Among Angels..

According to a recent (ish) poll, one in ten people in the UK believe in angels.

Christmas is hurtling towards us an alarming rate so it seems apt to do one or two posts about angels.

There is a plethora of information about angels but perhaps one of the best advocates for the winged-ones is Lorna Byrne.

I’ve always been in two minds whether or not Lorna is certifiably insane? I mean, this lady has conversations with angels on a daily basis and has been seeing them since she was a baby. Yet she appears to be as sane as you or I.

Well you, anyway..

Lorna sees angels as physically as she sees everybody else and is of the opinion that everybody has at least one angel with them at all times. At this point, people usually ask, ‘Well, if that’s true, how come people get hurt or get ill? Why don’t their angels save them?’

Other people ask where their ‘car parking’ angel is when they need them?

“I drove round the Tesco car-park THREE SODDING TIMES. Where was my effing angel?!!”

Having a doze?

Saving a beached whale?

How the heck am I supposed to know?!

What I do know is that for every atrocity that happens – there some people who ‘miraculously survive’ and those who die horribly.

This is what I struggle with when it comes to the concept of angels.

One answer is that angels do appear to intervene where there is danger but not in every instance. It doesn’t seem fair that some people are saved and not others. Are some lives worth more than others? I don’t think so, yet this is how life is. The problem is that we don’t understand how all this works. People just assume that angels don’t exist for the same reason that some people reject the idea of God – because people suffer.

I have had a few ‘near misses’ in my time and when I say near miss, I mean that I have NO idea how I came out of these things alive..

The first incident was when an old (and extremely heavy) door fell on top of me when I was about four years old. I was rooting about in that forbidden area (the garage) and it fell on top of me. My parents couldn’t understand why I wasn’t dead or at the very least, a cabbage. Yet all I suffered was a small scratch on my nose.

Another incident was when I was driving home from work one day. I was doing 50 mph and an articulated lorry pulled out on me. I braked but my car kept on going, skidding onto the wrong side of the road.

Miraculously, there were no cars coming in the other direction.

It could have been a LOT worse.

It should have been a lot worse because it happened during the rush hour on a road that junctioned onto the M6 motorway – one of the busiest in the country.

All this happened in a matter of seconds yet I remember three things.

One – Time slowed right down.

Two – My life flashed before me.

Third – I felt protected.

Those were occasions where, by rights, I should have been seriously injured at least. Maybe it was just my good luck. Or maybe someone was looking out for me?

On another occasion, my eldest son (then about 16) came out of the local shop and stepped off the pavement into the road. He later told me, “I felt someone pull me roughly back onto the pavement. I looked around but there was NOBODY there. I thought it was one of my mates playing silly buggers. At that moment, a car came speeding round the corner. Had I have carried on across the road, the car would have hit me for sure”.

I also had a bizarre experience one day when my car broke down. These were the days before mobile phones and I had my elderly mother in law with me and a boot full of shopping. The place where I broke down was quite a distance from the nearest working phone-box and there were no houses either. My dilemma was that I had to leave my MIL in the car on her own while I went to get help as there was no way she could come with me. Just as I was starting to panic, a car drew in behind us and a man came to the window asking if I needed help. I could have kissed him! I explained the situation and he offered us (and the shopping) a lift back to MILs house.

The man looked to be in his 60s and had the kindest (and bluest) eyes I’d ever seen and I instinctively felt safe, as if he was someone I’d known all my life. Normally, I am suspicious of people.

He drove us to MILS house and helped me to carry the shopping in..

Nothing strange thus far but here’s where it gets funky…

We’d taken the last bags inside the house and I turned to thank him and offer him a cuppa but he’d gone.

I looked outside and his car was gone too. I know this sounds unbelievable but there simply wasn’t the time for the bloke to put the shopping bag down, walk out of the door, get into his car, drive off, without me seeing him.

I know what you’re thinking but no, he hadn’t nicked anything and SHAME ON YOU FOR THINKING IT!

What happened was impossible.

