I’ve got used to crying now


Sun fading, heading east to Tokyo.

Crying now feels normal, part of my day. Not a very rare event like it was before Week 1, perhaps once or twice a year at most. No, now crying is an everyday thing, it’s what I do, like yawning when I’m tired, stretching when I’m stiff, shivering when I feel a chill.

In the darkness of a Future Laboratory event at Shoreditch Town Hall, two rows back, triggered by my introduction to circular fashion – a name put to something Beth believed in passionately, before it had a name.

Regularly, on a vinyl sketching mat at the Hallamshire Tennis and Squash club gym, starring at the suspended ceiling lights or at the clouds framed in the skylight. (Exercise seems to be a significant trigger, a physical release that connects to an emotional release).

In Izzy’s Mario Mini, to Daft Punk (The Soundtrack to My Grief) driving to somewhere, driving back from somewhere, where, in the cocooned shelter of a Mini One interior where the world can’t see or hear me, it comes out in floods and shudders and occasionally in screams. (At traffic lights in Sharrow a passer-by was visibly alarmed by one particularly vocal recall to rage)

On the dark side of a car park, away from the flood lights of Baldwin’s Omega Ballroom, at a memorial dinner for Izzy, when I felt the air was running out of any usable oxygen and I needed to get outside where I could be on my own, where I could loosen my tie and breath again, propped up by a red brick wall, as the music played on and my tears rolled down.

In the queue for a beard trim sat on the barber’s shop bench surrounded by lads and barber shop boys banter, with eyes down, to avoid any embarrassment on anyone’s part.

On a train to rural Leicestershire on Father’s Day (an obvious annual Trigger Day, never really bothered about it before, to be honest) reading a letter from Ellie, writing to me as a newly found friend and fellow griever, connecting with her words as the significance of the day lit up and the tears poured down.

All too frequently in supermarket isles, realising there’s no one to call to ask if they’re in or out tonight and if they want anything, other than the usual, and chocolate, which is a given.

Listening to Happiness (‘take me back to happiness’) by Crooked Man, my friend’s new album. A rip roaring house anthem, written to lift and soar and rise and ascend. (Instead, it brought on the biggest wave I’d felt for a long time).

On a British Airways flight to Tokyo, writing this, listening to Future Real and True (‘when the stars fade from view’), glancing at the dimming light on the horizon, thinking about watching their flight to Bangkok on an airline tracking App, not worrying, not worrying at all, just missing them gently, like you’re supposed to miss someone you love, gently.

Life in Boxes, Life in Limbo

Boxes are for storage. For putting things away. A temporary solution to an undecided idea, something you don’t quite know what to do with or where to put. So you put the thing in a box and you leave it. Think about it later.

For months now (sure, I’m still counting in weeks, it’s Week 31) boxes have become part of our lives and our home.

First, there’s the flowery boxes that Cagney (our FLO) returned their valuables and death documents in.  Their glasses, purses, their passports, with the corners cut off to show they’re not valid anymore. I reckon the boxes are from Paperchase and not Police standard issue. I should ask Cagney.


Then there’s newly purchased black boxes (from John Lewis, where else) for all the letters and cards of condolence we received. Some still unread.  And the business cards and notes from journalists who’d shoved them through the door or rang the doorbell to ask if we’d be interviewed. A pompom and a First rosette from their coffin decorations.

Then the unpacked, flat-packed boxes we’d bought to sort the house out before they came home. Still flat-packed and in cellophane wrapping, now used as a barrier on the attic stairs, to stop the dogs getting into Beth’s room.


Then there’s the dark green Heath and Sons standard issue boxes that sit on the mantlepiece memorial in the living room. We have all the necessary paperwork to take their ashes anywhere in the world. But they sit on the mantlepiece, in their boxes. Waiting.



Starting Sheffield Uni Today


Today you’d have enrolled on your Geog Degree at Sheffield Uni. 

Yesterday we’d have helped you move Ikea pots and pans and a choice selection of kitchen essentials along with your newly acquired and excitedly ordered and colour coordinated stationary into your halls of res. 

We’d have argued about helping you, because you’d have wanted to do it all yourself, in Mario your Mini, of course. And you’d have not realised how important a moment it was for me and Trace and how much I’d have wanted to help you move your stuff in with Jeepie. 

You’d have smiled and chatted and charmed the pants off everyone you met. You’d have worked hard and never missed a lecture, even when you’d partied hard. And everyone would have loved you and loved Mario and you’d have taken new friends around Sheffield and introduced them to Corp and gone to places to hang out in town, away from the Uni crowds. 

And, as you knew, because I’d told you so many times, expectations were high. After all, I’d have reminded you again, we’re a Family of Firsts. First for me, First for Molly, First for Beth. There’s nowhere else to go but a First, is there? I’d remind you again. So, over to you Izzy Squire, no pressure.

And I’d have been so happy and so proud of you and you’d have been embarrassed about what I wore and how I’d have chatted and flirted with your new housemates and you’d have ushered me out or blatantly told me to leave now please.

