Monday, 31 January 2011

Tail ends and tall tales

Uncle Laurence and Auntie Maria have a really cool bell on their front door. You push it and jump as a tremendous shout blasts out from somewhere in the interior hallway yelling:
"Michael, get down here and take this dog out - the living room's stinking!".
Within moments Maria was opening the door and greeting us with her usual big welcoming smiles and hellos. Thankfully, by the time we got into the house's living room, Taz, the dog, had scarpered, or had been kicked out, one or the other, and Michael, Maria's eldest son, (or 'Big Michael' as he's now called in the family, whilst I, apparently, am now, 'Old Michael') was ambling down the stairs behind us. Megan and Lauren, my two younger cousins, were sat at the foot of the television stand, scribbling away with their pens and pencils, creating more colourful masterpieces (another pair of Reid artists, like their Dad, cousins, uncles and aunts before them). Once Michael had got rid of the dog and the coast was clear, Laurence appeared from upstairs and added to the speculation, perhaps started by myself, that Maria had been blaming poor Taz for her own misdemeanors to which she adamantly objected.
Laurence and Maria had invited Ka and myself round for Sunday dinner, which involved the ever popular joining of tables and the gathering of different sized seats. Before dinner, Michael kept us entertained with stories from sixth year involving many strange characters from his class, including 'Big Stuart' (whose apparently around eight feet tall) and 'Wee Cheesy' (whose around three feet tall). Michael, who counts Home Economics in his favourite subjects and makes the greatest birthday cakes known to man, stood at the kitchen door, telling us his tall tales whilst Maria slaved away in the kitchen and Laurence nipped out for the trifle's missing ingredient - custard. Most of Michael's tales involved folk farting and others inhaling, Big Stuart making things break by merely standing next to it or the teachers giving Michael and his mates attitude and vice versa, including one teacher who allegedly 'looks like a pedophile, but isn't'.
Michael then went on to rave about his favourite programme, a BBC three effort called 'Coming of Age'. This series is based around a bunch of school pupils who seemingly spend their time farting, breaking things and giving their teachers attitude. And who says the young are not easily influenced by the media?
Once Pauline arrived in from Ikea, we all sat to dinner. A fantastic sunday stew with puff pastry and veg. As we ate, Taz the dog and the cats circled the table, occasionally sniffing around to see if anyone would be foolish enough to give donations. The conversations ranged from the Blair With Project, other rubbish horrors and shadows in the dark to up and coming First Communions and receiving a more admissible Virgin bill.
Trifle was then served as pudding, which Big Michael demolished within seconds, before waving a quick 'Adious' and disappearing upstairs to his playstation.
As I finished my last spoonful of trifle, I just happened to look down at my feet. Moments before, Megan had abandoned the chair beside me in the search for shortbread and her darting away had revealed the lounging form of Taz lazing below, his arse pointed straight up at me. Nervously, I gulped the last of my trifle down and was just about to start edging away when the inevitable happened. With a gentle hiss, (like the subtle spray from one of those fancy automatic air fresheners in the ads that make the passer by smile and nod), the pungent, familiar stench of eggs rose up into the air from Taz's rear end. I groaned and after a short quizzical look from those gathered around the table everyone yelled in objection, diving for cover, using the bottom end of their cardigans, T-shirts and tops as last minute, makeshift gas masks as Taz was quickly evacuated from the living room once more.
With nose firmly covered, Maria yelled through her blouse and fingers at the ceiling, "Michael!! Take the dog out! He's stinking!".

