Monday, 22 October 2012

Dear Paul

It has been a while coming but today feels like the right time to write a final post, officially as it were as I have hardly posted at all in the last three years. I thought I should let you know first of my decision to wrap this up. There have been times where the suggestion of moving on would be met with fury inside. Why do I want to fucking move on, doesn’t that mean I am trying to forget you? I like this pain; it is familiar and comforting and I can consistently hate and rage against it. But then there comes a time when the raging subsides a little and you realise you will probably never move on in the way you thought. You don’t wake up and it’s over, you don’t sidestep grief and pain but the relentless waves ease and rather than moving on you learn to live with the ebbing and flowing.

Three years? Yes it is three years since you left us. You would think anniversaries get better with time but they actually just accentuate the time rolling out without you. In the bad old days this blog kept me alive, kept me focussed on the fight being something that spread further than our lives .I spent so many nights alone, waiting for a miracle while the children slept and you lay in your hospital bed fighting for your life with all you had. Now I see those dark nights from the outside, looking down at myself sitting shadowed but for the electric glow of the screen. Sometimes I would just sit there, immobile and entranced, then something would trigger a thought and I would write. Sometimes I would be hunched and sobbing, sometimes I was alert and defiant,  but I always wrote the words in the hope you would read them too from your high up room and sometimes you did and I suppose I am hoping you might be doing that again tonight.

I remember one of the first nights I spent with you in the hospital. The diagnosis was new. The drugs were the first to course through your veins and you were sick with them quickly. You slept and the room up there on the 13th floor was calm, I lay with you under a dim light and the twinkles of London were reflected in the glass. I remember thinking;

‘Once we were part of those twinkles, we were the soul and heart of those lights, we danced in them till dawn broke and daylight swept us home. This cannot be it. This cannot be our lives looking down on the beginnings of things and thinking they might end. This is not what we planned’.
But now I know that the life you plan is not the one you end up with.

And I was cynical then that the hand we had been dealt had destroyed any hope, but I know now that it’s gossamer threads had lingered beyond your death. Hope I could make it through funerals and gloomy blooms and nights of tears and too much wine. Hope I could run and cook and still read a story to Cassidy and Kitty with fun and laughter and that I would not simply die one day of a broken heart. Because it is sore.  Grief is fucking sore. Did you know your heart can actually ache with the pain of loss? Who knew?

There are many things I wish. I wish I did not see your light disappear in front of my eyes.  I wish I had never seen the darkness take their blue, take the eyes that had had reprimanded me, captured and consoled me. Those eyes, those eyes, the ones your son has now.  The eyes I like to think blossomed in my presence.  I wish many things but I never wish I did not know you, meet you and love you.

It can be very hard to see any positives in this journey at times, I say that as if I have come to an end somehow. But things are never that cut and dried. What I think I mean is the positive thing is we are here, we have survived, a little war torn and battle worn, but we are here. Life does march on despite everything and I want you to know we have achieved what you would be most proud of; laughter and light. But there has to come a time when a line is drawn. You would agree I am sure. So this is the line under the T – Cell chronicles because that journey is well and truly over and if there is one thing you taught me in your death, it is how to say goodbye with dignity.

All my love always and forever H x

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I have a book. It is small and red with a broken spine. Its edges are tatty and worn and it has absent-minded scribbles on the outside, mainly of eyes with splendid lashes. I have a book, it is small and battered and a little bit broken but it is full. It is full to bursting with scribbled thoughts and pained lines that I can barely read back but I try from time to time and it reminds me of how far I have come in a year and how far I have still to go.

I have a book that is full of all the words I wanted to say to your people on the days of significance; birthday’s, anniversaries, your deathday, only to have come unstuck at the keyboard every single time. So I wonder why it is that I should be able to write today – I wonder this because to me it is somehow the least significant date of all. It’s the one I feel almost ambivalent about, the one where you were sent away and turned to a pile of dust, the one where your pieces were finally taken, the one where I supposedly said goodbye (although I know now I will probably never do that).

But perhaps that is the very reason I can write today. Because even though our anniversary was a bittersweet affair in retrospect, the day was love filled and the tears spilled were of happiness. Because even though your birthday was hard, it was a reminder that you were here, you were born, you grew up, you walked this earth and you loved, you bore children, you had a life no matter how short. Because even though to think of your deathday and the moment you finally left me is, without doubt, the most difficult, painful memory of all, at least you were alive for most of that day. Because even when you left, in the days that preceded your funeral, your essence still filled the rooms.

So perhaps it is the life of you within these moments that I have found so hard to write about. A funeral is none of these things. It is about a void, an ebbing, a release and a going, memories, a flicker of a flame and the loss of that light. You are gone and I know that I know that, but a year on you are still as alive to me as ever. That is pain and pleasure in one.

So in homage to you going I want to publish your playlist from the funeral. You sat one night and reeled off these tracks and I was amazed at your abilityto conjour tracks from mental oblivion – mine would be so bland in contrast. But you did and here they are. For those of you on Face book I will try and link the track list through that. I include in this uncorrected mistakes in this list - it makes it a more fulfilling journey of discovery.......

