Thursday, April 29, 2010

You are a Child of the Universe

Liam Summer 1970
    So, my dear bloggeroos, by now you know that if you read my blog - you will, hopefully, find something to make you smile.
    I have plenty more humorous tales in my arsenal, but today - I wanted to share something different.
    Please don't think I'm on a 'downer' cos I'm not. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have had tremendous support from family and friends since Liam's death.
    I'm now feeling strong enough to tell some of our story.
    This post is to reach out to anyone who is living with pain in their lives: physical or emotional.
    I follow many blogs and every day I read many examples of genuine pain.
    I read stories of illness, despair and depression. People, just like me, having to deal with the heartache and loss of bereavement.
    I see very poignant memories of mothers who have lost their babies and children well before their time.
    There are families worrying every day about their loved ones who are overseas serving their country.
    We all suffer life's problems.
    Most of us have lived through some very challenging times in our lives.
    Times we thought we would never get through. But, we DID get through them.
    Time truly is a great healer.
    We bounce back. We're not the same person, but we have to become accustomed to changes in our lives.
    We have to come to terms with life being as it is, not how we would like it to be.
    Life goes on, even life without Liam, so here is our story................................

    Liam, my late partner and I first met about 6 months after the above photo was taken.
    He was 16, I was 14.
    We had been friends for over 30 years, and then we fell in love.
    Over the years that followed our first meeting, our paths crossed on numerous occasions. A few times we worked at the same company. Another time I was freelancing as a Dental Assistant and he was living in the same building. As I've mentioned before, Liam was a singer, and our family would enjoy a great night out watching him perform.
    Many years passed, Liam had never married, so when his Mum had a heart attack in 1987, he returned from Texas where he was living and working, to keep a watchful eye on her. Once back in Blighty, he earned a living from his singing, but would never take a booking further than 50 miles away, so that he would be at home overnight for his Mum.
    To supplement his income he trained as a Driving Instructor.
    He had moved in with her,but in 1993 she had another heart attack and became housebound. Liam gave up his singing and driving instructing and cared for her full time until her death in 2000.
    Between 1992 and his Mum's death, we lost touch. We bumped into each other a couple of times, but I was dealing with my own life dramas.
    He rarely drank alcohol before his Mum's illness, but the strain of looking after her and the lack of support he received, resulted in him finding solace in a whiskey bottle. Following his Mum's funeral, he had taken a fall downstairs, breaking his shoulder and collarbone.
    I would visit him and try to help where I could, but he was a physical and emotional wreck.
    I tried so hard to raise his spirits, and although his depression lifted a little, he was still drinking quite heavily.
    One day, I was feeling especially stressed and worn out. (I was working full time and trying to look after both of our houses.) We had to face the truth. Liam was an alcoholic.
    I burst into tears and asked him,
    "Why do you want to die?"
    He stared at me in disbelief and answered,
    "Don't be daft - I don't want to die."
    "Look in the mirror, mate. You ARE dying, can't you see that?" I asked.
    He looked in the mirror, and without saying a word - he went to the sink and poured the bottle of whiskey he was drinking from down the sink.
    He went all over his house and found other bottles, half bottles and even a few miniatures - he began to pour them away too. I wanted to help him get rid of them, but he said,
    "No, I have to do this by myself."
    "OK, I'm done with that now - I'll never drink again." and he meant it!
    That was in March 2001, and with help and support from me and his GP he never touched any more alcohol after that day. Sadly, that was only the beginning of his recovery.
    We got him through the withdrawal effects, and he started eating again. A week later, following a blood test, he was admitted to hospital weighing only 7stone. He was 46, but he looked like a little old man. After being pumped full of fluids and vitamins for two days, he was sent home and not expected to live.
    Thank goodness the doctors were all wrong! He had to have liver function tests done for the first year, but he made an almost full recovery, although he still had trouble with his shoulder.
    We became a couple the following Summer.
    He never drank another drop of alcohol until his death in November 2008. He put on weight, his depression lifted. We had 7 very happy years together.
    Little did we know - the damage had already been done.
    Liam died from cancer of the oesophagus. Sad to say, this type of cancer is often a result of previous alcohol abuse.
    He once told me that throughout his life he had always got inspiration from this poem, and I share it with you now..................


    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    (Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.)
Twice in his life, I had looked after Liam, nursed him, helped him bathe, and bullied him into eating.

Both times were difficult and traumatic.

If I could turn back the clock, would I do that for him again?

You bet - in a heartbeat!


Sandie's Patch said...

Hi Sue,
Thanks for this poingnant posting.
Yes, there is always someone or something to fight for and yes, most of us would sell our souls to be able to go back and do it all again and again and again! (but, maybe not 'Groundhog Day' style!).
Sandie xx

topchelseagirl said...

Thanks for sharing this with us Sue. I admire your positive outlook on the future whatever it may hold.

bad penny said...

this is so touching and filled with love. The verse is beautiful. I'm sorry that he is gone.

a mermaids purse said...

i was sooo very touched by your story, written so beautifully x
im so glad he had you there for 7 wonderful years- you must have been through so much together x
i wish u all the best wishes in the world xxxx