Nineteen Years?

To My Beautiful Angel, Bethany...

I can't understand how it has been nineteen years since you left. And for whatever reasons, these last couple of years have been really hard. Really, really difficult. Valentines rolls around, and I remember that is the day when things really started to go south, and then the litany of problems that just cascaded, culminating into, well... This.

Nineteen years is a long time, but at the same time, it feels like no time at all has passed. And I try to look back and remember the good, the fun, the laughing, your running about like a lunatic, your cheekiness, and I hold on to the silly little things you used to do, from reciting your alphabet, to just leaning towards me and putting your hands on either side of my face and just... Looking. Just eye contact, looking into each others eyes.

And this last couple of years, I have done my best to not make you cross with how I've been, but it's been hard. Everything has worked against me, and I am just so tired, so fed up, exhaustion, pain... Everything has been a lot, and I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and most days I don't even know how I am constantly pushing forwards.

To say I miss you is a massive understatement. To say the pain goes away after almost two decades is laughable. To say I'm fine and I'm over it would be a lie. Granted, I can talk about you to anyone, and Poppy is always asking questions about you - what you were like, what you enjoyed, what made you laugh... I see so much of her in you some days. Your kindness and unlimited love for literally anyone and everyone. Her anger at injustice and rudeness. Her sense of humour. Her naughty streak... And she tells her friends about you, much like I tell my friends about you, and she says it like she knew you.

Maybe she does. I wouldn't be surprised if you have checked in on her since she was born. I know when you've come to see me, when you're in my dreams and you just sit on my lap with your little arms around my neck. 

Just know that everyone who matters knows about my little Angel Bethy. Even people that don't matter know about you, and all these years later, I know that a great many people around the world think fondly of you, and miss you, especially today. Apart from how much of an impact you made on my life, you touched more people than you could ever possibly know.

You are truly a little marvel, and you are missed every single day.

See you in the future, my Bethy... I see you baby.

I always see you.


Good Fucking Riddance

So, that was 2023...

As the title says, all I can say about this past year, is good fucking riddance. Shit, Chaos, Death, Mayhem... I can say with 100% honesty, that this year has been a complete an utter unbridled shitstorm that I am absolutely done with.

I am not going to make any hopeful comment about 2024. I made hopeful comments about 2023 on New Years Eve when the clock dinged midnight, and it went to shit within days, and just kept kicking me while I was down. So, 2024.

May you be a year. Please don't be a fucker.


Sixteen Years

Sixteen years.

It seems like - and almost literally is - a lifetime. In that time, a child is born, raised, and here in the UK, they're ready to go to college or, if they decide, out into the world, qualifications in hand.

And yet, for me, sometimes it feels like just the blink of an eye.

Sixteen years ago, you left. You dealt with so much in your four short years, and enough was enough. You gave me so much love, so many amazing cuddles, made me laugh untold numbers of time, but today, it's hard to think of much else except that day in the hospital, sixteen years ago.

Don't get me wrong - I am not dwelling on that day, those final hours, minutes and moments - not intentionally. But flashes of it come back to me despite pushing them aside. 12.21pm. That bloody picture on the wall of the fish. A sound. A smell. A movement you made, making me think the doctors were wrong...

Without meaning to sound dramatic, that day when you left, I know part of me left with you. People say how a part of them died, and I completely understand what they mean, without actually understanding what or how.

But regardless of any of the horrific thoughts and memories from that day, I still have four years of memories of you, my beautiful gorgeous, Bethany. 

Four years of you laughing, giggling, cuddling, playing, and yes, even being a monster that could destroy two bedrooms in the space of half an hour. The child that helped shave and colour in our old dog - two different incidents in fact. The same little girl that, assisted by her big brother, managed to "accidentally" tip a huge bucket of paint onto a carpeted floor, and - again, a separate incident - managed to rip open a bean bag so the polystyrene balls covered two our of three floors of the house.

The same polystyrene balls that you "accidentally" managed to re-explode all over the garden days later.

But sixteen years is hard for me to swallow. I don't know why, I don't understand my emotions at the best of times, but today just feels hard...

