This is your LIFE.

the slide show was at my birthday party.

my husband had set it up – obviously completely unknown to me.

i DID see the mortifying pictures around the walls as soon as I got to the venue,…but for me that was the “THIS IS YOUR LIFE ” moment..20141115_0024_Helen_50th_Gaelsroom PACKED with friends… all saw the pics, so the mortification was complete.

but NO.

he connected up the laptop and then i noticed the slide was down and off we went….

LIFE’S TOO SHORT was the theme of the evening. I had handpicked people who meant anything to me. people i liked, people i loved. people i enjoy time with. People we don’t see enough. HAND chosen…

i spoke about the “arseways” way we Irish people do it…and keep all their real sentiments, stories, compliments, reflections and feeling on you until you die.  Mammy died this year and all of those thoughts were SO SO comforting to us, and my mammy was a gentle quiet lady who would have been shocked and embarrassed at the high esteem in which she was held by so many. but YES they truly helped us…..but as Irish people we are wonderful at being positive when someone dies, and tend to say NOTHING to compliment the person while they are beside us….. so my view on Life’s too short was told to all present and agreed to be a great reason for the party.

And as if THAT reality was not enough i chose NOT to accept presents, but to collect for a Rare Diseases Charity which i personally found signposted me, when i was give my weird and wonderful diagnosis of Chiari Malformation.


  • it was a mini personal history
  • there were the odd “aaah” cutie baby ones
  • there was one of a time when nobody else realised what was happening me. There in a picture.
  • there were children who grew up and had been great fun at the time
  • there were lovely pictures of mammy running throughout the show- mammy smiling, mammy young, mammy dressed up, different glasses, smaller glasses, but mammy very much a feature. That was both lovely and moving – both thankful for mam, and grieving for mam
  • daddy hasn’t changed much but you could see his role changing as mammy’s health deteriorated. But he has aged so well and physically changed do little, thank God.
  • My sister was there…HAIR over the years has been every colour under the rainbow. My closest friend. Life has never left the way we were when we shared the bedroom 🙂
  • pictures of me with my OH…as a couple then as a bride and groom, and as parents, and still together…through thick and thin, in HEALTH and poor health. together.
  • ALL our hairs and GLASSES changed…hairs got longer and glasses smaller as a generalisation. that got many giggles.
  • There was of course the MORTIFY your wife at a completely new level one where i was ON THE TOILET…oh yes… pants at my knees…all covered except the DIGNITY that i lost instantly and the enjoyment of everyone else!
  • friends periodically appeared who, like mammy, are not with us…but were so important at a time and place.
  • then we reached the cuties of my children, we all enjoyed them and they reinforced in a MAJOR way, how short life is…as my 2 young adults, and 2 young teenagers were all there…fa from the babies in the slides.
  • the later slides moved me terribly. A few years when i have lost friends through no willful plan rather from being placed in a situation – cleverly. BUT the friends, just a  very few of them, break my heart- again and again and again. … can never gt past the idea that those relationships are salvageable and valuable… i have extended the hand in many ways – including inviting them to the night…in a complete spirit of life’s too short and i really miss you. But they didn’t come. And i wasn’t angry, I was still SAD…
  • pictures of me involved up to the elbows in MUSIC making. HAPPY and HUMAN. and recently having recovered to a point where i feel able to begin to offer that part of me again, i AM feeling a bit more ME… I honestly think that was the reason so many asked “but are you improving in the last month or so?” – the real answer is NO… but it’s a feeling of being myself which music obviously has…THAT is like a light that has been turned off for too long. The people in those pictures were so big a part of my past…but are past…some of them. Some remain friends and waited patiently for me to begin to musically begin to open up again.
  • the last pictures were of me.
    • ILL me.
    • Brain surgery ward me.
    • me on oxygen
    • meningitis me
    • coming out of anesthetic me
    • tubes of brain fluid
    • very sick me
    • me in my wheelchair.
  • they were a bit shocking, as for whatever way survival works , i refused to accept how ILL i was…In the context of the ward i was in, i was perfectly normal…we were ALL ILL. the neurosurgical ward had a survival form of black humour which we patients AND the staff thrived on.  But as i looked at the pictures from this year, I saw how sick i was…and it made me recall those who didn’t call to me, send a card, the few who should have and i missed….the same few…and i remembered all that i had been through this year…
  • it was a draining slide show. A reality slide show. Amusing, at times emotional, sad and yet at times celebratory. But i suppose that is a reflection of where i am…and i suppose those who spent the evening with me, are the ones who are currently aware of me, my condition,

It was i suppose, my current Michael Aspel moment…this_is_your_life

and i NOW understand why when i even watched the show, i struggled with emotions for the guest. It has certainly unleashed so many for me…



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