A painful day in a peaceful place – In the name of Thiago – Day 252

 Well as I’ve been destroyed by tears of horrendous pain all afternoon, this is probably a good time to start writing. As my wonderful friend Fiona always says to me, readers love misery lit. I’m afraid that’s the scheme of things today.


I’ve been over to the National Memorial Arboretum today to attend a small but very well-organised event put on by the chaplaincy team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I was very glad to be able to go today and it was nice to speak to Rev. Paul Nash, who I’d previously only ever spoken to on the phone, and BCH’s chief executive Sarah-Jane Marsh, who with two children of her own in tow, strongly empathised with parents less fortunate than herself.



It was really bloody hard today, much harder than even I thought it would be. There was so much support from the charity and the chaplaincy team at the arboretum, yet it was afterwards when I was alone again, when I looked at a photo of my little boy that the waterworks came flooding back. It really is like flicking a switch.


The good reverend told me about something that a bereaved lady had once said to him: “eventually you come to a point where the power of your love becomes stronger than the power of your pain.” Well I have an astonishingly powerful amount of love for the little man who changed my life forever but right now, I guess I’m not even fucking close, as the pain is threatening to tear up my insides and spit me out like a discarded toy. It is royally shit.



I’m pretty sure that I’ve said this before on these pages, but it bears repeating: I’m not looking to find a state of happiness any more, just some occasions when I can be happy. When I think back to the pride I had when Thiago was in my life, it was like nothing else. I love my daughter Elisa dearly, so very dearly, but the way that my little man coped with everything that life threw at him with such extraordinary bravery helped me form an incredible bond. Sometimes these days, I feel like I’m just biding time until I join him on that little plot at Keele Cemetery. This is not despondency, this is realism my friends.



Because I wanted to move away from the space at the arboretum where the bereaved parents were but wasn’t ready to go home, I decided to take a few moments – which turned into an hour – to find the plaque, which commemorated the men that were lost to the sinking of the Lisbon Maru in the Second World War.


My grandfather was a prisoner of war aboard the ship sunk by the Americans. His phenomenal strong swimming saved him – many of his fellow soldiers either drowned or were shot in the water in this and other ‘friendly fire’ attacks. He lived to a ripe old age, which left me with very mixed emotions today.


So, it’s been an incredibly tough day is the upshot of it all, I cannot get away from that. But even the darkest of clouds often has a silver lining. The silver lining today is that there is an opportunity for someone out there today to make a name for themselves by donating a solitary pound to see me over the line and reach my £10,000 target. It’s an incredible effort frankly and I am actually slightly bewildered by the generosity of so many people.


Getting huge gratitude from me today are my best mate Bulldog and his good lady Liz and the remarkable Moose and Kath. They’ve been really generous and they’re going to be there with me when I set off next weekend for the month that may yet change my life in a way I never imagined.


Sure, I never wanted to be a member of this fucking club but you know what, now that I am, I’m determined that it will not only be my bereavement that characterises me going forward but the actions I’ll have taken in impossible circumstances that define me. Here goes.  


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