Some time later, I read an article about angels which led me to do some extensive research of my own and a few details consistently cropped up in people’s accounts:

These ‘angels’ appeared out of nowhere when people desperately needed help.

  • They generally had kind (and very blue) eyes.
  • There was a sense of peaceful and calming energy.
  • They buggered off quicker than is humanly possible.

So angels drive do they?

Apparently so.

My question is how do they get around the tax and insurance?

Why do they appear as humans then? Why not just appear in all their winged glory?

Well, I for one would have shit myself had a seven foot bird person revealed themselves to me in front of my Peugeot. As for my mother-in-law, she’d already had one heart attack. The shock would have finished her off, defo.

Even if you think my story is about as believable as Wayne Rooney’s weave, there is no denying the mountain of evidence to support the existence of these beings known as angels.

Personally, I don’t believe it’s an angel’s job to save every person on the planet. Granted, it would be great if only the ancient among us died after long and gloriously happy lives but the reality is that the planet would be vastly overcrowded and we would become extinct.

Maybe angels do warn us but it’s our free will to heed or ignore the whispers?

Maybe it’s gut instinct not to travel on a certain road, or catch a certain train?

Or maybe it’s a whisper from an angel?

I see an angel’s job as one who comforts and guides. Who’s to say that when bad things happen they are not comforting someone to the very end? So maybe they can’t always save lives but comforting someone in their final minutes? That’s a very special thing, no?

One of the problems is that we don’t understand life. We don’t understand why good people die young and utter twats live to ripe old ages. If you believe that everything is chance and life is meaningless, then you have no problem. For those of us who don’t fit with that concept – there is confusion.

That said, I think that when we die, we will understand pain and suffering.

We will understand the whole damn thing.

It’s just that it’s incomprehensible to us in human form.

The other problem is some of us struggle with things that can’t be scientifically measured. There is no proof, therefore it doesn’t exist. Experience convinces you. While there is no definitive proof that angels exist, there is an abundance of evidence and in any court of law evidence stands for something.

I like Lorna’s Byrne’s theory that our guardian angels are always with us. That said, I hope mine averts their eyes when I’m perched on the loo or in the shower because, well – dignity.

Do you believe in angels?

Some things are true whether you believe in them or not ~ Nicholas Cage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s The Freakiest Show..

My big brother was into the 1970s glam-rock scene, I mean, he had the platforms and everything.. He looked a div, but then what teenage boy didn’t look a div in the 70s?

For what’s it’s worth, I also looked a div – only I didn’t have any choice in the matter.

Anyway, it’s from rooting through his records that I came across the phenomenon that was David Bowie..

Being born in 1970 rendered me too young to appreciate the glam rock scene first time around. However, I didn’t have to wait too long because it made a comeback in the 80s with the likes of Def Leppard, Poison and Kiss – only with less glitter and more hair. Oh. And the flares were replaced by skin-tight, testicle-trapping jeans which of course helped them to reach those high notes..

WHOOOOOOOOO-YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH

Of all the records of the glam rock era, Life on Mars is my favourite.

Bowie labeled Life on Mars, “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media” and added, “I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”

I know how she feels..

Reality sucks. You spend nine months in the womb being prepared for your big entry into the world only to reach the age of five when you start school and your world turns phenomenally crap.

Yes, I know how that girl feels..

Life on Mars was released as a single in 1973. I was three years old and still wearing plastic pants. So it’s fair to say that while I no doubt heard it on the radio (or saw it on TOTP) I wasn’t into it until a few years later..

First, I fell in love with Mick Ronson’s orchestral arrangement because, lets face it, it’s EFFING AWESOME! Then came my obsession with the lyrics (also awesome) and all these years later, it STILL does things to me insides..

When it comes to the lyrics, the song is somewhat ambiguous but I identify with Bowie’s description because, like the girl, I am also at odds with reality. I see life as one big freak show.

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show

Bowie started out ordinary enough, apart from his freaky eye, but Mrs Bowie knew that his image was a bit crap so she turned him into the spiky red awesomeness that was ‘Ziggy Stardust’. He made weird, cool, and all the misfits and weirdos whooped with joy and bought all his records. He was like something out of space – which was kind of the idea. Nobody knew what the fuck he was. Was he male, female or alien?

