We’ve (my siblings, their partners, my wife and I) been in Dublin this weekend to help my parents celebrate my Dads retirement with a big party which was last night.
We did a surprise performance of a few songs my dad wrote 35 years ago which was great fun. Below is the video of us singing “One & One”. It is a great song and he and everyone else enjoyed it:
I just realised that today marks the 18th anniversary of my leaving Ireland and moving to the UK.
What’s interesting is that all my immediate family are actually all over in Dublin this weekend. Sandra and Angie had organised to go over for the weekend to get some time with Mom. It was also Mom and Dad’s first opportunity to meet my newest niece, Hannah-Grace. My bro Tom had to go over for work.
Me? Not so lucky…but then again… I am. I have an amazing wife and a good life here in the UK and while it could always be better I do feel blessed.
I’m thankful for all I have.
Would have been nice to have a family get together though! 😉
Our holiday was truly fantastic! I’ll try and follow the photo gallery below:
- Arrival & Awe – So we arrived in Dublin airport and everything went as planned. My Dad had left his car keys at a pick up point complete with the agreed codeword along the bottom of the envelope even though the chap at the counter didn’t even flinch when I delivered said code phrase. No he only responded to my name but this response resulted in passage to the Car. Dad bought a Skoda Superb. I thought his previous 5 Series BMW was big but this thing was enormous. Enormous and luxurious – it parks itself! Anyway after a few mins of poking around the controls we drove down to Wicklow and our next awe striking experience was delivered when we walked in to my parents Static Caravan. Our home for, what would be the next 10 days, was beautiful and homely and much more than we expected.
- Dara & Dalkey – Day 2 was a bit of a tour in itself. We arranged to meet up with one of my old school fiends Dara in Bray. The ideas was to walk along the promenade and have lunch but as we were walking we all realised that the quality of food establishments was poor so we went with Dara’s recommendation and drove up to Dalkey (If I could choose to live anywhere with no regard to life as it is I would choose here) and after trying to find somewhere to park we had lunch in Queens. Post Lunch we strolled down to Bullock harbor cause it was a beautiful day. The heat of the day dictated the need for ice-cream and no trip to Dublin is complete without a trip to Teddy’s in Dún Laoghaire which we ate while walking down the West Pier. it was a lovely day in all.
- Silvers & ma youff – The next couple of days were spent chilling. We started reading “The Hunger Games” trilogy (taking it in turns to read to each other) in the caravan and walking on the beach I grew up going to every single summer of my childhood. It was brilliant. We also noticed that my folks had the entire works (to date) of “Downton Abbey” so we also indulged in that and managed to watch the first two seasons and Christmas special before we went home.
- Brittas – We headed out in the car one day heading for Brittas Bay but we ended up overshooting as we weren’t quite ready for a walk when we got there so we continued down toe coast to Gorey and had lunch in a lovely little cafe before returning back up to Brittas for our walk.
- Perrymans & Cormac – Midweek and one of the best days was when our friends from London “The Perrymans” came down for the day. It was really great having a friends from a different era of life get a flavor of my early life. We did some walking and chilling and in the eve one of my oldest friends “Cormac” came down for the eve and we ended up having a wee sing song. It was really a lovely day.
- Glendalough & Boxing over the Sally Gap -We headed up in to the wicklow mountains to visit Glendalough which is an ancient monastic ruin. We walked about, realized how unfit we both are and then took a drive over the Sally Gap while listing to Katy Taylor achieve Ireland’s only gold medal.
- Mom & Dad – On the Friday we had arranged to collect my folks from the airport seeing as we had their car. So we went in and brought them back to their house and then went back down to wicklow where they joined us for lunch the following day. We had a lovely time with them over the last few days and it was great spending time with them.
All in all our holiday was restful and chilled and we had a really wonderful break!
Today is quite significant because it hurts… Today was the due date of our baby who we lost during the summer.
There are lots of emotions whirling around my head today and there is a knot in my stomach that is seemingly tightening as we go through the day. It’s as if by the end of the day something is going to happen… but then tragically I’m reminded that it’s not.
