The most generous thing you can ever give…

You know when you can’t shake an image from your head? You think you have, and you sit there, your mind dormant for a few minutes watching the tv or reading a book or making dinner and then POP! It suddenly raises its head and you see it in your minds eye again. As if you are seeing it in real time again for the first time, and then again and again? There is an image I can’t get out of my head. A mother kissing her little girls coffin goodbye. At 29 she was still her mothers baby.

My friend died suddenly. We buried her yesterday. Her funeral was without doubt, the most beautiful, and for want of a better word maybe, the happiest I had been to. It was a celebration of who she was and what she had done in just 29 years. And it actually was a celebration. People were dressed in bright colours and floral patterns. People were smiling. Her parents asked us to applaud her memory and we clapped until our hands felt fuzzy and tingly. There was champagne at the wake. It was almost…like an special celebratory event but the the person who had invited you was just out of the room for a few moments. Have you seen her? No, she is in the other room I think…

The room was filled with her energy. She was alive in all of us, in our memories.

I felt almost like a fraud for being there. There were people there who knew her better than I did. Should I leave and let them soak up the vibe about her and let them take each memory heard talked about as they passed other groups of people and scurry them away in their thoughts? But no, I eventually thought. I am part of that too. I am part of her memories. So I shared my memories too…

I thought I would be angry. Why has she died when others, old people, mean people have lived? But I didn’t. What I felt was…happy. My life was richer for having had her in it and I was so happy for that.

I woke up today and today has been a happy day for me. And completely effortlessly so. I didn’t wake up and think I would deliberately make today a happy one. It just happened. I seemed to, without contriving to, find something enjoyable out of everything I did. I saw things for the first time in a long time, on a lot of stuff.

I didn’t worry if I looked silly at Ed’s football class, or if my bum wobbled when I ran. I didn’t worry if I babied Ed too much during his lesson. I grabbed every single moment and stored it in my mind and memory. I did not let a single moment or memory sneak past me. I beamed. My face hurt from it.

I didn’t moan or get frustrated when my husband went round 3 opticians to find his perfect glasses. I would have done, normally. I would have thought we had a dozen other things to do that day. I didn’t today. He needed my time, even for specs, and I gave it willingly. This, threw him. He seemed a bit nervy… I gave honest opinions too, none of my normal “oh yeah they look great” whilst I finished writing my shopping list on the back of an old envelope. None of that. I meant it. I wanted him to know I was giving him my time and thoughts. And he did, he looked great in his new specs. He took my breath away. Actually truly, made me gasp. Silly maybe. Only a pair of specs. But I saw him, with new eyes, in his new eyes.

I didn’t care about the scornful looks I got from other shoppers as I played with the kids in the shop. I put glasses on Ed and we laughed at his silliness. At our silliness.

I got Alex one of the balloons he wanted and let him leave the shop with it….techincally, theft from a display maybe, but who cares? I didn’t.

I talked to the little boy dressed as a policeman in the shop. I normally would have anyway, out of politeness. But I wanted to with all my heart today. To include him in our game. And he smiled a different smile to a kid included just “because”. Maybe I read too much into it.  I don’t think so though.

I didn’t recoil in horror at the food bill at the checkout in sainsbo’s. I didn’t begrudge my husband picking up the more expensive items rather than shop brand. I didn’t get grumpy at customer services when the queue was massive, even though the old bloke behind me was trying to goade me into it “Gawd, takin’ bloody ayyyges innit? Christ!”. Nope. It was no effort at all but 100% natural to just say “oh well!” and beam at him. I didn’t get angry when I returned something I had previously bought to “only” be given a credit note and not cash. That will come in handy at Christmas, I thought as I squirrelled the credit note away. I surprised myself. But the “surprise” was fleeting and passed in seconds, morphing effortlessly in gratitude. It was all natural today.

We had taken two cars into town (because I went to football with Ed and Smudge did something else first with Alex) and Smudge and I raced each other home, taking different routes. I was desperately sad when Ed and I didn’t beat Smudge and Alex home. I wanted to, for Ed. I wanted Ed to be pleased and proud of me. I was sorry I disappointed him. But I didn’t. All he wanted, was not to win, but was my time. We got out of the car and he said to me “you are the best, mummy! Next time!”.

I didn’t mind doing the bedtime story for the boys (normally a chore after a 13 hour day)and I choose, myself, the longest one I could find.

I chose and ate a chocolate bar and didn’t feel guilty. I looked at my body in the mirror when getting changed for bed and thought “I actually don’t look that bad”.

