Peaches Geldof – ‘How is that bearable’?

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So many people are expressing shock and sadness at the sudden passing of Peaches Geldof – wife, mother of two, and the 25 year old daughter of Bob Geldof.

In a statement issued on the day she died, her father said: “She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. “Writing ‘was’ destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable?”

How indeed could such a thing be bearable? It can’t be, can it? Such a senseless ending of a young life. At this point the cause of death is still undetermined, but regardless of that, I still remember hearing the news that this beautiful girl’s own mother died aged 41, leaving 4 daughters behind her. For me it makes this tragedy even more cutting and deep…

I can’t assuage the grief of those who knew and loved Peaches and I can only start on the journey of trying to reconcile what’s happened and what will happen from here; and with humility I can only really do that for myself – if these ‘workings through’ touch someone else, then that will be one tiny blessing to come from this horrible happening…

Her loved ones will go through shock, grief and pain – nothing can take away that loss or lessen that impact. I can’t comment on how any one will cope, yet these are the normal and necessary stages that have to be traveled through. It is tough to accept that sometimes we just have to go through the pain – we are so predicated to be medicated with alcohol, pain killers, anti-depressants and the like – in order to avoid life’s trials and troughs in any way we can.

But we can’t avoid them and have to allow ourselves pain and grief at times like this; for if we seek to dull them or distract ourselves, that resistance can be just as painful as what caused them. So, am I saying leave off the ‘medicants’ then? Well if they help in small measure, in the moment, then no of course not – I have used them all, god knows, at one time or another, but the thing is not to let them become the long term alternative to the pain, which will be buried somewhere, and has to work its way out, somehow – otherwise it eats away at our emotional core and can sit latent for decades until it is released or unleashed.

So what other support is available? Families and friends can be your greatest allies or foes at times like these. I have seen families draw together after such tragedies and others, torn apart. Those who grow together tend to keep it loving and mutually supportive. They simply and consciously watch out for each other. Others I have witnessed using their hurt (often unintentionally) as a weapon – they feel justified in throwing their emotional weight around, bringing up past hurts and even throwing around physical and verbal violence. So it is that often the consequences of such interactions are estrangement and divorce. So – know this, if nothing else, and seek ways where you can grow together, rather than apart.

I believe we can only live in the moment – so keep it simple, focus on what you need to do to cope, and do the things that will get you through from moment to moment, just one step at time. And where ever you are, if you can focus on doing the same for those around you, this can only support you too…

Of course coaching and counseling and other professional support can be completely invaluable at times like these. You will generally find that in the human experience, someone else has gone through such life happenings before, and there will be experts out there that can guide you through healing and coping strategies. I appreciate that not everyone wants such interventions though, yet I would always advise getting ‘educated’ about your situation. Do your research – read books, go online, seek out others who have been down the same path, too. Understand the stages to be traveled and what the learnings may be along the way. There will be a common recognition and understanding, and knowing that too, is so often, a support, to so many…

At such times in my own life, my own emotional issue is, that the lower I am, the less I want to reach out and ask for help. Recognise this about yourself and others you support, if this is true for you too. Be honest with those around you about where you are emotionally and what support you want / need, and if you are unable to articulate that, then simply tell it like it is. If they are unable to provide what you need, then you should look further, maybe for professional support. Reach out…

The thing that all bereaved people have to face, is the funeral. I remember saying when my father died, that a funeral was the last thing I needed! I faced the day though and realised that these occasions are necessary for so many reasons – to allow us to psychologically start to say good bye, and most of all to celebrate that person who was part of our life.

A funeral is the chance to celebrate their existence, celebrate their legacy, celebrate their impact on the world and upon you. Yes, of course you are allowed to weep and grieve, but always keep celebration at the centre of this ceremony. This is vital, it is the starting point for your relationship with that person from now on – that person who will be carried now in your head and heart. How can you best honour them and keep their memory a positive one? Be open and unafraid to speak of them – that may scare some people or bring up their stuff, but allow yourself here, – gently hold your ground and show the way…

Yes, you are allowed your loss too, of course. On the day of my mother’s funeral I said a very loud prayer to God that I wanted to hold it together please for my oratory speech, and if that happened, then I wouldn’t mind being a gibbering emotional wreck for the rest of the day. I wasn’t though, that day was, for me, so special, one most definitely with celebration at its heart, filled with love and recollection and of course some sorrow too.

