This week has been a pretty mixed bag as far as good and bad events and It’s only halfway through.

It started extremely badly, a phone call with the saddest of news. Pain for a close friend of mine that resonated deeply with me.  I have lost a sibling in similar circumstances. It’s extremely difficult to know what to say or do in such circumstances, all you can really do is be there for the people involved. It takes a long time, if ever to learn to live with such a trauma.

I had an early morning appointment, the next day made all the earlier because of how bad the traffic always is on the way to Cork. I’m not so good anymore with mornings, fatigue even after a seemingly good nights sleep remains a problem. The clinic was busy, but I was hoping to get seen ahead of schedule. I needed to get to another appointment afterwards across the city, and the funeral that evening.

My daughter had come with me she’s older now, but when is old enough to deal with such things. I didn’t realise the impact such a visit would have. For me it’s become a “normal, abnormal,” something I live with.  I take my tablets, I don’t look sick, sometimes I’m grumpy or tired, the washing doesn’t get done or the dinner might not be made, but I don’t look like the cancer stereotype. I’m still just Mom.  So to see me sitting there, in that clinic came as a bit of a shock, and when I walked out from having a line inserted in my arm, it got too much. She had to leave, I can understand, the reaction, I grew up in and out of hospitals watching my mother get progressively worse, feeling helpless, and the unfairness of it all.

I felt so bad at that moment; not that I could have any control over this thing that’s happening, but because I don’t have any. I can’t make this go away, it’s not something Mom can fix.  Sure I can protect them from seeing the realities at times but I can’t protect them from what’s a likely out come and as a mother that hurts. It hurts deep, inside your soul.

I often hear about secondary cancer patients detaching from their surroundings, I understand why. No one wants to be the reason their loved ones are hurting. So you retreat inwards, your world becomes much smaller, inside your head, there’s a sadness with you that’s difficult to express.  Often when you try, it causes more pain for those who love you, so it’s easier to talk to others in a similar situation. I know that can be confusing and annoying for families but sometimes it’s the only way we know how to cope.  Your living on a red alert warning, constantly just missing that bullet, but knowing it will inevitably get its target…….. And no one can tell you it will be Ok, it makes you weary but then you can’t sleep either.

My friend collected me to travel to the funeral, we were going to take his bike, but the journey home in the dark was long over the mountains with loose sheep and winding roads, so it was safer to take the car. It would have felt nice, to feel that sense of freedom you only get on a bike ride, brushing off of the cobwebs some adrenaline therapy. Fearless……It’s important to feel that way we spent so much of our lives being careful and towing the lines, we forget what it is to feel a little good danger. What it is to feel free especially as we get older and get tied up in family life, managing finances…….as mothers we often judge ourselves by how we think others are judging us, instead of just doing what makes us happy.

Life can be difficult, sometimes more for some than seems their fair share. Maybe you didn’t get a good start in life, maybe you got the best, maybe your parents were distant, maybe they wrapped you in cotton wool, maybe you have tried and tried and tried but things just never seem to go right. Maybe when life knocks you down, you get right up again and maybe you can’t understand people who don’t have that strength.

Maybe it’s not so easy to live a life as free as you please, it’s certainly not so easy to live in the moment on a continuous basis. It’s just not practical because none of us are ever really alone or totally independent. We are born into families, we choose people to spend our life with, spouses, children, friends, neighbours, lovers, workmates. We are connected, so when someone we love is going to leave, and we are powerless to stop it, everything is in a state of flux……….. that bit is hard, painful.

Today, a complete stranger made me cry I had to leave the supermarket in a hurry. It was such a spontaneous act of kindness it blindsided me.  The assistant asked had I any vouchers, when I said no, the lady behind said use mine, I know what it’s like not to have any, and you’re doing a big shop. She was only getting a couple of items and couldn’t use them, she saved me a substantial amount of money, not because there was anything in it for her, she had nothing to gain; except maybe she actually had everything to gain, because when you go through life, looking out for others, even though they might be strangers it makes the world a better place not only for you but for everyone you connect with. It was something so simple, so unnecessary for her to do it reminded me of all the kindness that can be freely available, if we just shared it about.

As you go through life, pack in, as much, as you can, love a lot, have fun, smile more, be adventurous, feel the adrenaline while you can, hold someone’s hand when they need it, hug lots, don’t judge people who have a lot, or those that have little (life can be hard regardless), let people go that don’t want to be with you, cut people a little slack, always let someone go ahead with two items, pass on, the in time parking ticket, let the screaming baby go first at the doctors, talk to the guy sitting next to you, he might be the one you fall for, don’t be so quick to beep at the car in front,  the girl on the phone from the call centre might hate her job already don’t make it worse she has bills to pay too.

Some of these might not change your life, but, because we never know what’s going on in another person’s mind…… that little act of kindness, might just make all the difference and keep them going a little while longer, make life seem a little less bleak……