse and exceptional writer captures a sense of thrill and fear in so few words. Check out his six word story here. It got me thinking about how sometimes the untold parts of the story are what makes the tale so thought provoking, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks with their own imagination.

Whilst sifting through some of my belongings over Christmas in preparation for my move to Australia, I was prompted to write my own six word story.

Writing 101, Day 13: Play with word count

Beholding the faded photograph; she wept.

1

xx

Letters to Heaven

Day 8, Reinvent the letter format

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The day I was born

Dear Dad,

When I remember that you are gone, I am bathed in a deep sadness that overwhelms and consumes me. When I think of our brief time together, I feel immense gratitude to have known you as my father – yet utter despair that life’s brevity escaped me so suddenly and without warning. In my head, I replay the times I was a typical teenager – rushed, preoccupied by my own selfish adolescence, nonchalant, hot-tempered… I wish I could travel back in time, to tell you again and again how much I love you; how much you meant to me, how you were, and still are, the most incredible man I have ever known.

As a little girl, my fondest memories are of times spent with you. It was you who’d walk me around on your feet, you’d give me twizers and aeroplanes and lift me up by my ankles each time I squealed “Again! Again!” Nobody else would spend hours lining up my toy soldiers, only to knock them all down again with ping pong balls. (You imitated the best ‘man-wounded-and-falling-from-a great-height’ impression I’d ever heard!) Despite recovering from a stroke and living with epilepsy, you cared for your daughters dutifully whilst Mum was at work…

41

Sarah, Dad and me

It’s hard to believe that beneath your smiles and laughter, you felt sorrow. The doctors diagnosed you with depression, but at the time, I was too young to notice. Upon reflection, it’s no wonder why you felt immense sadness given the hardships you faced as a young man; you lost both your parents; suffered a brain hemorrhage in your twenties; and lived your life with epilepsy. Yet, in spite of all of this, you showed nothing but love towards your family, in sickness and in health. Our favorite memory is of the times we’d air guitar in the living room using Mum’s badminton rackets. We’d danced our socks off to The Police, Prince and Led Zeppelin, you would shine the lamp at our feet and bathe us in a spot light – you even taught us how to head bang! I miss those days so much…

And then Mum met somebody new. One day you were there, and the next you were living in a one bedroom flat. My world became empty and bleak, I didn’t know why you had to leave, only that our family of four suddenly became a family of three. You visited twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but the days in between felt like a life time of waiting. I’d wait at the gate, waiting to see your face as you’d begin your steady ascent up the hill, your pockets laden with chocolate raisins for Sarah and I, and a Walnut Whip for Mum. You’d also buy me a Matchbox car each week, which I treasured as much as I treasured our make believe drives along the open roads.

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When we were a family of four celebrating my 1st birthday

Living without you brought with it a heartbreak that my little heart wasn’t prepared for, and I longed for you to return to our house, safe under our roof. I hated the thought of you living all alone. I knew of your seizures, I’d witnessed them from an early age. The thought of you all alone made me anxious and worrisome throughout much of my childhood. I remember the days we’d collect you if it was raining heavy, the Rottweiler belonging to the tenant below would bark and snarl from behind the rickety gate. My heart would thump in my chest as we sat in the car, panicked that the ugly mutt would jump over the gate and eat you as you went by. Fears of losing you for good began to plague my sleep, I’d have nightmares that we’d become separated and I could never quite reach you; searching, always searching, until I’d wake with tears streaming down my cheeks.

Life continued much this way into my teens. Your weekly visits remained the highlight of my week. At night, we’d fall asleep listening to Coldplay, Bob Dylan and Maroon 5, you in the bottom bunk, and me in the top bunk, it was funny watching you cram your six foot two self into those tiny bunk beds. But you didn’t mind if it meant spending time with your family.

You never stopped caring for us. You nursed me when I was ill, you even carried me to bed when I drank so much Vodka with Louise that time – I was sick all over the bathroom! You hugged me when I cried, made me laugh when I was glum, and stuck up for me if anyone ever caused me upset. You brought us cups of teas and made the best (and most random) sandwich combinations ever. Your kind gestures, the way you loved us unconditionally, the way you still loved Mum and remained her faithful companion despite her decision to separate, all of those things are what made you so very special. When Lauren was born, as you held her in your arms you told her you’d love her as though she were your own, and you did until the day that you died.

