Wednesday, 30 September 2009


The so called Russian Dolls first appeared in the last quarter of the 19th century and were initially known as Matryoshka Dolls. Matryoshka was a popular name among the peasants of that time and its root was in Latin ‘mater’ which means ‘mother’.
In the super feudal Russian society of the time life of a peasant mother was tough in many respects. Apart from the daily grind, poverty and harshness of the climate, feudal landlords had the right of life and death, they had the right to send your sons into the tsar’s army for an indefinite period of time more often than not never to be seen again, they had the right of the first night with your daughters. All of that was so much more painful for the strong emotional nature of the family relationships.
Yet in the middle of all these unimaginable for us circumstances the faith in God: powerful, loving and just remained unshaken. Looking at the dolls I was reminded of the importance of the ‘Sunday best’ and how treasured it was. I was also reminded of one of my CDs of Russian Cossack songs sung in deep beautiful bass and baritone voices and so moving…We have the image of the Cossacks as the wild riders of the steppes, hot tempered and ruthless fighters and so they were but listening to their songs you realise the deep faith that permeated their lives. A large proportion of the Cossack songs is directed to God in worship.
So here is the train of thought that led me to write:

They say:
You are so smart, so elegant-
They don’t see
My hidden chapped hand.
Show me, says He

They say:
You are so calm, so serene-
They don’t know
The turmoil I am in.
Tell me, says He

They say:
How are you, but
They don’t wait for the reply.
I’ll wait, says He

They say:
Good to see you, but
They don’t tell you why.
I’ll tell you, says He

All is well with my soul

Sept 2009

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Letters to my Son

When K had his first birthday this card somehow seemed to fit. It was at the time we knew we were embarking on a challenge bigger than we had ever imagined and which was still unfolding before us. So inside a card that had this verse on the front, I wrote the first of a number of letters and notes to K. It is an ongoing dialogue that he may never understand, but it is part of “us” as much as all the other practical care stuff has been. It is part of our history. So here is this first little note, and then some that followed to give a little background to today, and where we are now.

Reach For Your Goals
8th June 1999

Dear K,

This card says something of what we are feeling on your 1st birthday. We hope for much, but are uncertain of what the future holds, and what the results of all the latest tests will be.

All we know is that it is in God’s hands.
All we can do is our best for you, and as you grow you must do the best you can for yourself.

With all our love…

Would you know my Name?
September 1999

Dear K,

Last week we all had a bit of a shock. I took you for a genetics appointment, and was told that your condition may mean that you would never sit, never walk and that you would possibly not survive childhood. Even though you have been so unwell, I was not expecting to hear this. It played to my darkest fears, and seemed to flatly explain why you were so behind all your development goals. I felt completely numb, and then settled into a kind of exhausted, embattled acceptance for a couple of days. Finally the “fog” started to clear, and I sat in the garden with you in the sunshine, and saw what was in front of my eyes; you, smiling. You just didn’t look temporary – and I prayed that we would all stay on an even keel, that we would go on believing that you were here to stay and live our lives in that light. Today I went to see nanny and granddad with you, and as we were driving along the M25 Eric Clapton started to sing on the radio. I cried like a hurricane was blowing through me…

Today a song reached into the depth of my heart,
And tears came with unexpected power.
It reminded me of you my sweet.
You, whose eyes gaze into mine, as rich as velvet, and so soft:
Holding me completely, I cannot look away.

In that moment I knew the pain of loosing you would be beyond endurance and understanding and reason.

In this glowing hour you have been all joy,
In this briefness that is so far ours you have enriched this life.

Precious one you are so fragile in your tiny form, your silent world
Hold on!
Cling tight to this thread of life which binds you and me together.

Keep loving me, in all your innocence, caring nothing for my faults,

And I, who so often seek perfection, gaze on at you in spite of all your flaws, and see but that:
The blindness of a love that knows something of the measure of a deeper beauty.

