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Living with Cerebral Palsy 🍋🍋

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Smile

Today, there was a rainbow outside Elin's window. It was really beautiful. It made me cry. I cried because I wanted to share it's beauty with Elin and I couldn't.  She can't see that far away and she can't understand my descriptions. For Christmas she had a rainbow projector light which creates a lovely arc of a prism of colours across her bed. I was thrilled with it because I thought finally, she can see a rainbow. But today it doesn't feel like enough. Today everything feels a little dark, a little heavy.  I want her to see the real thing, in nature,  not something powered by batteries, as she sits as patient, serene and as good-humoured as ever in the relative prison of her bedroom. It made my heart ache.
Today is not just about the rainbow. Today is the end of a long, miserable mid-January week. It has also been a week of unhappy anniversaries. 8 years ago this week, Elin lost her gorgeous friend, Harvey, whose photo sits in Elin's room and who we still miss and always will. Also this week, Elin's cosmic twin, Ellie, should have been celebrating her 8th birthday, but she is forever six years old. In addition, on Wednesday, the world said goodbye to another old school friend of Elin's. An inspiringly strong, cheeky, joyful, clever young lady. Today, I think, is about all of that.
When you have a child who is severely disabled and/or described as life limited, there is a lot to process. I think the entirety of this blog is testament to this. None of it is easy to digest, it takes years. You never get over it, you learn to negotiate your new normal. Part of the new normal is that you suddenly realise somewhere along the way that children you get to know and love will pass away. Families you share each joy and sadness with on this journey will go through the worst grief imaginable in front of your eyes. You have to come to terms with the fact that one day, this could be your child and your family.
Since Elin was born the children we have lost from our lives has reached double figures. Nothing and nobody prepares you for this. In truth, it's probably something you just can't 'prepare' for. The strength of the families utterly humbles you, the legacy of love the children leave behind floors you. The outpouring of kindness and support to these families inspires you, the reality of the hole that is left devastates you. Sometimes, it all feels too much to bear. There is just too much sadness, it starts to get impossible to process, to make any sense of. It never gets easier (and why should it?) in a way, it gets harder. With the passing of each of the eleven children that have left our lives so far, the world just seems more cruel, more unfair and more terrifying.
So how do you deal with it?
I suppose you navigate the sadness by thinking of all the wonderful memories you have of these amazing kids. The memories you know will stay with you forever, the ones that will, when the initial shock and grief has worn off a little, make you smile. Isn't that the only way anyone can make grief bearable at all? Also by looking to Elin. She, as ever, teaches us so much. As I tried to pull myself together after the rainbow set me off today, she laughed. She laughed A LOT. It was as though she was trying to tell me she didn't care about seeing the rainbow. In the end I started laughing too. As ever, we take our lead from her, our sunshine girl, because she shows us the way. Sometimes, there is nothing else left to do but smile, even if you have to have a really good cry first. Smile, remember the good things, pick yourself up and just try to get on with it. Today, I'm smiling for you, Paige. There were so many good things in your life and you gave so much joy to everyone who knew you. We will never forget you.  If I know you at all then I know that somewhere you are smiling too.
Have a good weekend, folks.
Ruth x


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Saturday, 5 January 2019

Goodbye 2018

Hi everyone! To start where I left off, we LOVED The Wizard of Oz at Storyhouse, Chester! After the Lanterns at the zoo it really kicked off Christmas in a beautiful way for us- it was just magical to see Elin's reaction to what was happening on stage, she adored it! Her favourite was the Wicked Witch- she laughed and laughed every time she was on which was very cute and very typical of Elin to decide she liked the baddy the best!! She spent a bit of it in her chair and then the rest of it on Daddy's knee. When the characters came running through the audience at one point, the Cowardly Lion stroked her face and her response was amazing, I just wish I'd had my camera out!! She really, really enjoyed herself and even got to meet Toto afterwards! It meant such a lot to me to share this experience with her and it will be one of my fondest memories of this holiday period for sure.
I hope you all had yourselves a merry little Christmas! Ours was lovely, if not a little blighted by illness- not of epic proportion thank god - but enough to keep us indoors repeatedly coughing and sneezing for a few days. Elin, mercifully, was the least affected presumably having already had it a couple of weeks ago, but chose Christmas day to be at her worst poor thing. On the bright side the three hour nap she decided she needed after the exhaustion of opening her presents coincided with Christmas dinner which was fairly handy for us bless her!! Paul pulled it out of the bag for the millionth year on the trot and we had a gorgeous meal with my Mum, Nan and Grandad    (who have made the move into a residential care home this year but were still super keen to spend the day at our cosy little Christmassy cottage as usual)
                                               
