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She entwines her chubby arms around my neck. I feel her warm, sweet breath on my cheek as she gives me a squelchy kiss. She giggles. I enfold her wriggly body in a tight embrace and, just for a moment, we are both still, wrapped in each other’s love.

That little wriggly, warm body grew.

Gemma-Rose says, “Can I please have a hug, Mum?”

“Of course,” I say.

“Can I sit on your lap?”

My youngest daughter entwines her long arms around my neck.  I enfold her in mine. I breathe in the sweet smell of her long blonde hair. Just for a moment, we are both still, wrapped in each other's love.

Then I say, “I remember when you used to fit on my lap."

“I still fit on your lap!” my eleven-year-old daughter declares.

I smile. It’s true.

“Will you still sit on my lap when you’re an adult?” I ask.

“Of course!”

We have a print of a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. It shows an adult Mary sitting on her mother’s knee. If Mary can sit on St Anne’s knee, surely Gemma-Rose can sit on mine, however old she gets?

I still sit on my Mother’s knee. I climb onto her lap and she tucks me safely beneath her mantle into that special place of love.

“What if you grow bigger than me?” I ask Gemma-Rose. “What if you get too heavy for my lap?”

“Then you can sit on top of me!”

Do mothers sit on daughters’ laps? Is that a strange idea? 

Do laps ever grow too small? Do we ever grow too big? Will children always want to hide under the mantle of their mother's love?

When was the last time you sat on your Mother's knee?

I’ve lost it and although I have spent a long time searching, I just can’t seem to find it: The magic has disappeared.

Do you ever have writing times when words seem to appear out of nowhere? They pour onto the screen or paper without effort, not quite in perfect formation but almost. When it’s time to edit, the wrong words are easy to find. They scream loud and clear. We pick them out and toss them away, leaving room for the right words to slide obediently into place.

I’ve written stories that I love. (Am I allowed to admit that?) Someone sprinkled a handful of magic dust over them when I wasn’t looking because I'm sure I could never have written them by myself. They make my spirits soar because somehow I’ve conveyed the feelings in my heart or the thoughts in my mind exactly as I’d hoped. When I read those singing words, I feel connected with my writing self. I understand her.

All my recent stories are rather ordinary. My words feel forced. They lack the magic spark. I could press ‘delete’ and send those posts on their way and have no regrets.

Will the magic will return? Will I ever write another piece I am totally happy with?

I rearrange my blog. I make it look different. I rearrange things a bit more. I highlight my best posts. I tell myself I do this for others, but deep down I know I don't. I do it for me. To give me hope. I say: “Look! You used to be able to write. Maybe one day the spark will return.”

And in the meantime, I post mediocre stories or nothing at all.

I know a time will come when I'll once again feel excited about writing. My writing life isn’t really over. But what does a blogger do while waiting for inspiration? How many rather ordinary posts can one reader take? I suppose it’s just as well I don’t have many followers. It doesn’t really matter if they say: “I used to read her blog, but her posts haven't been so interesting recently. So I unfollowed. I went elsewhere.”

This week I read Pray, Write, Grow by Ed Cyzewski. I didn't learn anything new from this relatively short read, but it was good to be reminded of these points:
  • We need to write primarily for ourselves. 
  • Writing and prayer are bound up with each other: When we write, we also think and pray and so we end up growing as people. 
  • The more we pray the better we become at writing. The more we write the deeper our prayer lives become.
Maybe I need to write and pray more.

So I’ve been writing. Not here on my blog. Not on my computer. I have a thick exercise book I’ve been scrawling in at odd moments. (Sometimes words flow better with paper and pen.) I’m not worrying about making everything look pretty. I’m not even worrying about my choice of words. It’s the thoughts that are important at this stage. Later? Maybe something will happen. 

Could the spark be reignited? Will my words suddenly take off at a roaring speed? Will they carry me to exciting places, even dangerous ones? Perhaps they’ll make me grin with delight or cry as they stab me with pain. 

If they do, I’ll have made it back. The magic will have returned. And I know I won't be able to stop myself from charging over to this blog, like before, to share my stories. So that's why I don't delete my blog. It might look abandoned, but it's not.

One day, my words might open their mouths and sing once more.

In the 5 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve seen many people come and go.

A reader might stop by regularly to chat and discuss. Then one day she disappears. Why? Did she lose interest in my posts? Did she get busy with other things? Or is she still hanging around but keeping very quiet?

