Thank you and good night - In the name of Thiago - Day 330
When I think back to early January, I really had no idea how this was going to pan out. But today, nigh on a year's worth of blogs later, I'm allowing myself a smile. On the 8th January when I decided that if I was going to do this blogging thing seriously that I had to commit to doing it daily, I knew that it would be tough but then I also knew that walking 350 miles (which I thought would 'only' be 280 miles at the time doh!) would be a very tough challenge too.
The two challenges have run parallel to each other all year and it is with a heavy heart that I say that the time has come to call it a day for the time being. But it's the little man in the picture there that we all have to thank for the existence of this blog, the fundraising I've done, the rediscovery of my joy of writing. All that walking for quite a fat lad like me was far from easy but I had the drive created for me by the most remarkable nine month old many of us will ever have met.
The tears have started again in earnest, which is a good point for me to explain one of the reasons for me calling a halt to my daily blogging. It's simply exhausting. I sit down for a minimum of an hour every night to put this together, I agonise over every word more often than not - not every night, I'm still a little short of perfect - because I wanted this to be something I would be proud of all of the time, something that I would forever be able to look back on and say: 'that right there is damn fine work.' Now, a year after I took those first tentative steps in the blogosphere, I can truly stand tall and say I gave my best every single day.
The emotions are strong and the construction of the writing may lack a little this evening, maybe that's what happens when you reach the end. The truth is I haven't decided what the next thing will be other than recording a corporate voiceover tomorrow evening, which is going to pay for a splitting axe. Yay!
This blog may yet form the backbone of a more substantial piece of writing next year. I've been thinking about publishing a book but without taking that idea beyond the thought process. Having shown the durability to write every day without fail for a year, I've certainly shown that I have the discipline for it and in many ways a lot of the content is already there. But that's not for now.
I can't imagine that I could ever raise such a phenomenal amount of money again in the name of Thiago but that's not to say that the fundraising was a one off either. I proved myself to be rather adept at that and I have a feeling that many charities would bite their hands off to have me doing something similar for them. Would I set up my own charity though? I'm not so sure about that.
I'd love to give up my job to do something far worthier with my time but there are very few of us who can take that risk and I'm regrettably in that category too. The drudgery must continue by day.
But all the writing, all the fundraising, all the friendships that I've made, the incredible kindness that I've been shown, the praise I've received for remaining unbowed having experienced the very worst fucking thing imaginable, for standing up and saying I am who I am and I'm probably a mess but if that's a problem for you, then you are in fact the problem; all of this has been life-changing. It's given me the mental fortitude to fight the fight, to take up the mantle for all grieving parents, people that are having it tough wherever and whoever they are and say: "come ride with me my friend because you know what, we're all good here."
I'm not a fucking saviour - I'm not getting ahead of myself please don't think that - but I just want people to realise that when you're right at the bottom of the shittiest shit heap, you can come back, inch by inch and when you do, there are people that will love you, people who are struggling like you and want to say hey mate that was me, or that is me. None of us truly know what is going on in someone else's head, what the demons are that they might be dealing with (credit to Mr Jamie Hickey for this chain of thought) so we cannot assume anything.
But what we can do, is be kind, show love, show compassion even to Arsenal fans. One of the things that I've really appreciated and loved this year is finding just how incredibly rewarding it feels to do something for someone. I've never felt that more strongly than the mind-blowing day that I walked up to the children's hospital entrance at Royal Stoke and saw all those NHS staff and friends lining up to thank me. It made me feel even more humble for what I'd done. Gees, that was a right proper love-in that day.
This year has made me look at so many different aspects of my life and challenge whether something actually matters. I'm not ashamed of who I'm not but I am proud of who I am. I'm not sure I could have said that at the turn of the year, but I certainly can now.
After everything I've said tonight, I also want to end by saying that I'm really going to miss this, exhausting and emotionally straining though it is. It's been the constant in my life something that's given me purpose and something that - most of the time - I've really looked forward to doing.
But for now at least, I'm going to relax. I'm going to be kind to myself and take more baths. I don't know what I'll do exactly to be honest but I don't need to know, that's the point. Having said all of that, as many of you know, as a preposterous extrovert, I'm highly unlikely to stay quiet for long. This year was the year I found that I've got a gift and I'm never going to forget that.
None of this year could have happened without the inspiration of one person. So, Thiago my darling boy - I end by turning to you and saying: "My son, my love, my hero - thank you through the sheer joy you lived your life, for showing your Dad that he too could find a way. I love you Thiago."