20 years gone too soon.

Its the 14th of December. A day that seems to come round each year all too quickly. Now it is not only one person I lost on this day but 2. There are not many days that you will remember exactly where you were and what you were doing but for me the 14th December I remember exactly what I was doing last year and also 20 years ago.

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20 years ago my Uncle tragically died. I remember it so well and I hate that I do. Me and my younger brother were at my Dad and Step Mum’s for the weekend. We all went to bed on Saturday night as normal. Early hours of the morning the phone rang and it was the call to say Uncle Dermot had had a traumatic brain injury and was down in Nottingham in the hospital on life support. It is so strange the things you remember, while Dad was making arrangements to drop us back off at our Mum’s and go down south, me and P were in the front room and he came out with ‘there would be no more Kukuri’s’. I have no idea why it stuck in my head. Uncle Dermot was an officer in the army and travelled far and wide. He had no kids of his own but would bring us gifts back from his tours. I think now they would for sure not let him give us things such as kukuri knives and other souvenirs from various countries. Dad took us back to Mum’s, on the doorstep I remember Mum giving Dad a big hug. I don’t remember my emotions at all really. I went to school as normal on the Tuesday and it was on the way home that I realised the enormity of what happened because it was on the front page of several newspapers with his picture which you couldn’t miss. We didnt spend a lot of time together as he was away most of the time but looking through his photo albums which he kept throughout this life as a sort of diary I realise just how much of packed life he lived. In a short 36 years he did some of the most amazing things. When he was home on leave he would always make time to spend with us.

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The comment that went with these photos made me smile. The first one was Dermot meeting me for the first time but keeping his distance. The second photo was ‘somehow ended up with babysitting duty’.

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This was taken before we left Granny and Grandpa’s when Dad got married to Carol. My second cousin Fio is the other person in the picture.

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Uncle Dermot with me and my younger brother.

I really enjoy looking at his photos. He makes me feel very proud that he was my Uncle. All he achieved is amazing. It is scary to think in 3 years time I will be the same age as he was when he died.

dDcNhrJkRVaw4BiAiXXDxA.jpgFor a few months I think Dermot was stationed at Edinburgh Castle. I recall thinking it was amazing that he was living in the Castle and was able to take us round. The stick my brother is holding is Dermot’s officers cane.

Not only did Dermot die on the 14th December but last year Granny also died. There is something rather special about her dying that day. I don’t think she ever got over Dermot dying. He was so young, how does a mother ever get over the death of a son. I don’t think you ever do.

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Since my Grandpa died I became a lot closer to my Granny, spending time with her, tasing her out to different places. Throughout all the troubles she always had my back and would look out for me. I never thought she was going to die when she did but there was something so peaceful about it. I got a phonecall about 3 in the morning that Granny was struggling to breath. She had a bad chest infection which was making her asthma worse. I went to the nursing home in the middle of the night and sat with her waiting for the Dr to come. She had some nebulisers and it settled her chest really well. So once she fell asleep I left and got some sleep. I visited Granny after work and she was brighter, and I wrote some more of her Christmas cards which she was desperate to get out but didnt have the energy to write them so I did them. An hour or so passed and she got tired so I left and posted the cards. Just over an hour later I got a call from the nursing home to say she had died. I was devastated- it was so quick, I had only been there just over an hour ago and she was chatting to me and now she was gone.

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(I love this photo of Granny aka Great Granny Annie proudly holding baby James)

I took a lot of comfort from her dying on the same day as Dermot died and also she joined Grandpa who she dearly missed as well. I do miss visiting Granny and all her quirks- she drove me round the bend a lot and could get so argumentative at times when I just give up and say yes!!!

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The 14th December is a day I find really quite hard but reflecting back on memories and the good times makes it that bit easier. I know one day I will join them as well and be reunited with Uncle Dermot, Granny and Grandpa.