Listen and remember him and above all else – ENJOY!!

The Cure Just like heaven – 12” version (not live)
Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart
Sonic Youth Teenage Riot
The Church Under the Milkyway
Nancy Sinatra Jackson
& Lee Hazelwood
The Jam Thick As Thieves
Candy Station You’ve Got The Love
Massive Attack Unfinished Sympathy
Lee Hazelwood Poor Man
Simple Minds Speed Your Love
Blondie Union City Blue
Royksopp 49%
Pogues Sally Mcnally
Radio Head An Airbag Saved My Life
Jimmy Cliff Many Rivers To Cross
New Order Everythings Gone Green
Jesus And Mary Chain Just Like Honey
Johnny Cash Ring Of Fire
Elvis Suspitious Minds
Grandmaster Flash White Lines
The Stranglers Always The Sun
The Killers Read My Mind
Stakker Humanoid Stakker Humanoid
Bowie Changes
Soft Cell What
Lotus Eaters First Picture Of You
Echo And The B Killing Moon
Clint Eastwood and Stop That Train
General Saint
NWA Express Yourself
Generation X Dancing With Myself
My Bloody Valentine You Made Me Realise
My Bloody Valentine The Drive
My Bloody Valentine Cigarette In My Bed
House Of Love Christine
Sound Garden Black Hole Sun
Radiohead No Surprise’s
The Specials Gangsters
Doctor Almintado Poison Flower
Foxy Brown Fastcar
Wheatus Little Respect
The Smiths The Is A Light That Never Goes Out
A Guy Called Gerald Voodoo Ray
Primal Screen Loaded
Inner City Good Life
The Damned Smash It Up
Ladyhawke Back Of The Van
Kings Of Leon The Bucket
Dolly Parton Jolene
Kenny Rogers Ruby
I Hate Hate Razzy
Adam And The Ants Stand And Deliver
Madness Must Be Love
Faithless Insomnia
OT Quartet Hold That Sucker Down
Marvin Gaye Your All I Need To Get By
The Pixies Monkey Gone To Heaven
Madonna Like A Prayer
Five Get On Up
Tony Basil Hey Micky
Blondie The Hardest Part
Jackson Five Blame It On The Boogie
O’Jays Lovetrain
Beachboys I can Hear Music
Prodigy Your No Good
Moby Feeling So Real
Richie Havens Without Love
Lou Reed Vicious
The Only Ones Another Girl Another Planet
Groove Armada Blue Skies
Daft Punk Da Funk
Talking Heads Born Under Punches (Remain in Light version)
Flock Of Seagulls Wishing
Billy brag New England
Leftfield Storm 3000
The Cure In Between Days
Game/50 Cent Hate It Or Love It
De La Soul Eye Know
Motorhead Ace Of Spades
Nirvana In Bloom
RadioHead Creep
Depeche Mode New Life
The View Don’t look back into the *
Elton John Your Song
Joy Divsion Don’t Walk Away
Rod Stewart Baby Jane
John Lennon Starting Over
It’s Immaterial Driving Away From Home
The Smiths Please Please Let Me Get What I want
Bowie Sound And Vision

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ashes, pieces, dust

I did it.

It was a vile week of grey skies and perpetual rain that seemed never to stop. I had to make an appointment and when the day came the skies cleared and were bursting with blue and white. I like to think you had a hand in that. I was nervous and it felt strange going back to the cemetery. The place where I said goodbye to you. I sat in a stuffy room and waited. There were displays of fancy urns and leaflets about all the different things you can do with dust. Scatter it in remembrance gardens, make it into diamonds and wear it, keep it encased in silver or gold. I suddenly felt a bit self conscious about the Tesco bag I was taking you back in. I could have at least bought a Waitrose one, was I being disrespectful? I knew you would tell me to stop being daft - dust is dust "Take me out in a bin bag" you said. I felt a bit better.

I hated the room and, unfairly, the woman that scrutinised my signature and said they didn't match. "I haven't been a Stevenson long", I said , " I haven't really practised my signature". She released you to me. I waited till I got outside before I let the tears fall. I walked across the road and onto Wanstead Flats, I cut through some trees, silver, brittle sunlight streaming through the branches and found myself atop a little hill looking down at a beautiful lake filled with ducks and geese. I crouched in the still sodden ground and took you out. You were heavy. I want to see you. You are coarser than I thought and there is a lot more of you than I imagined. You are grey and if there is one thing you were never; it is grey. This is not you but it's the closest I have been to you physically for 4 and a half months and it's comforting. There are people milling around, feeding ducks, enjoying the sunshine and each other's company. I am crouching in mud on a small hill muttering to a box of dust. I think it's time to move on.

I feel better. I'm so glad I came to get you. It was the right thing to do. I stride across the flats. I swing you along with my steps - I think you might enjoy the ride. I'm actually starting to enjoy having you by my side. I decide to go to Tesco's and get some shopping and a coffee. I put you in a trolley and chuckle to myself. You would have thought this was hilarious. I sit with you next to me on chair in the coffee shop and whisper my mischievous thoughts to you. When ever I go to the village of Leytonstone I bump into someone I know and I really want to now and pretend I'm taking you out for a little excursion as if the most normal thing in the world. I know you would love this joke. But I have no one to practice it on which is slightly disappointing but probably for the best.

