The Hardest Post I've Ever Had To Write (And why I'll be welcoming in 2017...)

Normally at this time of year I post a bit of summary for the year – a reflection of my life as an author over the last 12 months or so, and a celebration of the things achieved. This year is different though. This year, frankly, like many people, is one I’ll be glad to see the back of, you see my beautiful mum died two weeks ago.

It came at the end of an already miserable year, not just for the world it seems, but also for my family. In March I learned of the death of someone, who at one time in my life was very special to me, and whose selfless act so many years ago ultimately brought me my wonderful husband, with whom I’m soon to celebrate twenty years of marriage. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in years, but stupidly I guess I always thought I’d get the chance to thank him one day, and the knowledge that he died a very unhappy man was hard to bear. Soon after came a very stressful house move, which we managed, just, by the skin of our teeth, but nearly six months on we are still fighting to reclaim our deposit on our previous property. I don’t have words to describe how I feel about our previous landlords, who after months of messing us around, in breach of our tenancy agreement, revealed themselves to be the despicable individuals we always suspected them to be. Sadly the move was also to prove to be the final straw for my ninety three year old mum in law who lived with us. She suffers from mild dementia but the upheaval stressed her mental health to the point where it deepened into a severe psychosis, with the result that after several very stressful months trying to care for her at home, she was eventually admitted to hospital where she has stayed for the last six weeks. And then of course, it the middle of that, my own mum became ill…

Okay, so that’s enough woe is me, that’s not what this is about, because after a couple of weeks of experiencing every emotion under the sun, my brain has done what it always does and come up with a clear and conscious groove to settle in – not to give up, but to give out. You see, this year has also given me some wonderful moments: throughout it all, against all the odds, I’ve managed to keep writing. I’ve seen Letting in Light hit number 16 in the overall Amazon chart, and I’ve finished not only another book, but three more novellas as well, the first of these, Spring Fever, published just four days after my mum’s death. Suffice to say it's not had the send off it deserves, or any send off at all, but it is out there, and for now that's about all I can do. I gave up a well paid full time job in January to write full time, and I’m proud to say that nearly one full year on I’m still solvent, with a million and one plans for next year. Not only that, but giving up my previous role has given me the flexibility to be able to deal will all that has happened this year, and to spend time with those people who’ve needed me, and, as someone once said, time is the most precious gift of all… I’ve also been given a reminder, however cruelly, of the importance of the love we have for those closest to us, never to hold in back, but to make very minute count. I’ve been moved to tears by the skill, generosity and compassion of the numerous staff who have cared for both my mum and mum in law this year, who even in the most tragic and desperate of times have shown what it is to excel at being human. This alone gives me faith that maybe the world will one day be able to straighten itself out.

In fact it was my wonderful publicist at Amazon who provided me with the mantra that seems to be running through my brain at the moment, and which is co-incidentally the title for my new book due out in February next year. Back in July when we were trying to decide on a title for it, nothing seemed to be quite right, and then Bekah made a suggestion, and suddenly there it was, the perfect fit. It struck such a huge chord with me at the time, and continues to do so. There’s a new year just around the corner, one that will be very different as we try to cope with the challenges which I know lie ahead. It will be a year without my mum in it for a start, something I thought I’d never be facing for a good while yet, and also a house without my mum in law. She’s ready to be discharged from hospital, but sadly won’t be returning home as she now needs a different type of care than we can give, but I hope she will at last be settled and happy. I hope it will also be a year filled with good memories, as much writing as I can cram in, with more dreams realised, and importantly the time to love and care for my family. I won’t be sad to see the back of 2016, but at least it has shown me that whatever happens next year, whatever challenges and sadnesses we face, that I must turn my back firmly against negativity or bitterness, and instead Turn Towards The Sun.

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