(My absolute legend of a Grandad Ted)

So given the illness that was descending on Christmas day I think Christmas Eve was actually the better day for Elin, to be honest it's my favourite day of the holidays anyway!! We went to watch the children's Nativity in our local church, which is a beautiful building and one I only frequent once a year on Christmas Eve (what do you mean christianity is for life, not just for Christmas?!?!)  but regardless of my terrible yuletide hypocrisy it's an absolute must for us as Elin just loves the tree, lights and singing.  There is also something very lovely on a spiritual level about being there somehow- we went so often with our primary school just over the road as kids that it does hold some lovely memories (and some not so lovely memories like when I was cruelly denied the role of 'Mary'- see previous post!) Anyway this year was no exception and Elin had a lovely, lovely time. She basically laughed all the way through!
It was then time to get some new jim-jams on and wait for Santa to arrive :-)
After Christmas Day Elin perked up a little bit and enjoyed spending Boxing Day day with big sister and family. Elin can't get enough of Caitlin so this was like heaven to her! She was one happy girl!
Elin just dressed super-casual for boxing Day. Ha!
What followed was a few days of all of us, but especially Paul, being pretty wiped with the Christmas lurgi that had been doing the rounds. It's a shame I contracted this strain and not the tummy bug that was also spreading like wildfire as I could do with a helping hand fitting back into my jeans, but I guess on the whole I really wouldn't want Elin catching that so thank heaven for small mercies.
Those days passed in a bit of a fug of hot toddies and Netflix so it was very welcome to get out just before the new year for a nice walk by the Llangollen canal. Elin was obviously so pleased to be out she forgot to be dystonic, so all in all it was a massively successful outing!!!
 Elin enjoyed playing with her new toy and watching us take the tree down when we got home.
On new Year's Day we happily  managed to get to Yorkshire to visit Elin's big brother Gareth and his wife Marianne who were also hosting Elin's big sister Beth and her partner Adam, plus two lovely friends, plus four out of six of the grandchildren!! A very happy visit and Elin thrived on the company of the little ones, as she always does! Miraculously, she had still not remembered to be dystonic by this point so the journey there was pretty pleasing too! 
Actual real footage of Elin sitting nicely in the back of a car!
 He ain't heavy.......he's my brother!
Gruff proudly enjoyed showing Elin his Dinosaur jigsaw!
Baby wrestling!
Taid grappling with 3 out of 6 grandchildren (Agnes, Bobbie and Ivy)

As if that wasn't lovely enough, the very next day when safely ensconced back at the cottage we had a wonderful surprise visit from my Uni friends Claire and Michael who were travelling down from Edinburgh to see Claire's Mum in Liverpool. When we had our awesome Edinburgh visit in the Summer, Claire and Michael were on holiday with their boys Caleb and Archie and it was my only regret that we missed them! So it was lovely to see them and introduce their children to Elin- we have seen each other a lot over the years but never managed to get the kids all together, so this was super special and a lovely treasured memory with which to begin 2019.
We will round off the holidays tomorrow by seeing Pauls brother and his wife and also his cousin and family who are visiting from Australia- so more children for Elin to play with! We have obviously also enjoyed the company of my family over Christmas too (I think I see them too often to remember getting photos oops!) and plenty of other special friends who mean a lot to us and to Elin. I hope this lovely family/friends time is a sign that the year will progress as nicely as it has started for team Drake and more importantly for Elin (I'm not sorry to see the back of 2018 and am really looking forward to starting a fresh new year) She has, of course, been spoiled rotten by everyone but not just with presents- with time and lovely thoughts and good wishes too. Friends and family mean the world to us and are what sees us through the hard times (like today, when Elin remembered about her dystonia at the worst possible time but I'm not blogging about it because you know,  POSITIVITY and all that!!) 
So truly, thanks for the love, folks. It's all you need.
Happy New Year. Here's to 2019.
Ruth xx


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Thursday, 20 December 2018

Mary Christmas!!!!

