life goes on

Life goes on……………..
I don’t like the month of JUNE and this year will be ten years since my parents were “promoted to glory” or they passed or died or are no more – yes I am bordering on quoting the whole of the dead parrot scene from Monty Python, but I won’t.
Over the last few weeks I have discovered personally that for me grieving is living. Living with the everyday knowledge that you won’t hear their voices again, has probably been one of the hardest experiences for me. I am grateful for Youtube and a video of my parents doing what they did best – leading a church in worship.
I have cried openly and at surprising moments over the last few weeks as several times, the grief has hit me when I least expected it; although having 2 Mothers Day festivals in 2 months probably didn’t help. I am grateful to those that I have been able to be honest with in my pain. And who all these years later walk the road with me.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, can I say it takes a village to walk and grieve with an individual or family.
Life takes over when the music has faded and comfort is no longer found in numbers.
Life takes over when you need to eat and cook and clean and people expect you to get back to it.
Life takes over the grief when you are invited to a party and don’t feel like going because you might bring the mood down.
Life takes over when you see a family enjoying being together and your dream and wish that you could do that mundane shop again.
Life takes over when people don’t know what to say and you find yourself comforting them.
Life takes over when you don’t want to be nice to anyone anymore or have them be nice to you. Life takes over when you are in the supermarket and everyone is just getting on with life and you want to shout, “ I miss my parents.
Life is unfair. I am grieving and don’t want to be happy.” Life takes over when you have to explain the whole story – again!
Life takes over when even now you pick up the phone to tell your mum or dad about your day and then realise you can’t.
Life takes over when you are in so much pain that you sob as you fall asleep because “your village” have been amazing and you don’t want to burden them anymore.
Life takes over when you put your grief aside to walk the path so well trod with someone in your village.
Life takes over but the grief and the constant sadness never passes, it lessens.
Life takes over the grief and you thank God for that bit of breathing space.
Life goes on even when you don’t want it too and some days you are grateful some days you wish it had stopped at the last laugh, hug or I love you.
Life goes on and the village gets smaller but they are still there and so are you going through life.
You see life goes on……………….and so does the grieving.

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All that’s left to say………goodbye

I’ve questioned

I’ve wondered

I’ve cried

I’ve denied

I’ve moved 

I’ve stayed 

I’ve called 

I’ve listened

And yet it’s in the stillness and silence that these days made sense

And yet it’s in the stillness and silence that I find some peace

There are moments of raw grief

There are episodes of emptiness

Maybe one day I’ll understand

Maybe I never will

Maybe I won’t need to understand 

This isn’t only because of you my friend

This is about all those encounters with loss 

The time spent wondering why

The only true response is there is no answer why

And all I am left with is “goodbye”

©Estelle Blake – 19th August 2015 (3rd edit.)

Memories and Delights:

Yesterday evening I sat and wrote 20 things I miss about being in the UK and with friends/family etc (I will start with that post – already published on FB) ; but after are my 20 things I love about Italy.

I have been enjoying some sweet memories and so I ask my friends who are far from family & friends because of ministry what maybe you miss.
I am going to list a few (without mentioning names) and I guess my mates who know me will get which one is meant to be them.

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here goes:

1. Cooking up a great plate of pasta together.
2. singing and harmonising old Salvation Army songs.
3. drinking tea and chatting for hours
4. going to the theatre to see a musical
5. laughter, giggles for no reason at all
6. Wagamama’s
7. sitting in silence with your friend.
8. Girly movies
9. silly games
10. texting & commenting on Strictly
11. Late night Bagel run
12. wandering because you can do that together
13. standing on Waterloo Bridge
14. Sunday Roast (special mention to Andrea Kathy & Nina – who in my opinion make some of the best roast dinners ever)
15. shared memories of random life moments.
16. Dancing…………..with anyone who will.
17. games
18. being with them instead of just Facetime or Skype.
19. Tim Hortons French Vanilla Cappuccino
20. politics and social justice and learning together.
Actually my favourite has to be a late night drive through the streets of London with all these fab people.
so many more could be written but yes these are those i love.
maybe tomorrow I shall do 20 things or so about Italy.
Late entry – bookshop browsing with friends in a chain & Skoobs especially.

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here’s the Italy list

1. Pasta in it’s many different forms with it’s many different sauces. In particular Pasta Fagioli. Seriously this stuff is amazing
2. Pizza in particular in Naples with Mozzarella di Bufala.
3. Gelato – why can’t I find coconut gelato in the UK?
4. The Blue Sky, my boss and I were discussing this the other day. It has a special quality here in Italy.
5. Space to just sit and relax during and after a meal. Time to spend and discuss whatever you want? Football, politics……
6. Orange and yellow and pink buildings that are faded and wont be painted for a while because that costs money. Especially on a sunny winters day when the cold bites and the sun catches the colours.
7. Buildings that were trendsetters ahead of their time – like the Colosseum. every sports arena and concert venue is based on this kind of structure
8. Music – the passion that is held for regional music and the classical stuff that unites a region or a nation. (No matter where you are in the world, start singing ‘O Sole Mio’ and people will join in.
9. La Dolce Vita, basically italian life for real.
10. Men who can still look amazing at any age when they dress to leave the house.Most of the men here have a sense of fashion. Mixing colours and styles.
11. Time – there is always time for a coffee, no matter how busy the day is, there is always time to have a coffee with friends.
12. Coffee
13. Family and extended familes.
14. Love and respect for children.
15. Love and respect for the older generation.
16. The Salvation Army in Italy. It may be small numerically but their faith and belief is amazing. They have an understanding of Scripture beyond anything I could imagine.
17. Open Homes: I have experienced this in ways I could never have imagined. I am welcomed into families and extended families as a member of the family.
18. Fun – the love and joy of being together. Watching and observing some of my friends in family life always cheers me.
19. National Self Belief – even when things are bad, there is a pride in being Italian.
20. Well it has to be the snow capped mountain ranges and the sea and the plains and the rolling hills in Tuscany and the Olive Oil and the Salami and the bread……

you see my list could go on for ever but I will leave it here. Have you ever been to Italy? What did you love?