Just know, my Bethy, that you are greatly missed - even by people that have never met you. You are still greatly loved, again, by people that never got to see you. I know I will see you again one day my little gorgeous, and then we can have all the fun and dancing and cuddles to make up for our lost time.

I see you baby...

Two Decades...

With the last year seemingly out of control, and 2021 appearing to be no better, it surprises and amazes me that today would be Bethanys 20th birthday. 

Twenty years. 

Twenty years ago I sat there as she was born, not knowing what her future would hold - not even knowing what the coming hours would hold for her, let alone the coming days, weeks and months. As it turned out, the first week of her life was a complete and utter shitstorm of things, with new stuff being discovered to be wrong with her literally every day. 

I can still remember every part of that first week, with a different specialist being introduced every single day, with a look on their face that you just knew meant "uh oh" and that they had to break some new medical issue to you.

But, if you knew that tiny little baby, Bethany fought through every single thing thrown at her that week. And it blows my mind that it was TWENTY years ago that this all happened. People say time is a great healer, but it's really not. Time makes things feel different. Time doesn't heal anything, it just makes it different.

And as is usual on her birthday, I try to picture what she would look like, what she would be doing, what sort of person would she be. I admit, with everything going on - personally and in the world - my brain isn't in the best of places of late, and it's hard to remember it's her birthday, a happy day... I have to fight to remember the good, the happy, the funny... You'd have thought after so many years of practice it would be a simple thing, but who knows how my head works the way it does.
To my beautiful birthday girl, Bethy, 

Happy Birthday my little love. I can't believe you would be twenty today. Twenty years old. It just sounds crazy to me. 

As ever, I think about what you would be doing - would you be working, would you be at university, would you have a partner? Would your hair be long, finally, or have you given up trying to grow it and just keep it short? Do you drive? Do you still live here, or have your own place? What have you been through with doctors and hospitals over the years?

I think about all that sort of thing a lot, but more so today. Today brings the daily stuff into sharper focus.

I think about what sort of interactions you would have with Dom and his fiancée Lucina. How would you and Jaysen be together? Would you be fussing over Molly now she's expecting her first baby with Korbon? What would you be doing for Tamsyn now she is he and called Theo? Would you be living with Kellie and I, or would we be coming to visit you are your place?

Regardless of any of that, I just want you to know that regardless of anything, as ever, you would be incredibly loved. You are still, incredibly loved. I think about you every day, and miss you every day. Today being your birthday brings it to the forefront of my mind more strongly, and I can't help but feel pain that you are not here, that I can't give you a birthday cuddle, or ply you with cake and presents. I miss having cuddles from that crazy little girl, and miss the fact I've not had cuddles from the bigger girl, the teenager and the adult. I can feel with every part of me, you would have done incredible things as you grew older, and almost pity everyone that never met you or knew you.

Everything about you made the world a better place my Bethy, and selfishly, I wish you were here, now, in the world, doing what you did best - making me laugh and giving the strongest little cuddles ever.

Happy birthday my beautiful little baby.
And as ever, I See You Baby...

Lots of love,


Molly Is 18!!

If you have the misfortune of following me on Instagram, you may have noticed a minor flooding today, with a single subject.

Molly - and the fact the she is eighteen years old today!

Considering I am such a benevolent dictator, I have allowed her to reach this milestone with a simple goal in mind - to spam embarrassing photos I have amassed of her over the years! So, this morning, I threw photo after photo of her on there... And, for the most part, they aren't flattering. Some eating, some mid-sentence, some of her being a spaz - but all unedited and honest.

I first met Molly in June of 2008, and she was just six years old. To word it politely, while we've always gotten along, she had a slightly rough temper, which even during her time at senior school, her teachers referred to her exploding as "going Full Molly", a phrase which we adopted here at home as well.

In 2013, Kellie and I married, and while we had lived together for a few years, it was at that point I was officially a stepdad. True, I had considered myself that already WAY before then, but that was the "official" step-dadding of me.

Mo and I have always been out and about together - as I have with all the kids, obviously - but Molly and I dick around A LOT. She laughs at the same childish crap that I laugh at (or do, or cause), we watch the same TV shows, we listen to the same music... I've never told her she has to like the stuff I like, but she and I are a lot alike.

And did I mention, childish shenanigans?

