Remembrance DayNov 07, 2016
I got a text from Susan a few minutes later saying that Eliza had been sick and was crying hysterically for me to put her to bed (I put my little princess to bed most nights).
As soon as the call was over I rushed back to the house and up to see Eliza. She was very hot and a little out of sorts. After I sang her the two songs that are part of her bedtime routine (Everything’s Rosie and I’m Coming Home) I held out my hands for our nightly prayer. ‘Bit cold Daddy' she said and she wanted to keep her hands under the blankets in the warm and hold hands through the blanket. I was struck by the fragility of her skinny little body and wondered how she was strong enough to fight off infections and bugs and colds. I worried for her for a moment .. :( but then I remembered her colossal spirit and felt a bit better.
I came down stairs and let the dogs out. They took ages sniffing about at I don’t know what. My socks were no defence against the cold, tiled floor in the porch and soon my toes were freezing again! As soon as the dogs came in, I went and sat by the wood burning stove in the sitting room. Thank goodness I’m not sleeping rough outside tonight, I said to myself. Then my mind wandered off for a moment to all the homeless people who would be sleeping on the streets tonight. It must be so difficult to cling to life if you’re outside, alone, in the bitter cold, night after night, after night. I felt very sad for them :(
Then I went back upstairs to say good night to the boys. Louis was already snoring but Leon was waiting. ‘Are we going to London on Sunday then Dad?’ he asked me in a whisper. We had been planning to go to the Cenotaph in Whitehall as it's Remembrance Sunday, for the parade and ceremony.
‘I hope so!’ I said, ‘if you get up early.’
Leon is a very sensitive soul and really wants to go. Last year we had our first practice ThanksGiving in the UK! We went around the table and all said something that we were grateful for.
Leon said ‘I’m grateful for all the soldiers who gave their lives in the war.’ Susan and I were stunned. He was only 7 years old.
After I said good night to Leon, I went back to the sitting room and sat by the stove again. I thought about all the soldiers who died in the 1st world war .. from all sides .. miles from home, freezing cold, up to their knees in mud .. terrified .. watching their comrades all around them dying first.
Remembrance Sunday is always so emotional. So sad. Most of us will never understand what so many people went through .. for us.
I remember during the Gulf War, some bombers were flying out from the UK. One night I woke to a thunderous roar. It was so loud, I thought we were under attack. The following Sunday, I had lunch with my Mum and Dad and Dave and Doreen from across the road from my parents. I told them about the terrifying roar of the bomber. ‘You’ve never heard anything like it!’ I said.
‘I have!’ said Doreen. ‘Every night during the Blitz in London. EVERY night! And I was just a child. It was terrifying!’
I felt very foolish at my choice of words.
In 1997 one of my closest friends died tragically at the age of 30. His father spoke in church at the funeral. ‘I always felt there was a fragility to his life ..’ he said. That is one of the things that has always stuck with me since that day.
I can really relate to that at times. The fragility of life. How does it stay together? What keeps it together?
Then at other times, I can really relate to the robustness of life. What could take it apart?
There’s so much about life that I really don’t understand. Stopping and thinking about it though makes me feel very grateful for so, so much. My life and health .. and the freedoms that I take for granted all too often.
My wonderful family and the 'cosy corner' of the world we were lucky enough to all be born into.
And all the people past and present from all around the world, who have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, and fight for the freedom of us all.
I will never be able to even thank them for their service, let alone repay them for it. But I am certainly very, very grateful.
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