Bowie wasn’t my dad’s cup of tea, as I imagine was the case with a lot of other parents of the time. Dad’s nervous cough would kick in when Ziggy beamed up via the gogglebox during those early years but he settled down once Dave brought out Lets Dance and ‘that one he did with Jagger’, got the Dad stamp of approval too.

Bowie has been a constant in some form or other since Ziggy. I almost had a coronary when the TV series Life on Mars was screened in 2006. Great plot. The legend what is ‘The Gene Genie’ (Gene Hunt) and a cracking 1970s soundtrack, including Life on Mars which was used a LOT. What’s not to like?

For those of you unfamiliar with Life on Mars.. the plot is is that Sam Tyler has an accident in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 wearing flares and driving a Cortina. The tagline is, Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet.

I just hope to God I never suffer a head trauma and wake up in 1983 wearing a ra-ra skirt and legwarmers!

So, if I had to choose ONE song to listen to before I die, it would be Life On Mars. I want my life force to ebb away to this song but knowing my luck, it will be Justin Bieber and I will die with my middle finger stuck up in mid-air.

There is something satisfyingly poetic about Mick Ronson’s melodic string arrangements to Life on Mars being the last piece of music I ever hear before I depart this shit-hole planet. I am the girl with the mousey hair, or at least I used to be before I started dyeing the crap out of it, and I very much want this to be my swansong. Family, take note.

Finally, a bit o’ trivia for you..

The string arrangement for Life on Mars was written in a TOILET.

Genius.

Never Say Die

Some people come into your life for a moment, a day, or for a lifetime.

It matters not the time they spent with you but how they impacted your life at that time.

Dear Chris,

I saw your name on social media and clicked on it fully expecting to see you smiling back at me. Instead, I saw an account remembering your life. For a few seconds, I wondered if it was some kind of joke?

Then I read your obituary..

At the age of 45, you were gone.

Our paths first crossed in 1981 when I started a new school. You were a lovely looking boy with twinkling eyes and a great sense of humour. Everybody liked you. Even the weirdos, like me. You made people laugh simply by being you. You didn’t pick on me like the rest of the boys and you’d never join in with the name-calling. In fact, you’d have a go at them and tell them not to be so ‘tight’ on me. That got you some flack, not that it bothered you.

I’ve never forgotten your kindness.

I never will.

By 1985 a friendship had developed between us. Not boyfriend and girlfriend. Just a two friends who shared a love of heavy metal music. You’d walk home with me after school and I felt safe when I was with you because I knew the others wouldn’t try anything while you were there. Some girls have knights in shining armour. My knight wore scuffed shoes and a blazer.

One of the first records I borrowed from you was Axe Attack which I played over and over again much to my parent’s annoyance. If I remember correctly, my Black Sabbath LP – Never Say Die – was originally yours?

When it felt as though the world was against me – you made a difference. You were a shining light in a very dark world – not that you were ever aware just how deeply I was affected by the bullying.

Nobody did, except me.

No doubt you continued to light up people’s worlds as you went through your life. You had a lovely wife and two handsome boys. I’m so sorry they’ve lost you when you had so much more to give. To lose you at such a young age is cruel. It seems so unfair that evil people live to an old age and so many good people die too young..

This is where I struggle with God.

This is where I question. why?

Why you?

You will always be the boy with the spiky hair and a twinkle in his eye.

That’s how I will remember you.

I can see you now – big grin on your face. 15 forever, eh?

I hope that your heaven plays non-stop rock music and you get to watch over your family until they can be with you again. When I eventually get my arse up there – be sure to say hi won’t you?

Chris, I don’t believe that we ever really die and so it’s seems apt to dedicate this record to you.

Thanks for being my friend.

 

 

 

What Happens When We Die? Part Two: NDEs

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A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with death or impending death. Such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light.

I believe NDEs offer us the best evidence of life after death.

Over the years, I’ve read numerous accounts from average people and medical professionals like Penny Satori who is one of the leading experts on Near Death Experiences.