I found this photo of Uncle Dermot in his photo albums. I love the silhouette and it reminds me of the soldiers who are gone but not forgotten. Uncle Dermot and Granny may both be gone but they will never ever be forgotten and Grandpa won’t be either.

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Why I took a break

I posted earlier that I was taking a break because I had stuff going on. I still have stuff going on but am making more sense of it now and coming to terms with decisions I am making to better myself in the long term.

It may not seem like much to some but sport is my life. Slowly that world of sport has grown smaller. There was a time when I would never say no to any sport (except swimming- I would actively try and avoid it). I would put my hand to anything, would join any team and would voluntarily run cross country because of my love of exercise.

My love of sport has not dwindled in the slightest. I love sport. I would submerse myself in the sport world if I could., eat, drink, sleep sport. That was me. My career was to be sport. My life was sport.

11 years ago that changed. In a sense I don’t think I ever grieved the loss I felt when sport was no longer my life. My body was no longer able to skip, hop, run and jump when it wanted. It required a cocktail of medication to just convert oxygen into carbon dioxide let a lone play 90 minutes of football 80 minutes of rugby, 60 minutes of lacrosse, run 13 miles and walk 18 holes of golf.

In all honesty I have still not accepted that I won’t play sport like I once did. There is always this tiny bit of hope that one day my asthma will just be better and off I go. I often think if this is why I test myself just to see how far I can still go, but in seeing how far I can go also highlights how far I can’t go at the same time.

Last week I wanted to shut myself off from the world as the consequences of something I did was too unbearable for me to process. The golf season is well under way. I have all my cards in for handicap. It was a beautiful evening and I was due to tee off at 1730 in the ladies medal. (My course is on the side of the hill so quite hilly). It was a lovely evening so I decided to walk. I didnt want to ride around in a buggy on such a nice night. I made it up the first hill my lungs on fire, a rest, then the next hill, a short break and as the holes continued the more hills and the more fire I felt in my lungs, the more I gasped for breath, and I just wanted to collapse. I was having to hold my breathe to play my shot and then breathe to enable me to have some control of what I was doing with the golf ball. On the sixth hole I hit 2 fresh air shots in a row, followed by a sclaf and various other mishits. It was time to call it a day. 1/3 of the way round the course it felt like my body gave up and the more I willed it the less it responded. I was devastated.

The rational side of my brain knew I wouldn’t manage but I just wanted to walk. It was so nice I didnt want to miss the lovely evening so I walked. Perhaps thats silly decision has altered my path for the rest of the season- I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing?

Many friends at the golf club questioned why I didnt go in a buggy. I should have yes but when your one of the youngest playing and not able to get yourself round there is a sense of embarrassment for me. My friends accept it as that is whats needed but for me I feel different.

As a result of this choice I had a long think about what I wanted to do. I wrote and re wrote emails and different ways of saying what I wanted but couldn’t find the right words. But basically I emailed our team co-ordinator person and decided to take myself out of the team for the season. Next season may be different but this year I can’t deal with it. The golf I can manage but  it is seeing those who are so much older manage so much better and I need time to deal with this. As I said earlier I need to almost mourn the freedom I once had which has been exchanged for a life of planning.

Many may read this and not understand where I am coming from and think I am not that bad off. In the whole scheme of it all Im not bad off. I have my life, independence, a supportive family so I don’t have much to complain about in the big picture but just now this loss is a big picture for me. It feels like each year it is something else that is being given up, football, rugby, hockey, running, lacrosse, the list goes on. Golf and skiing are becoming limiting. When skiing starts to go that will be a very dark day as my one true passion is skiing. I am at one when I am on the mountain and I feel at peace. I am not going to think that one day I won’t ski but at the same time I am not going to think I will always be able to ski because I thought golf was a sport I would always do without any issue.

As I finish writing this I just wish I could have something to blame. Even if it was something that was self inflicted like smoking or anything but at least then I could attribute blame to something and not have a question mark when I ask why is my asthma so bad and hard to control. There is no answer just now and I don’t know if there ever will be. One day I hope and pray.