A quiet reflection on love and gratitude

August 7, 2022

I was just a few minutes old when mum put her finger in the palm of my tiny hand and I closed my fingers around it. Love can be revealed in so many ways, but those few seconds stayed with my mum for her whole life. For as long as I can remember, on every one of my birthdays since, she has told me about that moment.

Sixty years later and just a few days ago, she lay peacefully in her bed at home, with the end nearly upon us. I put my finger in the palm of her hand and she closed her fingers around mine. I have known all my life what it has meant to be loved by her and in that moment she told me again for one last time. At a time of unimaginable pain, I will always be grateful for those few seconds.

Throughout the last three days of mum’s life we (that is my brother, sister and I) were with her. We sat with mum, chatted about old memories, and reassured her that we would look after each other. My brother Jon and sister Poppy are very special souls indeed who are inspirational people in my life. I could not be more grateful for their love, support and example. One day I will write about them properly because their life stories are truly extraordinary. While we have always lived our lives in different worlds, when we are together we are very obviously our parents’ children – held, balanced and renewed by the gifts mum and dad left within us.

They showed us how to be kind, and to care about what we do and the people we are with, and they lived everyday being grateful for their blessings. Above all they showed us that by loving each other, we will always have a soft landing whenever we fall. For these things and so much more, I will be forever grateful.

A life lived in gratitude however is not a life without hardship, or worry, or loss. I have been thinking a lot about gratitude in the last few days. The pain and sadness I feel now is not reduced by being grateful for all the many blessings in my life. To be flippant for a moment, if you stub your toe on the leg of your bed, it does not matter how fine your bed is, it is still going to hurt like hell.

However, I now see more than ever that my gratitude is far more than being socially polite or a learned modesty to my good fortune. It is my lifeboat as I am tossed around in this boiling ocean of grief. Gratitude is what I am hanging onto for the peace it offers away from the overwhelming din of sadness. It is also the calming touch of mum’s love, and the love of so many people around me, and knowing I am lucky enough to carry this with me forever, whatever I must face or endure.

Gratitude is not an answer to pain, but in the depths of the sadness I feel today, I know it is my path back into a world of love, hope and caring. A world where I will try to live up to the gifts and blessings of my life and to be grateful for the love of wonderful people.

Mum, thank you for everything; please take care. My love and gratitude always.

Paul xx

PS thank you for all the beautiful, kind and loving messages this week. They are so precious. I will take a little break from writing now, but I hope to be back in September. Take care and thank you again xx

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