I can't quite believe it's that time of year again!! Merry Christmas, everyone! I have always loved Christmas but it's fair to say last year was probably one of the worst Christmases ever for many different reasons :-( We sort of stumbled through it and I survived on box sets (namely "Feud: Betty and Joan"- classic Hollywood camp glamour) and copious amounts of Bailey's. Fortunately none of that was anything to do with Elin and whilst Christmas 2017 set a bit of a precedent for some tough times in 2018, we have also been blessed again with an amazing year of good health for our girl. 
At the beginning of December though, Elin had an unheard-of week off school when she came down with what was essentially just a bad cold. Unfortunately it set of a bad pattern of dystonia which we had a bit of trouble controlling. Thankfully the dystonic cycles stopped just as quickly as they and started (just when I thought I was starting to lose my mind having to watch Elin go through it and just when we thought we may have to consider a dreaded hospital admission). Nothing like a bit of a fright with Elin's health to remind you how lucky you've been recently!!! Anyway her speedy recovery meant that Elin was back in school when the week was up, happily in time to rehearse for her final primary school Christmas concert.
You can imagine how we felt that Elin was undertaking her Year 6 school play. This is a school year of 'lasts' for Elin (last school photo, last visit to Santa's Grotto, last class party etc etc) and as I've previously mentioned I'm finding it difficult! However, I'm really trying to keep in mind that next year, her first year of secondary school, will be a year of 'firsts' and that is pretty exciting I reckon. So back to the play, the magnitude of which is difficult to describe. As parents of a child with PMLD we crave 'normal' parental experiences to enjoy because quite often they are few and far between. I've blogged so often in the past about what Elin's school Christingle and plays meant to us, I don't think I need to repeat myself again here- in a nutshell though, it's just so very emotional because ultimately it's the end of the year and as parents we are sitting there again, all feeling the same, thinking about our own personal journey's with our super-special children and also all celebrating how amazing they all are collectively. This is huge for us and difficult to articulate, especially after losing two beautiful little friends of Elin's since this time last year. The Christmas show is not only special because its such a joyous experience for us as parents of children with PMLD, but because it's reflective, too. That is the nature of the lives we now lead. 
Suffice to say we honestly didn't mind what role Elin got this year (previous gorgeous years have included a sheep, a penguin, an angel, a cowgirl and the star of Bethlehem!) But lets not mess about. Everyone knows in primary school life, the part of Mary is basically the 'King Lear at the RSC' of Nativity roles. It was a role that escaped me as a child and I'm still bitter to this day (I'm not kidding- Emma Bruce if you're reading this you robbed me!!)  Imagine our delight then, that following in the end-of-career footsteps of all the theatrical giants such as John Gielgud/Laurence Olivier/ Ian Mckellen et al - Elin would be ending her own 'run' of her whole school career at Ysgol Y Canol by playing Mary :-) So in other words, she was the Glenda Jackson of the show!!!
In a lovely parallel, Elin's little friends Dafydd, who joined the school at the same time as her and will be leaving for secondary school alongside her, played Joseph. As they entered to the song "Fools Rush In" by Elvis and then danced together (courtesy of their fab support workers and some nifty chair-action) there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Well, not a dry eye in the family, certainly!!! (Big sister Caitlin had very happily made it home from London in time to catch it!!) I was so thankful that Elin was in such a good place this week (she has been amazing) as we got to see her really enjoying her time on stage and we now get to treasure that memory for ever. I'm sure 'big school' will continue with school plays and Elin will get to flex her acting muscles again but it was lovely for her to 'exit stage left' on such a beautiful note, in a beautifully delivered show which focused on each and every one of her equally beautiful friends, with her own little school family surrounding her. 
Elin's boyfriend, Llew, you will notice, was a cow!!! The cutest little cow EVER!! (Photo published with kind permission from Dafydd and Llew's families)
Well as you can imagine this put us in the mood for festive cheer and we were lucky enough to have a wonderful experience last night again at 'Chester Zoo Lanterns'. It was simply quite stunning. The best year by far in terms of the lanterns and puppets. I LOVED that the interaction was back this year after a bit of a disappointing year last year. As the staff operated giant, lit up puppets or were dressed up, it meant that they could interact so much with Elin and she laughed from start to finish. She also sat better than she ever has done- not a whiff of the dreaded dystonia. It was, for big kids like us, magical and so gorgeous that Elin was able to get so much enjoyment from it. Some truly lovely memories were made there last night that we will never forget. 
African Plains
Elin leading the way with her special pink lantern
Giant Butterfly puppet was stunning- the operator was kind enough to flap its wings for Elin a lot which is why she is smiling here :-)
The entrance 
A giant racing snail! This reminded us of 'The Neverending Story'!
 The Giraffe puppet was my favourite- even though it got so close we were picking Giraffe eyelashes out of Elin's mouth for ages afterwards!!!!
 The Emu puppet nibbled Elin's hand!! Kept expecting to see Rod Hull ...
 We aren't sure exactly what these were but they were beautiful!!!! 
Elin in Wonderland!!!! Eat Me/ Drink Me?!?!
 A very funny White Rabbit!!!!
 This was a cheeky squirrel puppet who jumped all over Elin thanks to it's lovely operator! I loved that they took the time with her to really let her take it all in!! 
 Tunnel of lights!!!!!!
 These were kind of "Ombres Chinoises" rotating lanterns with forest silhouettes, lining one of the paths and they were just beautiful.
 What's a Christmas experience without a snow machine?!?!!!!!!!!