As you fight, I dare to hope that you will stay, and this season of uncertainty will be a memory. That you will stake you claim on mortal life and be all that you can be, in this dappled world of light and darkness.

Do you know?
September 2000

My Dearest K,

I am sitting at home reflecting about the last few weeks and thinking that we have just climbed another mountain. It is just a month since you had the operation for a cochlear implant, and so much has happened in that time.

First we had to decide that the operation was the right thing to do. For me this was not easy. It took about a year to be sure – you are so frail, but in the end this was one of the reasons I decided it was the right thing to do – you – we – need all the help we can get. And you try so hard to follow what we say, you never stop looking and staring at our faces. Dad was sure from the beginning, he called it a “no brainer” – but it was he that sat by your bedside all night before the operation, wondering if it was the right thing, and if you would be OK. It was a kind of team work, his early confidence was what got us going down this route, and a years worth of studying the facts, figures and outcomes allowed me to rattle off enough information to keep us on course in the last minute of panic. I think it’s a boy/ girl thing!

Any way what I really wanted to say is:

Do you know that we did this because we want the best for you?
That we weighed up all the pluses and minuses and made our best decision.
Do you know that we love you, and want to give you every chance to thrive?
Do you know that all of us, your Dad, Amy and me, stayed with you every minute of every day? You were never on your own.
Do you know that in what lies ahead we will keep doing all that we can? We will pray for you, keep your appointments, do all your therapies, play with you and always love you.

Nearly Eleven
1st June 2009

Dear K,

I can’t imagine where the time has gone! In the last couple of weeks I have been looking over pictures, letters and diaries from the last eleven years, and it is hard to say how we have got from there to here.

You have just burst through the front door, back from school, shouting that:

“May finished. June my birthday!”

And we have just studied the calendar and counted seven days until you are eleven.

I know that the last eleven years have not been easy for you or for me, but the “me and you” of nine and ten years ago are cheering their heads off for the “me and you” of today.
In Matthew chapter 6 the bible tells us:

“…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I think we have navigated a great deal of the last eleven years on that basis. I think you are the better student of this though, I do not think you worry about much; you are full of confidence and seem to expect good things. I on the other hand have learned to live in the light of this scripture, but it has been a hard discipline.

When you were 4 years old and we were going through a particularly fraught and painful time with a great deal at stake, I was constantly, almost frantically, calling on God for help. At that time God gave me a verse and I believe He spoke it over your whole life, for me to be done once and for all with all the worry:

“Be still and know that I am God”

It has come back to me time and time again as new challenges have come along, and I know it hangs out there in the future covering my greatest fears and uncertainties. But for now, for today, I want to do two things. I want to celebrate you, K. Celebrate our journey, and all you have achieved. You are still “all joy” even when you are not! After everything, how could it be any different? So before I go rushing headlong into party invitations and chocolate flake cake, family get-togethers and birthday presents, let’s just stop, you and me, and be so grateful for today. For the miracle it is on so many levels, and the journey that brought us here.

And then, I want to thank God for all he has given us. For your lovely Dad, and Amy, who have made this journey too. For all the times God has stepped in when we couldn’t “step” any more and for how all the near misses were always certain victories in His hands.

With love always,

Mum x

Friday, 24 April 2009

Easter Sunday Beach

Diadems of aquamarine
And golden dunes with crystal glint.
Blue blazing bright;
The radiant warmth from this early sun,
Chasing away the residual winter chill.

Dark cliffs clothing again
Their winter skeletons with radiant leaf
And emerald jewel,
Green glowing gild
The promised newness this season heralds.

