Saturday, 20 June 2009


Where do I start?
My head is RIGHT fucked up now.
And I am TOO calm for my own good.
We have spent most of the week in the Hospice.
Sitting with Helen.
Three times already we were told to gather all the family to say goodbye.
But my Sis is a fighter!
She so does not want to leave us, and her children.
She has two daughters, they are so strong, I am so proud of them.
And six sons, who, like her six brothers, are trying to be strong.
And one sister, my kid sister Rena, they are SO united!
Even tho' they were born 20 years apart.
We, the boys, spend our time telling silly jokes, amusing each other, typical man-way
of getting through stressful times.
And the girls, our sisters and wives, see that we cope in our own stupid way.
And still love us.
And Mam.
Her heart is broken.
She asks why her firstborn is being taken.
She says it is her who should go first.
She says that at 84, she has had a good life, and her child should live on.
Twice in as many days I have had to leave my family and 'put on my happy face' to entertain wedding parties.
Which is what I do for a living.
I don't know where I get the strength from.
I really don't.
Somehow, I have learned to 'become' the performer.
Does that make me an uncaring bastard?
Or, have I , through age and life experience, come to terms with reality?
With life.
And death.
I think maybe I have learned to put grief 'in a box'.
In a box which HAS to be opened.
But opened when the time is right.
'After the show'
For the show must go on.
Is life a show, which must go on?
We are a big family, and all of us weak, in our own way.
But together, in these past couple of weeks especially, we have drawn such great strength from each other.
I did not take my phone to the gig tonight.
I had to be in my happy place for my clients.
And they had a great night.
And I lost myself in them.
I am home now, and I must switch my phone on.
I am scared.
I draw from your strength.
Goodnight my friends.


  1. Map, there's no rule book when it comes to saying goodbye to a loved one, and there certainly isn't a right or wrong way to deal with the emotions that accompany such a loss. Grief is a totally personal thing and each of us has to work through it in our own way, in our own time. You're doing what you need to do, and feeling what you need to feel right now, and nobody can judge you for that. Nor should you judge yourself.

    Odd as it seems when in the midst of something like this, life does go on. You're going to lose a sister very soon, but everyone else you love is going to still be there, including those who rely on you for their day to day well-being. The fact that you can put on your happy face and go do a gig is not a bad thing at all. That's what you must do because that's how you support your family, end of story. It doesn't make you an unfeeling bastard. Rather, it's proof of how much you love your wife and children.

    There's a whole lot of people out here who care about you Map, even those of us who have only known you for a very short time. You're a good man, and a strong man, and don't you ever forget it! Massive cyber hugs are winging their way across the Atlantic to you and your dear ones.

  2. Eleanor; you don't know how much that means to me right now! xxx

  3. Map dear, i am with you in spirit tonight.

    My own precious father died way too young, and my sister and I nursed him through his final days, in home hospice care. It was the most agonizing time of my life, and the time we came closer together than ever before. There were tears, many many tears, then and a long time after, and also strangely, there was laughter. It all has its place in this, the most important journey.

    I remember always what the hospice worker said to us: take your time with all your feelings, don't let anyone rush you. Just be where you're at, as best you can.

    Hugs and peace to you.

  4. Oh, Map, honey, I am so heartbroken for you... I have been in your shoes too many times in the past. Eleanor and Leah are so right. Your grief will play out in a way that is right for you, however, just know that there is no right nor wrong way. It is just your way.

    Being able to put on your happy face and do what you must is all part of that too. You will do that in more situations than you will recall in the near future. It is all part and parcel of this process you and your family are going through. All of them will deal with this in their own way as well.

    I have lost my father, my mother, my oldest sister and a husband... along with a number of other relatives... it is never easy and never the same for each one. Just let yourself feel what you feel... you are a wonderful, warmhearted, loving and loved man, surrounded by a large and loving family. You will all find ways to be there for each other, and find solace with each other.

    My heart weeps for you and my arms hold you close... only time will lessen the pain but know there are so many who care for you, despite having never met you.