So as you can see we had a ball, we were doubly lucky that there wasn't a drop of rain the whole time we were there especially given the day before and what the weather is doing today!!!! I highly recommend a visit for any children like Elin and it goes without saying any children (or adults!) in general! There may even be a few tickets left before Christmas :-)
In between these two lovely events we even managed to squeeze in our traditional Drake-family snuggle-on-the-sofa Christmas film afternoon! I can highly recommend "The Chrismas Chronicles" on Netflix for slightly cheesy but heart-warming festive fun!!!
There are four days left to go and we have one more treat coming up- we're off to see the Wizard!!! Tomorrow afternoon we will be taking Elin to the 'relaxed' performance of "The Wizard of Oz" at Storyhouse, Chester. Regular blog readers will know it's my favourite children's film of all time. I've had a love/hate relationship with stage adaptations because of this (umm - how would you EVER replace Judy Garland?!?? Its an impossible task) but I'm sure Storyhouse will do a great job. I've been volunteering at Chester's Storyhouse for fourteen months now and I just love the place- they can rarely do wrong in my book!! More than anything I just want Elin to enjoy it and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was getting a huge buzz out of taking her to see it, again a "normal" experience I hoped I'd have with my kids one day. Taking them to see "The Wizard of Oz". Well now I get to do just that. HOW amazing is it that most theatres these days have relaxed performances? I count our blessings each day that we live in an ever inclusive and understanding world. I will really try to update the blog when we have seen it but if I don't get chance prior to the big day I certainly will afterwards, promise.
In the meantime, wishing all you amazing blog supporters a wonderful holiday!! We are dispensing with tradition slightly for a change this year and staying in Wales for the festive period, which brings some lovely positives and some really sad negatives but I guess, at Christmas, sometimes you just have to admit ..
There's no place like home.
Merry Christmas, folks.
Ruth xx







