Forever in our Hearts

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Heather

Words cannot express,
All I would like to say,
‘Sorry’ just doesn’t seem enough,
To sum up that fateful day.

The world has been robbed,
Of a truly beautiful soul,
She was one of life’s best,
But she didn’t know it at all.

Humble, caring and compassionate,
Always there for everyone,
But the one she adored most in the world,
Was her precious only son.

Childminder to many of our kids,
She always found room for one more!
Pouring her love and time into each one,
Doing crafts and playing on the floor.

She loved doing things with her friends,
Making time for them all,
Drinking coffee, dressing up, movie nights,
and out for the odd pub crawl!

Now we have a hole in our lives,
So much I wish I would have said,
A community now grieves her loss,
So many tears are being shed.

Heather; Mama, daughter, sister and friend,
Although we’re now apart,
You will now and always be,
Forever in our hearts.

 

 Heather Stewart 14/3/66 – 4/11/18
Gone, but never forgotten.
Rest in peace my precious friend.💗💗💗

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Posted in 2018, grief, Hard to say goodbye, In loving memory, Last words, Life well lived, Living with grief, Tribute of a life well lived, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Story of Us, The Next Chapter. (5)

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And finally ……..I do!

The next morning I was up early, trying to be excited, but still scared I would walk down the aisle to be met by no one, except a note,…. if I was lucky. I text him again;

Andy, Do you still want to marry me?

But still …nothing. I had to keep going and just hope he would be there. I heard the phone ring downstairs, before a little knock on my door a few moments later.
Come in.
Hannah was stood in her pjs, looking panicked;
my mums not feeling very well, and hasn’t managed to pick up the food she had ordered for today!”

I put my hands over my face, trying to stay calm, while I thought of a plan… I had a hair appointment soon at a local salon, but the girls were getting ready here, with a friend coming to do their hair. It didn’t make sense for Hannah or Karen to go and get the few bits, but I didn’t want to bother anyone else with it. I decided I would go, as it wasn’t far from my hairdressers, and wouldn’t take long.

I went and got in the shower, all the while praying today would end with an ‘I Do’, but worried it wouldn’t. I decided to keep it to myself, I mean what good would it do telling anyone on the morning of your wedding, that your groom to be now wasn’t ‘sure’ …about getting married, -or worse still, about me!?

I was dropped off at the hairdressers at about 10.45am, wearing a mismatch set of clothes, (an easy to take off  shirt, to preserve my styled hair, and a pair of scruffy jogging bottoms.) After being beautified, I was going to walk to Morrison’s, to get the food we needed, then my sister & dad would pick me up, and take me back to the house.

I walked into the hairdressers and sat down on a large black swivel chair. While one went and got everything ready, a second girl started brushing my hair enthusiastically;

Isn’t it so exciting?! Aren’t you excited? Go on then, tell me all about it, oh I love a good wedding me!” ..She went on for about 5 minutes, without even stopping to take a breathe!

….This wasn’t going to be easy, but I switched into happy bride mode and managed to make small talk, while between them they managed to make my straight hair curly.

I walked into the shop over an hour later, with my hair wedding ready, and the tiara with veil in place. I wondered round aimlessly, getting myself more and more het up over the situation, over Andy, over my Gandad not being there, over….. what the heck was I doing in Morrison’s on my wedding day!? I started to cry and that seemed to draw even more attention. I slowly walked up and down each aisle, forgetting what I was actually there for , wondering if this would be the only aisle I was to walk down that day?!

I got outside where my sister and dad were waiting for me, and got in the car. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on, especially my family, I mean if my dad knew, he would have killed Andy for causing all this worry! I’d always been told what a good actress I was, so I wiped away the last of my tears, and acted happy, imagining I was a bride on the morning of her wedding, without a care in the world…!! Naomi listed the stuff she had done, as I attempted to tune back in. After her list was complete, I realised one item was missing;
And the wedding topper, you got the wedding topper right?”

Erm, No,…. I tried but they didn’t have one, and didn’t know where else to look” in her defence she had just flown in and didn’t know Lincoln. In fact due to the recent events of 9/11 I was lucky any of my family had managed to get flights. Although none from America, a number of flights got cancelled, and for a week it looked like my Aunt and sister wouldn’t make it over from New Zealand at all! After flying back from New York, just a few months earlier, the tragedy had hit us hard and it had taken us over a week to find out that our friends living in NYC were all ok.

…….“Bex, you ok? Not nervous are you?”

I’m all good,” I replied, not realising my mind had wondered.  ….Ok so our plain white cake would have no wedding topper…. but there may not be a wedding yet!

“oh wait, my bridesmaid Hannah has just got married, maybe we can borrow hers??” quickly thinking out loud, and said yet another silent prayer, as we headed back to the house.

Luckily the wedding topper was easy to find, and I sent Naomi off to organise the food I had just bought, and put the topper on the cake. My dad stayed so he could accompany me in the car later, and walk me down the aisle.

Hannah and Karen looked lovely, all hair and make up now done, just about to put their dresses on. I went upstairs and got into my wedding underwear, (not the sexy kind, the keep everything in place and comfy kind!) I put my dressing gown on, while I waited for my Aunt to arrive, to do my makeup and help me get my dress on.
As I went back down stairs, my phone rang;

I can’t find where you are, “ my Aunt shouted through the bad line “ can you give me the directions again
At least she was on her way, as time was cracking on. I gave her the directions and just hoped she’d be there soon!