I’ve also seen bloggers come and go. One week they’re posting and the next they’re not. Their online lives come to an end. I suppose their offline lives continue on.

But what if they don’t. Do you think people die leaving their blogs still floating through the Internet? What happens to all these abandoned blogs?

I remember when my grandmother died. Someone had to sort out all the possessions she’d accumulated over a rather long lifetime. It was a big job. Quite often I see articles urging us to prune back our stuff: Don't leave clutter for someone else to sort out after your death. I’m determined to follow that advice.

But what about my Internet clutter? Will I make sure I’ve cleared away all my electronic footprints long before I leave this world? Or will I just leave them hanging about in the cloud for someone else to deal with? I suppose I could give them to someone.

Just imagine…

This is the last will and testament of me Sue Elvis…

… I bequeath all my blogs, my Facebook page and my Youtube and Podbean channels, including the stories, videos and podcasts contained within said sites to…

But would anyone want them? “Oh my! I’m so lucky. I inherited a whole set of blogs! And a Youtube channel as well!”

So what do other people do with deceased estate blogs and social media? There must be some accepted way of dealing with them. Let me look. I’ll google it and then I'll be right back…

Okay, here I am, back from doing a little research...

Did you know Facebook accounts can be turned into memorials for deceased people? Even when I am no longer here, I can still have a Facebook timeline. (Or maybe that should be a ran-out-of-timeline.) My friends and family can still visit me on my private page. But I can’t gain any new friends. Yes, once I'm dead, that's it. I've reached my final figure. Unless someone unfriends me. Can people do that? Or will death protect me?

Now onto Blogger... 

Blogger won’t delete my blogs after my death. Of course, if a member of my family knows my Google password they could go to my Dashboard and get rid of them instantly with a click of the mouse. But if no one does that, I could be around forever.

Unless of course the Internet decides to fall from the sky and all that electronic information comes tumbling down and then evaporates forever.

Do you ever wonder if that will ever happen?

I got up early this morning. It was 4.30 am when I took my stuffed-up head and padded out to the kitchen in search of tea and medicine.

Three fluffy cat bodies weaved around my legs as I shivered my way over the cold floor tiles towards the kettle. I ignored the cats' persistent mews for an early breakfast while I waited for the water to boil. Then, with tea in hand,  I turned off the light and felt my way back to bed.

It was late when I woke up the second time. Sophie came to visit me.

"You're still in bed, Mum!"

"I was tired..."

"You're not well. You need to rest. No need to get up. I'll get you some breakfast."

She had a delighted smile on her face as she left my bedroom. She likes helping me. When I let her. Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who keep on going even when they don't need to. I'm not an easy person to look after. I especially don't like lying late in bed.

But this morning, I did what I was told. I lingered under my thick quilt, ate hot creamy porridge, sipped more tea and crunched up a couple of paracetamol tablets. Yes, I let Sophie help me, and I enjoyed it.

There was a second reason I lingered in bed: I didn't want to face my wardrobe. It's looking rather empty at the moment. All my knitwear appears to be in the washing pile. I really must do something about that. When I'm better.

It's good to let people help us, isn't it? It makes it easier for them, in their turn, to accept our help. So if anyone wants to help me wash my clothes, do you think I should let them?

Image: There's a whippet in the bed! by Lachlan Hardy(CC BY 2.0)

Would you like to hear a story? I have lots to tell. Many of them are about our son Thomas who died when he was one day old. I call these tales my Thomas Stories.

The other day I had an idea. Could I share my Thomas Stories as videos or podcasts? I’ve been thinking about this: How would I do it?

Recording the audio track is the easy bit. I’d do that in the same way I make podcasts. But if I incorporated the audio into a video, what would I use as a background? Viewers would need something to look at while listening to my words. I could add photos to make a slideshow except I have hardly any photos of Thomas. Could I use random photos of nature or something else? Or maybe one still image for the whole video would work fine? I just don’t know.

It would be easier to make my stories into podcasts. I wouldn’t need to worry about the visual side if I did this. But I’d probably have to pay for a second podcasting channel because I don’t think it would be appropriate to add grief stories to my unschooling podcast feed. And although unschooling podcasts are very popular, would people listen to a grief story one? I guess I could use a new podcast channel for other Faith based stories and ponderings too, so it wouldn’t all have to be grief.