I brought you home in a bag with wine and prosecco to toast your homecoming. It's not you. I know that and I have never been into the reverence of the pieces left behind. I have been to my father's grave three times in 18 years as these things mean nothing to me. People live on in the memories and the love in your heart. But it's nice having your pieces here for a while. Cassidy and Kitty are curious but underwhelmed. I invited Cassidy to come to pick you up but he declined as he said it would be boring unless he got to see the incinerator. He is your son in more ways than the slenderness of his frame and the depth of his mind.

Your pieces are home

Sunday, 7 February 2010


………well I am going to complete the speech I promise my love but while I work on that I just wanted to mark the fact that yesterday was our anniversary. It would have been fourteen years.

I can remember the first one we celebrated in India. We sat drinking and watching the sun set on ‘Lighthouse’ beach in Kovalam. We watched the sea crash under strings of twinkling, glowing, golden beads. I made you a card and we ate seafood.

There were others I can remember and many I can’t – but that’s a good thing! More than one was spent drunkenly going through old records, a few spent eating expensive food, one of them may have been responsible for Cassidy and one I was pregnant during but still managed to sip champagne. Last year I cooked you a Thai feast and you drank some red wine and more than one Jack Daniels and Coke. I wrote you another card. This one said something like ‘ 13 years – unlucky for some but not for us because we nearly lost each other and here I am writing you another love letter – I will not let you go again’. Well how wrong I was because when the time came I had to let you go.

13. A number tainted with negativity and touched with superstition and doubt. Surely we should have known it was destined to be an unhappy year. We started it on a back pedal – how could it have ever moved forward under that kind of dark, miserable cloud.

And it has been a terrible year, one of death and sadness. The sum of its parts has been unlucky but it has also been a year of celebration. It has hosted some of the most uplifting and positive moments of my life. It has been a year where I have learnt more about love friendship and their infinite capacity. A year where we have known the inner strength we possess and the wonder of ourselves and our children. It was an extra year granted to us, not but a higher order, but by you Paul. When the doctors said you would die in the ITU of Whipps crosss you didn’t, when they said the cancer would take you so many times you defied it and you gave us a summer of laughter and hope. So I would say that, depending on how you look at it, the number 13 has been very, very lucky for us.

So Happy anniversary my love.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

My darling,

When you were suddenly taken ill last November, when you were hooked up to that life giving but hideous ventilator that bleeped and flashed endlessly with alarming constancy. When you were in the ITU of Whipps Cross, I found it difficult to keep the dark thoughts at bay. My mind would wander during the day and I would have these waking nightmares of imagined, hideous scenarios. The most recurrent was standing up at your funeral and giving a eulogy. I would find myself running through the words and weeping at inopportune moments, at the checkout in Tesco’s, walking home after the school run, stirring spaghetti or during story time. More than once I actually slapped myself around the face. Partly to snap myself out of the madness and partly because I was so cross at myself for thinking such miserable, hateful things. I hesitate in telling your people this as it’s so personal and also makes me seem quite unhinged. But I want to try my best to give them a window to the emotional side of this journey. This was our life and if I’m going to do this confessional shit I may as well go the whole hog!

I digress.

So I found a way to deflect this particular nightmare by mentally subverting the funeral speech into a wedding one. My eulogy became a celebration of what we have rather than the past tense. And you know what? It worked. Then when we decided to get married I really wanted to say a few words, but to be honest I bottled it and I’m glad I did because I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the day quite so much. Then your funeral loomed and I vowed to do you justice then by saying all the things I wanted to. The little bits and the big. I wanted to tell your people about the beginning as well as the end. But I could not speak. I said a lot that day but I did not speak.

So if I had done a speech it might have gone a little like this……..

Thursday, 14 January 2010

My love,

To write since you died has been too painful. I try and try but my fingers falter. But it was like this when I started this blog except that then I had you to egg me on and push me forward. I know I have to try and be strong again. When we started it was to keep you in the forefront of everybody’s minds. We needed love, energy, good thoughts and vibes and we got them tenfold. Everyone chanted and prayed and cried and laughed with us. All of your people waited everyday to hear your news, they were here when we celebrated your remission and they were here when you had to go.

I have only realised in this last couple of empty months that this whole fucking blog thing was as much about keeping me alive as it was you. It’s a strange thing that it’s easier to be intimate with a thousand faceless people than it is with the person sitting next to you. So I want to carry on if that’s ok? I have things to say about the darkness but I want to keep you alive and there is also the story of us. The one before you got sick. The one where we lived happily ever after, the one we talked about which started on Dean Street and ended on a verandah in Thailand in our dotage, sipping ‘Sang Thip’ and setting off firecrackers till dawn.

Each word to you feels clumsy and has been reviewed, amended and deleted a million times. I want to do you justice With every letter I have punched tonight I have shed a thousand tears. Do you think that if I keep typing and typing they will eventually run out?

I might try…………

Saturday, 2 January 2010

I'm trying

to write a blog. I compose a million a day in my head and today I got this far........