The car turned up to take two of my three bridesmaids to the church, as my sister in law would meet them there. My flower girl, who used to be my foster sister, would also meet us there with her foster mum. (We had looked after Claire for 2 years, and for the whole time we had shared a bedroom. It was her dream to be a bridesmaid one day, so I promised her when I got married she could be my flower girl, or bridesmaid and I was delighted that my ‘lil sister was able to be in my wedding.) We had managed to include all our family that wanted to be involved in the wedding, in various roles. I had been looking forward to the service as it had been planned exactly the way Andy and I wanted it…… but now I just felt empty, and scared.

I looked at the time, it was 1.30! The wedding was supposed to be at 2pm…. I needed to leave soon, and didn’t even have my make up done or my dress on, I mean know it’s customary for the bride to be late but….

At that point my phone rang again…

Rebecca I’m so sorry hunny, I got lost and was worried about the time and  I didn’t want to be late for the wedding! Will your friends be able to help you sweetheart? Love you, see you soon!

I darn’t tell my Aunt my friends had already gone and the only person left was my dad and no- he was definitely not going to be able to help me with my make up! I started to panic, it was all going wrong, maybe there was a reason, maybe it’s not meant to be?!

My dad sat me down, and told me that there wasn’t a wedding without a bride, so it didn’t matter if I was late. He offered to help as I sat in front of the mirror, hands shaking, trying to do my makeup. He made me a cup of tea, and tried to calm me down, assuming my anxiousness was purely over my Aunt not coming to help.

Make up done, I don’t know how, as my hands didn’t stop shaking the whole time! Now the dress,…. my dad was brilliant, without looking, he managed to help me get my dress on and zipped me up, (thank goodness I didn’t opt for the sexy lingerie!) He went down stairs and waited while I gathered my thoughts, wow it was only 1.45 -how we did all that in 15mins I’ll never know! I rushed down stairs after hearing the beep of the car out side. My dad stopped me and gave me a hug, I knew he wasn’t totally sold on Andy yet, but he trusted my judgment, and saw our love was real.

I got in the car, not so easy with a train that long, and heels! The journey to church seemed to take forever. I had always imagined how amazing it would feel, being a beautiful bride, on her journey to get married; feeling like a famous princess as everyone stopped and waved at you,  and waving back… but there was only one thing on my mind right now, and it didn’t concern waving or feeling like a princess, and I couldn’t even tell anyone that my Prince Charming may not be there, that he wasn’t sure,….

27ABDA70-6843-4161-A5DA-BAF068D7DAEBAs we arrived my dad helped me out the car….

smile” Matt our photographer shouted. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw my 3 bridesmaids beaming at me. My heart was beating so fast- this was it…….

Is he here..”. I asked in a panic, feeling like my throat was going to close up any moment with the fear.

They all looked at me like I had gone totally crazy!

Is who here?.” Karen asked

ANDY!” I replied almost shouting his name.

The three of them all looked at me confused, like I was talking a foreign language or something.

Of course!” They replied almost in unison, like it was a given that he would be there….

Joy filled my heart, as the fear and panic melted away.
I was getting married! I couldn’t stop beaming!

3B65B4CD-C541-4DBD-B39B-D2E93010F56CAt just after 2pm on the 22nd of September 2002, the clouds parted and the sun came out, as Miss Rebecca Clifton-Sprigg walked into a church on the arm of a man she adored. It was the most important day of her life and she was ready, ready to start a new life with man who had stolen her heart. A girl who had once chased a boy she loved, so sure he was ‘the one’, when all around her had told her otherwise. She had come through many trials to get to that day, but none of that mattered anymore, as she stood ready to declare her love to the man of her dreams, for all her family and friends to witness.9D8284F0-02D5-405D-A38B-59D0CFB0E4C88D414240-ABEC-4DC3-A47B-C3A8CDDDD533

Mrs Rebecca Bull walked out, almost an hour later, a confident young women, who knew what she wanted in life, and was willing to fight to get it. With her new husband by her side, they had promised to love each other no matter what, and she knew she had just won the best prize there is in life, from the moment she finally got to say;
I do”.

***For those of you that are just dying to know what it was Andy was ‘unsure’ of,….. he couldn’t remember! He had gone out with all his mates the day before, and had a lovely chilled day. After the rehearsal he had been out for dinner with his two best friends, Simon & Jon, (minus alcohol), before getting an early night. The next morning, too excited to lay in, he had a long relaxing shower, before being treated to a McDonald’s breakfast, again with Simon and Jon. He then had lunch with his parents and sister, before getting ready for the church- and didn’t want to check his phone as he didn’t want to get stressed out by anything….. Although he remembered writing the text, to this day he has no clue why, as he really was sure of everything, especially me! ***

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……17 years later, and this love has certainly been put to the test, for better, for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health and almost ‘til death do we part’! Love isn’t easy, it’s messy and it’s complicated, but it’s worth it! I love Andy today deeper, wider, and higher then I ever thought possible back then. Love doesn’t take away the pain we go through in life, but makes it easier to bare. Our story is far from over, we have many more adventures yet to come!