Then I’d have slipped you some 20’s on the quiet and we’d have done the false hug/slap-on-the-back thing we did, the ‘father/daughter bonding’ joke.

And I’d have missed you and gone home and your room would have felt empty and void of you. But we’d have smiled knowing you’d be in your element, a confident, courageous, studious charmer, finally at Uni, where you so wanted to be. 

Instead, there are now splashes of tears and droplets of snot on the floor of the Hallamshire gym and I’m late because I’m writing this and your room is silent and exactly as you left it when you went, except for your still unpacked backpack and your top, hung up on your wardrobe door, the top you wore the day before you died.  

Izzy Squire. Love of my life, apple of eye. I miss you. 

Remaining unchanged, indefinitely

About Week 5 I think it was, I called Cagney, our FLO. A FLO, Family Liaison Officer comes into your life in circumstances like this.

“Thing is, I know this is going to sound stupid, but…”  I said.

“It won’t. Go on.” said Cagney.

“I’ve just realised this is permanent, they’ve gone forever and I’ll never see them again.”

“It’s good that you recognise that.” said Cagney. “It’ll come and go. You’ll have good days and bad days. Maybe today is a good day?”

The  permanentchangeless, endlessness of Izzy and Beth not being here, is forever. For the rest of my natural life.


Izzy took this screenshot of us, 14 February 2016

Don’t get me wrong the disbelief still surfaces from time to time. ‘This isn’t true. No. It can’t be true. This is not happening. No. No.’

I sort of angle my head as if I’m accusing someone of something.  I can feel my brain straining, craning my neck as if, in a different position, this will help me make sense of things.

I force myself to try to understand, to think, think, think. It’s like my mind is attempting to take a series of steps outside my head, because my head and my skull is confining it’s ability to think, to properly think, to think logically.

And then there’s the physical longing, an aching, like when you’re in love and you’ve not seen them for days or hours and seeing them again makes you realise how much you adore them, how much you want to be with them and never be apart.

At that very moment is the surging plunge of realisation that this is forever, in perpetuity, permanent. Endlessness. Never ever again.

I’m so, so tired of  all this metaphysical stuff, the feelings and the sensations born inside me, in my head, in my chest and in my stomach. I’m bored to death of yearning, of seeking what’s not here, the vapour and the essence of them.

I just want them back. The blood, the sweat, the BO and the tears.

Not much to ask is it?

A Split Second, On Repeat (2 of 3)

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Evening Clouds Overhead (Morzine, 28 March 2016)

That moment slowed right down. A split second, a handful at most, stretched out endlessly, repeated and analysed over and over and over again.

An everyday tourist trip, a non-event excursion, nothing to give a second thought to; the end of a day trip, a Buddhist temple, a boat trip, picnic lunch included. Nothing to it. But it’s become so huge, so significant. The every-day turned into the never-day.

Hours and hours and hours spent thinking, imagining, rethinking, reimagining, trying to piece together the confusion, the conflicting rumours, the speculation, the unknown.

The collective energy that’s been sunk into those few, precise, decisive, earth shattering, life taking, life changing, moments on Friday 26 February 2016.

The mental efforts from everyone who loved and adored them, straining despairingly towards them and to those few moments in time. Trying to understand what happened, trying to prevent it happening by aimlessly circling back in time. Willing to be there instead of them.

Two precious bright lights. Three bright lights, all gone out.


Detania Waterfalls, Vietnam  (26 February 2016)

And 6 months after (Week 24) we still know nothing about the moment and the seconds that led to their deaths. Vietnam, now more than ever, seems a million miles away, cast adrift.

About Time (1 of 3)

My Emotional Time Delay

So I’ve come to realise over the weeks (Week 23) that I’m not good with ‘emotions’ (insert dictionary definition of your choice).

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Morzine Mountains at Night, 29 March 2016 (Week 4)

You know, ‘feelings’ – things that aren’t ‘stuff’ or aren’t rationale, logical thought. Things that come at you from your core, your stomach, from the middle of your chest.

Don’t get me wrong, I know ‘feelings’ are there, little gremlins gnawing away inside me, but I have a noticeable time lag from when the ‘feeling’ begins, to when it manifests itself in me in a tangible way. It’s like, ‘oh hang on there, what’s this coming up now?’

It’s a sinking feeling in my stomach, like I’m descending rapidly in a lift. Or a sudden welling up of tears right behind my eyes that literally means I can’t see and signals a constant stream of tears that I can’t turn off. Worse still, there are tears accompanied by sobbing, like an uncontrollable bout of hiccups or sneezing you think will never end. Occasionally (usually when I’m driving and alone in Mario, Izzy’s mini) it’s a deep, guttural, seething rage that starts in the pit of my stomach. And worse still, an irrational irritability, a niggling annoyance with everything little thing and anyone anywhere near me.

So when the ‘feeling’ comes, what do I do?

Run with it? Let it out? Embrace it, welcome it in? Or take deep, deep breathes and push it down, push it back, push it away. Or take it out on the nearest (and dearest) person who happens to be within a few feet of me?