I recently read an account where a young woman developed an embolism after giving birth and she went into cardiac arrest. She flat-lined several times and after an hour of trying to resuscitate her the doctors pronounced her dead. Then they noticed a pulse..

Four days later she woke up and she had a story.

The woman left her body and watched the doctors working on her. Then she was whisked off on a journey by an ‘orb of light’ that communicated with her via thought. Yeah, I know that sounds a bit funky monkey but stay with me..

She was shown the world from a different vantage point, as in flying, and I don’t mean United Airlines.

She experienced the world more vividly and profoundly than is humanly possible.

She felt an overwhelming sense of being loved.

She was shown deceased relatives.

She was shown a little girl who was yet to be born. This child would be ‘different’ and would teach people acceptance.

She was told that she had to go back by her deceased mother.

She told her doctor everything except the part about the child because the knowledge that the child was going to have problems upset her and she hoped it wasn’t true.

The doctor implied that it was nothing more than an hallucination.

She didn’t mention it again to anyone outside of her family until many years later when she was working as a staff nurse and a lunch-time conversation turned into a discussion about weird stuff that happens to people who are close to death. She shared her story and this time she mentioned the child because 21 years after her NDE, her daughter had a little girl who was born severely autistic. Alongside her daily challenges was an infectious sense of humour and the ability to make people choose love over anger.

Impressed?

I’m not done yet.

One night this woman’s granddaughter (then aged four) told her that she remembered seeing her ‘before’. Her grandmother didn’t immediately understand until the girl told her that she saw her when she “died and went to heaven”.

“I saw you there”.

*shiver time*

How can people, whose hearts have stopped (and who are clinically dead) report lucid and structured experiences when their brains are not working?

The answer is that we still don’t know but at least the medical profession is starting to take the NDE seriously.

The Aware Study

AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) is the biggest ever medical study into NDEs led by Dr Sam Parnia where scientists at the University of Southampton spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. Of those interviewed – 39% claimed to have had some form of awareness before their hearts were restarted. One man’s 57 year old man was able to accurately recall everything that was going on around him after his heart stopped.

Dr Parnia: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.”

Dr David Wilde, a research psychologist said, “There is some very good evidence here that these experiences are actually happening after people have medically died.”

The study concluded that in some cases of cardiac arrest, recollections of awareness are compatible with out of body experiences that correspond with actual events. Also that a number of people may have vivid NDEs but don’t recall them due to drugs or brain injury. Most importantly, the findings are such that further investigation is warranted. In other words, it’s time for the medical profession to treat NDEs and the people who experience them with more respect than the usual, ‘The brain does funny things’.

The experience I spoke about in the previous post wasn’t an NDE or an OBE – That’s out of body experience, not Order of the British Empire – but I DID experience the overwhelming feeling of love and peace which is something that NDErs frequently describe..

Some Common Elements of the NDE

  1. A feeling of overwhelming love
  2. Mental telepathy
  3. Life review
  4. Experiencing God
  5. Ecstasy
  6. Unlimited knowledge
  7. Shown the future
  8. Told to ‘go back’
  9. Tunnel and light

Some of the scientific theories are plausible. Theories such as The Dying Brain Theory or The Temporal Lobe Theory etc. However, one theory I have always rejected out of hand is The Hallucination Theory. The woman in the story brought back knowledge of something yet to happen and it not only happened but was validated. That doesn’t sound very ‘hallucinatory’ to me.

NONE of the dying brain theories adequately explain why people are able to bring back knowledge of things YET to happen. The best some skeptics can come up with is ‘coincidence’. ‘Coincidence’ is what people say when they can’t be arsed to dig deeper. Essentially – it’s a cop out – followed by ‘There is no proof, therefore it doesn’t exist’. They state their ‘opinions’ as facts. To be fair, the skeptics I am referring to are not really skeptics at all. They are what Marcello Truzzi calls, ‘pseudo-skeptics’ The true skeptic looks at ALL the facts and evidence before they form an opinion and even then they will remain OPEN to changing their minds in the light of new evidence. The pseudo-skeptic never changes his/her position.