My mother though was old, she’d ‘had her time’; but then the length of someone’s life should not take away the fact that we should celebrate what that soul has been to us – regardless of how long they have been on this earth. And despite my mother’s age, I still would have liked her to be around at my next birthday or to have seen my first book published… Yet in my mind, she contributed to these things and so many more, in the ways she influenced me, and is somehow always with me – in my DNA, in my thoughts, in our past interactions and in so many innumerable ways…

And then our lives go on… Shaped by loss and pain… Our existence altered and impacted by that which is beyond us. Can we really choose that we move on in a positive way, from such a shattering, negative happening? When it comes to matters of emotion, it is my own experience that I can certainly cast myself as a victim in the story of my life. Yes, I have played that role so many times and to be honest, will often tip into that mode still… Yet I know that if I choose – be it consciously – whether through tears, or gritted teeth or simply state my intention – that I am going to move forward with this, then move I will. If I decide to learn from it, and honour that person in the best way I can, then setting my intention may just be enough, for this moment. Then I will state it again and then I will choose to get the strength and support, however slowly, to get me through the next moments, then hours, and then what ever will be…

Will a happening such as this change lives and hearts for ever? Yes. Is it awful, sad and shocking? Yes. Is it painful beyond reason and unfair? Yes. Will you ever get over it? I don’t know…

Yet we can, on some level choose our legacy from life’s happenings and if you allow yourself to believe that, then this is the first, small step forward, and from there you can take another slow step, and then another and so it is that you are moving forward…

 

~ By Sandra Peachey. With love and trust.

Dedicated to all of those who have loved and lost, and somehow, loved and gained.

Letter to Mum… One Year On…

Dear Mum

There I was, rushing from one transient transaction to another – caught up in doing and being, and filling out and filling in the long hot hours; and eventually, in the middle of it all, I paused… and then the realisation racked and rocked me… You died a year ago, this very week…

A year… time and tide marked by the passing of days – of suns, moons and of tears. And laughter and anger too and all the other inner panoply of life, along with the external chaotic, diametric business of the outer life…  Then the crazy cliché of ‘how can that be’, how can this time have passed, have changed, have thrown me forward one whole year of existence – moving on from that one day..?

A day with a telephone call, a dazed evening journey to the hospital, a dark evening with a strange doctor explaining, wandering all around the verbal houses before he would say… when inside I was screaming – ‘just tell me!!!‘. And finally he told me… And so that was the beginning of this particular end…

And so my destination on that day changed, for that was the end of my mother’s earthly journey, and the start of renegotiating my own as a result. My sense of identity subtly shifting as my concepts of self, of connection, of reason, of pattern and of pace and place, all change and re-form and reinvent, and then connect back up, to a new whole, yet wholly recognisable me.

That it is what it is, with me – Sandra – newly orphaned child of this parish and currently good with where the journey has taken me, and yet I find that the relationship with my mother still lives and grows, and indeed ebbs and flows…

And as life is, I have thought of her and not, off and on, splinking on and away from the radar of my consciousness, and I know too, without doubt, that she is always with me, part of the DNA of my sub-consciousness.  I have lived my life to be so different from her and yet, so often, am so very much the same.

My mother was certainly feisty and often fiery and frequently noisy (her silences were, some how especially loud…).  At times, being with her felt like a constant drone of negativity, of bile and bitterness, of blaming and wailing and ranting. That is not the complete picture of course, but that is what I carried with me, for so so long, down trails of tears and disaster; till I found and released my own light, and then shone it back at her and then I could see her burning more beautiful and brighter in the glow…

Or so I think or thought… I’ve had a long tough period where my health has been difficult, dogged by headache and exhaustion, and this illness has been constant and chilling and it has changed the game of my life, taken me frequently to the doctor and to the hospital, and I have read and meditated and shared… and yet instead of healing, it has escalated to a recent point in time, through body and mind, onwards to the hated signs of menopause.

I remember well my mother’s menopause years, and I shared with her too my fizzing female teenage hormonal hours, as we were spitting and spatting through the transitions of our respective walking womanhood journeys.