 

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The Story of Us, The Next Chapter. (4)

 

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Best Laid Plans

It was early on Friday the 21st Sept, the day before our wedding, and I was laid in bed fast asleep. It hadn’t been the easiest few weeks, I mean my hen party didn’t exactly go to plan, as it ended 5 mins after it started, due to an argument breaking out (long story)! I was left with a load of party food, a few balloons, and a mess to clean up, both literally and figuratively! Then I had had a nightmare, looking for semi decent, cheap but realistic, fake flowers -not so easy to find I discovered! Our budget just couldn’t stretch to the real ones, and I had decided to honour my 627ABA6C-4B83-4C9B-AC0F-C8A764E99ED9grandads memory,  by putting a single pink carnation in the middle of my bouquet, as it was his favourite flower. After about 6 different shops, and the world and his wife having an opinion, I had managed to gather what I thought may make an ok bouquet. My dad was then left to work his magic and make up the bouquet once he had flown in from Africa, just two weeks before the wedding. But we had done it, the bouquet was done, and I had assigned some jobs to others, so my list for the day wasn’t too bad. I had stayed the night over at my bridesmaid Hannah’s house, along with one of my other bridesmaids, Karen, and with my to do list nearly complete, was enjoying a little lay in when my phone rang;

Hi, is that Becky Clifton-Sprigg?…I’m sorry there’s been a mix up with the booking, and you can’t have the church for the rehearsal tonight, but don’t worry, everything’s still fine for tomorrow!

Erm what!?!” I managed to reply sleepily

We didn’t realise there was a long standing booking out on the church for that time, I’m sorry we can’t do anything, but if you would like to call the guy whose booked it and see if he can change it at all, here’s his number……”

Errr Really?” I stumbled over my words, as I slowly started to wake up a bit more… “I mean I booked this 3 months ago, from America!”
I was not happy and although far from a bridezilla, I was however a very stressed bride, and cannot write down what I said next, before I hung up the phone!

I closed my eyes tightly,
Breathe in ….breathe out ….breathe in….. breathe out….”
It was a good job I wasn’t due for a blood pressure check that day! Everything within me wanted to go running to Andy, get him to deal with it, but with my eyes firmly shut, I prayed out loud, and took a deep breathe, -I knew what I had to do.
My hands were shaking as I dialled the number I had just been given. You see it wasn’t as easy as just cancelling the rehearsal, as most people hadn’t been to the church before. We were also responsible for setting it up, (well the royal ‘we’!), so I wanted to be able to tell everyone how I wanted the chairs…. I mean how WE wanted the chairs!!!

Hi, erm not sure what happened but I have booked the church for tonight, I NEED the Chruch tonight, it’s booked for our wedding rehearsal so……” keep calm -keep calm…..yup Andys right, telling myself to ‘keep calm’ in a stressful situation is NEVER helpful!

There was a pause the other end….
what about the hall upstairs, we’re not using the hall, so you can rehearse there.”
Was he actually kidding? I mean -was I getting married in the ‘hall upstairs’ …NO! I could feel bridezilla about to take over my body, and like the hulk, I couldn’t help it, as I tried my best to just take a deep breath, I heard him talking with someone, then;
Well I can maybe put the meeting back, so you can bring the rehearsal forward, but I can only give you 30mins, sorry for the mix up!….oh and congratulations by the way!

I quickly hung up before bridzilla really took over, breathe and breathe and ….Well 30 mins was better then nothing, but now I had to let everyone know it was an hr earlier, and to be on time as we only have 30 mins! (Just remember this was in 2001, a lot of people still didn’t have mobile phones, and most of my relatives had traveled in from various places, so I had no way of contacting them -at all!)

It’s ok, it’s all going to be ok, all will be well,” I told myself out loud over and over again. I closed my eyes and prayedI rang round everyone I could, and left messages,  just hoping they would all receive them in time.

Still in my pjs, I glanced down at my to do list, wait, I’m getting married tomorrow!! I excitedly got dressed and checked my list;

1) Pick up 2 of the bridesmaids dresses from Mary
2) pick up wedding programmes from printers
3) hang wedding dress over hot bath
!!!*be careful not to drop it in*!!!
4) RELAX and have a cup of tea!!
5) go to rehearsal, (with wedding programs)
*make sure to tell them how to do the chairs*
6) get an early night!!

As I didn’t have a car I was relying on my bridesmaid Karen to help out, so I could get everything done. We went to Andys and collected two of the bridesmaids dresses from his mum, as Karen, Hannah and I would be getting ready together at Hannah’s house the next day, and would be sleeping there again that night. Annoyingly Andy wasn’t there, but we made sure they got the message about the rehearsal time changing, and off we went.

As we walked into the printers, there was a big box on the counter all ready for me, marked ‘Bull’. Before paying I got a program out and carefully checked every word twice, as there had been some issues, which is why they hadn’t been ready til that point. I picked up a second one and handed it to Karen, so she could give it a second inspection…. Phew- all good, that’s another thing to tick off my list!

It was about lunchtime when we got back to Hannah’s, and went to get the dresses out the back of the car. As karen picked them up off the back seat, her face went pale, and I rushed round to see what the problem was. In my attempt to be quick, I thought I had laid them carefully over the back seat, however I obviously hadn’t, and they were now totally crumpled…. I don’t just mean a few we-can-get-a-way-with-it creases, nope more like we’ve-been-in-a-washing-basket-for-a-year creases! Ok -we can do this, we will just iron them! It’s all good….. Right?!

