Sunday, 6 November 2016

Fondness for the letter F

I have never had any great affection for any letter of the alphabet…other than of course the first letter of my name. ‘K’ for Kimberley, which generally proved problematic whenever we played that game in English lessons to teach you about parts of speech. You had to select an adjective to precede your name using the first letter of your forename. I used to end up being ‘Krazy’ Kimberley or ‘Kicking’ Kimberley…neither of which is good English, nor grammatically correct…and all because Katherine used to steal ‘kind’ as she was ahead of me in the register and my juvenile brain never seemed to think fast enough to come up with keen, kooky, knowledgeable or even Kafkaesque.

View from my bathroom!
Today however I have found that conveniently that all the things I feel grateful for begin with the letter F.

There are some smaller ‘Fs’ like fireworks, which last night lifted my spirits immensely, as I watched them with my family from our amazing vantage point overlooking the West Mid Showground. (Good job guys..they were impressive…and free). I’m told that in Italy fireworks ward off evil spirits, and I could certainly do with that right now.

Another less import F is for fire. When the weather turns bitter, the north wind blows and the air chills your face and fingers there is nothing like a roaring fire to warm you up, body and soul. Mesmeric and hyponotic I could stare at ours for hours. Thank goodness for the frosty weather than justifies my lighting it every day at the moment.

Didn't see this coming, but F is for Facebook. Gateway to the larger and more important Fs of today's post. F is for friends and family.

It is impossible to say this without sounding a little trite but I have been overwhelmed and truly humbled by your words and deeds in response to my recent post. I never realised how sadness, as much as joy, could bring out the very best in humanity.

We all share our joys and triumphs openly, we publically celebrate marriages, births, professional and academic achievements and it is natural that our friends and family share these amazing milestones and successes with us.

What I hadn’t appreciated is the extent to which misfortune, such as bereavement, loss or my own diagnosis, also naturally brings people together. My experience of funerals is mercifully limited, but on reflection I recall how powerful that collective demonstration of solidarity and strength can be.

The thing is, dependent on your belief and faith system, you are unlikely to truly appreciate your own funeral. I, however, have had the immense privilege of witnessing the most extraordinary show of support for me and my family. A torrent of love, affection and hope. Nothing in the world can be more humbling that what you have all delivered in the last 24 hours.

On Friday, following a long-dreaded phone call, I had nothing but fear and tears. I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed myself to sleep that night, afraid to face the future and terrified of those ‘what if’ questions that leapt into my mind.

Posting Saturday’s blog and your subsequent reactions and messages left me concluding Saturday night in a totally different place. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot say that enough.

It matters little that many of you I’ve not heard from in years. Whilst the circumstances of reconnecting may be far from ideal – it means a lot to me that you have taken a moment in your doubtless busy lives to reach out and support a friend in need. As a lover of words I am frustrated that I can find no better way to say how much it means other than ‘thank you from the bottom of heart.’

I never expected to be able to move beyond the ‘shock’ so swiftly into courage, acceptance and a desire to see beyond the diagnosis. But in the face of such belief and conviction how could do anything but be carried forward on the tide of goodwill and positivity?

As many of you have commented the path ahead will be long and arduous. Every offer of help with childcare, connections to medical professionals and survivors, cooked meals, a friendly face, a listening ear, a hug and a shoulder to cry on are all so welcome. I have started making lists and fully intend to call in favours and offers of help in due course, so thank you.

For those of you abroad, or at home, who have generously offered to do anything let me please ask one small thing of you. In a previous blog I talked about dawn and the power of a sunrise to bring hope. Some of you took that on board and in the last couple of days have told me that you set your clocks early to watch the sunrise around the world and to say a prayer or spare a thought for all that is good in the world.

Ever creative and inspirational, my wonderful sister, Sarah, has set up a hashtag, #sunrisesforKim on Instagram and Twitter in the hope that you, dear friends, should you catch a sunrise over the weeks ahead, will take a quick photo, and share it with me at #sunrisesforKim. I will be following this thread and in times of darkness it means I will have a host of golden / misty / stunning or occasionally sombre dawns to look at, each representing life, hope and love. If you could do that then please know how much I will value that in the dark days ahead.

With great love and thanks for family and friends, near and far.

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