7

When I lost you the second time, it felt as though someone had snatched my heart from inside my chest and replaced it with a heavy boulder. You were taken before I had the chance to say goodbye, before I could tell you how much I loved you, how much I appreciated you in my life. The thought of never seeing your face again, never feeling the warmth of your bear hugs, left me dazed and confused. Even now, ten years later, the thought of spending a lifetime without you leaves me feeling empty and numb. When I feel this way, I make a conscious effort to remember how you lived your life – smiling in the face of adversity.

And that is how I shall live mine. For every one thing that makes me feel sad, I will think of ten things that bring me joy. I will never forget the way you’d burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter, which spread like wildfire throughout our home. How can I? It happens to me at the most inappropriate of times, in a silent classroom, when I’m having my teeth polished at the dentist! Your infectious laughter is remembered by all of my friends who visited, and they talk of you with much fondness. You will always be remembered as our gentle giant. Your size thirteens were destined to leave lasting footprints in our hearts. And so, it is in your memory that I will continue to bathe the darkness with your love and light each day.

A medium once told me that you now reside in the highest of the spiritual planes. That the life lessons you faced on this earth, as well as your selfless nature, progressed you far into the high heavens. It is no wonder heaven claimed you early – to me, you were an earth angel; my very own angel Dad.

I feel blessed to have known you, to have shared my life with you, to have had you as my father. And however lonely it feels at times, I know that you will always be there for me, guiding me, surrounding me with your love.

I love you, Dad.

Loving you always, forgetting you never ❤

Hayley xx

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Me and Dad

Wherever her mind wanders, she is already home.

Day Eight: Death to Adverbs Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind. Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post.

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Here I sit, in the park behind my house. I don’t have a garden at home, and so the park has become my outdoor retreat. I often sit here to catch the last rays of sun; to people gaze, to study or to read a book. Today I am here to write.

As I sit, cross legged on my blanket, my eyes are first drawn to a family of Asian origin – a young couple and their toddler, who teeters on her feet, her tiny arms poised high like a tight-rope walker. She wears short denim dungarees and a crisp white sun hat. Her chubby, inquisitive legs are dotted at the ends by a pair of frilly, white ankle socks and teal strapped sandals. Her feet patter this way and that and before long, she spots a stray piece of paper fluttering in the grass. She waddles over and crouches to catch it as the wind sweeps it up and away from her reach. She follows a little before flopping onto her bottom, distracted by a new allurement in the grass.

The curious little wanderer continues to explore as Dad watches from his seat on a nearby bench. His hair is full and thick as it dances in the breeze. Mum is lolled across the tire swing and is rocking to and fro, her limbs draped over the sides in a rag-doll fashion. I am in complete awe of her; her relaxed state of being; her complete trust in her partner, who watches over their baby girl; her ability to just be. She does not fuss or stir, she doesn’t rise to instruct or to check that everything is in order – she simply sways, her youthful face cast to the sky. What is she thinking? Does she dream of her homeland and relatives afar? Does she wish to be transported to that vibrant place? Or is she just stealing a moment to herself whilst she can? Something in her manner tells me that whatever she is doing, she seeks nothing more than this moment. Wherever her mind wanders, she is already home.

She remains in her serene state, even as two Staffordshire Terriers begin to bark, bolting toward a group of girls who are pic-nicking nearby. The adult dog bulges and swells with muscle and the pup, who is equally sturdy despite her smaller frame, boasts a beautiful blue-grey coat. The young boy clutching at the reigns doesn’t stand a chance and he is forced to dig his heels into the grass as though competing in a tug of war. He leans back so far that he is practically horizontal and he slides to the floor in his struggle. I can’t help but chuckle as the power hounds drag him along on his bottom, tugging and yanking until they eventually reach the girls, who are squealing and disbanding with haste. The jumpy duo find this even more thrilling as they lick and pounce and chase. The boy’s mum is heavy with child and has been lumbering her way over. She takes charge of the reigns and within moments, all is calm again. The teenage girls begin to drift and edge their way back to their blanket, reforming like tidewater.

I return my gaze to the young family and smile. The little girl has discovered her sleepy mummy on the swing and she reaches up, making a clutching motion with her tiny fingers and hands. Daddy saunters over, lifting her onto the tire swing as mum wraps her arms around her daughter, holding her baby close to her chest. It is here that I remain, gazing at their love, watching as Dad pushes his small family on the swing. And as I watch, it is as if time is standing completely still.