*I would like to add here that I need to you to all remember I was a stressed bride, not really thinking about, well anything, especially not thinking that a hot iron on that type of shiny fabric would do anything other then make it nice and flat, iron out all the creases…*

Oops….. Ok at least I learnt quickly, one iron mark later! – my wedding was now in about 25 hrs!!!…… Ok ….keep calm ….now all we need to do is get 2 dresses ironed…….. without actually using an iron, and get one iron mark out of a dress….! We grabbed the dresses and headed for the nearest dry cleaners, praying they could help us!

We repeated this 4 times til we found one that could actually help, and could do it straight away, but they couldn’t have the dresses ready til closing, at 5pm! Why did that time sound familiar … oh yea the new time of my wedding rehearsal! They couldn’t promise to get the iron mark out but I had gone past the point of caring about that right now, I mean as long as they had something suitable to wear, I wasn’t bothered!

And breathe!

After a crazy afternoon, we made it back to the house, to hang my wedding dress over a hot steaming bath, being very careful as not to have anything else go wrong! We grabbed a cup of tea, although not sure it did much good, and headed back to the dry cleaners a little early, praying they would be ready! -Thank you God!! It was a miracle, the dresses looked beautiful, and the iron mark hardly noticeable! Phew! As we raced out the shop they warned us to be careful, as the fabric creased really easily….. Really!? …..kinda figured that one out! We hung the dresses above the door of the car, and lay them across the back seat, taking great care to be careful, and raced to the Chruch! I had made such a fuss about being on time, and now I was the one that was 10mins late!

I ran into the church, where instantly Andy made a joke about my timekeeping, …. come on ….after the day I had had, I was fuming! As we went to the back, to practice coming in together, I did that whisper shout thing, and gave him a piece of my mind! Then he said the words you must never ever say to someone stressed and on the edge…..he told me to “chill out”!

Chill out? CHILL OUT?!? I stormed off, I was literally exploding inside! He came to find me and apologised, but I had had the day from hell, and here he was laughing and joking around?! I was horrible to him. We got through the now 20 minute rehearsal, I barked out orders of where I wanted everything to go, and off I went, not even giving him a kiss goodbye, I was done and just needed my bed.

We got back to Hannah’s house and opened a bottle of wine, but I was too wound up, and not a big drinker anyway, so made my excuses and went to bed. As I lay there my phone beeped,

From Andy
I’m not sure about tomorrow

Me;
What???? What do you mean your not sure??? Which bit are you not sure about???”

From Andy:
I don’t know”

Me;
Andy I love you and I’m sure I want to spend the rest of my life with you! I’m sorry about today I just had the worst day but I still love you, do you love me? Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”

……………. Annnnnnnd NOTHING absolutely no reply! So I waited an hr,……. still nothing, so I tried calling,…….. no answer! I laid awake most of the night, worrying he wasn’t gonna show up the next day. The more I thought about it, the more stressed I became! Only minutes before he sent that text I had written in my lock up diary, for one last time;

So this will be the last time I ever write in here, coz tomorrow I am marrying the man I love, I can’t believe it! It’s like a dream come true! But from now on it’s him I will be telling all my secrets, worries and dreams to, so it’s goodbye from me…

And for the last time, signed my name; R.A. Clifton-Sprigg

It was my second 5 year lock up diary, bought for me by my dad. I had taken it everywhere with me, and had written in it most nights for the past 4 years, after my last one had finished, …. that’s 9 years of almost daily diary writing! I confessed all to my diary, and although I had good friends, it was a massive thing for me to trust a person with all my heart,….. and now the one thing I was most sure of in my life wasn’t sure about me!………

 

return tomorrow for the final part in our story;  And Finally….I Do!

Posted in 2018, An engagement to remember, Brave, Engagement, family, Gods Peace, Gods way, history, Hope in God, life, Life well lived, love, love life, Marriage, Mr Right, My life, photos, relationships, Seasons, Seasons of life, The story of us, The story of us The next chapter, together, Tribute of a life well lived, Trust in God, Uncategorized, Wedding dress, Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Story of Us, The Next Chapter (3)

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He’s Gone, But The Show Must Go On.

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A week later I had a girls weekend away in Washington DC, with Sarah and some close friends, taking in all the sights, and having an amazing time.  When we got back to where we were staying on the Sunday night, I had a message from Andy, telling me to check my emails, as my mum had been trying to get hold of me. After waiting an age listening to the dial tone of the internet, then having problems even getting into my hotmail account, as of course it would be at that important moment I would forget my password! Then finally…..

Subject: URGENT

“Bex,
We’ve been desperately trying to get hold of you, your Grandad died late on Wed. No other details as yet, contact your uncle for more news, as I’m still in Africa trying to get a flight back.
Love Mum x”

In an instant, my whole world just turned upside down…..

I called my uncle straight away but couldn’t get hold of him, what with the time difference, and him being with my Nan, but I couldn’t bring myself to call my Nan, I mean, what would I say to her if she answered?! It wasn’t til I got back to Bethlehem the next day, that I finally managed to speak to my uncle. The line was bad and details were hazy, just that the funeral would be very soon, and to get on a flight home ASAP if I wanted to be there…. My mind was whizzing at a million miles an hour -of course there was no question, I wanted to be there! …..But we were due to be here another 3 weeks, after just finishing our Bible School course, and had some really exciting trips booked, I didn’t want to let people down… and we had planned to go and visit everyone from the church who had supported us, to say thank you, and goodbye…… wait could I even exchange my set date return ticket, and would I get a flight home in time??

