Count your blessings

It is only when you learn of a friend’s troubles that you really take
stock of all that you have. On days when you think you are having a
bad time, or things aren’t going your way, it is always a good idea to
remember how good you actually have it.
I have already confessed to having problems with fatherhood in the
early weeks, and maybe once or twice, for just a heartbeat, I
considered life without my son; by that I mean wishing for our old
life back before everything became so complicated – and I have
apologised for this, unreservedly. Last week I learned of a friend
who for him, this was a bitter reality.
I wept when I read his email about how his full-term baby boy’s heart
had stopped and he was delivered stillborn. Although my stomach
churned and my heart ached, I could not possibly appreciate the pain
he must be feeling. I remembered clearly the time around Theo’s birth
and how our lives were totally fixed on him joining our family: the
house had been made ready; clothes had been bought; car-seats; prams;
bottles; sterilizers; cots; changing tables etc etc. To be in that
position without your child is too horrible to contemplate. To stand
in an empty, quiet nursery is heartbreaking. I immediately sent him a
message with all our love and best wishes, knowing that no words would
make up for the hole that had opened up in front of him and his
partner. Life can be so cruel – but it is only life with its love and
support that will fill that hole.
And so, everyday I hold my boy in my arms and tell him how much I love
him and how he is my world. I do hope my friend and his partner find
some strength in the months to come and try again; I want so much for
them to feel the joy of being parents.
I have noticed recently that any news story involving babies/toddlers
who have been hurt or killed, or who have died, resonate so much more
powerfully within me. This week is the 20th anniversary of the
killing of James Bulger and although previously I had thought it was a
terrible incident, now, as a father of a defenceless baby boy, I fully
appreciate the horror, to the point where my body is physically
affected by the details of what those two twisted boys did to him.
This world is an amazing place, but it is also occupied by those not
worthy enough to be amongst us. I can only do my utmost to look after
my boy and hope that we are spared any of the horrors that are out
there.
Stay safe everyone and love each other.

I no longer bounce

Any of my long term readers will know that I ride a motorbike.  It is a particularly fine motorcycle that I had wanted for many years (having ridden bikes when I was a lot younger and given them up for the car).  When I didn’t have the bike I longed to have one and when I had it, I was up until recently what you would describe as a ‘fair weather biker’:  that is, I had the choice of car and bike and if it was wet or extremely cold, I would opt for the car.  Since Theo was born, my wife Willy and I share the family car, and so there are days when I have to go on the bike regardless of the weather, or how I am feeling that day.  This has not been a problem, and I now class myself as a proper, all-weather biker.

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Most non-bikers will always insist on telling you how dangerous riding bikes is, despite them only knowing about such things through the news when a biker is killed in an accident.  I usually dismiss these people, and consider the facts of my own riding history:  I had what could have been a fatal accident when I was 18, but escaped totally unscathed, despite flying over the bonnet of a Ford Granada and sliding 20 metres down the road, only wearing jeans and a thin jacket; I had a number of near misses due to careless car drivers but used my skill to avoid any impact; I skidded on ice once on a roundabout, but only had minor bruising.  Since owning my Bonneville 3 and a half years ago I am happy to say I have had no problems, apart from careless car drivers and pedestrians who do not look what is going on around them (but they will always be around).

Last week I had my first extremely minor incident on my Triumph.  An incident that to most would seem trifling but was one that made me think about where I am now in my life, and how my responsibility for my own safety directly impacts those around me.

Without going into detail, the incident involved me braking hard at about 10 mph, locking the front wheel that skidded on the wet concrete and left me thudding to the floor with the bike on its side next to me.  Initially I knew that I was ok because my body had not flooded with pain.  I picked myself and as before, worried more about the bike than me.  It was ok, so I started it up, checked that there were no major problems and drove home:  shaken up, but ok.

When I got home and took off my protective gear I felt the dull pain of bruised ribs.  This has continued over the last 7 days and serves as a constant reminder than when a 14 and a half stone man hits the floor, it will hurt somewhere, and it will hurt like hell.  I am lucky that I didn’t fall awkwardly and break anything, or fall into the path of something bigger and heavier.  It is at this point that I evaluate the risk of being badly injured or killed against the joy the bike gives me: I weigh up my joy against leaving my wife and child fatherless.  It is a no-brainer really:  the risk is not worth it.