Bravery – how do you even define what that is? I’m often told that I’m brave or strong when talking about our survival after losing Alexandra. The reality is that I didn’t really have any choice. In the early days many immediate spoken and written and reactions was “stay strong”. What does that even mean? I’m not allowed to cry? Because believe me in between the feeling of utter shock and daze from lack of sleep and painkillers that’s what I did and those tears fell and fell. Tears like “big ol’ fat rain.”
So the days when the tears were fewer meant I was being strong? Was I denying what had happened? Or was I allowed to find a moment of humour peeking through? What on earth did people mean by “stay strong”? Some days when I forced myself to be bright and breezy meeting up with colleagues before returning to work was exhausting and I felt like I was faking it: I’m fine; I’m fine; I’m fine.
By saying stay strong did they mean please stay with us; don’t kill yourself?! So was the natural reaction was to be “weak” and join her or maintain a very British stiff upper lip and not acknowledge the immense pain and confusion that is going to stay with me for life? Am I betraying Alexandra by not being so raw with emotion 4 years down the line?
When I speak about Alexandra it’s often with pride: I mean growing a 9lb 15oz baby is no mean feat! She’s our beautiful frowny first girl, she saved lives and she made me a Mum. If that’s being brave then perhaps we need a slightly different definition because that’s how Mums talk about their babies.
I don’t consider myself to be brave but I look back at some of my actions and I think the evidence would show that I’ve been capable of acts of bravely in all sorts of different situations: I’ve signed up to many Guiding events without knowing a soul; I’ve been to hen doos where I’ve only known the Bride; I asked Andrew if he wanted to see me after jamboree or leave it as a summer fling when we first met. I spoke at Alexandra’s funeral; I spoke at a political rally and I’ve had the confidence to say “bugger it” and change jobs and sector more than once. I’ve also signed up to be a parent speaker at bereavement training days.
After briefly chatting with one of those American types at the Edinburgh festival I dug out my scrapbook of my time doing study abroad and found the photos and quotes from his namesake. They have not aged well. So the quotes I included in the scrapbook were:
- “put your big girl panties on and play”
- “Get your rack out”
- “just kidding”
Wow what a douche. In 2019 and after the #metoo movement they don’t read well at all! Then I remembered that I’ve taken one of those utterly douche baggy sayings and given it my own meaning. Without realising it; I’ve often said that “I’ve put my big girl panties on” when I’ve done something that scared me.
So with that in mind I’m putting on my big girl panties and after the 3rd time of receiving the order pack from Ashes into Glass I’m going to do more than read the pack. I’m going to order the ring I’ve wanted for 4 years and hope that it arrives in time for 29th September. But if it doesn’t I’m going to do my best not to beat myself up about it (I’ll need to remind myself of this!).
But you definitely won’t find me singing solo or jumping out of a plane, bungee jumping or anything that involves falling of any kind!