But I digress...
To my wonderful girl, Molly..

I hate I didn't get to meet you before I did - I would have loved to have known you as an ickle bubba, a toddler, a wee kid, but I'll take what I can get. Even when you were in your own angry little world, you would always sit and listen and talk to me about what was bothering you and what was upsetting you - well, unless it was me, in which case, you let me know it was me that was causing the world to end... And that was fine too.

But from there, you've grown from a grumpy kid to a stroppy teen to a moody  you've grown into a lovely, friendly, kind and, most importantly, a FUN adult. I've watched and helped you through schools, relationships, and whatever other things that have tripped you over. I've held your hand when the it seemed like the world had turned against you, and helped guide you through all the shit you had to deal with.

I don't want or need anything in return - I just want you to be happy. To enjoy life. To enjoy whatever it is that you do, whatever you choose to become.

You are no-ones fool. I don't believe for an instant that you will end up in a situation that you don't want to be in. I don't believe you can be coerced or talked into doing something you don't want to do. But the second you feel like you need help, you know that I am here, and always will be, to hold your hand and help with whatever it is.

Happy Birthday little Mo Mo. Welcome to being an adult. But even now you're an adult, you can still rely on me for anything you might need.

With all my love,


Regardless of you, dear reader, going on Instagram or not, I am going to re-post all the photos I posted there - here. Molly, in all her glory. I'm sure she is over the moon to see the photos that hit Instagram (and, by association, flooded onto Facebook too) all reposted here - JUST for her benefit.

And my amusement.


Ok so I admit I am writing this on the 16th, but, well, I couldn't bring myself to do it on the 15th, Bethys birthday... Her 19th birthday no less.

It's now the middle of the night, and my mind has been a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions for close to 24 hours now, and while the last year has been absolutely crap, I need to blog for my beautiful baby's birthday.

As ever, it feels like just yesterday that she was born. Just yesterday the tiny little bundle was handed to me. That I held her tight and close before she was whisked off to the Intensive Care. Just yesterday that my little Bethy started fighting tooth and nail.

After all these years, I still remember her milestones - crawling, talking, walking, starting nursery... And I am loathe to admit that I even worked out late one night when Poppy would be the same age as Bethy when she left. And I see so much of Bethy in Poppy, it's uncanny. And now, I watch Poppy grow up, start hitting the milestones Bethy never did.
And of course, Poppy is fully aware of Bethany - she asks about her, talks about her, says things like what she and Bethy are going to do and have done together already... Yes, there is a lot of Bethy in Poppy - or, is there a lot of Poppy in Bethy?

Obviously, I know they are two different little girls separated by a vast gulf of time, but when I can think of Bethy as growing up "just yesterday" its hard to not imagine them growing up together. Bethy did this, so Poppy would do it too. Poppy is doing that, so Bethy would be doing it too. I find it hard to picture Bethy as being older than, well, ALL the girls - a year and a bit older than Molly, four years older than Tamsyn. I often wonder what affect "older" Bethy would have - would she be calm and sensible? Would she be disobedient? Would she be working like Dom, or at university like Jaysen? Would she find time to sit and play games with me, or prefer to sit and have a cuppa with Kellie?

"What If" is a dangerous game. It leads you down many roads that can cause hurt, pain, sadness - and it still does on many occasions. But sometimes, like now as I write this, I find myself smiling at the thought of Little Bethy and Poppy together, or Big Bethy and all of them together. That extra place at the dinner table, that extra cab to get us around, that extra ticket for the stupid plan we've decided on.

The 15th was a hard day. It was a sad day. But now, in the night, I'm done with being sad and upset. I'm thinking of my Baby Moo with a smile under the tears.

My beautiful birthday girl, Bethany...

I can't see that you would be nineteen today. The numbers don't sit right in my mind. Maybe it's not seeing you here, maybe it's not the reminders that you are growing up - well, grown up, as you would be. I can't correlate that crying little baby fighting her way through that first day, with a little girl turning nineteen years old.

I wonder what you'd be studying or doing - something in medicine maybe? Something with kids? Maybe you'd be a hairdresser, or an optician - hell, maybe you'd be the first girl something-or-other. Whatever you'd chose, where ever you'd have ended up, just know that you would always make me proud.