  5. Whenever you stand up in front of other people, your performance persona takes over. And it's a very useful thing. It doesn't mean you don't care - it just allows you to operate until you don't need it again.

    I understand your pain and loss. My thoughts are with you

  6. Map - I wish I could put things as eloquently as the others, but I'm pretty useless at this. My experience of loss is limited, but the enormity of it is something I dread. Helen will know how much you all love her..

    All I can do is to say that you will take comfort from those around you. And you are important to us too.

  7. You have my heart, sugar! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Please know that we are all with you in spirit. xoxoxo

  8. Map,

    We recently lost a dear friend. And, although heartbroken, I would, everyday, put on my work face and get to it. I could have taken more time off, but I chose to keep working. It helped me; the routine. More importantly, others looked to me and saw life does indeed go on. There is a powerful comfort there. Keep doing what you must do.


  9. There is strength in numbers...your family, friends and those of us who have come to care for you even though we've never met.

    Although it's hard to see it now, what you're doing is helping Helen on her journey. Your being there is part of that journey which, oddly enough, will comfort you when the time comes. Because you will know, deep down, that you were there when it counted. Not for just the fun stuff, but for the difficult parts. I can't imagine anything more terrifying than being alone because no one could stand watching me go.

    When my Dad died [of cancer] I had this oddly serene feeling...because I had been there when he needed me most. Yes, I missed him terribly but I never once thought, "Why didn't I tell him this or say that?" I told him while he was here. To this day my siblings carry guilt while I carry memories of happier days.

    Dad's hospice nurse said to us,"Keep talking. He may look as if he's sleeping, but he hears you." I know it's true. I said something silly to him while holding his hand and he squeezed my fingers at the point where he would've laughed.

    I still remember the doctor coming in to tell us that Saturday morning that Dad was gently slipping away and would be gone in an hour or so. Eleven hours later the Doc shook his head and said, "I don't understand. There's no medical reason for him to still be here."

    I smiled and said,"Dad will go when he's ready. He's just waiting until Sunday morning." When the Doc looked perplexed, I explained that Dad was a Christian and he was waiting for the Sunday angels to sing him into heaven. Dad always was an early riser... on Sunday morning just after daybreak he took the next step of his journey.

    There is nothing wrong with you, my friend. You're human and you're hurting... and yet, you had a job to do. Rather than spread the sorrow you're feeling on those people, you merely wrapped yourself in their joy. That's the sign of a good man.

    Just know that you're not alone. And trust me, Helen is grateful to have all of you there.

  10. Map darlin', there's very little I can add, as those before me - particularly Eleanor - have said so much more than I possibly could. Take strength in your family & don't beat yourself up for putting on a different face when it comes to your work.
    mega hugs from the Sandpit hon {{{ }}}

  11. I'm so sorry you and your family are going through this right now.

    Going to work and earning a living to look after yourself and your loved ones does not make you heartless, and don't you forget that. The very fact that you would even ask proves how caring you really are.
    Aside from the fact you need to earn a living, these times are so tough on anyone that it can be a blessing to be forced to put your stage face on just to relieve a little of the tension.
    I'd put money on it that your brave sister would rather see you smile than see you cry.
    A smile can always help anyone's day - there's nothing heartless in that.

    Sending you a huge hug from Scotland and my thoughts are with you all xxx

  12. I've been thinking of you a lot these last few days. My heart goes out to you and your family and I hope you'll not be so hard on yourself.

    As others have said there is no right or wrong way to 'do' grief. It happens to us the way it wants to and we deal with it as best we can. There's nothing wrong about putting food on the table or even allowing yourself the refuge of a job. And look at what you did? In the midst of your sorrow you brought great joy to many people through your dedication and professionalism.

    You know what? I rather love you for that.

    Thinking of you pet.

  13. 'Does that make me an uncaring bastard?'
    It means you are a good caring man being strong for your family.
    God bless you and your family and please God keep Helen free from pain and discomfort until she finds eternal peace.