Friday, 28 January 2011

Some kind of normality

Ka's in Africa. That's the latest. One of the wee boys in Ka's Nursery turned round to one of her colleagues today and asked, "When's Ka coming back from Africa?".
This was after the kids had all been sat down last week and told the story of how Lucy went to Heaven. Obviously this particular little boy hadn't been paying much attention. Either that or he's under the impression Heaven is a northerly region of the second largest continent and Ka's joined Lucy over there for a safari.
It was back to some kind of normality this week as I went back to work for the first time since before the new year. It was harder than I thought, sitting at my computer, working on ads again after everything that has happened, so I was a little sluggish to begin with.
It just doesn't seem right. Ka and myself feel like we should be doing other things. Life should be more enjoyable, messier and more hectic after the build up of the past nine months. We should be getting used to a new way of life when, in reality, life is pretty much the same as it was nine months ago. Nothing has changed except the grief we will forever feel at the back of our minds, slowly sinking out of sight but never relieving it's weight.
Work, gym, cinema, shopping, meals at relatives. They have all been attempts at keeping us occupied but all seem vaguely different somehow. We can't escape the feeling that there should be more going on. Someone else around, keeping us occupied.
Yesterday morning I was on one of my many stridings through the wilderness that is the EK shopping centre, surroundings not unlike the wilds of Africa described by Ka's wee nursery pupil by the look of some of the folk that inhabit the place on a normal weekday morning as some of them look as if they've just escaped from cages.
Another trip to the dentist had been successfully accomplished on time with just moments to spare. After, once more, answering and grudgingly attempting to tell of recent events involving losing one's baby, in this instance to the friendly receptionist and our nice dentist, I went on my way through the mall with polished teeth..
Next stop, the post office and as I marched I spotted something whilst passing one of the larger charity shops that stopped me dead in my tracks. A large Yamaha keyboard, adorned with buttons, dials, screens and, well, keys, sat looking at me from within the Debra shop under the out of the question price tag of £35.
A hazey dream of reminiscence filtered into my mind. Back in the day, (cue Dvorak's Hovis music), during the High school years I always toyed with the idea of learning keyboard and piano. At the time, most of my mates could play some kind of instrument, to some kind of extent and were keen to form a band, of some kind. Colin sang and swung his guitar, whilst Nocker strummed and Bungle battered the drums.
The keyboard appealed to me. It made cool noises and played beats for you that you didn't have to spend hours making up yourself. I'd always thought it'd be quite cool to learn piano too. Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Rowlf the Dog, they'd all mastered the art before me. If a blind guy, a rocket with glasses, a grinning mannequin and a dog could do it, so could I.
Of course, I never did. Colin managed to teach me one song on the bass but that was about as far as my contribution to music went. I'm far better off merely listening.
Anyway, after seriously considering the prospects of buying the Yamaha for around five seconds I decided against it. I realised that if I brought that massive keyboard home to my one bedroom flat, Ka would probably take it and batter me over the head with it. The last thing she needs at the moment is me setting up a Yamaha in the middle of the living room, switching off all the lights, standing in my tie and going all Kraftwerk on her.
It's more like Kraft Foods in our house, the amount of cheese on crackers we're putting away. Great to have in the house for guests but not so great when your looking for nibbles whilst watching the telly. The calories I'm piling on must be immense!
Yes, the passing of Baby Lucy has left the two of us feeling at a loss and looking for more meaningful things to do to keep our minds busy, but I doubt bringing home a second hand Yamaha keyboard is an answer.
A break somewhere would be more worthwhile, probably not a trip to Africa though.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

SiMBA, Sands and Tricia's Poem

The night before Lucy's funeral my Auntie Tricia, Auntie Ann and Uncle Tommy popped round to see us. Over tea, crackers and cheese we shared our grief.
During tea, Tricia gave Ka and myself a rolled up sheet of card tied with ribbon. Tricia had been working hard the previous night on a memorial poem which she gave to us as a contribution to Lucy's SiMBA Memory Box. The week following the death of little Lucy this Memorial Box had been shown to all visitors and well wishers to our flat.
We received the SiMBA Memory Box after the passing of Lucy in hospital. It is a small, white chest of mementos put together following a baby's passing in the care unit as a gift to the bereaved parents and an item to remember their child by. In our box was placed the small blanket upon which Lucy lay in the incubator, a small teddy from the SiMBA charity, a small collection of photographs taken by the hospital, prints of Lucy's hand and footprints, her hospital tags, her small, colourful little New testament bible she received upon Baptism and cards of sympathy from both the hospital's Neonatal unit and SiMBA itself along with various leaflets offering help in coming to terms with these sad events.
Sands, the Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society is another charity featured in the reading material given in the Memory Box, which helps bereaved parents after the passing of a young baby. The Sands organisation offers guidance, support and help and is run by volunteers from all over the country who all give time from their own lives up following similar experiences in losing their own young babies, in order to help parents in similar circumstances come to terms with their own tragic events.
Both great charities and both more than worthy of any support.
Support which some family and friends have already offered and given in the form of donations. Alongside the donations towards Wishaw's Neonatal unit Ka and myself have also received we would like to say a great big thank you, on behalf of the charities and in memory of Lucy.