I was proud of you the from the first moment you balled those little fists up, let lose with that cry, right through to the bitter end, after bringing so much love into the world, and bringing together so many people to support one another. And even now, I am proud of every second you were around.

You are an amazing girl my little Bethy. You always have been, and you always will be. Where ever you are baby, I hope you are dancing and jumping and spinning and running, and loving the person you are, and the person you would have become.

I love you Bethy, and as ever, I see you baby, every single day.


Fourteen Years Today

Somehow, today marks the fourteen anniversary since losing Bethany. Fourteen years... That in itself is a whole child - Tam will be 14 in four weeks. But it feels so surreal.

On the one hand, today the loss feels very raw and fresh. On the other, it feels like a lifetime ago. I know back then, I was a very different person, and I wonder how much the events changed who I am as a person. I've mentioned before how various aspects of who I am changed after she passed away, and with my brain being as useful as it is, I don't know how much of it is for better or for worse.

Some days are better than others, and obviously the good outweigh the bad, but it still hurts if I think too much about it. Which, obviously, I don't make a habit of - but it's always in a part of my mind.

This time of year is rough, between her birthday and her today, coupled with the horrible grey damp miserable weather - I find myself low and miserable a lot. A couple of you are there for me which helps and makes a difference, but...

I don't know. I am rambling more than anything today. Having had very little sleep of late, today is not what I would call a cakewalk, but as ever, I'll survive.

It's very hard to put into words. I can't verbalise how much I miss her, and that, even after so long, how much it still hurts that she's gone.
My beautiful Angel, Bethy

Today, fourteen years ago, you had to go. You had fought so hard against everything, but your poor little body had take more than any person should ever have to take. You were the bravest little gorgeous ever, no matter what was thrown at you.

You smiled at people after they took your blood. You cuddled the people that prodded your tummy. You played with the people that pushed and pulled things inside your body. You always had a smile and a laugh and a cuddle, and more love than any person ever.

But after everything your poor little body took, it was finally too much. I remember holding you , kissing you, and singing to you on that day, and my heart still breaks at seeing you so small and vulnerable in my minds eye.

I miss you so much my little baby. I miss seeing your smile, see you performing some daredevil move in the house, running until you were literally blue in the face...

Everything about you and who you are live on inside so many people, and I am proud that you bought love to so many people around the world. You truly are my amazing little gorgeous.

I miss you my Bethy, every day. But I see you, baby.
I see you baby x

With all my love,

18 Today...

Hard to imagine, but today would have been Bethany's 18th birthday. I would have another little grown up in my life, and I can only imagine what sort of person - adult - she would be after everything.

On the one hand, I am trying so hard to be positive today. I am trying so hard to not dwell on the fact that she has been gone for what seems like so long/just yesterday. I'm trying to remember all the funny, happy, silly Bethy moments. I am trying to not remember that last week of her life.

Today is her birthday, and while I cannot help but miss her and think about what she went through, I am thinking about her, the little person, the funny, crazy, dancing little angel that would cuddle anyone and everyone, would deal with everything she had to go through, and made everyone that met her just smile...

To my beautiful not-so-little-girl, my little gorgeous, Bethy.

Today, you would have been 18 years old. Today, you would be a proper adult, a grown up. You would probably be dinky still, and I hope you would still be the funny, silly, crazy person you were when you were little. I would hope you have a smile for everyone, and do what you want to do because it makes you smile, or makes you happy, or makes others around you happy.

You always showed me that, no matter what, you could be happy. You could smile for anyone no matter what. You could cuddle anyone, no matter how you felt. You were strong. You were brave. You put up with so much.

The world was a better place for you being in it... I cannot help but think with you no longer here, the world is a less happy place.

I remember holding you as soon as you were born, remembering how small and fragile you seemed. Your first week was full of drama, but you dealt with it all. Everything throughout your life, you accepted and took in your stride. You might not have liked it, but you never complained. I have never met a little girl as brave and as strong as you.

Your little sister Poppy has so much of you about her... She loves to cuddle, she loves to make people smile and laugh, and she has your naughty side too.