Today I did some experimenting. I read out a sample story, one called The Gift and captured the recording using Audacity. That didn’t take long. Then I imported it to my video software program and added titles and a photo background before uploading it to Youtube. Watching the finished video, I think the audio quality could be better. There are a few clunking noises in the opening sentences. I started hesitantly, but perhaps I improved as I got into the story. Yes, it’s not perfect. I could have recorded the story again, but it’s okay for today. It's good enough to get an idea if a video works. Maybe I could have added a musical intro too.

Do you have time to watch my video? I’d love some feedback. Does a video work? What could I use for a background? Would a podcast be better? If you have any ideas about how I could share my Thomas Stories in an audio kind of way, please tell me. I’d really appreciate your help!

The other day I heard a name which caused my heart to contract with pain.

I was listening to an episode of The Catholics Next Door podcast. The host, Greg Willits, was urging his listeners to attend the Archdiocese of Atlanta's Eucharistic Congress that was held in early June. (I was listening to an old episode from a few weeks ago.) “Alan Ames will be there,” Greg said.

Alan Ames? That's a name from the past. It's woven into my grief. It's part of our son Thomas' story.

Alan Ames has been described as a 'visionary of our Times gifted with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.' When I was pregnant with Thomas, my close friend Annie attended one of his healing services. Carver Ames invited the congregation to stand for a prayer of healing, adding that anyone could ‘stand-in’ for someone not present. So Annie decided she would stand-in for me. She would ask God for a miracle of healing for our unborn baby who had a diaphragmatic hernia and wasn't expected to live after birth.

Immediately upon standing, Annie noticed that there was something very different about her lower abdomen: It was heavy and it felt like it was distending. Becoming alarmed, she thought, “It’s my womb. I’m carrying a child. It feels large. How could I not have known I am pregnant!” Annie then realized that Jesus had heard her prayer asking for the healing of our baby. She believed that the “baby” she was “carrying” was our unborn child.
Carver A then began to pray over the people and asked them to imagine Jesus standing in front of them with a kind smile of love, with His wounds shining red and dazzling. “Imagine rays of beautiful red and white light coming from the wounds, and from the white light a dove appears which is the Holy Spirit.” In her imagination, Annie could see the dove getting larger and larger as it came closer and closer and then suddenly she needed her imagination no longer. She felt a mantle enveloping her; the Holy Spirit was absorbed into her with a wonderful vibrating heat.
Then with a feeling of shock, the 'child' within Annie wriggled about and it seemed like it was being manipulated professionally and decisively by invisible hands. A wonderful Dencorub-type heat came in waves, beginning in Annie’s head, neck and back and travelling down to her feet and hands. With a feeling of excitement, Annie believed she had received a great grace from God. She believed that Jesus had healed our unborn baby.

When Annie told me about her supernatural experience, I wanted to believe God had healed Thomas' hernia. With the hole repaired, his lungs would grow as they should. He’d be able to breathe independently after birth. He would live. I thought God wasn't going to ask me to suffer the loss of a child after all. I cried with relief.

But Thomas did die and I did suffer. Annie and I were devastated. We just couldn’t understand why my baby hadn’t been healed. What had her experience meant?

Annie wrote to Alan Ames and received a letter from him:
Sometimes we interpret what the Holy Spirit is doing as what we want to believe is happening…What you were experiencing was the Holy Spirit saying Thomas is His and that Thomas will be with God in eternal joy.
At the time I was angry with myself for putting my faith in 'miracles' instead of trying to accept God’s will. I pondered the supernatural experience for some time. Had it come from God? I wasn't sure. But Annie was certain she and the ‘baby’ were touched by the Holy Spirit. She could feel how overwhelmingly joyful the baby was.

Sixteen years later, I still think we should be cautious about visions and revelations unless sanctioned by the Church. They can easily lead us astray and confuse us and cause us grief. It's hard to know what is true and what is not without guidance. I had wanted to believe God had healed my child, but He hadn't. I thought I'd received nothing but more pain. But perhaps I was wrong.

The Catholics Next Door podcast was still playing, but I was no longer listening. I cast my iPod aside, grabbed my tablet and googled 'Alan Ames'. I don't know what I was looking for. And I didn't find anything. Not on the Internet. But later, I see...

God is touching Thomas with gentle but decisive hands. He whispers, "You belong to me. You will be with Me in eternal joy." And then He overwhelms Thomas with His promised joy. Like Annie, I feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit. The pain in my heart seeps away.

Thomas does belong to God and he is with Him in eternal joy.

And I know for certain that this is true.

Quotes are from my story, The Miracle.

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