The best of times, the worst of times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” is probably one of the most famous lines in English literature. And this quote from Charles Dickens’s novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ perfectly sums up recent events in my personal life.

When I look back over the past year, I think it’s true to say that the ‘Tummies’ family has experienced the full spectrum of emotions from happiness to sadness, and everything in between, during a relatively short period of time.  The wonderful news that I was to become a grandmother for the first time was shortly followed by the shock of my dad’s cancer diagnosis.  We knew he wouldn’t have long to live, but we remained optimistic that he would be there to meet his great granddaughter.  Sadly, he lost his fight to stick around on New Year’s Eve last year.  However, my daughter-in-law, Anzhelika, had some 4D images taken of the baby and she shared these with my dad before he passed away.  He saw the beautiful, clear pictures of baby Jessica’s face, and she really did look just like the photos when she came into the world on February 5th.

My beautiful grand-daughter, Jessica

For most of us, managing our emotions successfully is our greatest challenge, and this has certainly been the case for my family and me in navigating the emotional rollercoaster of recent times.

Emotion shapes and gives meaning to our life; we are naturally emotional, it’s what drives our instincts and colours our life.  It is natural to relish the good times, and wallow in the bad times.  But life ebbs and flows. You can’t expect everything to go well all of the time, nor feel that the down times will last forever.

My dad hasn’t died completely – I won’t be able to pop and see him at his house anymore, chat about this, that and the other, share a cuppa and a biccy with him.  Instead, he will live in our minds; we will keep his light alive, and it will continue to guide us, particularly as we have now entered a brand new chapter with the arrival of Jessica.

As we process the death of my dad, from our sadness, gratitude has emerged. Gratitude not only for the memories, the love, and the honour of being his daughter, but blessed that his passing serves as a reminder that my time on this earth is limited, and that I should seize every opportunity I have to honour his memory and live life to the fullest.

I am also deeply thankful to our NHS for the end of life care he received, and the fantastic midwifery Anzhelika received before, during and after the birth of Jessica. I think it is incumbent on any civilised society to provide free healthcare for all of its citizens, from cradle to grave. We are most fortunate to have this in the form of the NHS, and I urge you all to nurture an attitude of gratitude for what is undoubtedly one of the country’s greatest modern-day achievements.