Where-ever you are, whatever you are doing, remember that you will always be missed, and always be loved. You are such an amazing little girl - now little lady - and I miss you every single day.

So happy birthday, my little Bethy. I hope where ever you are, you are dancing and spinning, laughing and giggling, and having fun with your angel wings.

I love you, I miss you... And I see you baby... Always.


Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in the distant annals of the past, there was a Guy. He wasn't especially smart, not very social, not much to look at, and definitely not the sort to call attention to himself.

He did, however, have quite a vivid imagination. He would arrange games from all sorts of genres: from high fantasy, to gritty sci-fi; cyberpunk to horror; vampire and fairies, kings and robots... He could throw on some old rags and be the helpful beggar. Some dark robes and be the malevolent necromancer. A suit, and a suave businessman. A heavy suit of chain mail, and be the most noble of knights...

After a time, when He could no longer run around a forest or a cave system, battering all and sundry with weaponry, His realm became based around a table. He would produce maps and props, do accents and have fun with his friends. He would entertain friends and strangers alike, from His own dinner table, to a corner of a local pub, up to entertaining complete strangers for the companies that wrote the systems He would use, to the point that He would be told six months in advance that He had to write an entire scenario for a large group - for competition-level adventures. And when that became too much, He moved into cyberspace. While no one could hear Him or see Him, He used his written word to tell the story, to lead people across vast realms, to battle evil, and to save the day. His days were filled with maps and private conversations, notes and plotting, scripting adversaries and rolling dice for random outcomes.

And then one day, something happened. His real-life Princess was lost, and with it, his imagination. With her passing, He could feel the characters and the places slipping away. The costumes seemed strange, the acting-out imaginary stories an odd pass-time, and finally, pretending to be someone in front of others was so bizarre, He grew shy and embarrassed. Even hiding behind words and a screen seemed too much, and the worlds and characters, places and villains - they all seemed stupid and slipped further and further from His priorities, and a stasis fell across His imagination.

Days, weeks, months and, eventually, years slipped by. Now and then, something would spark in the back of His mind, but then would fade almost as suddenly as it appeared. The people around Him changed... Some grew up and changed. Some grew up and left. Over time, others came into His life to fill the void left by others, but none understood the passion He once felt for his hobbies. Some would look at him with a strange look, some would chuckle, others would outright ridicule Him, and the thought of rolling dice and pretending to be someone He was not seemed beyond stupid.

One year, an invitation arrived - to attend a party with friends, and to solve a murder while assuming the mantle of a different person. Role-Playing had effectively muscled its way into His life, and there was nothing He could do to avoid it. As the day and time grew closer, His nervousness and embarrassment increased. In reality, it shouldn't have been so difficult. A scripted character, a list of ideas for costumes and props, and to add to the things which would have made things easier, the character was already scripted as nervous - which played into His wheelhouse.

The night came and went, much laughter and fun was had. The nervous vicar did not commit the murder, nor did He explode into flame on the spot. That isn't to say that He didn't will himself to disappear a multitude of times over the course of the evening, but He did indeed survive. The people around were friends and loved ones, and some were as nervous as He.

But all He could think, was how far He had fallen. A scripted character? Told what to wear? Told what to SAY??

Even this, however, did not return His imagination. Despite being very aware of himself, and how this should have been child's play, He struggled to play to the simple role.

A year later, and another murder mystery. The murder of the doctor put the suave ladies man and famous cricketer of the 1920s firmly into the "Suspect Number One" position. This man was not a nervous vicar, but a loud, brave, flirty ladies man.

The real person, however, while He could be loud, was most certainly not loud, brave and flirtatious - especially around His assembled friends and loved ones. Once again, He felt the pangs of performing from a script, but He tried his best, and even now is unsure if He managed to convince people that He was not shaking in His suspenders and cap.

Over the course of the evening, however, someone said something He never thought He would hear, but struck the same chord as being told that He would be role-playing for the evening.

Someone suggested that - thanks to his background - perhaps HE should write a murder-mystery evening... Create the scenario, make the characters, plot out the evening with scripts, revelations, clues, and host it.

If you have been paying attention to this tale, you would realise that that is exactly what He used to do - many many years before.

Before He became a nervous wreck.

Before He would panic in normal social situations.