……Then it sunk in, like I had been living this dream and someone had woken me up, like a punch in the stomach it hit me- my Grandad was gone, I wouldn’t ever see him again…….and he wouldn’t be at my wedding…..
I was devastated. I told Sarah and Andy I would fly home alone, and encouraged them to keep their plans, as we were so excited to be going to Niagara Falls and other amazing places. But there was not even a discussion, they both wanted to come back with me so I wouldn’t be alone, giving up 3 weeks travelling around and seeing some amazing sights….. for that I will forever be so grateful, as I don’t think I could have coped with that flight solo.

B2EC3F09-936A-4B4E-848B-BE9A4F181030My American family sorted everything, re-booked the flights, cancelled our plans, and explained to everyone about the situation. Leaving was harder then I thought, as I had grown so close to everyone, especially my American Mama Vickie, and the Smooth Stones crew! The whole church there had become like one big family to me, too many to mention by name, but each of them impacting my life in their own way. I was truly blessed, this year had not only helped me to grow in my faith, but to grow as a person too, from teenager to woman.

It was a tough flight home, and I knew the other end would be tough too, as my parents were now in Africa. I felt like I was in between families, I mean my parents weren’t there anymore, but I wasn’t married yet so I didn’t belong with Andy and his family either. I had arranged to stay at my friend Sues house, until we got married. I had never felt so alone, as I did that first night, and I woke the next morning to find my pillow still wet with my tears from the night before. Although Sue did all she could to make me feel welcome, it took me a few weeks to adjust, I think it was hard for me being back home, but not at my old house, and my parents gone, whilst trying to cope with the loss of my Grandad.

5270764B-EA1E-43DB-BB8D-67502153E166The funeral was so tough, the last time a relative had died I had been 14, so this was the first loss I had really felt and understood as an adult. My Grandad had really liked Andy, after grilling him on their first meeting, and told me he was a good judge of character, and that I had chosen wisely. They got on very well, both sharing a similar sense of humour, and of course a F9D917DB-C086-4946-B5D3-1108DBCDA93Eshared love for a certain ‘Menace’, that’s what my Grandad used to call me anyway- (I’m sure it had nothing to do with my constant cheekiness, and longing for adventure, that always seemed to land me in trouble!!)

Planning a wedding now seemed so wrong, we brought it forward so my Grandad could be there, and now he wasn’t gonna be. But there was so much already organised, and he was so chuffed when he was told we were bringing it forward for him, this is what he would have wanted. So we decided to continue.

A week after the funeral I put my big girl pants on, and got my head into gear- if he couldn’t come to the wedding, I would find a way for us to remember him there, include him in some way. We only had 2 1/2 months til the big day- so it was full steam ahead! We had decided to just do a short reception, finishing after we had eaten, so then Andy and I would make our way to Scotland, for our honeymoon. (My Aunt and Uncle had promised to make themselves scarce for the week so we could stay at their place, and have some time to ourselves, as we couldn’t afford to go away anywhere.)

First to check in with Mary & Paul, Andys parents, to see if they had managed to book a place for the reception. Paul worked as a traffic warden, based at the Lincoln Police Station, so was able to get the rec room there, with bar, for free! A little unorthodox, and certainly different, but frees always good, right?!….
Unfortunately there wasn’t room for everyone we would have wanted to invite, but we sadly couldn’t afford to be choosey.  I must admit it wouldn’t have been my first choice, but with limited funds it suited us perfectly! One thing to tick off the list! We had a very tight budget of £1000 for everything, bar the dress, so decided to ask people to bring a plate of food to the reception.…. Ok so this wouldn’t be the wedding of my dreams, but I was about to marry the man I love, and that’s all that mattered!

Mary kindly offered to make the bridesmaids dresses, and said they would sort out the men’s suits, and the first toast. My dad offered to make up my bouquet when he arrived about 2 weeks before the wedding, and my Nan paid for the cake, an M&S speacial! A friend who was becoming a photographer offered to do the photos for free, and another friend offered to lend us their nice car to get to the church. Then my bridesmaids mum offered to buy a large ham and some other bits for the reception, and my aunt, who was an ex air-hostess, offered to do my make up. It was all coming together, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our family and friends!

I was so organised I had lists for the lists, and it was all going to plan, well mostly, until day before the wedding….

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next in part 4; Best Laid Plans.

Posted in 2018, An engagement to remember, Bethlehem, Bible school, Brave, Engagement, family, Gods way, grief, He’s gone, history, Home at last, Hope in God, Inspirational life, life, Life well lived, love, love life, Marriage, Mr Right, My life, photos, Practicing patience, Precious moments, relationships, Seasons, Seasons of life, Smooth stones, The story of us, The story of us The next chapter, together, travel, Trust in God, Uncategorized, Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Story of Us, The Next Chapter. (2)

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A Letter and a Wedding Dress

We moved to a little town called Bethlehem, in Pennsylvania with our good friend Sarah, a month later, to attend Smooth Stones, bible school. Sarah and I lived with a lovey lady called Sandy, and Andy lived about a 10min walk away with a fab couple called Ed & Judy. After being there about 6 wks I started to panic about our relationship, I mean we had only been together since Christmas Eve the year before, not even a year yet. Yes I knew him before that, and we used to talk all the time; I knew he understood I was told I couldn’t have kids, but there was a lot more to my disease, and had he really taken it all in? Was this really the life he wanted? What about his dreams of having kids, I mean he was giving this all up, for me! We had a week off coming up, so I printed out all I could find about Autosomal Recessive Poly Cystic kidneys, and wrote one of the hardest letters of my life…. I broke up with him….