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Wednesday, 28 November 2018

One love

I've had a bit of a blogging hiatus lately. I've been chewing a few things over I suppose. Elin, you'll be pleased to know, is fine. Since my last post we've had a wonderful holiday in Anglesey and Elin's dystonia has, if anything, calmed down again. In reading over my last piece I realise again how everything can shift in an instant in our world, how mole hills can suddenly turn into mountains with the passing of a few days, or, perhaps more crucially , vice-versa. It is becoming a strangely common pattern for me that following a period of wallowing or self-pity (see aforementioned previous post) something will happen to make me realise how misguided my upset was. Not invalid, but misguided. Four days after I wrote that post bemoaning the fact that Elin was growing up, she lost another one of her friends. He was 15, a warrior and taken far too soon. His family are all warriors too and always have been. There is nothing on this planet that makes you freeze and take stock of your blessings like the loss of a child like Elin from a family like ours. It feels personal, it hurts beyond words, you feel desperate. The special needs family is a small one and in being so is close, supportive and endlessly understanding. We don't even need to communicate with words, often a hug says a thousand things, a smile betrays a thousand conversations never had. How can you look into the eyes of someone you see much less than your own family, yet recognise their soul?  
We are bonded together as parents of children with similar conditions, in dealing with the initial horror of a life changed and then gradually coming to terms with our 'new normals'. We have all been through the same patterns. The obliteration of any kind of post-natal joy, the constant stress from the word go, the fights for help, the hospital stays, the helplessly watching your child suffer, the worry, the equipment, the medication, the home adaptions you never believed you'd have to have, the blessing of every birthday, the sorrow of what could have been. We know one another because we are each other.  In the realms of our exclusive little world, in the family of parents we have become, bound by sorrow and despair and great joy that no ordinary parent could ever understand, we are all one person, one child, one family. So when one is lost, then we are all at sea.
Two weeks ago, amazing, fierce, beautiful, funny, strong, miracle-warrior Josh was lost. But never, ever forgotten. 
Two weeks ago my perspective was found. 
Goodbye Josh, thank you for all you taught us and will continue to teach us. Thank you for your smile, for your spirit, for your attitude to life, for your cheekiness, for your love. 
Nobody who met you will ever forget you, squashy. The impact you had on those around you was extraordinary, as the huge numbers of people queueing to say goodbye to you (and beautiful words written by family, friends and teachers) at your funeral paid testament to. You achieved in your short life much more than most people could ever dream of, just by being you. Love is your legacy. What an amazing legacy to leave behind. 
Rest in peace, little man.
xxx

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Sunday, 28 October 2018

Growing pains

In the month when the clocks have gone back, I seem to spending an awful lot of time wishing I could actually reverse or at least halt time in general. Things are changing pretty fast around here. Or not. Maybe the changes have been so slow and so gradual that we didn't notice them happening. I don't suppose there is a Mum in the whole world who wouldn't tell you there her children have grown up too fast. This is hardly news. So why am I struggling so much with Elin getting older and bigger?
Elin seems to have sprouted lately. We are finding it really, really difficult to lift her and to manage her weight. Obviously we have the hoist for tricky manoeuvres at home, like bathing.  It's not being at home that is difficult though- it's everything else. It's when you are out and the dystonia dictates that she needs to come out of her chair, or she has an appointment or a therapy or you want to visit a friend's house. Try lifting a ten year old who cannot brace themselves or hang around your neck or help you in anyway. Its becoming really hard. Our backs, most days, are in agony.
Coupled with the growth spurt Elin's dystonia has made a weird return, in the sense that she now has random periods of complete stiffness/bending backwards. It's not as distressing for her as her all-over body dystonic storms thank god. But it's not nice to see her straining against her own body and involuntarily trying to bend herself backwards in two. It also makes her very difficult to handle. She's definitely not a baby anymore. I always knew there would come a day when Elin grew so big that we would have to start altering what we do, where we go and how we manage day to day life to keep her comfortable. Of course I did. But that doesn't seem to make the realisation, that this new chapter in our life is pretty much upon us, any easier. I want to stop the clocks, I want time to stand still. I'm not ready. I'm not ready for growth, for secondary school, for hormones and their effect, for Elin to embark on the pathway to adulthood and all that this means. I'm scared. I feel like screaming..
I'm not ready.
I don't know how to be ready and I don't know how to stop being sad about all the things that will gradually shut off to us as Elin gets bigger. I don't know how to stop being sad that I am sad about my daughter growing up, because of the implications for her and for us as a family. I don't want to be sad,  but I'm not ready not to be. We are both so acutely aware of these huge changes lately, it's a bit like going into shock all over again. I berate myself for not handling this well, before I remember what happened to us and to Elin was huge and that will re-surface now and then. As I watch my friends bring up their children in an existence more alien to my experience of motherhood than I ever could have dreamed of, I still can't quite believe this happened.
As we both grapple with this, there is one person who is taking it all in her stride with characteristic strength. It's the person who's face makes everything ok again. She is happy, she is healthy, she is here. She looks at us as if to remind us that changes can be negotiated, anything can be dealt with in the great scheme of things- just think back to ten years ago and all the changes since July 2008. Change? We can do change. As long as we are all together, we can do anything- what else is there???
Once again, we have to take our lead from you, miracle girl. One day at a time. Never give in, never look back and never, ever stop smiling. 
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Friday, 12 October 2018