Science understands the human body but it does NOT understand the nature of consciousness. There is no proof either way but there is a mountain of evidence to support survival of consciousness and thanks to the AWARE study there is scientific evidence obtained under TEST conditions.

“We just don’t know what is going on. We are still very much in the dark about what happens when you die and hopefully this study will help shine a scientific lens onto that.” ~ Dr David Wilde

There is no denying that the evidence is there to support the theory that consciousness survives death. Most importantly, the lives of those who experience them are never the same. They look at life differently and have no fear of death. Some even come back with ‘psychic abilities’ that they didn’t have before such as being able to see ‘auras’ or predicting the future. I read about one lady who was able to move objects with the power of though after her NDE. Sadly, her blog was inundated with nasty comments and she shut it down from public view.

You don’t have to believe these people but they deserve their truth as much as you deserve yours and this is their truth.

If you’ve had an NDE or a similar experience to me and want to share it, please do. If you want to talk about it privately, send me an e-mail. I would be fascinated to hear your story. Meanwhile, here’s a few websites and books for you to get stuck into.

NDERF Website

IANDS – Website

NDE Books That I’ve Read & Recommend

Dying To Be Me ~ Anita Moorjani

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeons Journey To The Afterlife – Eban Alexander

Evidence Of The Afterlife: The Science Of Near Death Experiences ~ Jeffrey Long

Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of Near Death Experience ~ Pim Van Lommell

Wisdom of Near Death Experiences: How Understanding Near Death Experiences Can Help Us Live More Fully ~ Dr Penny Satori

 

 

 

What Happens When We Die? Part One: ADCs

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I love talking about death, me. Strange considering I have health anxiety, but it’s not death itself that gets me hyperventilating – it’s the dying bit.

What interests me is what happens to us after we die.

I believe that consciousness survives death because I’ve experienced paranormal phenomena – my earliest recollection being when I was 9 years old when on two separate occasions I saw a child in my house who didn’t belong there. In other words, I saw a ghost.

However, the experience that turned me into a ‘bleever’ happened early one December morning..

Something woke me up around 3am. It was a familiar sound but it took a few seconds to comprehend what it was because – you know – brain fog? Once my brain engaged, I realised it was my Bontempi organ..

The organ was operated by batteries and made a whirring sound when you switched it on. Somehow, it had switched itself on despite being visibly off. I wasn’t scared but I was awake. The only way to shut the damn thing up was to take the batteries out. So I did. I also made a mental note to get my dad to look it the next day. Problemo sorted, I got back into bed.

Close Encounters of the Bontempi Kind.

That’s when I saw my rocking chair moving gently back and forth.

I assumed it was movement generated from me walking about. Logical, right? Only the bugger kept on rocking long after I’d stopped moving. It was as if somebody was sitting on it? Except that NOBODY WAS THERE. There were no open windows, no drafts, no heating and NO LOGICAL REASON FOR THIS TO BE HAPPENING! By now you’d imagine that a young girl would be crapping her pajamas? On the contrary, I was exceptionally calm.

At this point that I became aware of a smell of perfume. I knew the smell, but from where?

What happened next is why I believe so strongly that our consciousnesses never die..

Brace yourself, folks, cos it’s about to get wanky..

I was filled with THE MOST INTENSE feeling of love.

Think of how it felt to hold your babies for the first time and then multiply it by about a GAZILLION.

Then I remembered who’s perfume it was..

It was my grandmother’s.

The same grandmother who’d once owned the chair that was rocking by itself. The perfume was hers. I don’t remember it on her, as I was only 6 when she died, but I was given her jewellery which was infused with her perfume – the same perfume that was filling my room.

It was unmistakable.

My Bontempi returned to perfect working order. Dad could find no logical reason for it’s ‘malfunction’. My theory? Grandma had to wake me up somehow, right? Just enough noise to wake me but not enough to scare the shit out of me.

What I experienced was an ADC (after-death communication)

What the actual chuff is an ADC?