..I explained that I wanted him to read all the info and really think about what he was taking on, and what he would be missing by potentially not having kids. I knew he was too kind to ever put his needs first and break up with me, so I knew what I had to do. I told him we would have a week of no contact, giving him time to really think, and if I was still the one he wanted, he could come and find me. I signed the letter with a kiss, and slipped my engagement ring into the envelope. I had literally loved this man from second sight, and felt in my heart he was the one, ….what was I doing? But I had to give him a chance to leave me, to find something better, someone better…

It was such a tough week and I was truly grateful for the support of Sarah and others there that I had become close with, although very few knew what I had done. I literally spent the week in tears, scared of what the outcome maybe, hoping and trusting that God had it all in hand! I asked those that knew the situation, to help Andy to really take it seriously and take time to really think about it. The thing is I never wanted to be in a situation where later in life he could turn and blame me for wrecking his life. …Best case scenario, even IF we managed to somehow have kids, my kidneys would still fail one day, I was going to be a burden, and need someone to take care of me. How can you put that on someone, -especially the one you love.

The end of the week came and he came to see me, his face so serious, a look I wasn’t used to from him. My heart was beating so fast, and my mind was running in a million directions. My love for him was stronger then ever, and I felt like I was about to loose my whole world!… He took the ring out his pocket, and placed it on the table, (he’s not one for romantic gestures, and I didn’t feel I could ask him to place it on my finger a second time!) A smile crept across his face as he said;
There was never a question, for good and for bad I’m in it with you, all the way, -we will face whatever comes together.” …..(Or words to that effect, to be honest I couldn’t tell you word for word at that time, as my heart filled with joy, and the world became muffled! Later we did have a more coherent conversation, where he reiterated what he had said earlier!)

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Although it wasn’t easy, we had an amazing time at bible
school. As well as studying we got to work at soup kitchens, children’s homes, got to lead meetings, meet amazing people and even saw the magic of NYC at Christmas! ….oh and managed to get frisked by the police whilst dressed up as a clown, about to help run a children’s party, …in the Bronx NYC!

We both grew up a lot, and learnt a lot more about who we were individually, as well as together. Our lessons not just about God and the bible, but many practical lessons too, like tae bo boxing, first thing in the morning to wake us up! (We learnt Becky is not a morning person, but Andy is!) We also attended a pre marital course, which helped us to discover what our expectations were for our lives together, and what we both wanted in life. Our actual wedding was far from our minds really when I got the call early June to say my Grandads health was failing. I had always been really close to my grandad and couldn’t bare the thought of him not being at my wedding, so we made the decision to bring the wedding forward by 10 months, new date 22nd Sept 2001….. Only 4 months away Eeek!

By this point my parents now lived in Africa as missionaries, so we contacted Andy’s parents to ask for them to find and book a venue for the reception, and called and booked our church. Luckily I had some money saved in a uk bank account, but £1000 wasn’t going to get us too far, we had to find a way to have a cheap wedding. There was so much to do, and we weren’t due back in the uk til the end of July! I made a list and looked to see what I could do from where I was, …. A wedding is not complete without a wedding dress, so off I went to New York City, just 2 hrs drive from where we were living, to buy one!

That was the fun part, being in a huge store, full of wedding dresses, feeling like a princess! But my budget was tiny to say the least, I had only managed to scrape together $200, (roughly £150 at that time). I asked for something simple, cheap and not too big! (Well my exact words were “I don’t want to look like a Meringue!”) I tried on dress after dress waiting for the ‘spark’ that never came, and became disheartened. As I stood in the changing room waiting for yet another dress, I heard the sale assistant excitedly telling my friends how I had to try this dress on….
You won’t believe it” she said, “this dress was sticking out in the wrong section, as I picked it up looking to see where it belonged, I noticed it had been reduced as it’s a size 4 and is last years stock. It was supposed to be put in the back weeks ago! I know it’s not what she wanted but it’s her size and everything, it’s meant to be! She has to try it on!” (I think she was more excited about this then I was!)
I shouted from the cubicle to bring it in then, I mean I might as well try it on. At this point I was totally fed up, and over it all. When I saw it I really wasn’t sure, I mean it was a princess dress, not really what I had been looking for, but I tried it on anyway. Before I came out, the assistant ran and got a veil, so I could get the full effect. My friends faces were a picture, their mouths dropped open and tears formed in their eyes…..

I stepped up on to the pedestal and slowly turned around to face the mirror, the ‘spark’ came, my heart beat fast, this was it! It fit perfectly, well maybe just a little long in the front, and had a stunning train, I didn’t even know I  wanted a train until I was wearing the dress, -it was perfect! I had THE MOMENT I had been waiting for,  you know the one when you watch those wedding dress shows, and she steps out in ‘the dress’ and that little spark appears in her eyes as she sees herself in the mirror for the first time and …..but back down to reality, even reduced, how could I possibly afford a dress like this? I looked to the assistant who seemed to read my mind as she excitedly said “you won’t believe it, the best bit of all!” She paused for dramatic effect,
…..”it’s $99, reduced from over $700, we’ve not been able to sell it due to its size and being last years fashion!”