And so here am I, now going through that second transition myself and not, I have to say wearing it well…  My body creates chemicals and has suffered them into my blood stream, changing the body that I thought I controlled; and then those horrible hormonal spheres infiltrated me deeper and deeper and then the mind bubbles, burns and bends with evil thoughts, hates and intentions.

Nothing would stop this vile onset – not doctor drugs, not change of diet, not chatting it all out with my female friends, neither incanting affirmations, or seeking alternative therapies. I was just not ready to accept and heal.  And so it all escalated and exploded and I started to speak out, to let my untamed thoughts and feelings free, like misty grey moths flying to a dark moon.

From this loosened version of me, I’ve said some really real and sometimes harsh things to those in my orbit… “Oh my god – I am my mother!!!”  Suddenly from my body being lassoed by horrendous hormones, I was actually possessed by my mad mother and it felt so intense that I was her, wrapped simply in my own outer skin…  Her disappointment, her bile, her anger and frustration were me and it was hell.  Hot, hurting, tearful, bloated and menacing hell.

And going through this, I have thought and said aloud, again and again, I can now understand more why she acted in those loud ways of hers, and have so much more empathy for what she said, did and felt…

The thing is, I could hate that my mother was so outspoken, so I always chose, in the past, to be the opposite.  Yet despite the hell, through the twisting agonies of hardened emotions turning to spoken word, I would remember that I secretly envied that chiding freedom of voice she had, and her complete ‘take it or leave it’ attitude.  And so everything I have said through that demonic time, I do not regret.  It was all my truth, and it was time to burn its’ way out and to face and feel the heat of its’ consequences.

With heaving, seething hormones – decisions and doings became heavy and difficult as I crawled this satanic pathway.  I wonder would the world who shared my surface swannings about have guessed?   The proud white swan was gliding in sweet sight on still waters and yet paddling furiously and drowning under water and out of subtle sight…

And that has been the year of my body and mind… and yet too, what an absolutely awesome year…  Mum would be so very proud (and I like to think, IS proud…). ‘Her’ Sandra has published a book, appeared in famous places – in print and on airwaves.  And her Sandra won an Award and received it in a gorgeous dress, with fabulous shoes and applause and dancing.  She was always proud when I did good and she was proud when I looked good.  And her Sandra has coached and spoken and supported and laughed and written and achieved so much and had the most wonderful time; going along and giving her gratitude for a crazy and amazing existence both in time and in head space.

Yet there it all was, the worse of me, inside of me, frothing and flailing; and I had to come, eventually to my own stubborn resolution, not overtly sought, for I could not see the way out.

It happened as I was leading my group of gorgeous ‘Damsels in Success’ to their own conclusions, resolutions and light… then suddenly for me too, the light bulb snapped on and there it was… sweet and blessed relief and resolution.  Here was my delicious clarity – to embrace this transition, these lessons in life and to joyfully receive my healing.  This is my selfish / selfless reason for supporting, for I constantly crave the same succulent thing too…

Well that was one balmy evening, and the next morning there I was chatting on a radio show in a strange city, and she would so love that… And then, later, my footsteps took me towards a cathedral I had never passed the portals of before – and I was drawn in, inexorably and naturally.  It was time to absorb, time to reflect, to celebrate and to make my peace.  I lit a candle and breathed the sacred atmosphere in, feeling my mother comfortable and close.

I wandered on through this sacred space and there were just two stained glass windows.  They were installed in the year I was born – so my attention was piqued and caught, as was my heart as the light streamed through the glowing arches above me.  I read that they represented the journey from darkness to light… and they were of course, there just for me – my sign, my message, my seal on healing.

And I walked out of that perfect place into intense July sunlight… A year ago, on another such beautiful July day – we said farewell to the physical mother and celebrated her life… That whole day, with its’ sun and singing; family and friending; remembrance and reconciliation, was a gorgeous gift from God for me.  Now, four seasons later, I needed this day too: to remember my mother in every way, and to heal and to reconcile – both me and her…

So now I have turned my cathedral corner and am again walking in the glorious sunlight…

A whole year ago, at my mother’s final church service, I stood up to speak my piece and this came to me: “mother has a message for you all – she has had a word with God and arranged this gorgeous sunny weather as a special thank you for being here today…”

And that is how that ending began, and then how this ending ends…

With love from

      Sandra

Doubter and Daughter xx

There are more letters to my mother, along with more ‘Love Letters to Life’ to the people, phenomena and happenings that make up my Peachey Life. You can get hold of your copy here…  or else from Amazon (in both Kindle and Paperback formats) and from all good book shops!

