My Journey

From mind to paper and back again.

A Life Writing Piece

on May 23, 2009

Back to basics, I was born.

The light hits home, blinding me after nine months in the dark. The warmth of her body cloaking me from the cold air outside. Dozens of faces stare down at me, strange and new all at once, I don’t know what to do, so I do what any new baby does. I cry, I yell and scream so loud my lungs feel like bursting. The cold metal of the scales gives me a fright as I’m jostled about from one pair of hands to the next until I finally make it into a warm blanket and the arms of someone I know. The smell is the same and once again I feel warm and safe.

The little girl with the teddy grows up.

I sat in a store for a couple of weeks before someone came and bought me. I’m a pink and white bear about twenty inches high and since being in that store over twenty years ago I’ve been on such a journey. When I got home on that first day I was passed around all the grown-ups and then someone lay me on some Christmas paper and wrapped me up, set me down under the tree and left me. That is, they left me until Christmas morning. I wanted a hug. When I was unwrapped by a little girl the first thing that hit me was that the man that had come into the store to buy me wasn’t there. The mood wasn’t as fun as I’d expected, people were upset and I never saw that man again. The little girl though, she took me everywhere with her, I even worked as a substitute pillow when she was upset and needed a hug. I’ve been to Cyprus, I joined the RAF with her, I’ve sat beside her on long car journeys when she’s been out with family. I’ve sat on the bed and watched her study and as she’s moved house, I’ve moved with her.

Twenty years have passed and the little girl isn’t that little anymore, her tears are for different reasons now, but I still sit at the end of her bed, or cuddle her when she needs a hug. Just because she has grown up doesn’t mean her needs have changed that dramatically, she has someone different wipe away her tears and dry her face now, it’s not mummy or daddy anymore, but the person she knows she wants to spend the rest of her life with. I’m comfortable, I have friends but I’m still first place in her heart amongst them, she never picks anyone else up first. She looks after me, mends my cuts and bruises, keeps me clean and tidy and gives me all the cuddles I went without in those first two weeks.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Some people believe in ghosts, others don’t. I’m not sure what I believe, my rational mind tells me that they’re not real but I know I saw my Grandad one night, seven or eight years after he had passed away. I felt warm and safe, rather than afraid, he was smiling down on me, looking after me. Ghosts though, aren’t always of someone that died. As we grow up, we change and mature, the ghost of that bubbly child is out there somewhere, being looked after by the stroppy teenager or the confident twenty something back from university. The ghosts of our memories locked away in our subconscious waiting to be made whole once again.

My ghosts, my memories.

I think that this is an apt way to describe these memories; they still haunt me to this very day as ghosts of my past.

I woke up at seven o’clock as I always did during the summer holidays to get ready to go to work, it was the busiest time of the year for a sports coach. I was staying at my mum’s house while she was away, looking after the animals. After dragging myself from the depths of my dreams I went into the bathroom to have a wash, it was then I first noticed it. A lump two inches long and about a centimetre in width poking out of the right side of my neck, I panicked. Lumps mean that people get poorly. I phoned the doctors and booked in an emergency appointment for nine o’clock and then phoned my manager to explain that I would be late for work. I finished getting ready, made some toast that I didn’t eat and then went and sat nervously in the waiting room of the doctors. I was told it was a cyst and that I would need to see a specialist to have it drained. I went to work as normal and waited for the appointment.

The appointment came and went, I fought with a needle in my neck, not to scream when the specialist told me that he was doing a biopsy and not draining a cyst, I would have to come back for the results. I did go back, before the date, for pain relief, I didn’t see my specialist though, I saw a lady who worked for him. I got more than pain relief that awful October day.

(1)23rd November 2008

I still remember having to tell mum and gran the day the lady at the hospital told me what it was. We were in mum’s kitchen and the babies were asleep in the front room, my mum’s a childminder you see. Mum went sheet white when I told her and then burst into tears, as did gran, both of them wrapped their arms around me and we had a ‘group hug’ so to speak. We were all really upset and I could tell what my mum was thinking as soon as I said ‘cancer’ and I can’t blame her because it was the first thing that came into my mind too. It was my grandad Ben, mum’s dad, had died of cancer years before and in our family the word cancer is very closely associated with death.

My grandad Ben was the man who bought me the bright pink teddy bear I own, who is aptly named after him. He died before I had chance to remember him and Ben the teddy bear is all I have to remember him by now, Ben and the memory of my Grandad standing over my bed keeping me safe at night.

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