Karen Mehta 19-04-09

Friday, 20 March 2009

More of Brenda

She is sipping her coffee with mild, bemused irritation; the whole point of coming out today was to buy a birthday present for his sister. They stopped only briefly for Adrian to finish the quote he needs to send out today. It was going to be just 15mins, half an hour max… and here we are one hour later, running out of time, and… there is no sign that he might finish soon.
The girls are getting impatient and keep asking when we will go home. And, guess who will be saddled with the task of buying that present…
She was not looking forward to this shopping trip anyway; Brenda is so difficult!
It’s not that she is ungrateful; she says all the right things when opening her gifts but weeks later you find out that the lovely bubble bath is still unopened in the bathroom, RHS membership is never activated, the amaryllis bulb withers sadly in the original box…..and so on. How do you cope with that?
The only thing that gets used are the M&S gift vouchers, and even that produces another pair of black trousers or a beige cardigan!!!
There is nothing exciting or frivolous about Brenda. Oh!! If only I could shake her out of her black and beige existence!!!
Come to think of it there is nothing frivolous about Adrian either. In fact it was his steady, placid character that attracted her to him in the first place. It felt so secure and peaceful compared to her own, tumultuous and unpredictable family life. But now, fifteen years later, she has moments when she feels it would make a welcome change if, now and then, he would surprise her with a ridiculous idea, extravagant gesture, a bit of silliness…anything to break the predictability and monotony of their relationship.
There is no point talking about it, or loosing your temper; he just does not understand what she means. At time she wonders if he even hears what she is saying. The best she can draw out of him is his gentle “yeah…yeah”.
They seem so much alike: Adrian and Brenda.
Adrian does not say much about their childhood or their parents and she often wonders what it might have been like growing up with an older sister like Brenda. He is so devoted to her and so protective. With all his mildness and malleability he will not allow a word of criticism of her behaviour. How come she inspires such loyalty???

Krystyna Lysakowska

Monday, 16 March 2009

Night Flight

I am cemented in my window seat next to Jacob who attempts to sleep. I can make minor adjustments to ease the stiffness of my cramped, imprisoned body by moving centimetres at a time, and since the seat in front of me is now inclined, even to flex and stretch out my legs is a challenge. My lungs and nose feel scorched by the aircraft's mechanical lung which hums and pumps.

From time to time I consider the miracle of being transported in this pressurised metal tube that traverses land and sea with hundreds of hot sleeping forms lying in uncomfortable contortion. My legs feel like sausages on the barbeque ready to spit and burst and my head aches with a dull throb as we glide between heaven and earth.

All is dark as the cabin lights are off and all port shades drawn to keep out the brightness of the day. Those who can sleep defy the time zones and claim their night whilst others like me wrestle with our wakefulness and try to obtain the oblivion of sleep that will blot out the strangeness of this suspension. The elegant silk suited crew are watchful like exotic birds hovering over a ploughed field. They walk up and down the aisles with trays carrying jugs of water and tiny plastic cups looking to rehydrated those who catch their eye.

Imsomniacs slide into a perfectly private world through the distraction of ipods, books, or laptop films. Others cannot escape so they watch every movement of the crew and register the faces of passengers who lurch to the back of the plane to queue for toilets.

A flight is never an end in itself. Who could endure this imprisonment without some grand reward waiting to repair the wounds to body and mind made by changing continent and time zone?

As the hours pass the deck grows ever darker as remaining solitary lights are extinguished and like the strike of a night stalker's cosh I succumb to fitful sleep.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

"On Time..."

In Britain there is a great deal of store set in being “on time.”
Our nation is symbolised by a clock!
But I have come to think there is some virtue in “a little late.”

“On time” feels like a theoretical point in maths that great minds are trying to fathom – to calculate their way to – but haven’t quite got their yet.
It seems unobtainable.

I aim for “on time,” but mostly end up “a little late.”

Getting out on time is such a challenge in all our diversity:
One too old to worry,
One to young to care,
One who just doesn’t get it
Or one who’d rather not be there.

Trying to herd this group of independent individuals into the hall together and out the front door “on time” can create friction.
Better “a little late” in harmony, than “on time” in discord.

Some say “I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late”…Well honestly I wouldn’t… There aren’t enough hours in my day for that.
And what about the boy who came too early, and I mean too EARLY!