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The Journey into Light

Letter to Daftness

Dear Daftness

That alliteration is a great start to a letter … It is easing me in gently, with a smile, as I start to contemplate you … Dear Daftness …

Close family and friends know I have a certain delightfully, or dangerously daft quality; and to the world at large I often try to cap it or limit how much I show of it … It’s there though, part of who I am and what I do …

The thing with me is, that I love to present a professional and polished gloss to the world … Yet, so often, I’m daft … And that’s not a criticism of myself – it’s a simple description … And growing older and wiser (as well as dafter …) I’ve learnt more and more that it’s OK to show these true colours, and embrace them, and let the world see them; and then the world can decide to shirk me for it, love me for it or indeed not give a damn about my daftness … so there it is, in all it’s daft technicolour glory …

So Daftness is … being forgetful, being late, being trivial, being accident prone, being indecisive, being wantonly childish, losing self control. Sometimes it is so much me that it feels like my own brand of alien significance – defining me, slowing me down, making me cry with frustration or laugh with the Peachey familiarity of it … Daftness …

And I wonder what the reader will think – those that know me in body and place … Is that the me they recognise ..? And for some it may be a shock that I believe this of myself, and others will smile in recognition … and for others again, it may just open more doors onto their own knowing of me … and for others still, who know me from these letters alone – mere anecdote …

Now, I have consciously drawn into my orbit those that I can SAFELY be daft with … Because sometimes, believe you me, I have been vilified for it and lost jobs and people in my life because of it … Yet it is ME … imprinted in my DNA, I simply can’t change it … Though if I try hard … I can manage it and have done a damn good job of presenting my ‘got together’ professional face to the world; but that can be hard work sometimes … and more often than not – my inner clown will trip me up or show me up, and the spotlight shakes the real me out into the open.

So, true to Peachey form, at times I am good with the daft, and at times I truly hate it.  And though I KNEW that being daft and proud is all good, I probably never really GOT that, until these last few weeks since my mother’s passing … She died 2 weeks ago and so at times my brain is the consistency of a marshmallow, and I can feel like a little lost orphan, and ‘doing’ or deciding what to do with a day is difficult; and ‘being’, and being in certain places is really hard work; and patience is thin and energy is low, and the daftness quotient goes through the rude roof.

At times too, I’m on top of the world and out there in it – being amazing … it is indeed weird to be me right now … My mother passing has somehow bought out some of the worse in me and all of the best me of me, and made me ‘more so’ – in just about EVERY way.

So Love is a complicated and many splintered thing, and this is, of course, a Love Letter to Daftness.  I’m definitely more daft right now… but you know what?  I’ve realised that it is all good; I’ve decided to give in to it and to embrace it. I know that being daft is perfect for me right now and I’m going with the daft flow.  I’m being vulnerable, I’m being selfish, I’m being real.  I give permission to the daft and I welcome it.  It’s like a soft blanket of sweet childishness. Being daft right now means I have a freedom when it comes to taking care of myself, or telling others what I want, and to do as much or as little of what I feel capable of doing and giving right now …

And in this state of being, work has not been a priority, but then the world turns in such a way that without even trying, I am suddenly given new opportunities and new clients … And even in these strange and newly motherless times – when I speak and when I coach, I forego ‘daft’ and create magic instead …

So being soft and being daft has allowed friends and strangers to care for me and support me even more than they have before.  And from surrendering in this way, I’ve gained so much.  I’ve grown so much.  And who knows, I may just stay openly daft, to everyone, for ever …  Or the hard shell, with the cracks in it, may return … Yet somehow I predict that there will be more raw, deft daftness; more freedom and more expansion of my soul … Yes – after the daftness comes the light and so it is that I have moved from one four lettered word – d a f t to another – l o v e.

Now both daftness and love define me – and so it is that I have written yet another Peachey Letter to Love.