Rainbow bright

"The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow" said an inspirational quote I once saw on a wooden plaque hanging in a gift shop. Unlike some inspirational quotes, it didn't cause me to snort sarcastically and roll my eyes so far into the back of my head they almost disappeared. Because it's true, isn't it? The harder you've had things, the more you appreciate the good times. Well, this is definitely true of us anyway and basically the premise of this blog really, so I have never forgotten that saccharine but spot-on little saying.  I think as humans we instinctively search for justifications and answers to bad things that happen, so this saying fits in with that psyche. Today, it is as relevant to us as ever. Exactly three years ago we left Children's Ward after yet another admission. The nurses- who felt more like friends by this point- had made me the usual tea and toast in the morning, whilst I had groggily dressed inside our 'cube' room. The beeping of the monitors attached to Elin all night echoed through my memory like a never-ending reversing bin lorry that was flattening my sanity.
I couldn't, then, count how many times we had stayed over in hospital with Elin. I'd be interested to know actually. I do know that by the time she was twelve weeks old, we had spent seven of them in hospital. This set an unwelcome precedent for the next seven years of her life. It utterly blows my mind that there are some parents out there who have never entered a hospital ward with their child, such was the normality of the situation to us. First name terms with all the staff and a knowledge of the doctors rota's more accurate than their own (probably).  Let's not forget the ambulance rides and the times we were blue-lighted into A&E because that was LOADS of fun! Once, I did and ambulance call and run to hospital solo as Paul was away visiting family for the weekend. I didn't tell him until he got home because I knew it would ruin his trip and had to avoid his phone calls for 24 hours so he wouldn't guess where we were!! So even ambulance rides lost their vice-like grip of terror on us in the end. I suppose it's true that you can get used to anything if you deal with it long enough.
The thing is, one your child has been rushed by ambulance to hospital (normally because of seizures in Elin's case) and you have taken a call from the school to tell you to get there as fast as you can, it becomes very difficult to ever relax again. You are on high alert constantly. For years, the generic ring of a mobile phone in my proximity would set my heart pounding. I felt that my mind was always elsewhere. It was with Elin.
How lucky we were during this period to enjoy the care of the staff on Children's Ward. Some of these same staff, by the way, still follow this blog and even contributed to the stunning £1,400 we collected for charity in the name of Elin's 10th birthday. They cared about us, even in the malaise of the ravaged, busy, exhausted days working in the confines of terminally compromised NHS. These staff ( and the school staff too)  were the singular reason we made it through that period of time without losing our minds. I'm not sure if everyone that ever made a fuss of Elin on that ward, or greeted us with such open familiarity and constantly took time out of their day to reassure and look after us, truly knew the impact of their actions. It was huge.
So, three years ago today we were discharged from the ward after a bug/breathing difficulties for Elin. We left our favourite cube, waved to our favourite nurses on the way out (they were all our favourite!) and joked we hoped we wouldn't see them again too soon. We didn't. We haven't had a single hospital admission since then.
This luck is extraordinary, just like Elin. We were told quite categorically by a consultant at Alder Hey when she was four months old that Elin would spend a (short) life yo-yoing in and out of hospital and for a while it seemed like this may be the case. But it seems a different lifetime now, I can barely remember that feeling of continual anxiety. It's so freeing, to be able to release the day to day worry that we carried around like a weight on our shoulders. But, it's never quite far away either.  I don't think we'll ever feel that those days won't ever return because we are far too superstitious to assume. We know how quickly things can change for children as vulnerable as Elin. We can only hope, be thankful, once again marvel at the amazing strength and resilience of our little fighter and make lemonade while the sun shines. God knows life has served us enough lemons.
October 12th 2015. Last Children's Ward admission. 

