Ooo, Hebburn is a Place on Earth

English: Jerry Springer at a Hudson Union Soci...

English: Jerry Springer at a Hudson Union Society event in January 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t kids say the funniest things? (To be said in Tony Blackburn voice for ultimate effect).

My daughter last night, for example. Lying in bed, exchanging our ritual Jerry Springer-style ‘final thoughts’ before shut-eye.

Her: “Daddy didn’t die in Heaven.”

Me: “Mmmm? What do you mean?”

Her: “He died in Grandma’s bed.”

Me: “…Yes…”

Her: “Where is Heaven?”

My atheist bile began its stealthy rise. “Heaven…well…it’s not real, sweetheart.”

“Father Michael says Cheesus died in Heaven.” Pauses. No response from Mother. Sings: “I am the Lawn of the dance says He….”

It brought to mind the old play-on-words M used to sing about a town in our native North-East: ‘Ooo Hebburn is a place on earth!’

I tossed from side to side for a good while, contemplating religion. I concluded that maybe it would just be easier if I got one.

My daughter attends a faith school (Church of England I think, although not entirely certain.) It was the nearest one and to be honest, when I enrolled her I was in sudden-death induced catatonia. It could have been orthodox Jewish and I would have signed her up. But she comes home with all this gubbins and I don’t know how to deal with it. At Easter time, she was distraught because Cheesus was resurrected from the dead yet daddy wasn’t. But why wasn’t He?

“Because Cheesus is…a fairy?” I proffered.

It didn’t wash. A man in a dress had come into school and suggested that Cheesus was a real, live human being who had come back from the dead. The man was adamant about this point. He completely confused my daughter. And me.

Maybe it is just easier to believe that M has gone to Heaven. To an, ehem, ‘better place’, because actually the prospect of anything else is too much to cope with. In a sense, it’s too difficult to explain.

Yeah, at 10pm on a weary Friday night, that suits me actually.

He’s in Heaven, sweetheart. With Cheesus and the fucking Wombles.

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If You Died I’d.

DSC03355

The two loves of my life, six days before the big one died.

Cardiac surgeons! How come Eddie Large (20 stone and aged 72) lives on and prospers ten years after a heart transplant, whereas the love of my life foundered three years after aortic reconstruction surgery aged 37?

Answers in plain English on the back of a postcard please.

I became aware of Eddie’s death-dodging triumph tonight whilst watching – well, not watching, exactly, staring dumbly at – All Star Mr and Mrs. Ever seen it before? Me neither. I wish I’d never tuned in.

The premise hasn’t changed for a hundred years, only the prize (it’s gone from carriage clock to charity donation) and the calibre of the contestants (formerly members of the public, now people who were famous but are back to being members of the public again.)

Eddie Large and his wife Patsy – er – Large came stumbling onto the stage (no really, they did, Eddie tripped) and announced the startling transplant news. Happy though I was for Eddie, I couldn’t help feeling affronted. What’s his secret?

The show went from bad to worse, as VTs of the three happy couples showed them all at home, fluorescent-toothed and in love, kissing in slo-mo and telling the public how they couldn’t live without the other.

“I can’t imagine life without him,” said Yvette Fielding of her husband Wotzizname.

“I can’t talk about how wonderful she is, otherwise I’ll just fill up,” said Eddie of Patsy.

And who can blame them? I feel the same about my husband. I couldn’t, and can’t, imagine life without Him. I can’t talk about how wonderful He is and was without filling up.

I feel resentful, though, that other couples still have the luxury of only imagining the worst. I feel resentful that Eddie survived what my husband could not. This is a selfish, reproachful and childish response, I know, but there it is.

We used to say to each other, M and I, the line from Lemn Sissay’s Love Poem: If you died I’d.

He did, but I haven’t. I feel selfish about that too.

The Prophecy of the Bald Surgeon

Agadoo

Agadoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a crash outside our village this weekend. Ambulances, police cars, rubber-neckers, the lot.

My heart sank at the prospect of fatalities. Which poor sod would get the policeman at their door telling them that their loved one was dead?

Whilst no less devastating, losing your spouse suddenly is a different experience to watching them succumb to a long illness.

You have no time to prepare, to say goodbye, for them to make any last minute confessions or request Agadoo be played at the funeral.

Equally, you don’t face the agony of the slow diminishment of the person you love, of steering them through the realities of imminent death and the fact that they will never see their kids grow up.

In a sense, with M, we went through both of these scenarios.

He fell ill, suddenly and catastrophically, in 2008. He was wheeled into emergency open-heart surgery, not knowing whether He would see daylight again.

But He survived, and the prognosis was good. A ‘normal lifespan’ was to be expected, according to the Bald Surgeon in the Blue Scrubs. (How I came to fear the Bald Surgeon in the Blue Scrubs  – he and his team of wingmen would come sweeping onto the ward and announce yet further obstacles to M’s recovery – collapsed lung, mild mid-brain stroke – but despite it all, we were discharged with the belief that a ‘normal lifespan’ was to be expected.)

I had watched my beloved suffer though; I had seen the fear in His eyes. His rehabilitation was gruelling, but His determination to live somehow over-rode every setback.

It seemed like God’s final insult, therefore, to have finished Him off in the way He did. Unceremoniously, with no regard for how far we had come.

So much for God and Bald Surgeons.