Only half ready, all skinny and small,
He couldn’t even breathe for himself,
And as for us, we weren’t ready at all.

Untold things might have been different if he had managed “a little late”

Karen Mehta 09-02-09

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Irene Mooney January 2009


At last I feel as if progress is being made in my life. Sitting here in Starbucks with my latte and my magazine and an hour to waste seems like heaven to me after the turmoil of the last few weeks. . I breathe out a sigh of relaxation and survey the Starbuck groupies….a couple of mums with their kids…a teenager waiting for a date I think….an elderly man with his newspaper ..I felt I fitted in as the token single female.. Looking out over the supermarket I could see the late Saturday afternoon shoppers scurrying from aisle to aisle looking for the last minute reduced stickers and bargains.

As my eyes settled on the cashier nearest to me my heart missed a beat…Tom is there unloading a trolley .I let my eyes rest on him…almost feasting on the delight of seeing him again after so many weeks. He concentrates on unloading the trolley and seems lost in thought and I wonder if he is thinking of me. I slide myself lower in my seat just in case he looks over to the cafĂ© and catches my eye, yet I watch his every move .

I tear my eyes away from his face and look at the conveyer belt …Actimel must be for her…Tom never drank it…Ice cream must be her secret eating ..Tom never ate that…Salad bag…she must be lazy..Tom always made his own salad….Full cream milk…silly woman..Tom wont use that for his coffee…Tom casually runs his hand through his greying hair and touches his earlobe in an oh so familiar way as he concentrates on the shopping. He is wearing brown cord trousers and I wonder if they are the pair we bought together at the January sales. I notice he isn’t wearing a tie but an open neck casual shirt that I didn’t recognise. He looks tired as if he hasn’t slept well for several days and I also notice he hasn’t shaved. I smile and wonder if he is trying to be “cool” I allow myself a moment to hold a memory of my teasing him about his designer stubble. The cashier is waiting for him to catch up with packing and begins to help him with the last few items. Tom thanks her and again I allow myself a memory of his almost insane politeness to everyone he met in the course of his day. He is a good man. I loved him. He hurt me.

I try to regain some semblance of normality to concentrate again on my magazine and to drink my now cold latte. But I am fighting a losing battle as all I can think about is what will he be doing now?..Where is he going?. Will he be going home to the house I once lived in.?.Will he be going to cook a meal in the kitchen I once cooked in..? Will he be watching a DVD in the living room where once we both watched DVDs .? As I try to quieten all these thoughts the one I am hoping will never surface breaks through..Will he be making love with her in the same bed where once we made love in? I am undone by this thought and lose the fight to stop the tears falling.

Tom is no longer mine…no longer can I lay claim to anything we once shared . He belongs to her , everything about him is now in her possession and I am alone . I am once more taken back to the day when Tom confessed to me that he no longer loved me All the progress I feel I have made in coming to terms with it is snatched away and I am once again bereft…laid bare…desperate…… If I could comfort myself with the clichĂ© that men leave their wives for younger women all the time perhaps I could begin to rebuild my life and mend my heart. This small consolation is not for me. I am at odds with normality. No-one has done studies or published statistics or written magazine articles about my heart break. Tom has left the young woman…me…to return to his wife…. I have been left for an older woman one who laid claim to him even before I was born. I became the butt of so many jokes and teasing that I made light of it and no-one knew how deeply I was hurt. Today I had felt strong enough to venture into my life to begin again the rituals that make life bearable. Saturday Starbucks was one of the rituals that Tom and I never shared and I had felt confident that with this one small step I would be proving to myself that I could and would survive a broken heart.

I wipe my eyes…blow my nose…and ignoring any glances that come my way. I stand, somewhat unsteady, aware that the Starbuck groupies are watching me and wondering if they would be drawn into my small drama.. I walk towards the exit doors carefully avoiding eye contact with anyone. Saturday afternoon at Starbucks will never be the same for me again.