The day we learnt our baby had died is on repeat in my head this morning. It was the day of our first scan. I’m remembering the concerns because of the previous night’s scare. I remember the nervous excitement. I remember praying before we went in. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to meet him (we always thought our baby was a boy). I remember trying to figure out how the photo machine worked. I remember walking in with Ruth clutching my hand tightly. I remember the Sonographer greeting us, putting us at ease and noticing that we were a couple who seemed very much in love with each other. I remember her starting out, applying the gel to my wife’s stomach and running the gizmo over it and then her expression changed. She was very good, she was excellent in fact. You would hardly have noticed that tiny subtle change in her expression that I can’t even describe, but it was there. It was that moment when my heart began to beat harder. Then I remember the utter horrific, memory of seeing the empty void on the screen of where our little baby was supposed to be. It didn’t look right. I’d seen enough ultrasound pics to know that it wasn’t supposed to be just black. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew something was dreadfully wrong. Then I remember that realization creeping through me like a massive icicle penetrating my body to the very core of my soul. I remember realising before the sonographer said anything that our baby wasn’t alive…
. . . n u m b . . .
She told us she needed to check a few things and not to worry just yet. I remember looking at Ruth and seeing the confusion spreading across her face, I remember seeing the calm before the storm of turmoil begin to brew in her face. The anxiousness, worry and for her too, the initial numbness. I remember that I began to pray. It felt like a hopeless desperate prayer ; “Please God, Please God, Please God……”
. . . n u m b . . .
I remember Ruth getting dressed and us getting our things with the shock flooding through me like some sort of emotional paralysis. I remember walking through the reception. I remember being given the refund for the photos as if this was some pathetic kind of consolation prize. I remember sitting on a bench outside the hospital not speaking for a while. I remember having to make those first few calls to the friends and family who knew we were expecting. I remember driving home feeling cold and completely devastated. I remember sitting on the sofa at home with my wife sobbing so hard that her sobs shook the whole sofa. I remember feeling so completely lost, empty and in disbelief.
. . . n u m b . . .
I wanted to scream in anger, I wanted a hole to open up and swallow me in to nothingness, I wanted to run away, to cry, to shout, to hold on to Ruth with all my might. I wanted to stop time, I wanted to go back in time and fix it, I wanted God to stop this, I wanted to punch Him in the face for letting it happen….
. . . n u m b . . . I was so so so angry with Him. And yet, I prayed.
I prayed for His protection on my wife, on our marriage, on the two of us as we came to terms with it all. I prayed that He would ease the pain, that we would know His love and that He would take care of us. I knew that the following months would be full of pain and angst and I asked Him to help me deal with it all. All I could do was pray – there was nothing else left to do.
Reconciling this pain with my faith
This whole thing has been a really painful process and its been difficult to figure out how to reconcile the pain with my faith but it hasn’t been as hard as some might think. The only thing I could do to keep a hold of my sanity was to hold on to God and my faith in him. The song below was a major anthem during the last 6 months and it still has such a powerful message.
I need to make one thing very VERY clear:
God does not give us suffering
I cannot believe that God would put us in a situation of suffering on purpose. God does not give people diseases and he DOES NOT KILL BABIES! I cannot believe that he does any of these things as it goes against what we are taught about him in the New Testament so much. I believe he allows bad things to happen because in order for us to have free-will there will be consequences and in a world where people make selfish choices that ultimately lead to heinous actions it is in this world that we live and operate. Sometimes he does intervene and that is where the debate really is – Why does he sometimes intervene and other times not? I’ve asked myself this a thousand times and I’ve asked Him a thousand times and I think I will do so for the rest of my days. As long as I live on this earth I don’t expect to fully understand why he let our baby die.
What I do know is this: We have a very big God. We have an amazing God! We have a sovereign and gracious God without whom this whole experience would have been unbearable. It is with great Thanks to him that I, for the briefest of moments, have been a Dad. I never got to hold or touch or even see our baby but for the brief time that Ruth was pregnant, I was a Dad and that makes me so incredibly happy! I feel so privileged to have experienced it so briefly knowing that so many people will never have that experience. I feel privileged because I know that we may never have another pregnancy because we took a long time to get pregnant and so for us, our little baby was a precious miracle, but we still have hope that we will get pregnant again and soon. It doesn’t mean that this doesn’t still hurt. I miss our little baby. I wish we had a little bag in the car packed with all the hospital stuff ready to go. I wish I was helping Ruth up off the sofa each day. I wish we were in a place of excruciating excitement instead of this drab disappointment.
