30th August 2001 was a night that I will never forget, a night that I will keep with me deep in my heart forever and the very reason for this journey.
I have always felt watched from the inside of my front door, a strange feeling, going to the bathroom downstairs in the middle of the night has me racing back up the stairs, the thought of someone at my back, watching me. It doesn't happen now, but then we've had the upstairs toilet put in, so I rarely go downstairs in the middle of the night.
Michelle and I were going to Janet's house for the evening, we were having a little ladies get together, Janet's sister was home from Australia, she would be the evening's entertainment. I had worked with Janet in the hotel where I meet the hubby and Michelle was her best friend. The hotel had a popular lounge with live singers on Friday and Saturday and a disco on a Thursday night, it was the in place to be, it had a long bar which remained 'heaving' all night at the weekend. Michelle's husband came to work in the pub and worked on the door as a 'bouncer' with my future hubby and they soon became best friends, Michelle then joined the work force and became bar staff like the rest of us. The pub was the centre of our world, we worked there, socialised there, meet friends and boyfriends there. We had all since left the pub and had young children. Our other friend and co-worker Evelyn had decided not to come along that evening as it was her daughters first birthday the next day and she was having a party, she did not trust herself not to get carried away with the night and be suffering the next day.
Armed with a half bottle of vodka and a bottle of lemonade, those were the days when I could handle my drink, we got a taxi to Janet's house, there was a nice comfortable amount of people already there, her sister Linda from Australia, her other sister Joan, incidentally she had also worked in the pub and a few neighbours. We got our drinks and joined the others, Janet had made a lovely buffet.
I sat back and listened to the conversations in the room, taking everybody in, one neighbour in particular, Lorraine, had the strangest hairstyle I was totally drawn to her, I felt as though I couldn't look her in the eyes as I was so obsessed by her hair. The evening was a good laugh, Linda had left quite early as she was going home the next day so Joan had left with her. I was quite comfortable with the people in the room, we were all laughing and talking and at that, right out of the blue Lorraine said 'what age are your kids?' she was abrupt and I was taken aback 'eh 5 and nearly 2' I said. She kept looking at me and looking away, a bit like the eagle eyed Action Man figure. Between the hair, the abruptness and the rapid eye movement this confirmed, to me, she was in fact a weirdo! Michelle was very familiar with her, laughing and joking and I found this a bit strange, I was confused, who was this strange women? I was further confused when they started talking about church, Michelle was brought up a Roman Catholic and is my daughter's Godmother but she did not agree with many of the Catholic ways and certainly didn't go to church unless it was a special occasion, a fine role model as a Godmother, I know, but she would look after my children well. It then became quite worryingly clear, it was LORRAINE, the penny dropped. I knew Lorraine, Michelle had spoken about her often, it hadn't clicked when we were introduced. As a child, Michelle was surrounded by animals, they were, however, not real live animals, she knows now they were spirit animals. This obviously freaked her mother out and she was continually told not to be ridiculous, as with many children she got older and blocked these spirits out, realising only she could see them. After her mother passed, her younger sister wanted to go to the spiritualist church so Janet introduced them to Lorraine, who has 'the power,' she can communicate with the spirit world. She had been plagued with spirits all her life who wanted to communicate with her. Michelle had gone to school with Lorraine and as a young child Lorraine continually carried rosary beads and prayed, as she got older she learned to control the spirits and switch on and off. Realising it was LORRAINE, I said, 'I didn't realise it was you, Michelle has told me all about you' while I panicked thinking I hope she wasn't able to read my mind about the hair thing and that was why she was so abrupt. We chatted about the whole spirit thing, how, why, where, when, she told us that her middle son also has 'the gift' and she worries about him, she can help him deal with it, but would that be too much, should she encourage him or should she leave him to discover and ask questions for himself, he is aware of what is going on with his mother. The conversation was fascinating, she was not strange at all, well! Michelle and her sister had gone to the spiritualist church with Lorraine and while seated Michelle had seen a small white Scottie dog walk into the church and sit down at a ladies feet, watching this happen and realising that it was a church and dogs are not commonly allowed in the church freaked her out ever so slightly but she was keen to stay. Since her son C had been able to talk he had talked openly to John, John Brannan, this was Michelle's brother, who had died in infancy, we were all sure this would pass but he was still doing it when he went to school. He sat in my living room one day 'oh Hi John' he said, 'is that John in' I asked 'yes' he said, looking at me as if I was stupid, as if, there he's right there, silly me! Lorraine offered to talk to C and help Michelle, 'you know you can communicate with your mother, if you want to' Lorraine said 'I'll help you when your ready' Michelle decided she didn't want to deal with this conversation and so it was changed. It was only us left, Michelle, myself, Janet and Lorraine, I had worked my way through almost all of the half bottle of Vodka, house measures! Lorraine was still occasionally looking at me and again she said 'are you ok with this?' 'I love it' I said 'I'm fascinated' 'good' she said. I left for the toilet and returned to a silent room. 'What!' Michelle said 'it's ok, she'll be fine' 'What! what is it?' I said. 'Well you see there's a man here for you and he's been here all night, waiting patiently, he's waited a long time to speak to you' Lorraine said. Immediately with a nervous laugh I asked if it was my dad or my papa, you see I had been told by a fortune teller that my dad was happy in spirit world and he would never appear again. 'It's your dad,' she said nodding suggesting I knew that already. I was overcome with emotion and burst into tears, Vodka fuelled tears. I asked her if that was who she had been looking at all night and why she asked about the kids, she needed verification that she had the right person. She told me he had followed me out to the hall as I had gone to the toilet and that he liked the hall, although I knew that already.
