I’ve had a roller coaster of a 10 days. Two days before Mothers’ day ( a day I find both challenging and beautiful since I lost Mum and subsequently ,the best friend who used to help me through Mothers’ day following her loss) I received a letter from the NHS summoning me to hospital following an abnormal mammogram. Numbness, fear, uncertainty were followed by a strange sickly acceptance, and a range of what ifs.

The week before my son’s wedding led to dilemma about whether to tell my grown up children, when I was facing spending most of the weekend with them. My son’s wedding was in a week, and if I didn’t tell him then, if it was bad news, I may have to tell him two days before his wedding. I’m self- employed, so worry about money, letting clients down, logistical issues ran through my head. Another layer of personal worry about loss of identity, physical loss, or perhaps facing death. Alongside this, the loss of experiences yet to come, and worry about immediate events, anger at this thing potentially impacting on what should be the happiest days of my children’s lives as both of them marry this year.

Then, the realization that I’m only one in a whole myriad of people who go through life-changing moments every minute of every day. The events in our lives , the day to day plans, the big worries we perceive in our every day from what to feed the family, to politics, the state of the world, a family argument, all fly out of the window when we realise our mortality and see everything for what it absolutely is. It was also a week when my immediate world exploded with the news of a Headteacher who had taken her own life because of external judgement. This raised another layer of personal experience for me, and also irony, in terms of how much I now wanted to live, when not so long ago, I’d faced moments when life seemed so hard to bear.

I spent a weekend wrapped in love, of family and a few close friends who were aware on a need to know basis. I’m not sure I’ll remember much about the weekend, but I was hugged, well fed and nurtured. Work carried on, and what struck me was, in a world where I enable others, this was comforting, natural and soothed me in the deep connections, the sense of purpose and the familiar.

Visiting the hospital four days later was tough. Waiting is never easy is it? Seeing others going through pain, worry and anxiety  and knowing you share this, especially when you’re an empath, is heart-breaking, yet inspirational at the same time. The strength in that waiting room will stay with me forever.

Every member of staff offered compassion, hope and honesty beyond measure. Almost before I knew what had happened, I found myself back in the car with my hubby, reeling from having a cyst drained and knowing that for now, my life was carrying on. But changed. Changed by personal experience, but more so from the experience I had shared with my loved ones and strangers.

I’m yet to make absolute sense of all this, as we flipped straight into getting work sorted, then wedding preparations, and such a wonderful weekend.

What I do know is the world has tilted a little on its axis. I’ve entered a new connection with myself, others and the world. I look the same, but my determination to make sure the world sparkles a little brighter, leading with love, spiritual awareness in the widest of senses, and my commitment to enabling others to lift their perspectives beyond their known horizons is clear.

What is it that matters?

Will it matter in a month? A year? Longer? Have you noticed and savoured what it is that matters to you?

I’ve had a range of reminders in the last thirty years or so to know it’s not the petty concerns we allow to keep us awake in the small hours. They may be real issues we have to deal with, but what do we value enough to be keeping us awake? For me, it’s  if I loved enough, if I’ve savoured my connections enough, and if I’ve expressed gratitude, if I will be able to share key moments in the lives of those that matter, and what difference I make to each day. Did I make a positive difference today, and what can I do to make sure I do tomorrow?

When I sat at my son’s wedding on Saturday and took it all in, the emotions swam around me, gratitude, pride at the love and compassion he and his bride had, but more than that, the whole room sang with. The genuine care, connection and a large number of creative musicians and performers in the room demonstrated the joy we can create when we open up to each other, when we celebrate being.

The speeches marked moments of love, and living well together, of humility, humour, acceptance, consideration and appreciation. They all spoke from the heart, simple ,honest and raw.

When I stood in the dark, shivering but elated, in a group of people looking up at the sky, fireworks and music filling us with awe, I was reminded of the enormity of a world, where each of us is a minute speck. Our moments seem huge to us, but in the grand stage of the world, they can pass insignificantly, unseen, and forgotten. However, collective love ripples, sends powerful energy beyond just one person, like the fireworks heading out into the sky. In moments they disappear, but their sparks ignite feelings, inspire emotions and memories that live on.

Last night, as the emotions of the last week were settling around me, we received the news that a loved one is almost in the last few hours of life, after a long life, well-lived. The roller- coaster shifts, but the tilt is inevitable, and a reminder that at the end of it all, our legacy is about how well we loved, what effect we had on others, the world, and the sparks we ignited. For those that connect with my very personal blog, I know you will reflect on the sparks loved ones have ignited for you.

On Saturday night, when the heart-shaped fireworks appeared, I cried. Love – of people, humanity, life and the world, that’s it, I lead my life and others with love. When things get tough, here is my spark.

What sort of firework do you want to be?

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  1. This is a beautifully written blog Julia. My stomach and heart flipped one way and then the other reading about your mammogram and then the cyst; having just received my mammogram ‘all clear’ letter it was pretty close to my heart.
    I am so pleased you were able to enjoy your son’s wedding and be close to the people you love and who truly mean so much to you.
    I’ve never thought about being a firework but, if I were one, I’d like to be a ‘peony’ – an exploding burst of colour.

  2. Hi I just read your personal blog. I was touched by your kindness and compassion at the zoom drinks session last week and cannot express my thank you for reaching out to me even whilst you were dealing with your own difficulties.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your vulnerability. The clarity and perspective you provide on what really matters.

    I saw the photos you shared of your son’s wedding. The pride beaming from your face was radiant. As mother of the groom you looked stunning.

    As for fireworks I’m my preference is a sparkler because it’s cheap and generally accessible to all (not too loud either for those with noise sensitivity)

    P.S I am sorry for your recent loss and very glad you won’t be joining them any time soon. X

  4. Beautifully written Julia. So glad that all is well – and remembering what matters most is so important, especially when juxtaposed with the joyful wedding celebrations. Love is at the centre of all we do and I am glad that you have your life to lead with more love and joy.

  5. Thanks, Julia; I remember vividly waiting 3 hours in the car during more strict Covid-times for my Mum to come out of a consultation with the Oncology team in Bristol. Just the 3-hour wait was painful enough.
    Super glad to hear you are all OK and moving forward, and thanks for the brilliant work you do with your clients. Rich

  6. A powerful read, thank you Julia. It is hard to look beyond yourself and the here and now when you are faced with uncertainty.
    What firework would I be? A catherine wheel. Always spinning but hopeful bringing joy to myself and other

  7. Your writing is so beautiful and inspiring. I sure hope we get to meet again so I can give you a big hug. Congratulations to you and the family on the nuptials!

  8. What a journey life takes us on. So glad that your news was positive and that you had such a fantastic family event to pull everything together.
    As for a firework, it has to be a Catherine Wheel, memories from many a childhood bonfire night.

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