Before He would be laughed at for His hobby.

Before He lost the fair Princess.

The subject cropped up several times over the course of the evening, but He laughed and shook His head - while at the same time feeling terror at the very thought of it.

He journeyed home that night, climbed into bed with his Queen, and, despite the late hour, lay reading, immersing himself in a world of high fantasy once more.

After a time, His eyes grew heavy, and He placed his book down, settled under the covers and set to sleep. But, as is common knowledge, He was not sleeping. Instead, His mind was replaying the evening, cringing at His comments, His abilities, His accent, dwelling on things He had done and said. And, eventually, it replayed the "You should run a murder mystery night..." comment from His own Queen.

Again, the fear and nervousness crept over His mind like a shroud, but this time - maybe the late hour, maybe the alcohol - but along with the worry of such a situation, the spark flared once again. The rest of the night, it seemed, was filled with Him virtually arguing with Himself. Could He do it? Should He do it? What if this, What if that...

And so, today, the strange, nervous, worrying Guy is wondering if He could manage it.

Honestly - despite thinking and considering and debating all night, He isn't sure if He could manage it. And yet, at the same time as thinking He couldn't do it, He's also thinking about the setting, the era, the characters, even the victim...

Time will tell, I suppose. Maybe the spark will remain, maybe it will fade once again. And while He is considering, He is not setting anything in stone. On one hand, there is the thought of failure - to fail to produce something fun and imaginative, failing to meet the deadline He sets, failing to create something fun and engaging. On the other hand, there is the thought of performing in front of others, and putting Himself out for all to see - if the evening fails or there are glaring errors, they cannot be blamed on a company or unknown individual... They would fall squarely upon His own lap.

Time will tell.

Thirteen Years...

At 12:21pm today, my precious Bethy will have been gone from me for thirteen years. On one hand, that feels like a lifetime ago, but on the other, it feels like it has only just happened.

This past year has not been great, and for some reason, that has made today feel more raw and visceral than the last few years, and I honestly feel like I am struggling to hold myself together - today is making that feel almost impossible.

In the early hours of the morning, I was sat in the dark missing Bethy, and my emotions ranged from sadness at losing her, anger at my inability to do anything about it, I smiled remembering all the funny things she did, and enormous love for her and how she made people feel.

But I miss her. I miss her every single day, but today I miss her more than anything.

Having a memory like I do, I remember the events of this day thirteen years ago almost like it only just happened. The voices, the words they were using, the expressions on faces, the sounds of machinery, even the smell.

Seeing my little Bethy laying there at the end of her fight was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. And it kills me every time it pops into my mind - usually unbidden, sometimes when I am thinking about her and her running around, invariably, my mind will slip back to that place. So much reminds me of her and of the hospital, but today, I am struggling to see the good times, the laughs, the happy little Baby Moo, the big cuddles with her tiny little arms around my neck and her breath on my skin.

Today, I am struggling. Today, I am missing my beautiful little princess, daddys little gorgeous, ever so much.

To my beautiful Bethy,

Holy hell am I missing you baby. Today more than ever. It has been thirteen years since you left, and time hasn't healed any wound. The wound just got different. But this year, it feels like it's been scratched open, and today it is ever so painful.

I miss you so damn much. I miss seeing you dance, I miss hearing you giggle, I miss you being naughty. You went through so much and were always the bravest person I ever knew, so strong and full of fight. Even today, I think about how amazing you were - sitting through tests and prodding and poking and having procedures done - always with more bravery than I have ever seen.

Thirteen years is a long time, but also no time at all. And I have missed you every single day of those years. I still cannot listen to certain songs. I still notice when the clock his 12:21. 

You would be so proud of your brothers and sisters. I wish they had the chance to meet you. And I see you in Poppy so much it's almost scary. So many people in my life now should have met you. Kellie would have doted on you. You'd have Dom and Molly wrapped around your little finger within minutes, and Nanny Diane would do anything you asked. 

Where ever you are my baby, I miss you. I hope you are still dancing. I hope you are still as full of love as you ever were. I wish I could see you again my gorgeous. And I will, in time, I know that. But I have people here that need me for a while yet.

I love you so much Bethany. And I see you baby.

I see you x

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