Bill and Judy Guggenheim defined the ADC as a “spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a family member or friend who has died.”

There are twelve major forms of after-death communication.

Sentient ADC – Where you sense the presence of the deceased.

Auditory ADC – Where you can hear the voice of the deceased.

Tactile ADC – Where you feel the physical touch of the deceased.

Olfactory ADC – Where you smell a fragrance associated with the deceased.

Partial Appearance ACD – When you see parts of the deceased but they don’t appear to be ‘solid’.

Visual ADC – A full appearance from the deceased where they look ‘solid’ and ‘real’.

Twilight ACD – These occur as you fall asleep or wake up.

Sleep State ACD – When a dream is more than a dream.

Out of Body ACD – Contact with the deceased during an OBE.

Telephone ACD – Phone-calls from heaven – literally.

ACDs of Physical Phenomena – Flickering lights ‘n’ shizz.

Symbolic ACDs – Butterflies, rainbows, robins or inanimate objects as a sign from the deceased.

My experience was sentient, olfactory and physical. To be honest, I’m glad Grandma didn’t choose to ‘appear’ in part OR full because I’m fairly confident I would have shit the bed.

My ADC happened in the early hours, as many do, simply because it’s when we are most relaxed and there are fewer distractions. They also happen during stressful times in our lives or around special days, like birthdays or anniversaries. My ADC happened on December the 18th 1981. My Grandma died on December the 18th 1976. Coincidence?

The experience is very special to me. The reason I don’t fear death is because five years after she died, my grandmother was still around. I couldn’t see her but I was aware of her.

Sceptics have belittled my experience as a ‘dream’ or ‘psychotic episode’. Thing is, you don’t remember dreams decades later and I find the ‘psychotic episode’ theory to be insulting – not to mention lazy.

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that involves a loss of contact with reality.

I might be a fully-fledged psycho now but I wasn’t then. I was 11 years old. My head was full of Duran Duran and Smash Hits. If I was going to have a hallucination – it would have been Nick Rhodes, mate, not the grandmother who I could barely remember.

Believing in the afterlife doesn’t make people stupid or gullible. Some hard-line sceptics  openly ridicule people’s experiences and ignore the fact that many believers are credible people. Scientific people with letters after their names and shit.

In a review of research on ADCs, Streit-Horn (2011) found that they occur with people of all nationalities, intelligence levels, religions, ethnicity etc. People who report these experiences are typically NOT mentally ill.

None of this matters to the closed-minds of the sceptics, mostly because they have reputations to live up to. They demand scientific proof, or it didn’t happen.

I can’t prove any of what happened to me and those who could verify certain things are no longer here. Does this mean it didn’t happen?

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Albus Dumbledore

A big thank you to Lori from Days Gone By Etsy shop who kindly allowed me to use and adapt her Bontempi photograph.

 

 

 

The Dash In-Between

There is a dash which represents our lives between birth and death.

This is the dash.

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My dash has one date before it because I’m still alive, or at least I think I am?

*checks pulse*

Yep, still here.

One day there will be two dates because there is no doubt, whatsoever, that I’m going to die.

I try not to worry about that too much.

OK, I’m lying through my teeth. I torture myself DAILY with thoughts of death. But then I suffer from health anxiety, innit?

I don’t fear death itself. Truth be told, living is hard graft when you are autistic and I’ll probably be glad of some eternal rest after a few more decades of life in the shit-lane. NOT that being autistic is shit. It isn’t. It’s the anxiety, that’s shit.

The thing is that death is still a bit taboo. Brits don’t like to think about death until they absolutely have to despite TV adverts encouraging us to ‘plan for the inevitable’. Life Insurance companies give away bribes gifts, like clocks, so you can watch the seconds tick away. Nice touch, Guys.

However, some of us don’t get the opportunity to plan for the inevitable because we get wiped out under the wheels of a Number 48 bus during a spontaneous sprint across the road to buy a pie or the shock of the £250 supermarket bill stops our hearts, literally. Or we succumb to some disease or other. We like to think we’re in control of our own lives but we’re not.