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Letter to my 15 year old self

Letter to my 15 year old self.

Dear Me aged 15

Life is strange and here I am writing to you. What can I tell you that will make the next few years go smoothly!

Mum & Dad are amazing people. Stop arguing with them, mum especially. They are amazing people who care so much about you and in a few years time when they push you to grow in the areas of your life that you don’t care about now, trust them. You and dad will never agree on politics (or dancing in church) so don’t bother.
You and mum will agree to disagree and she will care for you and love you and you need to make sure you laugh more with her because that is what you are going to miss the most, I say that but then asking her to make certain recipes would also be really useful.
On the other hand, make the most of the family time you have because you remember all those second hand Italian language books, well you are going to need them pretty soon. Man that is going to be one big adventure and you will learn a language even if you don’t think you can.
In a few years time, you are going to become a Salvation Army officer and you will make friends with some pretty amazing people in those 2 years. You will meet people that will become your support link and your best friends and your party friends and there will be tears but also laughter.
I suppose you already have worked out that the important things in life are faith and family and friends and justice.
Faith will keep you going when you feel like nothing else will. When you feel depressed to the point of not wanting to get out of bed, that is what is going to get you up and then to take you to a place of healing. A place where you will learn that the Joy of the Lord is your strength and healing and capable to change life.
Friends are going to become brothers and sisters to you. You will get hurt but you will also learn to forgive and more importantly be forgiven because you will be needy (well most teenagers are!). You are going to meet some people who will change your life and the way you look at life. I won’t mention all of them here but keep an eye for a particular Salvation Army officer from Holland. A meeting with her will transform you in ways that will make sense later.
You will travel to places you never dreamed and you will learn to overcome prejudices and realize that you have something to say to the world. Mum will tell you this a lot.
There is going to be a rotten moment with our parents dying and you will hate the moments when it happens but you will discover the reality of the love people had for them and the love they had for you. You are going to struggle to find your identity. You are going to ask lots of questions but the answers will come. Store up as many stories as you can right now because when the darkness of grief comes over you, then these stories will be the light in your heart. In those dark moments, you will feel prayed for and loved beyond anything you can imagine. Don’t panic – it’s okay.

And finally, You are going to realize that you are different and weird and don’t fit in. That’s actually a cool thing. No-one says you have to fit in. It’s completely okay to wear some of the crazy clothes you are going to love and especially the glow in the dark earrings that dad will hate. Others will love the fact that you enjoy being yourself and give them the chance to be themselves. With this is going to come a responsibility to the youth you will meet, most of whom are fighting a battle along the way. Some days they will annoy you and others you will love them being around you.

So I could tell you so much more but I reckon that would ruin life.
Take Care of me.

Musings and thoughts!

This thing about best friends always made me wonder. I just don’t like the phrase “best” because it implies a class system. It implies exclusion. I tend to invest in a friendship when I feel a connection of heart and soul and mind.
Sometimes I invest much and then find myself withdrawing, because I feel bad for intruding on their lives.
This week a ‘sister’ reminded me that I am not isolated or alone and not tolerated but absolutely loved and needed and valued. She reminded me that my vulnerability is by no means a bad thing, but I need to be honest with her; and another friend got positively annoyed because I didn’t tell her I was having a bad few days (didn’t want to disturb her joy!) she said, “we’re soul sisters Estelle!”
Now these two women in particular and others I would place in the same category are not really just friends and certainly, not best friends but sisters for me. The only time I would use the word Best in regard to these sisters is that they bring the best out of me.
These women have taken me into their family. I have family but this is a different kind of connection. My “soul sisters” are people who I believe are part of my life for a reason. I have to say that the feeling and the way we are with each other is mutual.
I should also point out that I have some awesome “soul Brothers” and they are men who I love and trust and get our friendship and make me feel worthy. The relationships are healthy and normal and honest. You see some days I have wondered if people tolerate me being around or actually want me in their lives.

I wrote and told my buddy how I was feeling and here’s some of the message I received in return.

“I pray that God will softly speak inclusion and worthiness into your spirit and show you clearly how genuinely people love you. I pray that you would believe truly that you are not just tolerated (as I sometimes think you believe) but you are wanted, desired and enjoyed by the people that love you.
What you CAN be assured of is that you are truly part of our family. Truly loved by us, truly cared for. ”
Now I am working on this and actually have decided that this will be my “soul” focus for 2015.

But it made me wonder how many people in the world feel like this?
There are days I feel alone, but never lonely.

And then I opened my fridge and saw the bottle of Coke. “You are not alone” and a young friend commented on my Instagram post of the bottle “..because you have Jesus”

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I am writing this not because I think I am better than anyone else or I want comments about it! I am writing this to encourage others to move forward and also to ask “what are you prepared to work on?” What messages have we heard in our lives that are lies?
My “brothers & sisters” and friends will hold me accountable but let me tell you I already feel better because my sister was honest with me.

Reflecting as you do on the year past where do you see the new one taking you?