This time has grown my faith
This time has grown my faith. It has not been easy though. This is not a blind ignorant faith. I’m talking about a faith that comes from experiencing something that is bigger than me, than my ability to explain and bigger than this situation. I’m talking about the darkest times during this experience where I have felt so alone and yet I have felt God let me know that he has my back. The knowledge that it would get easier and things would be better.
The above song is about holding onto God with everything we have in the hardest of times but the bigger picture is while there have been times where it has felt like I’ve been dangling by a thread, desperately trying to hold on to Him, I’ve seen that it is He who holds His big and mighty hand underneath us holding us like a massive safety net.
And so I pray – I pray for those who have lost in this way. I pray that they would know some of the Father’s love in the way I have. I pray that they would find comfort in God and I pray that they would not pose blame on God or themselves. I pray that they would have another chance and I pray that we will have another baby too.
This exact time 5 years ago I was feeling a bit nervous. I was a little excited. I had butterflies. I was thinking about my first date with Ruth that was going to take place later that eve in Acton.
I could never have imagined that she would become my wife at that moment. It has been an amazing privilege to discover that she is the most amazing woman I have ever known. She is warm, kind, so wise, beautiful sexy and the worlds greatest snuggler.
I am so proud to be her husband.
I am so happy that she has been an exclusive part of my life for the past 5 years.
So y’day was our 3rd anniversary and while i wished my wife loving wishes on FB I didn’t really do much here on the site so I thought `I’d make it by taking a screen grab of her profile which captured my über clever awesomeness on her behalf.
It has been a bit busy with having started an Alpha course, all things 216, and not living in our flat so them’s be my excuses.
She is an awesome woman and I love her more than chips.
I’ve got a few friends out in Christchurch, New Zealand and we have been praying for them and everyone affected by the earthquake. Today on one of our friend’s blog was this image:
This was taken moments after the Earthquake.
There are two sets of friends out there, A good Mate Nathan who lost his father last weekend to Cancer and The Matthews (who’s blog I took the image from). They have been great keeping us informed of what has been going on out there bit it has been greatly overshadowed by The Gadafi Regime in Libya.
I wanted to bring some light to the situation there and so here are some quotes from their emails:
My family are all ok after the quake. I was at home. Had I been in the central city like I was the day before returning Dads stuff to the hospital I would have been right in the city where the destruction and loss of life is at it’s worst…. We rushed across the road to the school where my sisters kids were and they were all covered in dust from the hillside coming down behind the school but ok. We then stayed on the feild in front of the school with them and heard terrible news on the radio from in town and tried to keep the kids calm as they worried about their parents who worked in town.
My Dads funeral has had to be postponed because of the quake here. We are now planning a private cremation today and then a memorial service just b4 I go back. People just have to much to do here at the moment and with people still trapped we have to focus on the living.
I’m amazed at Nathan’s final comment. Despite what his own family is going through they are still wanting to focus on helping others.
From the Matthews via Alex:
Please continue to pray for the many trapped and injured people and the bereaved families.
Firstly they (my family) have no electricity or hot water. They have had another very uncomfortable night with tremors every half hour. Their house is severely damaged and they need to move out of it untill they have had it assessed as to it being liveable. They are moving today to a place in Rangiora a small place just outside Christchurch.
In regards to their house they have a hole in their roof and the chimney has collapsed. A support structure on the end of their house has snapped and one section is sinking. In their garden there is a lot of ‘silt’ (geologists may know what that is) and springs bubbling and is in a flooded condition. This is typical of many residents in Christchurch.
It’s a really messed up situation out there so PLEASE PRAY.
Even if you don’t believe in God, seeing as you can’t prove it, it’s worth 2 mins to pray for them.
Holidays are great aren’t they! They are time for relaxation, rejuvenation, recharging, recouping, and other re-‘s. A time to sit back and have a great time.
Our holiday in Dublin was such an experience. It was wonderful. We had great times with friends and family and on the plane I was thinking to myself that I felt like i had had a great time off and felt recharged and ready to get back into the thick of things.