Today I’ve seen Ed run the best in the room, even though he wasnt the fastest. I have seen Alex build the best train track even though it was wonky and the tracks didn’t meet up. I have blown dried the childrens hair and seen every colour in it. I have seen my husband be beautiful and kind and funny. I sat and listened to my children, not talk over them or half listen or finish their sentences.

My mum told me once, the most generous thing you can ever give is your time. How, HOW did she ever get to be so wise? I wont call her Yoda. She doesn’t like it.

Dont get me worng. I know I wont do this every day. I am normal. But today, I did. And it was effortless, which really surprised me. Out of it all, letting go of the rules and the reigns was, effortless. And we have all laughed all day long. I feel happy.

I am happy.


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26 Responses to The most generous thing you can ever give…

  1. This post made me cry! Really beautiful and so true. My wise Mum says memories are never a waste of time. I intend to pass that on to Lucie. x

  2. Mike says:


    …Beautiful, just beautiful.

    I try so hard to get to this kind of outlook…but you hit the nail on the head, you don’t try, you just do. It happens. Nice things happen to nice people. Positive things happen to positive people. Fight only the important battles and the ones that you’ll win! (Though in the blog you put it so much better!).

    I’m not the only one to notice that if I’m peeved with myself or Jacks (which never happens!!), more than likely the kids will be shouted at – or in trouble very quickly…thus ruining my own day!

    I guess the thing that’s moved me to reply, is…you’re a superb mum and such a great friend and over the last year or so, I’ve worried (is that the right word?). I hear you’re knackered and going to bed at 8, see/read you’re pi**ed off at someone as they’ve made your day a misery (not thinking of Smudge here!) or hear about the next phase the kids are torturing you with and wish I could help.

    I can ask Smudge, “Is Hannah OK” but we’re blokes so the only answers can be: “yup” or “dunno”.

    But I’ve read the blog tonight and am uplifted as I can see what a great day you’ve had and hope that carries on as long as possible. It’s brilliant that you’ve put in writing the key to many problems I have – and I see others I care about have.

    This should be required reading for any parent…though in some places I guess that makes it a GCSE syllabus!

    Finally, it must be awful to lose someone that young and I cannot imagine what Emily’s family and friends must be going through. But, what a great reaction. Everyone celebrating and having a great day (in those circumstances) we can only hope we have given that much joy that people will do the same when we’re gone.

    Keep it up Hannah xx

  3. Nisha Lucas says:

    That was lovely!!!!

  4. Fi says:

    You are truly amazing and inspiring. And right. time, making time, smiling and making people smile and happy costs nothing. We should all remember that.

  5. darren says:

    love you hannah xxx beautiful xxxx

  6. Auntie Kath says:

    What a lovely caring person you are, but we always knew that from the first time we met you. Funerals should be a celebration of life and what the person has achieved and done for others, memories are with you for ever. One should always remember the good and often funny things. Being nice to people wherever possible doesn’t cost money – only time and we should all be able to afford that. ” If we can help somebody as we pass along then our mission has not been in vain.”
    You will always be lovely and caring to us and your family and friends are so lucky to have you and know you. Just carry on being our Hannah and carry on listening to your Mum – she is a wise lady. XXX

  7. Mike says:

    Beautiful blog, Hannah…


    Let me apologise as I thought I left a message earlier to this brill blog post, but evidently I didn’t (and this reply is a poor relation to the other!). If, for some reason, the other comes up – please ignore this one x

    Thanks Hannah, for putting into words something that I have tried, but failed to do.
    That is along the lines of; positive things happen to positive people, happy things happen to happy people and shitty things often happen if you start to think shitty!. It seems easy, but we all forget…or don’t have the energy. It’s easier to be happy than sad!

    You are a fantastic mum and a great friend, and
    I admit I have worried in the past, with the 8pm bedtimes, the updates where it’s obvious you are “peeved” (for want of a better word!) and the trials and tribulations of the kids…I just wish I could help.

    I ask Smudge, “is Hannah ok?”, but as a bloke,
    all he is able to reply is “yep”, or “dunno”

    So, the blog has done two things; the first is I am so happy to see that you are happy, but as importantly, it’s reminded me that we can be too!

    Finally, you celebrated Emily’s life, I never knew her, but she sounds awesome. Maybe that’s that best aim, let’s all strive to be that person that people want to celebrate when we go…surely that has to be the best aim in life

    Great blog Han xx

    • Hannah says:

      Oh mate – thank you. xxxxxxxxx What a lovely comment to leave – thank you so so much.
      Your other reply is now listed too (comments tend to be needed to be approved before they get posted and I have just seen it to approve it – i think its in case people are mean!). So, you have spoilt me with two lovely comments for me to hug to my chest and read over and over.
      You do help – you, jackie, all of our friends, by just being there and listening to my endless moaning! (and for taking Smudge out every Thursday evening 😉 Joke). You are brilliant friends. I am a very lucky person.

