Act Two

2016-12-16-08-09-21

From Sarah Ban Breathnach’s ‘Simple Abundance’. 

It seems appropriate for a December post to reflect upon the year as it finally draws to a conclusion, but oh, what a year it’s been. It was a gigantic year of losses, both in the world of celebrity, politics and for me, it was personal too. I began this year producing a comedy novel about grief and loss, and them went on to experience more of the same for real. Life’s full of astonishing parallels, isn’t it?

January brought with it the loss of my mother, a difficult, life-altering experience that made me turn back to my novel to look again, as I suddenly realised there was so much more to say on the subject of grief. By October of this year, the death of a friend I only knew through Facebook had me as bereft as though I’d lost a favourite aunt.  It’s odd how familiar people we connect with online can become, and when one day they’re no longer there in your digital space, you can feel such an enormous emptiness. It is an odd, and very new thing, to find myself crying for days over someone I never met, but now that literary agent, Carole Blake, is lost to me and the rest of the world, I want to Carole20Blakesay here that she is never going to be forgotten. Carole Blake wrote the book that helped me win an agent, and saved my family’s Christmas one year when I was battling with that same agent over owed royalties. Without ever having met or represented me, Carole showed me how to fight back and win. She was a fountain of knowledge, larger than life and the most wonderful, inspirational person. And I loved her.

I could regret never having had the chance to meet Carole in real life, but there isn’t time. There’s only time to be thankful that I got to share some of her while she was here. If there’s one thing we should all take away from 2016 it’s that living every day as though it’s your last is the best and only way to go into 2017. No regrets. Life has lessons for us that we pick up as we go but don’t necessarily receive unless we stop to think about them. I turned 46 this month, beginning what I might once have called the downward slide to fifty. However, now that I’m in this section of my life it doesn’t feel like a downward slide at all, it feels like elevation to the next level. I’m a far different person today to the one that lost her father at 15, found herself homeless and living in a hostel at 16; that left school far too early to start her first job in a fast food restaurant, and that suffered her first, all-encompassing heartbreak at 19. All of this felt like an anvil on my chest back then. Yet today, I see it all for what it is: a first step on the pathway to life’s most enriching of experiences. Everything that seemed to be trying to hold me back made me more determined and put me on the path to where I would end up today. No regrets.

At my age I am thinking about the lessons I may have missed along the way and I noticing far more the things that are happening to teach me as I go now. I’m thankful to have been allowed to reach this place in, so far, perfect health. I don’t take things for granted anymore, as the experiences of life thus far have taught me not to. I remember my dad with great fondness, and know that even though he died when I was very young, I learned from this then – how to cope without a father figure for all of my adult life, how to care for my health as his was so poor – and today, thirty-one years on, I’m still taking lessons from losing him. By the time dad was my age he was wheelchair bound and just eight years away from death.

‘Living every day as though it’s your last is the best and only way to go into 2017.’

How many years am I away from death? Nobody knows, but I am in act two of my life and loving it. I want it to continue, I want to experience much, much more and I can’t wait for what tomorrow might bring. Nobody has time to let the awful shadows of 2016 bring them down, there’s too much more to do, see, feel, taste.

There was a question posted on Facebook by a friend the other day. It asked: ‘what would you rather be? 60 years old and looking like you’re 21 or 21 with the brain of a 60 year old?’

It’s the second one; every time.  I love this time in my life. To use the words of author and poet, Margaret Atwood, – as also featured in ‘Simple Abundance’, a little of which I read every day :

‘For years I wanted to be older, and now I am.’

Here’s to a wonderful new year of gifts. Happy holidays xxx

 

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Heather Hill

Mum of five (not the band), I am an author and comedy writer based in Scotland, UK

2 Responses to “Act Two

  • Flora Arbuckle
    ago12 months

    Oh Heather that reduced me to tears. So beautifully written and emotive. I have been so totally unaware that Carole had passed. I remember her posting a reply to you regards the royalties of your fab book. She was really very inspirational. I am sorry that you have had a trialsome year but i am so grateful for you being so positive looking forward. This has been a very difficult for me too but i will take your sweet wise words and lift me head and smile – Thank you for being you xx

    • You’re welcome, Flora! We never really know what’s going on with people, do we? It’s certainly been a transformative year. Thanks so much for reading and a happy new year to you and yours xx