Yesterday I woke at 5:45 am. The sun was casting its light onto the landing as it was streaming in through the window of the spare bedroom. I got up and went to lay on the bed in there, thinking that at exactly this time 11 years ago, Andy was putting his wedding ring onto my finger and saying "I want you to put this back on my finger when I come round"
Some who read my blog know our story, but for those who don't....this thought is significant in our lives because 11 years ago, (April 17 1999) after a frightening year of medical tests (and errors) Andy had a liver transplant at the age of 36. He almost died.
We always spend the day together, never letting anything get in the way of it, we are thankful that he is alive and that he has had the chance to see our children grow up, we remember Sarah's family who bravely donated her organs to save the lives of others...and best of all, we are now planning a future. When he had the transplant, they told us it could prolong his life for 5 - 7 years...thats scary, its not long enough (we thought at the time) but we chose life. And we have lived our lives with that always hanging over us...now, 11 years in and with excellent results at his last 6 monthly checkup, we are beginning to build a future and to believe that he will be around for many years to come.
So the day dawned bright and sunny and we were going to Whitby for our transplant anniversary this year (the ritual we have made for this day is that we go into the North Yorkshire Moors or the Dales as they hold the happiest family memories for us and because our children - who are all grown and left home - are wrapped in those memories, its almost like they are with us on this day too.
We had a quiet journey up, talking about where we are now compared to where we were then.... its a good exercise to perform on an annual basis, because you get to see where you've come from, life isn't passing you by in a blur.
When we got to Whitby, it was of course crowded - the sun brings everyone out - and rightly so - life is too short not to enjoy as we are very keenly aware of! We browsed in one or two shops as we made our way up to the Abbey.
(Stopped on the way for a photo shoot - this ones for you Dave and Jayne)
Climbed the 199 steps to the Abbey
The ruins are spectacular on the cliff top and we strolled around marvelling at the architecture as we do on every visit - is it just me or does anyone else think that some buildings these days leave a lot to be desired...you'd think that with all the tools and machinery we have to hand in our modern world, we (I say we but I mean they!!) could design great buildings to uplift the soul - like this must have been in its day.
This celtic cross is actually in the graveyard of St Marys Church, which is at the top of the 199 steps - can you imagine how healthy I would be If I worshipped at that Church? Or I could just drive the car around the road system!
but see what I mean about the detail..
and this.... now I was thinking this would make a lovely stamp....
I had a few happy thoughts as we stopped at this tomb...our three children used to lay in this when they were young. (I remember groaning at the time because their clothes invariably got dirty!
And they played hide and seek, Steph once hid in this niche and it took ages for Martin and Laura-Beth to find her. Of course, being the child she was, she tried it on subsequent visits and couldn't understand why they always KNEW where she was!
And so onto the photo I take every year... the one where Andy holds up his fingers to say how old he is (in transplant years) BUT this year (and I'm happy crying here!) he doesn't have enough fingers...the toes have to come out!
And so, back to St Mary's Church, we lit a candle and prayed to thank 'The Ancient of Days' who knew this day would dawn for us at the beginning of time.
We will all die one day, I know that, but its how we spend our days that count.
We'll spend the rest of ours being thankful for the precious time we got to have with each other.
And a big PS...I bought myself a new journal while we were there... its dinky, yummily leatherbound and the pages are handmade paper....