The other day I was contacted by my good friend John Sennett (John’s Road to Volunteering) to help him and take part in a massive launch of his new project #ILiveItIBlogIt, which primarily is about celebrating diversity and that community feeling in the blogging world. It’s about people celebrating who they are and what they do; shedding the stigmas attached to their blogs, lives and selves and showing that they are proud of who they are.
The brief was to write about a profound life moment or experience – anything at all, positive or negative. And immediately my brain did that thing where it went completely blank and forget every single thing that had happened to me. Ever.
There are lots of things that I could talk about that have defined me, whether it be career-wise, family wise or education-wise. Which of the above could I write about as being the clear-cut defining moment of my life?
I’ve lived a standard life with my family; standard issues at school, same insecurities as everyone else. I went to college, uni, work… but nothing particularly stands out as unique or ‘defining’ than anyone else’s life there. A miscarriage 2 years ago is probably the single handed most traumatising experience I’ve had, and one I’m not ready to talk about just yet, so I came at it from another angle.
Instead I got to thinking about my life, and how things have changed in the past few years. How I’ve changed in the past few years. And I decided that I could pinpoint those changes to one person. And it isn’t my husband (despite what the title of this post may lead you to believe!). Actually, in a roundabout way, I can pinpoint these changes down to my Nan.
I lost my Nan 6 years ago now, back in April 2011. It came relatively out of the blue for us all; in August 2010 she came back off holiday with my Granddad feeling very unwell. After several trips to the Doctors and a referral to consultants at the hospital, tests showed that she had cancer of the Liver and Pancreas. She had several operations in the months preceding this diagnosis to treat it, but it was terminal and she was given only months to live.
That Christmas was a very somber affair. Even though no-one specifically said it out loud, it was very clear that it was going to be the last one we had together as a family. Despite the cheerful smiles and gift-giving, it was a very poignant and very sad goodbye.
New Years Eve I usually spend with my family. We have a big party and buffet, sit around playing cards and watching the very lousy TV you get at New Year, but I always enjoy it far more than seeing in the New Year in some expensive club with drunken people. New Year 2010 was going to be no different.
At the time I was completing my PGCE to become a teacher, and working part-time in a nursery to earn a bit of money when I could. I’d been at this nursery for 4 years by this point, and had made friends with some lovely girls that I used to socialize with outside of work on the weekends. One girl, Tash, invited me and a few others to a family party at her in-laws house, before going onto a bar from there.
I was reluctant to go at first given the circumstances with my Nan, and my youngest sister made it very clear that I shouldn’t go. But my Nan insisted I go, and that I’d have a good time and would regret not going.
So I went. It was alright; I’d met some of her partners parents and brother/sisters before so they weren’t complete strangers, but me and my other friend Cat were the little odd-balls in the corner who didn’t know any one.
We were sitting in the living room watching some of the lads play this drinking game, when someone came over and sat down next to me. “You going to play?” He said to me. “I don’t know the rules,” Said I. So he explained them to me.
Reader, I married him. (Channeling my inner Jane Eyre here, for anyone who gets the literary reference).
It turns out that the person who explained those rules to me became my now-husband and father of my son. I didn’t think anything of it at the time; we had a very nice conversation, said goodbye when the night was over and that was that. The next day I had a friend request on Facebook from that same man, and we carried on talking through there for around a month, eventually deciding to meet for a drink, and things just snowballed from there.
I’m not really a believer in fate, but there is something that happened here that can’t be put down to coincidence. My Nan encouraged me to go to that party – it was her last New Year with us and I didn’t want to go, but she told me to go. I ended up meeting my future husband there and my Nan died 4 months later, without ever meeting Rob.
I owe a lot to my Nan, and could spend thousands of words listing the things I have to be grateful for. But this is the one thing that I am the most thankful to her that I never actually got to say thank you for.
To reiterate a previous point, there are so many things that have happened that are probably more profound, more career-defining, more exciting… but this is the one event I can’t fully explain or understand that I keep coming back to. And for that, I have only my Nan to thank.