I’m 47 now. How did that happen? It only seems like yesterday I was snogging Nick Rhodes’ face off on my bedroom wall but thanks to an early menopause I feel like I’m in the re-make of Cocoon..

Having a biological age of 103 means I’m already down on the deal and at this rate I’ll be giving The Boy a lift to high-school on the back of a mobility scooter – which he’d probably love. Most women amble gracefully into menopause whereas I’ve been catapulted into it to find the hormone police waiting for me, truncheons at the ready.

‘ELLO ELLO ELLO! WHAT ‘AVE WE ‘ERE THEN? ‘OESTROGEN AND A FULLY FUNCTIONING PELVIC -FLOOR? WE’LL BE ‘AVIN THOSE! AND YOUR SANITY. HAND EM OVER, THERE’S A GOOD MRS. WE DON’T WANT NO TROUBLE NOW DO WE?’

Bastards.

So I’m swallowing all manner of pills and potions in an attempt to claw back a few years or at least slow the process down. It could be a lot worse. Of course it could because as annoying as my symptoms are, they are transitory and by the time I’m 50 (ish) I should be slightly less deranged. So my GP says, anyway..

With the menopause (and bits dropping off me at an alarming rate) I’m more aware of my ‘dash’ than ever. My parents are dead and mortality is slapping me in the face and, yes, it unnerves me. Someone told me that when you hit 40, it’s downhill from then on. They lied. It’s 35.

I grew up thinking that you got old and then you died. Grandma was in her 70s, as was Nan, and Grandad was a respectable 81 when he wheezed through the pearly gates…

That’s how I expected it to be.

Then the unimaginable happened…

A girl in my school died. She was fifteen years old.

Her dash was too brief.

Years later, my nephew died. His dash represented just four years. How sad is that?

My dad died aged 58 and by now I’d realised that ‘three score years and ten’ wasn’t a cert. To be fair, Dad’s dash was a happy dash apart from the last 12 months, which were shit.

I’m not afraid of death itself because I’m one of those lunatics who believe that consciousness survives death. It’s the before bit that worries me because I have the pain threshold of a testicle. I can’t even stand a deep clean at the dentist without having to be anesthetized so what chance do I have with something major?

I want to reach a grand old age (marbles intacto, obvs) where I can gracefully say, ‘Rightio, Death, I’m ready. You may take me now’. Then I want to slip into a Werthers induced coma having watched an entire box set of Ground Force and, seeing as this is my fantasy, Alan Titchmarsh can be the one to take me to heaven wearing nothing but his wellies and a smile.

That’s another thing about the menopause. One day you’re into Duran Duran and sling-backs, the next you’re craving middle-aged gardeners and comfy slippers. Or maybe that’s just me?

Death is going to happen sooner or later because none of us are immortal except for Bruce Forsyth who’s 302. We can always pay to have ourselves cryogenically frozen but it’s out of most people’s price ranges. Not to mention, creepy.

We worry about death but forget that before we were born, we didn’t exist. Get your brain cells around THAT one! We are part of something much bigger than ourselves but we’re all connected right down to the microscopic stuff that we can’t see. There is too much intricacy and beauty for it all to be random or meaningless, so says me. Our bodies become diseased or frail and eventually stop working but the essence which is us cannot die because it’s energy and energy doesn’t die – it just re-groups.

The dash represents our entire lives. We don’t get to choose when we we’re born and the majority of us don’t get to choose when we die. What happens in-between isn’t necessarily our choice but our attitude to any given situation, regardless of how difficult, most certainly is our choice. This is what our eulogies will be about. Not how long we lived, but how we lived.

In this little corner of the internet I make fun of myself because it’s therapeutic. I try to be kind to my fellow human beings even if I don’t understand them very well. My life will always require effort because I’m autistic, not to mention a nervous Nora. But I brought three amazing human beings into this world and that’s what I’m proud of and when the day comes when my dash is complete, I hope their memories of me will make their tears happy ones. Happy as in I’ll be missed. Not happy as in doing the conger round the living room shouting ‘YESSSSS!! THE OLD BAG’S FINALLY CROAKED! WHERE SHE KEEP THE WILL, BRO’S?’

