1. National Memorials
This morning, Wills and I sat down together to watch Remembrance Sunday from The Cenotaph. Wills is doing WW2 for his school discovery project this term and they were asked to watch and observe the silence, thinking about all that they are learning. It was the first time he had really sat down and taken note and it was a very special and poignant morning. I watched the Festival for Remembrance the evening before and found it all so emotional this year. It’s always sobering but I was sobbing my heart out with those widows and families who have lost their loved ones at war. Facing up to loss or potential loss is very raw at the moment. My thoughts are still very much with my beautiful friend, Julie, especially today as she prepares to say her last goodbye to her son, Daniel tomorrow. Then, in our lives with thoughts about our donor and that other amazing person who is still out there, living life until the day comes that will change everything for them and their families, but at the same time for us.
And this got me thinking and seeing the parallels between those who die at war and those who give life as organ donors. It’s not the same at all I know, the biggest difference being that soldiers, especially those thousands who were drafted out to the trenches in WW1, gave their life to save their countryfolk. It was a sacrifice. People donate organs after a tragic event that was going to happen anyway. Yet, there is this huge similarity in that both fallen soldiers and organ donors save lives in their dying moments. They share that legacy in that last, incredible action that means others can still continue to breathe, laugh, love and experience lives that may not have been possible if it were not for the deeds of others as their own life ended.
I found myself thinking of all these heroes, heroes of war and the heroes who give their organs in those famous words’
They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
And in the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.
It is right that we remember those brave heroes who fight to save our country and our freedom, not just on Remembrance Sunday but every day. And it is right that we should remember those who donate organs to save others too. I would really like there to be a national memorial day for those heroes too. Of course, nothing like the scale of Remembrance Sunday, but a day to hold remembrance events, highlight their passing and the bravery their families show in letting them go through organ donation surgery as their life ends and a chance for those who want to to say thank-you. Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014 there were 4 655 organ transplants, thanks to 2 466 donors. That’s 2 466 sets of families and friends to thank and 4 655 sets of families and friends, at the very least, who would like to take a lead in expressing gratitude. And that’s just one year. Overall, It’s a very significant number. I’d love to know how to go about suggesting such an occasion.
2. Licking the Spoon
We had another magic moment today. Each term, William has a folder of project work to do along side the discovery topic at school. The WW2 folder is full of lots of exciting things and some of it barely feels like work at all. This afternoon, Wills and I made an eggless sponge. We took the recipe from an Imperial War Museum ‘Victory Cook Book’ and it was really surprisingly good, probably because there was a lot of sugar and a big dollop of golden syrup. There was more baking powder that I would normally put in so the sweetness was needed to mask that. William was very excited because the lack of egg meant he could ‘lick the spoon.’ William couldn’t eat anything at all before his first transplant and since then can not eat any foods that are high risk of food poisoning. Raw eggs are on the banned list, which meant he has never experienced the childhood delight of licking the spoon when cooking cakes - until today! As he has intestinal failure again, he can’t have much at the moment but just a little lick was all he wanted. He was so pleased and really enjoyed it. He had a tiny taste of the baked sponge and enjoyed that too. Making more eggless sponges has been added to the list of things to do after transplant. And then he’ll be able to lick as much off the spoon and then eat a full slice.
2. Thunderbolts and Lightening
I’m currently joining the awesome Lisa and a group of equally awesome women in a 30 day ‘Write Your Freakin Heart (and Guts) Out’ programme full of all sorts of deliciousness like prompts, encouragement, ideas to help us write from the heart and soul. We are only on day four so I don’t know what lies ahead but, it is already greatly enhancing the journey of ‘heart riff’ writing and subsequent self-discovery that I started with this blog. Someone shared this quote in the Facebook group today;
“A poet is someone who goes out into thunderstorms and hopes to get hit by lightening every now and then” Randall James.
That really spoke to me. So often, I find myself lamenting on plans that have been made and projects started and then life throws another curveball and it all comes crashing down. This quote challenges me to think of it as another way. It is when we get hit by lightening that we learn and develop. As a writer, thunderbolts can be seen as opportunities, things to explore, to mine and to make into stories and poems. Rather than grieve over plans that have been smashed, you need to learn to look for what opportunities are lying among the broken pieces. I often think life as a mosaic, or at least try to. Broken pieces can often look all the more beautiful and interesting when put together in a new creation. Of course, I would much rather that the lightening wasn’t connected with my son’s health and wellbeing! That’s the bit that I struggle with and always will!