It’s been 7 months since Dad had his stroke aka ‘Dadgate'. If I’d known before just how challenging the journey ahead was going to be, I would have volunteered to become an astronaut and join Matt Damon on Mars for a few years. You know, just chilling out.
Whilst I think I would have learnt a lot on Mars, I decided to not donate my body to deep space exploration. I’m not sure I’d cope long term on dehydrated food. Instead, the last 7 months have been an incredible, challenging, soul fulfilling, heartening and humbling time. Much reflection has happened and continues to happen. Dadgate has required me to go deep, to change. It’s impossible to go through this and stay the same.
Here’s Part One of the 27 lessons (and rising) I’ve learnt along the way…
- NOTHING prepares you for a journey like this. Zilch, nada, not a t’ing. You have to throw yourself fully in to the grief, the confusion, the shock whilst getting on with the necessity of daily life. You have to keep living. To do otherwise dishonours those who don’t have our freedom.
- Life becomes illuminous, vibrant and intense in the weirdest of ways.
- Talking of weird, you may find yourself busting out some strange improvised dance movements on a hospital ward to cheer up your Big Sister.
- Older people are the diamonds of our world, the Wisdom Carriers, the Sages, they know what we don’t. They are Very Important People. Listen to them. Learn from them. Ask questions before it’s too late.
- You will achieve incredible feats you never dreamed you were capable of like bringing home a totally immobile old man, wrapped up like ET on Air India and fight to not get chucked off a plane in Delhi.
- Self Care Self Care Self Care Self Care - you MUST remember to self care first. That’s a biggie. Then you can give - healthily - to others. Oh, how often we forget this. Treat yourself like an endangered species, your life really does depend on it.
- Support comes from the most unexpected places and people. Be prepared to be humbled, surprised. A work colleague you’ve never talked to before becomes your confidante or the lady in the veg shop saves your favourite salad for you or an online community on the other side of the world cheers you on. Welcome it.
- Some friends hold your hand for the whole journey and help bear the weight of your story. They are precious diamonds. Others may never call you or text you or if they do, they really not interested in your pain. They may not even ask, how are things? And you may be surprised who pulls through for you and who doesn’t. It’s en-lightening.
- Unplanning, unravelling. You quickly learn that there is no point planning ahead more than an hour, a day or week or two. You will cancel appointments, holidays, social outings and sometimes lie ins. Life is happening NOW and that is the only space you can fully inhabit. Bonus - leads to a lot of spontaneity and grabbing the moment. Carpe diem baby.
- Allow your experience to mould you but not break you. What feels like being trapped or stalled by commitments opens up other possibilities, other adventures. You’re not able to fly somewhere exotic so you take up running and get that feeling of freedom, you want to be healthier so you go on a smoothie bender, your iPhone becomes your video camera and you start making mini movers.
- You start to embrace and appreciate tiny wonders that you never noticed before. The dew drops on a leaf, the spookiness of fog at dawn, a handwritten letter and the time to do the most mundane of tasks - washing knickers. Wow!
- You’ll catch yourself staring in to space…often. And half an hour’s passed by. Eh?
- Life will never be the same. But it can get better.
Namaste friends xo