  8. Pam says:

    Wow! Tears in my eyes Hannah. This is my most favourite post you have done, inspiring, beautiful, thought prevoking, even breath taking!! Giving time, caring and random acts of kindness, even a little goes a very long way. All I can say is thank you, and I’m off to go and enjoy this beautiful sunday (its sunny too!) with my amazing family, and give them every second of my time…..sod the ironing!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 much love xxx

    • Hannah says:

      And THAT is the BEST comment ever! I hope you and the family are having the best day enjoying each others time and company. and so the ironing!!!!!!!!

  9. bonniecrfot says:

    Love you hannah . I am a very lucky Mum to have you as my daughter .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  10. Terry Waywell says:

    This is a marvelous post and you have put things better than I could have done. x

    • Hannah says:

      Wow – thank you very very much. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment on the post. Thank you x

  11. Hannah too says:

    Hi Han,

    Great post and so very very true too. As you know I’ve had my share of things happen in the last year that have meant I have many moments and days like the one you describe where I’ve been full of a joy that I’m still here, living my life and loving my children. Those days your somehow more alive, and more full of the joy of being alive.

    It’s so easy to take what we have for granted, to get bogged down in the day to day grind. And lets face it when you’re a stay at home Mum, much as you know you’re fortunate to get to spend so much time with your children you get your fair share of frustration, stress and down right boredom! You’ve described so well what it feels like to suddenly open your eyes and realise how wonderful it is to be alive and how we are so lucky to be here to experience more and more life – both the good and the not so good stuff. x

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks for your comment Han. You have had such a tough year and your outlook has been an inspiration to me at times. xx

  12. Caroline carter says:

    Hannah, I so nearly didn’t read your blog, as I thought it might make me feel sad (and I was feeling a little wobbly) but I’m so glad I did. I’m pleased your friend’s funeral was such a positive experience, and your sense of carpe diem a true guiding light for this chronically tired, overweight and grumbly mum.

    I’ve had a lovely weekend with my family, but for some reason I started picking at Matt this eve. “I feel like in a hamster in a wheel” I protested “load, unload dishwasher, meal prep, serve meal, clean up from meal, load un load dishwaher, empty washing machine, meal prep etc”. (He looked a little hurt, as this weekend he has been making a real effort and done most of the above and I even had a nap this afternoon.) “I am supposed to be a stay at home MOTHER, not a bloody house slave. I feel like I spend 90% of my time doing housework and 10% with the kids.” (an unfair thing to throw at him as he’s done 90% of the housework this weekend and I’ve spent quite a lot of time with my kids.) “If this were a REAL job I’d delegate or subcontract all this crap.” Looking totally bemused at where all this has come from Matt says softly “perhaps we should get a cleaner”. I stomped off downstairs, fired up the laptop and read your blog. Thank you Hannah. Thank you for stopping me in my tracks and making me realise I was ruining a lovely weekend. I’ve appologised to Matt and will now tuck myself up in bed with the happy memories of the weekend.

    • Hannah says:

      Wow – you have summed up pretty much how I feel, how I am sure we ALL feel at times. Very well put. I am so so glad you got something out the blog. But don’t be too hard on yourself – everyone is allowed a rant and an explosion every now and then. We all need it.

  13. Memories are the only thing your kids will have one day. This is the philosophy that has changed my life since I lost my Mum, and now changed my career so that I can help other families realise it and preserve them, too.

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks for your comment Helen – it means a lot. As does your whole outlook. I don’t mean to suggest that I knew your mum, but I am sure your mum would have been very very proud of you.
      Hannah x

  14. Bubble says:

    I agree with all of the above comments – beautifully written, Han.
    It’s so important to feel lucky. There’s nothing else quite like it.
    Hugs x

  15. AliG says:

    So I’m late to this but this is an amazingly uplifting, perspective giving blog. You’re presently getting me through the time I actually get to read (Bodhi boobie snack time) so I’ve started at the blog beginnings and I would not be overstating when I say that these are really helping me through. This is so lovely, and tomorrow, I am going to use this to get me to view the dark time (when it inevitably crops up when I feel I’ve no more left to give, which of course I have I just need to man up!) in a different way. X

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