Yours beguilingly, blondely and daftly

              S xx

PS: Daftness, love, creativity, caring… it’s all in the book version of Peachey Letters – follow this link to find out more…

Letter to Loss

22 July 2012

Dear Loss

How complicated you are – you heinous thing – that thing which I have felt so much of in my life.  And yet I call this a ‘love’ letter … So, Dear Loss, let me explain, expand and elaborate …

I woke up this morning with a sense of creeping dread.  My mother died 6 days ago and in another 4 days comes her funeral.  My mother’s funeral … As my senses came to, on the morning of this day, I was permeated with the weight of horror and fear.  And then the vile bile of anger took me over …

Yes, anger pushed its’ fist into my heart, because I invited people to join me at my mother’s service and there is, so far, silence … apparently no one is coming … Then that evil, chiding voice says to me “So … those people who share your happy existence don’t give a damn about your sad times – your life is clearly a sham …”

Now in my innermost and knowing self, I realise that this voice takes over and holds you in it’s terrible thrall, especially at times like this; and it takes you down a long tunnel, where you stumble, blindly in the darkness and you cannot see what you actually have – which is – in day light reality – so very much …

The fact is, if I really choose to count, there are two particular people who it is my dearest wish be there on that Farewell Funeral Day – those being my brother and my mother’s best friend.  And of course, there will be more: friends, family, my mother’s circle … Some to bid farewell and some come to support me. And suddenly it comes back to me, in clear consciousness, what I always knew – that ten people or one hundred – if for no other reason than that is how it is, they will be the perfect ones to be there …

My own sense of significance and drama had briefly demanded more attention … Yet my mother’s passing will be marked, as we – the living – need to demarcate such turning points in our lives – to focus our loss on, and provide the means to say farewell, so we can move onwards in our own living time.  And for me the most impelling cause for a funeral is to celebrate a life having been lived, a life which has been part of your life.  There are many ancient reasons why, even in this electronic and eclectic modern age, we practice such ceremonies around birth, marriage and death …

This limbo between time from death to funeral is extreme and emotional, it has shifted the axis of my world – so my demons come out to dance on my dreams and dine on my exposed flesh.  I name and recognise these satanic creatures, and then I choose instead, to dance with the angels.

You see there I was with the expectation of attention and response.  Yet I know that there are many reasons why people do not reply and do not come, and how I feel about this is my own business – it is purely my own response to what I have put out there (which is after all an invitation, not a demand) and is in no way provoked by any one else.  And then I know that so often I have a choice about how I can feel … so having wallowed in my fear and anger, I have now let it go.  It is part of my process of processing what has happened; and now, at this time of writing, I am in a quiet space of reflection and acceptance that it will all be as it should.  This newer, positive sense comes from the pure me, the one who chooses the path of light, not the tunnel.  And verily, the dark demon of negativity still grabs me and tries to drag me down that tunnel; but I know, always, there is light at the end of it.

And we all do what we can, with what we’ve got … I had thunderbolt moment about this when someone called me to offer her support and condolences … she is going through her own very tough times at the moment, and she recalled all the offers people give at these trying times … to be there if asked … to do anything for you – if asked; and the thing is, usually no one does ask …  Well now, she said, she had decided to do SOMETHING … as much as she could manage right then, which was to offer me ‘a cuddle and cuppa’.  And I was so touched and it was a wake up call for me … me, who so many times has said, ‘just let me know if you want anything’ and then leaves it at intention … because I don’t want to intrude, or I’m busy, or my own life takes over or it’s not a priority.

And all these things are valid in their season … but may be, just may be, we could just all pause and wonder what we can do ‘beyond the words’, beyond our own small worlds, at times like these; and if that is sending our love and good wishes, then good … Yet, just for now, please support me in expanding my own horizons by considering the possibility of doing a thing, of actually paying it forward, as well as sending out a possible promise …

And I have received many such treasures in this limbo time … so much love, so much support, hugs, dinners, biscuits, transport, company and conversations.  And people have created time and space to be with me … So there it all is, in reality – all in balance; and yet, still – so fleetingly, I felt neglected – when really, I am getting exactly the attention that I need … And I want to say thank you to everyone who has given to me in any and every way, in these few last days.  I receive what you gift, so very gratefully.

So the emotional complications of my personality unfurl some more: triggered and exaggerated by sudden loss.  I kick over the implications, then I cuddle them. I give breath to the evil and the enervating, then I can reconcile the consequences and realise that these leanings are my lessons.