Have a wonderful weekend folks. Stay hopeful.
xxxxxx


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Friday, 28 September 2018

Wedding Belle

It seems life is full of milestones for Elin at the moment! 10th birthday, 3 years hospital-free (more on that in another blog!) and the final year of primary school to name but a few. Last weekend, she hit another one. First time being a bridesmaid!! This was a big one for me. It's just another right of passage that- all those years ago staring at a tiny baby on a ventilator in SCBU- I never even considered Elin would be lucky enough to make. I never realised how much I long for Elin to have ordinary little-girl experiences until they come along and then I can't believe our luck. It's an extremely fortunate position to be in.
It goes without saying how beautiful she looked and how proud we were to see her at my twin sister's wedding. She had a cold, had been up most of the night before and still managed a twelve-hour day in a completely unfamiliar environment with lots of voices and people she didn't know. What a trouper. She did minimal good sitting, but this was fine- I hadn't really expected her to sit well all day, it's sod's law after all (she had mostly done great sitting all week!!). I didn't worry about it. A few years ago we couldn't have even been sure she would make the day, certainly not last the whole day so we will, as usual, take small blessings as they come!!
Elin did manage to sit beautifully as she went down the aisle, pushed by my lovely Mum. I was so glad Mum had such an integral role in the service, that is, delivering the most important guest down the aisle!! Elin was followed by Caitlin and then me (I feel like I'm maybe a bit old to be a bridesmaid but I enjoyed every second and was grateful nobody tried to saddle me with the god-awful 'Matron of Honour' title!!) My photo's, by the way, are not great- surely the sign of a good day- far too busy having fun to get great pics!! That's what the photographer is for and we are looking forward to seeing the 'official' pics very soon! (I'm looking down in this shot presumably because I can't believe I have to stand next to a gorgeous 20-year old all day!!)
Caitlin and I had a ball being bridesmaids (a bit too much fun - I was still recovering on Monday and rumour has it Rosset Hall ran out of red wine that night!!). We shared a room in the hotel, as Super- Dad Paul brought Elin home in the evening once she had seen the night guests- we knew it would all be getting a bit much for her by then and Paul knew he would be dying for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit! One of my favourite parts of the wedding was getting to spend some quality time with Caitlin even if she did lead me astray and make me do shots like a student!! It's completely her fault that I drank so much, honest!! Although if you can't drink a bit too much at your only sisters wedding then I don't know when you can :-) Caitlin sang at the ceremony and was, of course, brilliant. Regrettably we didn't get a video of her renditions of 'Fools Rush In" by Elvis, "At Last" by Etta James, or Elton John's "Your Song"-but suffice to say the registrar couldn't complete her tasks because she was so busy crying!! We were once again extremely proud. Elin was of course delighted to spend the day with her favourite person.
   My sister and her wife Katy looked absolutely stunning.  It was so amazing to see them both so happy and to share their perfect day. It was a joyous day, too, after some difficult times for the family this past year. I can't tell you how good it feels to know that your sister has found a life partner who is so awesome as Katy and who deserves her so thoroughly. Weddings are just such gorgeous, life-affirming occasions aren't they? Seeing all your nearest and dearest under one roof is truly good for the soul. The way everyone comes together to celebrate (in this case from as far away as Australia!!) and just pulls together to create a magical day for the special couple can't help but leave you with the warmest and fuzziest of feelings!! It makes you feel like everything will be ok. Love triumphs. Always.
Thanks to everyone who came and made a real effort to ensure the day was special, it really meant a lot. What I loved was seeing two families join together and just enjoy the amazing atmosphere that comes about when two people promise to spend the rest of their lives together. What could be better? On an even more personal level I think what Paul and I will cherish from the day aside from this is the image of Elin surrounded once again by such immense happiness and love. Tomorrow is twelve months since we lost Elin's little friend and cosmic twin, Ellie. We know how lucky we are. We take nothing for granted.
Have a great weekend, folks. May you always be as loved as a newlywed and as happy as an ageing,  drunken bridesmaid :-)
Ruth x



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