'Can I come and sit next to you' she said
'Yes' I sobbed
'Would you mind if I chant, it helps open up the channels' she sat on the arm of the chair next to me with her arm around my right shoulder and the other hand resting on my left shoulder and began to chant, now at this point I thought, even in my distressed state, if I didn't know this girl and I had paid money to see her (not that she accepts money, she sees this as her calling, to pass messages where required) I would have been overcome with laughter, the chanting was unusual to say the least, but I continued to cry, I looked at the girls as I thought they might have been in laughter, but no, they were deadly serious they obviously knew how good she was.
She told me all about my dad, he had an affliction, something he was born with, he had no control over it, luckily I had not been born with an affliction. She told me he had loved my mother, there would never have been another woman, he could not see passed my mother, but the affliction was too much. 'Can you feel the love?' she asked, I felt nothing, she had her hand on my back, 'I wish you could feel it, it's so intense' 'I can't feel anything' I cried. I wanted so much to feel it, something, anything, a glimmer of my dad, the dad I had when I was young, the one before alcohol had got a complete grip off, but nothing. I was totally unaware of the fact that anyone else was in the room with us now, I wailed. 'He's here now, talk to him, tell him what you have to say' said urged. And what did I say, nothing, I was lost for words, caught up in the emotion, sobbing like a 2 year old and realising this was all a bit strange, I felt a bit stupid, I looked at her, knowing she wanted me so much to feel what she felt. Her closing sentence at that point was 'write him a letter, a letter about how you feel, not about what he put your mum through but about you, leave it lying about and he will heal you, Ok,' I nodded, two things about this sentence struck me, 1. if considering a letter I would have automatically started with what my mum had been through, so that was important to have that pointed out that this should be about me and secondly and most disturbingly 'and he will heal you' now until this point I had not realised I was in need of healing, she suggested lighting candles and gazing into a mirror and he would come to me, this freaked me out, I was not quite ready to deal with this. But I did say I would write the letter, so here we are 6.5 years later and this is what this whole journey has been about, getting to the stage where I can write this letter. Up until now I have been unable to deal with the emotional upset of facing it and this blog has helped me to do this and of course the support of my fellow bloggers. She also said to me 'don't tell your mum about this evening, your dad will heal her in his own way and she will know' I never have spoken to my mother about this as I thought by now he may have come forth to her and she would have mentioned it, but perhaps when I write the letter, he will step forward and make himself known.
I cried all the way home in the taxi, I woke the hubby up and cried to him for hours and of course he thinks all that stuff is 'shite' The next day at the 1 year olds party, I turned up with a bright red scabby nose and half shut eyes. I was amazed but sad, in effect she made me grieve, I thank her for bringing him to me or perhaps I should thank him for bringing her to me. But I look upon that night with affection, love and memory but also call it among my friends who were there as 'the night that devastated my life' I still feel like that now, I have felt deep sadness and emptiness ever since, but then I suppose that is how you feel when you loose someone. God that's it, that's what I feel grief, I have just this minute realised this must be the way people feel. 6.5 years later and I'm getting it, the realisation is happening, God I'm so slow, I always new I would write the letter but there has never been the right moment and now that time has come. I have thought about it often, but end up in tears and put it off. I had thought about the fact that instead of leaving it lying about the house that I might go and put it on his grave, which I think I've been to twice and maybe finally I can move on.
I took my daughter to the toilet in the middle of the night, she must have been about 2, as I crouched before her she looked past me 'who's that man?' she said 'what man?' I asked 'that man standing at the front door' she said 'that'll be my dad' I said confidently. For a long time after 'that night' I experienced feelings especially when I was standing at the kitchen sink, looking out to the garden, I would feel as if someone was blowing on my neck, it freaked me and I asked him to stop and one night I woke up to see a very bright light, like a star, about head height, it lasted a good few seconds and it was gone, I squinted through sleepy eyes to try and work out what it was. All gone, nothing since, perhaps I wasn't very open to his signs, perhaps because I asked him to stop, maybe he got fed up waiting for the letter. Who knows.