It comes down to this … This is a love letter to loss.  And it is a love letter in the sense that I appreciate and celebrate how this whole experience has ‘opened me out’, and how such trying times can, if we choose, alter us in positive and unimaginable ways.  And having started with anger and tears, I realise now, with humility and clarity, just how much I actually have – even when this weird day started with me swimming through the lake of my loss. And this letter may be the ramblings of a grieving child or it will be what ever it will be to its reader and what ever that is, I am good with it …

Then this letter starts to wind down … and one of the many reasons it is addressed to ‘Loss’ is that my inner poet loves the alliteration of all the Ls in a ‘Love Letter to Loss’ …

And so it is now, that I go from loss to love.  I end this letter with a salutation to loss and all the unbidden treasures that it has given me.  I do not in all honesty welcome it, yet I do intend to learn from it.  And last of all, and most of all, I raise my glass – every time: to Love …

Yours trustingly,

     Sandra

PS: Thank you for sharing this letter with me.  My mother passed away on 16 July 2012.  She was diagnosed with a condition called Parkinson’s Disease and if you could donate something to the organisation that funds research and support for this disorder, I would be very grateful for yet more gifts bestowed …  You can give online here …

Letter 2: To My Father

2 February 2012

Dear Dad

How strange to be writing to you again.  I can’t have done that since 1984!  And then you departed this life only 2 years later – after a traumatic 3 months, when I watched you slide down from life to death.  It seemed to be a horrible case of mind over matter.  Did your mind or your body end you?  It seems that they both conspired.  I can trace the day it started and remember so clearly the day it ended.

I tried to save you with love.  I remember sitting with you in your bedroom and telling you that I loved you and you told me that while I sat there and held your hand, you felt OK.  Yet that moment in time did not save you and you left us that Easter.

There I go, off at a tangent, starting at the end … still it’s MY love letter and I know that you will love it any way.  One thing you never left me in any doubt about, was the fact that you loved me, that you were proud of me and that I was wanted and appreciated.

I was a planned and wanted baby, born after a difficult period in a difficult marriage; the little girl that both parents hoped for.  You told me one day that you had a vision of me long before I was even thought of … the one female in your life that you would connect to like no other.

You told me too that I came out of the womb completely in charge and as soon as I could speak, I started ordering you around, which made you laugh and you were always amazed at my mature precociousness.

Thanks to you and the cosy nightly ritual of reading to me at bed time, I have always loved books and the beauty of the written word, and now have a creative imagination that can quickly take me to the realms of dream and wonder.

I remember that you would sit in the kitchen of an evening, with your legs crossed and as a tiny child I would sit in the crook of your foot and swing on your leg – my very own daddy swing, as I chattered away to you.  I love the memories of us then, of being my daddy’s girl.  A gift to you in your middle age.

From you I get my sense of humour – we love puns and word plays.  You have a definite sentimental streak and would cry at a sad film.  You would drive me and my teenage friends around in one of your old cars, singing away at the top of your voice completely unselfconscious; and I remember at the time thinking it wasn’t socially ideal, but it was funny and deciding not to be embarrassed.  My friends would have to accept that that’s how it was, along with the ride, that it was all part of being with me and in my life.

And so we grew older, both of us.  You always wanted me to be happy and never pushed me, though some how at the end, when I came home to roost for a while, I became a little disenchanted with you.  Maybe that just has to happen, we children have to move away psychologically, to live our own lives.

I always loved you though and what I am left with, a quarter of a century after you left this life, still, is that love.  I have so many inheritances from you, both natured and nurtured and can sometimes see your handsome face in the mirror … and then it goes again and it’s just my reflection, your unique angel, partly of your creation.  And so there we are and now it’s time to end this letter.

I loved getting in touch with you again dad.  Let’s do it again 🙂

Love you loads,

             Sandie Annie xxx

PS: Dear Dad – who knew this letter would touch so many hearts and be the start of my first published book… Thank you for your love and belief and the for the gift of my book, which I know you would be so proud of… Dear Reader, if you liked this letter and the letters which followed it, which became  published as ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’, you can buy your own copy of the book in paperback and in Kindle

Me n Dad
You, Me and Our Snowman