Lucy Reid - Our Angel Baby by Patricia Taylor

A Little Angel, lent not given
Taken too soon, to be in heaven

We just don't understand
And we'll never know
why God chose you for his Angel
And we had to let you go

One thing we know for certain
You are loved beyond compare
God picks his Angels wisely
Though our pain is hard to bear

You touched so many hearts
Many tears have been shed too
We know that you'll be with us
to ease the pain we're going through

Goodnight our darling Lucy
You will be our guiding light
A special bright and shining star
Looking down on us each night


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Times like these

For a wee lassie that was only around on the planet for just over 26 hours, Lucy Reid certainly made an impression. A large crowd of family, friends, colleagues and aquaintances gathered in St. Leonards Chruch, East Kilbride for our wee Lucy's Funeral on Saturday morning.
John Donnelly, of the Heritage Funeral Services, picked Ka and myself up in his large limo which struggled, climbing out of our street, over the freshly fallen snow from the night before under the bright blue winters sky, and took us round the corner to the chapel at the top of the hill to meet Father Mac at the doors.
Not a moment has went past when Ka and myself have not shivered with sadness and disbelief at the situation we have found ourselves in. We'd spent an unbelievable week organising and preparing for our newborn daughter's funeral after her birth, a week early on the 29th before her due date.
We had the joy of an early birth for Baby Reid on the Wednesday night only to be replaced, not half an hour later, by the horror of having our baby whipped away from us and placed in an incubator as she struggled to breathe for herself. On the Thursday morning we were faced with the horrendous decision given to us by the specialists of the Neonatal ward in the Wishaw hospital. We could continue to keep Lucy alive on machines, in the hope of her surviving to some extent but never to have a life of her own to speak of, or to switch off the life support and say goodbye. We made the heart-rending decision and over the course of the Thursday evening, watched little Lucy slowly slip away until her final breathes in my arms at twenty to one on the Friday morning.
The image of that little baby, shivering her last, her breathes fading to a quietening whisper will be ingrained in my mind for the rest of my life. Her last shiver of breathe shook out from her body shaking my arms which cradled her small form. I knew exactly when my wee Baby passed away before the doctors even began inspecting her. Lucy passed approximately eight minutes before the doctors finally decided, with tears in their eyes, that she'd gone.
Afterwards, I pointed out to Ka, on more than one occasion, that I didn't need the doctors to tell me. Even though the death certificate says 00.50am, it's wrong. I felt Lucy slip away in my arms just after twenty minutes to one and I don't need no stethoscope to tell me otherwise. Lucy came into the world, going straight into her Mum's arms, and left in her Daddy's.
Needless to say the pain and grief was unbearable but Ka and myself managed to stay strong thanks to the gathered family around us. The two sets of Mums and Dads, the two brothers and the two sisters along with Steven and Jillian were almost at the hospital through the whole ordeal just as long as Ka and myself were. The families were our rock and without them I'm not sure Ka and I would have made it through at all.
On the Saturday morning we stepped from the limo, the undertaker giving Lucy over to me and together we followed Father Mac into the church. As I walked I couldn't bring myself to look up at the gathered crowd as I stared down at my little girl's pristine white coffin, clenched in my hands. I tried to make out that I was being respectful, head bowed as I walked up the aisle, or perhaps that I was concentrating on carrying the case, making sure of it not slipping under my trembling grip. In reality I dared not look up on fear of breaking down into tears as the sympathetic faces of everyone gathered watched us move through the church. As a result I had no idea the church had been so busy till after the mass.
Ka, the Mums and Dads and myself sat in the back of the Undertaker's Limo, Lucy's coffin perched on my lap as the gathered congregation poured out from the church behind us.
A terrible, horrible situation to find yourself in but one made slightly bearable by the people that had shown up on that snowy, Saturday morning to show their grief and give Ka, myself and the family their support, prayers and sympathies.
Family, friends, colleagues and aquaintances have all been fantastic in the past few weeks. Without their visits, cards, texts, words and support I'm not sure Ka and myself would have been so strong to face the challenging past weeks. It's in times like these you realise how fantastic your families are, what friends you can really count on and how generous of heart people can be.
Lucy Reid would have been a very lucky wee girl to have such a massive, loving family.

I wasn't looking forward to writing this blog.
Ever again in fact.
But surprisingly, it still helps.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Lucy Reid

Our beautiful Lucy Reid
Born Wednesday 29th December 2010 23.22pm
Died Friday 31st December 2010 00.42am

Like butterfly wings so fragile and new
I never knew my days with you
Would number so few
So many dreams of sharing a new life
Yet to unfold
Has left only memories of you
To hold

We love you Lucy Reid and will never forget you