As the new year draws ever closer it is a time to reflect and look back over the past 12 months.
Like every new year we welcomed it in with a sense of optimism and excitement. We are pretty much generally happy people, thankful for all of our many blessings and new year’s eve is a time when we focus on that.
New Year’s Eve 12 months ago saw us break open our memory jar. I would urge anyone who is thinking about doing that to actually do it. I covered a jar and made a whole bunch of slips and each of us had a pile of them on our desks. Every so often we would fill in a slip and put it in the jar. We never saw what the other wrote and we didn’t do it every day by any means, but getting those slips out on 31st December 2013 was so much fun. We re-lived our whole year – the mundane, the funny, the exciting, the daft, the poignant, the upsetting. It was all there and we spent a very happy time reviewing the year.
We didn’t keep it this year. We started but I think it was too soon. Maybe in a few years time we will do it again. So this New Year’s Eve we are left to rely on our memories alone. And I guess my blog too as this serves as an on line diary. I do apologise for those of you who visit solely for the scrapping as you do tend to have to plough through a lot of junk to get to that sometimes. However, I always say it is my blog and I genuinely do blog for myself. And I know many people who are faithful readers and who often comment enjoy our day to day as well as the creativity.
So – the past year – what has it seen? It has seen us tested in so many ways. It has seen some real lows but it has also strengthened our resolve and our faith and our love for each other. We have been through some things we never expected but at the end of it all we have survived and, compared to what so many people have to face, our trials have been minor. I remember what my Mom always used to say though. Yes, our trials have been minor compared to others but they have been ‘ours’ and so obviously we have felt them keenly.
Our year started with a decision we had been putting off and could no longer put off any longer. We had to make the decision to say farewell to our beloved Boo. Boo had joined our family during Christmas 2001 as a stray with no home of her own and so we became her forever family. We think she was between 1 and 4 when we had her. Which would put her at approximately 14 – 17 and we think probably closer to 17. She was completely deaf, had lost so much weight and really slept all day in one spot. She seemed happy enough but the weight loss was a worry and we knew the days were numbered and her quality of life was limited. We didn’t want to wait until she was really sick and so trying, with the help of our vet, Tom, to judge the right time was hard. We made the decision on 13th January – not a great start to the year
January and February were months of storms and the south coast w as hit hard. The Valentine’s Day Storm took what remaining fence panels we had left but we were so lucky compared to so many who lost homes through terrible floods and storm damage. A chance to reflect and count our blessings. We love living by the coast but the ocean is a force to be reconed with.
March saw me away at a conference in Stratford and returning with a surprise present – campylobacter. I have always prided myself on not being absent from work for many days in my entire career. This year wasn’t good. The campylobacter saw me in bed for a week and still ill for the following fortnight. It was a nasty nasty bug and I can honestly say I don’t think my tummy has ever returned to normal. However, in the scheme of things it is minor – it just seemed horrid at the time.
April was a real high as we ventured to Europe. Nigel is not a Europe lover and we have never ever driven in Europe. I saw pictures f Bruges, realised how close it was and a plan was hatched. We crossed the channel and, thank goodness for sat nav, we saw Dunkirk, Bruges, Ghent and Brussels. It was as pretty and photogenic as we hoped, it was glorious weather, it was a wonderful short break and Brussels was the most concentration we have ever had to give all year. Oh my, navigating round the centre of Brussels at peak time was hairy to say the least but we did it and we had a wonderful time.
On our return from Bruges Nigel noticed a mole on my back had changed. Changed! That is the understatement of the year. It looked like every picture of melanoma you ever see. It was off to the doctors on the Monday and God was watching over us well as I was given a cancellation appointment to see the consultant on the Wednesday and I had my first operation on the Friday. Incredibly quick and I felt very blessed – I just wanted it cut out of my body. I knew it was bad. We hadn’t appreciated that a 1 cm mole would mean a 4” incision and scar or that the wound, placed between my back and shoulder, was in such an awful place. I couldn’t dress myself, couldn’t lift, open doors, pull etc and was forced to wear a sling as an aide memoir for not using it and so not bursting the stitches.
We had a two week wait for the results and that was hard. I was, as ever, convinced the news would be bad. Nigel was the opposite, so I think it hit him harder than me when we heard it was cancerous. It coincided with a very bad time at work and again I counted myself as blessed as the work issue paled into insignificance against the cancer. Once again we were blessed as it was the best worst news possible. It was a malignant melanoma in situ which meant it hadn’t spread. It was hard being given all the information about cancer etc . There were light moments though as I was told I would have to go to the clinical photography department. I walked in to a photography studio with all white backdrops and arc lights and had to strip and have photos taken of every part of my body so they – and subsequently Nigel – could track my moles and any future changes. Not my favourite experience ever, but they were brilliant and they never photograph your face so if ever anyone found my pictures I would deny they were mine. Mine at the ones with the perfect size 10 body!
The treatment, worry and the second, bigger op took care of most of May and June. Throughout we worried we would not be able to go on our planned holiday to Florida. Right up until the last minute I thought we wouldn’t make it, but we did and we had an amazing holiday – possibly our best ever. It was also a chance to catch up with Mike, our Floridian friend who means a great deal. It was good to spend some time with him.
and never let us forget it was the Olaf summer too (and yes ... of course I had an Olaf for Christmas!)
What Nigel didn’t tell me was he had a urinary bleed the week before we went! That was to become obvious later in the year. Once back we enjoyed special days when we went out as guests of the Royal Navy for the air show, thanks to Helen and her Dad, Nigel did his tram driving experience which was amazing and we had a wonderful bird of prey day with Dawn Paul and Carly which was one of the real highlights of the year.
We also went to London to see the pop[pies and are eagerly awaiting ours being delivered
It was Nigel’s turn to be ill towards the end of the year as he suffered a very severe urinary bleed resulting in clotting and an inability to go t the toilet at all. We went into A and E where he underwent some horrible stuff but it cleared the blockage and he was admitted. He has had subsequent tests and scans and the cause remains somewhat unknown but they cannot see anything serious. I think we both dreaded the C word again. I think I picked the norovirus up from the hospital. Yes – back to tummy issues again!
The year has ended with a bad cold and then flu for both of us all over Christmas. But heck – it’s just flu. It has been a testing year but we really really are very very grateful. Our illnesses have cleared and have proved to be minor, we still have two beautiful fur babies, we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, good friends and we laugh, a lot, each and every day.
We enjoy where we live, we love our life, life is good and every moment to be cherished.
So, as a new year dawns we look forward to whatever the year may bring us. I attach the picture of Robbie Williams (what’s not to like) that sums it up. We are embarking upon a new venture this year – more later in the year – and I know it will be an exciting time for us.
I hope that, for all of you reading this and for us, the new year is one that brings health and happiness, love and laughter. I hope that whatever it brings it also brings us the courage to and faith to deal with it and grateful hearts to appreciate all that we are blessed with.