None of us are getting out of this thing alive, are we? All we can do is accept death and hope that when he does come for us, he’s a friend. Most importantly, we need to make our dashes count.

“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” ~ Terry Pratchett – Good Omens

 

Hello, It’s Me..

Everybody remembers the last conversation they had with a loved one before that person died.. It doesn’t matter if the conversation was in person or via the phone. It was those words, spoken or unspoken, that stay with you.

Princes William and Harry were holidaying in Scotland with their father when they last spoke to their mother. Diana was in Paris but she always found time to speak to the two boys who were her life. On the 30th of August she phoned her sons. William and Harry remember this last conversation as being too brief because they were eager to be doing other stuff. They were behaving as young boys do. They were not to know that in a few hours time the mother that they loved so much would be dead. That last phone call haunts them and I understand it because I too am haunted by my last phone call with my mother.

Death.

Death is tricky. Sometimes you get prior notice that he’s coming for a loved one. If death is inevitable, then surely this is the best scenario because nothing is left unsaid? The living can carry on comforted that they got to say goodbye and the dying can let go knowing that there is nothing left to say. That’s the kind of death I want. To leave on my terms. However, Death so often takes our loved ones without warning. There is no opportunity to tell them one last time how much you love them. They are simply – gone.

Death gave no warning about my mother.

The last time I spoke to Mum was the night before she died. I’d been in hospital having a procedure done under general anesthetic and I’d not been home long before she phoned to see how I was. I was woozy from the anesthetic and I just wanted to sleep so I fobbed her off and told her I’d speak to her the following morning. That was the last time I ever spoke to her. How could I know that she would be dead before I woke up the next morning?

Mum hadn’t been ill, except for a “bit of a tummy bug” which she’d mentioned in passing that week. The ‘bug’ turned out to be Bronchial Pneumonia. If she was suffering, nobody knew, because she didn’t say anything. She didn’t ‘do’ illness. Illness was an inconvenience which interfered with hair appointments. She couldn’t be done with it and in the end her stubbornness was her undoing.

What happens in these circumstances is that you replay that conversation over and over in your mind. You don’t remember the other conversations you’ve had with that person. You just remember those last words. You rewrite the script or at least you try to because you feel cheated or guilty or both. You feel like you are the worst person in the world because of that last conversation. You’d give anything to be able to go back in time and do it differently. To this day, I don’t remember if I told her I loved her. Normally, I would have, as I had ended every other phone call, but I was semi-sedated. I most probably did because I ended every conversation the same way. The problem is that it was often like reciting the Lords Prayer, as in, something that you say without actually thinking about it. You know?

My mother was no longer at the end of the phone but that didn’t stop me dialing her number. I needed to hear her voice and I knew where I could find her, for a little while longer, at least..

Hi, it’s me, I’m not here at the moment but leave a message and I’ll get back to you.

I lost count of how many times I rang number Mum’s number to listen to this message. Even though I knew that the phone was ringing out into a house which was no longer a home, it didn’t matter because it was still her voice and it comforted me.

Given the chance, our last conversation would have been very different. Then again, there is a belief that things happen for a reason. What if I was to go back and hear something in my mother’s voice which alerted me to the fact that something was wrong? What then if I was to intervene only for the outcome to be that for the rest of her life she was frail and dependent on others? If you knew my mother you’d understand how much she’d have hated that. As hard as it is to lose someone, if we look hard enough, we will see a blessing in some form. Sometimes we just need to look at things from their perspective instead of our own.

It’s unrealistic to treat every conversation as if it’s the last you will ever have. Life gets in the way and with the best will in the world there are always going to be occasions where we have to cut conversations short. However, no matter how brief a conversation may be, there is always time enough to say the only thing that really matters.

“The news of life is carried via telephone. A baby’s birth, a couple engaged, a tragic car accident on a late night highway – most milestones of the human journey, good or bad, are foreshadowed by the sound of a ringing.” Mitch Albom ~ The First Phone Call From Heaven

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