When we got off the plane we made our way towards the long-term parking coach pick up point. I had in my memory that we’d parked in “K2” and on mentioning this to Ruth she agreed and so we were fine. We knew we were in Blue and so we waited for the journey to complete.
The bus entered the car park complex and immediately announced zones K and J as the first stop which just didn’t feel right. My gut sense of direction was telling me we had to be in another area. We had driven quite a way through the complex when we arrived first and this bus was saying we were in the first stop.
Sure enough our car was not in the lot we had thought. Back in October we were here and had parked in zone K and i think it was that memory which was at the forefront of our minds. So we started to walk.
and we walked around a lot. I think we walked around this car parking complex for aver an hour using a combination of my gut instincts and a systematic approach with the intention of searching every lot if we had to. This started to get stressful when my phone started to give its battery warning. The GPS was sapping the battery hich was not a good sign. I think the pinnacle was when we climbed through a hedgerow to avoid having to go the long way around yet another lot we had already searched.
Eventually as we were walking along the road to another lot an empty bus passed and the driver asked if we needed help. We sheepishly explained that we had absolutely no memory of where we had parked. He invited us on board, out of the cold which, at this stage, was a life saver. I was frozen and Ruth was going blue! He then radioed the depot to help us out:
So when you arrive there’s loads of lots that are closed. This is to make sure that on any particular day, you can only end up parking in one particular lot.
Within seconds the radio chirped back informing us of which lot it would have been, I distinctly heard the word “Lima” and secretly cringed inside. I was thinking “How silly could we have been to not have made a note of where we parked.” I mean, its just silly! I guess we had been tired due to the early start we’d had that morning. The Driver informed us that ach bus stop had a phone which you can use to call the HQ if you cant find your car. This made me cringe a little more as i wished we’d thought of looking for something like that.
The kind driver waited to make sure we could find our car. Much to my relief I found the car quickly and we thanked hem greatly. We got to the car and loaded the bags in the boot. I had to find my charger so a little rifling through the bags had that sorted. While the cars engine warmed the interior up. Once i had the phone mounted, the windscreen was clear, i’d checked round the car for any car-park-clangs (of which there were none) I finally removed my coat and we were ready to set off from this awful place….
..then it happened…
Ruth turned to me and had a guilty look on her face…
she passed me the parking ticket, but she wasn’t showing me the front of the card which we had both scrutinized carefully to see if there was any indication of where we may have parked….
no she was showing me te back of the ticket…
And there written in Ruth’s glorious handwriting were two digits
” L 6 “
She had in fact written where we had parked on the back of the ticket in the spaces provided but NIETHER of us had even thought of looking!!! I think we both just stared ahead for a few moments before both of us fell apart laughing. It was too late, too ridiculous and too silly for us to be angry with one another and laughing was the best tonic.
And so we set off after having had a very stressful and dull adventure around the Stansted Airport Long Stay Car Park but we had learnt a very valuable lesson that day.
Sometimes the best place to look is the most obvious place
I love Boxing day cause its Ruth’s birthday. My fav part of her birthday is giving her birthday presents.
I love her so much. She’s great at receiving gifts and she’s usually very easy to surprise!
Another wonderful Christmas day. It was a proper White Christmas.
Best bits included:
- Roast Duck for dinner – Shirley surpassed herself with an awesomely amazing roast Christmas dinner with all the trimmings but the bird was Duck. Not had duck for Christmas dinner before. It was incredible!
- P R E S E N T S – I did well with lots of foody type stuffs and some DVDage, XBOX live membership and i even scored a snuggie!
- Walking in the snow – In the morning we went for a walk in the fields on the farm in the snow. We donned extra socks and boots and enjoyed the sun and snow!
This year we spent Christmas with Shirley & David.Thankfully the roads had cleared and we were able to drive down to Devon to spend it with them.
Christmas eve was lovely. Because of all the snow David was able to take us for a walk down on Saunton Golf Course which is whee he usually plays. Normally non-members are not allowed especially jean cladded ones. The snow mean that play was prohibited and rules of the club dictate that members are allowed to bring guests on to the course for walks in the snow and that’s what we did. It was gorgeous!
See the gallery below: