A day of mixed blessings…

We had a lovely day yesterday- on the whole.

We were up and away on the 7 AM ferry because Michaela, Emily and Danielle participated in the Race For Life which took place on Glasgow Green- a 5K run/walk in aid of cancer research. Michaela walked- taking around 40-50 mins, Emily and Danielle ran and took around 25 mins. Well done!

It was a bitter sweet moment- as everyone running had the names of people on their backs- survivors and sufferers of cancer, and people no longer with us. We remembered most Michaela’s step father Robert whose died just over a year ago.

Unfortunately, whilst standing around and NOT running, my back suddenly went into spasm. It may have been some kind of empathetic response to all these thousands of exercising women, or it could have been associated with a hard day of DIY the day before.

I managed to hobble back to the car and take a handful of pain killers, but our next destination was Edinburgh, where Will and I were due to play a cricket match against a Royal Botanical Gardens Cricket Club side- an old fixture between our clubs, competing for our own little ‘Ashes’ urn.

When we arrived I could not get out the car- but I then did manage to free up a little- and being the first match of the season that has not been rained off, I was really keen to play, so out I went. Movement helped, and I managed to send down a few overs of arthritic wrist spin- 4 overs, no wickets for 12 runs. Beat the bat a few times, took an edge that was missed.

On the whole we got tonked- they rattled up 176 off 40 overs.

I went in to bat at number 4 with 40 odd to our score- not looking good. I blocked out the pace man whose tail was up and then took guard against a spinner, eyeing up a short boundary. I let the first one go by, but then had a go at the second- a bit of a stiff-back swing at one that kept low and under edged on to the stumps. Out. Blast.

William went in at number 6- and fared rather better! He looked very small- the youngest player by far. Campbell was batting well at the other end, and had a chat between each over- instructing Will to block out the bowlers- which he did, for around 5 overs- finishing with one run, but a whole lot of respect from the opposition! Even if he did put his Dad to shame.

We lost by the way- making around 120 all out.

Finally, we met my brother Steve, his wife Kate and wee Jamie and went for a meal- before catching the last ferry (midnight) home.

This morning we all slept in- kids late for school. I can barely move, so my plan to go walking with Simon is done for. But it was a good day. Full of good people.

And cricket.

Our anniversary…

Taken in Robin Hood Bay, outside the cottage where we had our honeymoon 20 years ago…

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary.

I can scarcely believe it.

We were young together Michaela and I- she was lovely and kind, I was awkward and mercurial, but she saw something in me that others did not.

And who I am today is formed out of what we became together. Her tolerance, my dreams. My wide horizons, her warm fireplace. Her hospitality, my shyness. My creativity, her nurturing. Her mothering, my fathering.

And lots of love.

Happy (other) birthday Michaela!

Today is Michaela’s unofficial birthday!

She decided to cancell her last one as it fell the day after the loss of her step father Robert. He is missed.

But today is a day for her.

Join us for a barbecue if you are local- here, 6.30ish.

The sun darkened for a while

And we grieved

But the clouds can never

Hang for long

On you my love

You warm them away

With a smile

And they retreat

In defeat

Before you-

My summer sun

And should the shadows cast a sadness

Let us remember…

Being grateful

For today the world will turn

Around you

A little

And I am held still

In this glorious

Gravity

In celebration of Michaela’s health…

Today Michaela went to see her consultant. And he told her that he did not want to see her again.

After 26 years!

Let me explain…

Michaela was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis as a teenager- a disease resulting in ulceration of the colon, leading to severe pain, anemia, loss of blood, weight loss and lots of other things. The impact of an illness like this on a young person also resulted in  all sorts of tough psychological challenges.

The illness typically goes from flare ups (leading to hospital admission, or total bed rest) then periods of relative stability. Treatment is with steroids, or imuno-suppressant medication. In Michaela’s case, this meant never feeling fully well, always lacking energy and sometimes being dangerously ill. She coped well though- most people never knew she was ill- and she was careful to avoid letting it dominate her life fully.

But she was always ill- I was looking at some old photo’s the other day taken when William was a baby. There was Michaela, like a beautiful doll. Skinny and ghost-white with anemia. How she coped with looking after a little baby I am not sure.

I got distracted- looking at all these old photographs… memories…

But anyway- on with the story. We moved to Scotland in 2002, and since then, Michaela has been well. Not just better than she was- but completely symptom free.

The doctors have been doubtful and a little puzzled, constantly asking her in for more tests, which she has increasingly resisted.

Whatever the reason, we are grateful.

And it gives me a chance to celebrate the beautiful woman (inside and out) that married me by digging out some photos.

It must be love….

Michaela’s poem…

I love my wife.

Sorry to get all soppy, but I do.

She still sometimes sends me cards for no particular reason and yesterday, she sent me one with a poem inside, which I am going to reproduce here.

Words are such wonderful things- they flex like muscles and can hold you in their tender embrace.

We have our list of dreams

Of sunsets and adventures

And our bags are packed

One with troubles

One with hopes

And tea bags

And good music

Medicine for the soul

Some friends will expect news

Pack the address book too

Are we ready?

Do not forget the map

And the itinerary-

Some adventure

And some stillness

We climb into the week

And head off

Let me carry your bag of troubles

I’ll meet you at the weekend

In a cafe with yellow walls

That feels like home

We’ll dream again

Share memories of the week

And smile in the family album

MG March 2010


Starlit darkness…

The stars are out.

And Michaela reminded me of a discussion we had a few years ago about the mystery of God. It stemmed from me quoting Gregory of Nyssa, who apparently said something like this-

The move towards God is a journey into Holy darkness.

It really resonated with me- it spoke of the mystery of God, and the presence that we often feel in open spaces. It also spoke to me of a process of unknowing that I was experiencing at the time- a loosening of absolutes and a discovery of faith that is no longer built from stones, but is made up of reflected flecks of light.

The first collection of writing I put together was called ‘Blue Dark‘ because of old Gregory… and because of a lovely poem by our friend Susan.

At the time of our discussion, some of my friends (and Michaela) did not get it. God is LIGHT not darkness they said. Darkness is about fear and loneliness…

Then Michaela had this encounter with starlight.

And, unusually for her, wrote a lovely poem. I thought it time to reproduce it here, along with some photo’s taken this evening…

Starlit darkness

In the darkness
Is a childhood fear
Safe from one streetlight
To the next
Fear locked away
Till I am again
Out alone
No streetlights to rely on

In the darkness
Is no hope
No mystery
At best nothingness
At worst a nightmare
Waiting to happen

But then you talk
Of the starlit darkness
And I remember for a moment
The fear
The quick steps up our hill
Only to stop halfway
Breath taken by the beauty
Eyes lifted heavenward
Thankful for the big sky
Eyes searching something familiar
But yet awesome

No more fear
Only wonder
At the beauty of the darkness
That brings out the stars.

Michaela Goan
December 2007

 

A few more pictures of autumn…

We had a lovely day today- I took a day off work and Michaela and I went a walk in the sunshine around Benmore Gardens before meeting Simon and Helen for lunch in the coffee shop.

Autumn was kind today- we did not even need coats- which is something of a contrast with the stormy weekend just past.

So, a few pics then…

kicking leaves