She was right, I couldn’t believe it! I walked out the shop having spent my $200 budget, on the dress of my dreams, (even if I hadn’t realised until I had it on it was my dream dress), a tiara with a veil, AND shoes! I felt so chuffed, excited for the first time since bringing the wedding forward, that this wedding was actually gonna happen, a smile that was soon to be wiped off my face the following weekend…..
Come back tomorrow for part 3, He’s Gone -But The Show Must Go On

 

 

Posted in 2018, Bethlehem, Bible school, Engagement, family, Gods way, Hope in God, Inspirational life, life, Life well lived, love, love life, Marriage, Mr Right, My life, photos, Precious moments, relationships, Seasons, Seasons of life, Smooth stones, The story of us, together, Tribute of a life well lived, Trust in God, Uncategorized, Wedding dress, Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Story of Us, The Next Chapter. (1)

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Today is mine and Andys 17th wedding anniversary, one of the happiest days of my life, but getting there certainly wasn’t easy!
After sharing earlier in the year how we got together in The Story of Us. (1), I thought this was the perfect opportunity in celebration of our wedding anniversary, to let you know what happened next, shared over the next few days….

An Engagement to Remember.

22nd of September 2001, 2pm ……after a cloudy morning the clouds parted and the sun came out, just as ordered, ready for the most important day of my life. I may have only been 20yrs old, but I felt like I had been waiting for this day my whole life, planning it in my head from being a little girl .…Ok so maybe it wasn’t my dream wedding as such, but that didn’t seem to matter at all, because I was marrying the man of my dreams. That’s what I had been trying to focus on, as everything had kinda gone wrong these last few days leading up to the wedding, well the last 4 months really, just felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride…….

We had gotten engaged on 5th of August 2000, though even that didn’t go smoothly! Andy had told me to book somewhere nice, and knowing we had chosen a ring about a month ago, I took that as a hint, and booked The Phoenix, a local Chinese that we both really liked, and went a bought a new dress for the occasion! When Andy came to the door he was so nervous with an obvious box shape in his pocket he was trying to hide by having his hand in there too…. So many jokes I could reach for there, but I’ll leave it up to your imagination! … Andy’s dad took us to the restaurant, smiling like a Cheshire Cat, obviously knowing what was planned, telling us to have a lovely time! We went in and asked for our table, but before the waiter could answer an old friend of Andys came up behind us, and greeted him with a firm handshake. The conversation seemed to last forever, but Andy looked like he was enjoying the distraction, and I stood there, feeling so awkward as he didn’t even introduce me, or really even notice I was there at all! I started to feel a little tense, not the best start to our magical night, but onwards and upwards, right?!

We were taken to our table and sat down, and in walked another couple, the woman spotted Andy and practically ran over, with her partner having no choice but to follow her. Another old school friend…. A FEMALE school friend, and instantly my mind started running away with me, assuming she must be an ex of his, and man wasn’t my night becoming like Chandlers in Friends! Instead of saying hello and GOODBYE, the waiter suggested they sat at the table right next to us! NOOOOO! Seriously, I mean come on, this was supposed to be my night, I mean our special night!

Stater, …… main course …….and desert, ….. and NOTHING, apart from polite nervous conversation, and his friend leaning over every now and then telling stories about their school days together. Finally they got up to leave, and we said our goodbyes. I looked at Andy hopefully, and held out my hands across the table, but rather then seizing the romantic moment, he got up and suggested we leave as it was getting late- Seriously!?! We went and sat at the front of the restaurant, now waiting for Andy’s dad to pick us up, and I have to admit I was mad! I mean I imagined some romantic evening, lovely words….. I guess there was still time?

We sat down and he sat really close to me, looking like he was about to say something and …..
Hey Bully! Is that you?!” A voice came from the door way…. Are you friking kidding me! His old maths teacher! Another long conversation went on before he went to the side, to wait for his food and Andy came and sat back down, at this point I was furious! Andy looked at me and said
You know what tonight was about
fuming I replied “NO!”
He looked back at me hopfully; “So will you?”
Will I what??!” I said pretending not to know.
You know, marry me” he almost whispered, as he slipped the ring into my hand, like it was an illegal transaction!
You can at least put it on my finger!” I hissed, so mad that he felt like it was something to hide!
But…” as he glanced back at his old teacher.
I glared at him, and repeated, “You. Can. Put. It. On. My. Finger!” Emphasising every word, doing that whisper shout thing, like all you really want to do it shout, but somehow you manage to hold on to a shred of self control, just!

8C4EEA44-98BB-445F-A4BD-F91B7F391FF7Carefully he took my hand, trying to hide what he was doing as he put the ring on my pre prepared beautifully nail polished finger, just in time as Andys dad arrived. He looked at me with an apologetic smile, and those beautiful green eyes, the way only he can, and melted my fury away, I was engaged, wait what?! I WAS ENGAGED….to the most amazing man, yes totally crap at proposals, but really who cares about that, he had already won my heart, what was there to be mad about?!

We never managed to celebrate our engagement together, as I got a sickness bug when Andy’s parents invited us out for a meal, the following week, then he got the bug a week later when our families celebrated together! So we both celebrated the engagement, just not at the same time! We planned to get married in June 22nd 2002, as we were about to move to America for nearly a year to take part in a bible school, and wanted to give ourselves time to plan and save enough money for our wedding, …. I was getting married……!!!

Check back tomorrow for Part 2, A letter and a Wedding Dress.

Posted in 2018, An engagement to remember, Engagement, family, Inspirational life, life, Life well lived, love, love life, Marriage, Mr Right, My life, relationships, Seasons, Seasons of life, The story of us, The story of us The next chapter, Trust in God, Uncategorized, Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Time to Feel…

 

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I am trying to be ok with all that is going on….. Trying to think positive, telling myself it could be worse, looking for blessings in all things….. But whilst trying so hard to do all this, I’m not letting myself feel.

I think there’s a fine line between trying to be positive, and masking your true feelings, pretending your ok, when your really not. It’s ok not to be ok …. my own words that I seem to quickly forget! I think sometimes we are afraid to let ourselves feel, worried that one tear may unlock a flood, and like Pandora’s box, once open, impossible to put back in its place. Those around us, in wanting to say some profound words to help, be supportive, & fix the situation, their kind words of encouragement can soon feel like there telling us to ‘get over it’ and so quickly a genuine sentiment can feel more like criticism. And in that moment we forget it’s ok to feel, to rant and cry, to say life isn’t fair! But instead we put on a brave front, I mean if we can convince the world we are ok- we must be ok…. Right??!!

We are all human, we all have human emotions, and it’s ok to feel them, its what you do after you’ve done that that matters, how you pick yourself up. Sometimes we just need time to process, and it doesn’t mean we are being negative, or lack faith or that we are self centred! ….and sometimes when you don’t know the right thing to say, that’s ok, just send us a simple ‘thinking of you’ or even just a simple ‘x’ let us know that you are there.

img_8185So the reason for my outburst….. I have found myself back at Hotel NHS for the last 10 days ish. After my gall bladder was removed in Nov, I really thought I would get a break… I mean I know I’m not a well person and my kidneys are still at stage 4 failure, but I wasn’t expecting this. I mean come on timing could be better… last week of school holidays, with kids trousers to alter, uniforms to get organised, then Izzies 16th birthday, and her party- THE PARTY I had been planning especially for months, and then the start of school, …. All missed, moments I can never get back.

That’s been a bitter pill to swallow, (excuse the hospital humour!) but harder still has been the new potential diagnosis. Ulcers in my bowel, which they believed was Ulcerative Colitis …. A type of inflammatory bowel disease. A possible new disease to deal with, (just to add to the list!), new meds to try, new consultants to be under.

….I mean I was expecting them to tell me I had bad constipation or something! But after waiting for the Gastro Drs for 3 days, being told by 2 different surgeons they thought I had Ulcerative Colitis, finally today the specialists came and told me they don’t think it is! They don’t know why I have ulcers in my bowel, or inflammation or infection, but want to do some further investigations. Unfortunately the anti-inflammatory meds they would have given me to help, I can’t have due to my poor kidney function, so am in at least another day yet, then will have a colonoscopy as an out patient to check for more ulcers, and await the biopsy results….

Obviously it’s AMAZING news, that it’s unlikely it’s a serious disease, but still so much to figure out. I am getting to the point where I have no words…. I mean don’t get me wrong I smile, and nod and say all the right things but inside I’m struggling to get my head around another thing, this crazy roller coaster ride I’m on, just won’t stop, and I wanna get off! Then I switch into the tried and tested ‘Becky’ mode of:

-but it could be a lot worse,img_8354

-remember I’m lucky to be alive after all I’ve been through,

-I have so many blessings in my life,

-think positive, be positive, feel positive…..!

And yes those things are all completely true- BUT it’s ok to feel crap about a crap situation- I mean I am delighted it’s unlikely I have a pretty serious bowel disease, but now feel like I’m in limbo! (Still hoping they will come and tell me it’s all a mistake and I’m fine – even though I know I don’t feel fine!)

Don’t get me wrong God has given me so many blessings during my time here, that I am truly thankful for. I yet again have met some amazing people! People that have inspired me, like Gemma, my bed neighbour, a lovely lady with special needs who has img_8371been through a shocking time and yet still keeps smiling, and making me laugh! Other ladies and nurses on the ward who have listened to me going on about missing Izzies birthday, and of course my family, Izzie who was so mature about me missing her birthday, and always takes on ‘mum’ role when I’m not there! Jack who keeps plodding on, and just gets on with it, always there to cheer me up, even though he’s worried- and Andy. We have nearly been married 17years and still he puts up with me! I genuinely don’t know what I would do without them all!

The thing is, yes I have so many blessings in my life, and things to be so thankful for and yes it could be worse, but it could be better! My point is I need time to get my head around all that has happened; Waiting for a diagnosis, and all that entails for the future, and all I have missed while I’ve been a guest at Hotel NHS.

Thank you for your ongoing support, and please don’t stop sending me your lovely messages of support, but just be understanding if I take some time to take it all in, and in the mean time am not always the smiling positive person I normally am. It’s ok not to be ok, maybe I will actually start listening to my own advice for a change, and make time to feel!

enlight15

Posted in 2018, Battle Scars, Brave, family, health, Hope in God, Hospital, Inspirational life, life, Life well lived, Living With Pain, Loving myself, Mental health, Seasons of life, Trust in God, Trying to stay positive, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments