• Lara Flanagan

Blow out your candle and make a wish

Updated: Mar 1

Dear Tiney,


It is your birthday tomorrow and I want to make a wish. You would have been 44 and I miss you so much it hurts. When a day like tomorrow approaches, I am painfully aware that when you took your leave of this world, you left behind in your place, a box of darkness. In those first few awful months after your departure, I thought the darkness in the box would engulf me. I would never wish those months on my worst enemy and there were moments that I hated you for what you had done. I never hated you though. In reality, I hated your gift. That box of darkness that you left behind. I now know that the box of darkness is something that I will carry with me forever. It is something that changes constantly, in shape, size, weight and substance.


Sometimes it sits on my desk like a shoebox and I can rest my water bottle on it.  At other times, it is matchbox size and fits in the back pocket of my jeans. Barely discernible apart from the fact that whenever I sit down, it jabs me to remind me that it is there. On bad days it is helium filled and floats around my head as if hanging on an invisible cord connected to your heart in the heavens and the corners leave bruises on my skull that later ache at night. Other times it just sits quietly, hardly doing any harm, on my dressing table and then accompanies me as I go about my day. Sometimes, on the very bad days, it is swimming pool size and I worry that I might drown.


My little box of darkness is my new constant companion.  My clever little friend. A reminder that I loved and lost. That I was blessed to have a kindred spirit for almost 42 years. How lucky I was to have such a wonderful blessing in my life, even if the ultimate price for that blessing, was a box of darkness.


It has taught me so much. To be grateful. To appreciate the little things. To pay less and less heed to material things and focus on the things that you can experience with those that you love. Your box of darkness taught me that the only thing you take with you is your memories.

The things I miss most are the smallest things. The fact that rarely a day went by without communication. Whether it be an obscene text message or a series of FB messages where we would try to outdo each other with profanity. You were the voice on the end of the phone who never once got cross at me for not asking for help. You just knew how to help and you also understood that when times were bad I was not capable of asking. Sometimes you would not say a word and we would just sit there saying not much at all. Just like I did for you, when times were bad, except for the very end when you spoke to no one.


I miss talking to you. I miss your sheer bloody delight in my life and my crazy choices. Moving to the country, bitching and moaning about technology, my growing menagerie, my desire for a minimalist life. The craving I had for simplicity. The desire to pack it all up for a while and jump on planes with my two kids. You got it all, even though we were so different.

Last night I could not sleep. It was a big weekend and even though I fell asleep on the carpet at about 5.30pm, when I went to bed I turned into Lady Macbeth and started pacing the night away. Archie came into my room, spooked. He maintained that he had seen a figure staring into the house and had then heard them breaking into the house. Well, that certainly scared the shit out of me. I went to have a look out the front of the house, (with the words in my head, ‘don’t bloody go outside’) and obviously, there was no-one there, but if a figure had of popped up with a Freddy Kreuger mask on I would have shat myself. Then we checked all the doors, checked on our ‘guard dogs’ and I reassured Archie the only noise he had heard was his restless mother.


It reminded me of a night when we were staying at your and Al’s house and Rissie woke up sobbing because outside the window she could see a gigantic rooster who was going to come and kill us all. It took Rissie a while to calm down and convince her that the gigantic rooster was just a strange looking palm tree on a hill. As we went back downstairs, you said to me, “your kids are whacked in the head.” I would have loved to have told you about Freddy Kreuger last night so you could have said those words again.


Those are the little things I miss. A million little things that make up the most wonderful life. The endless times we laughed until we cried. You being grossed out at my gyoza burps in the Prince Charles Theatre in London. You telling me I was ok. You running off in the snowy moors in Haworth on Christmas Day and falling flat on your face. You simply being the best friend a girl could ever have.


I miss you Tiney. But I am doing so well. Despite your box of darkness. You told me I would have cooking courses one day and I do. The kids are thriving and they are so happy and in an environment which is truly magic. Our lives are simple but they are good. I am creating recipes. I am cooking. I am taking photographs, I am writing and we are still travelling.

I am so grateful and so lucky. There is one thing that your box of darkness reminds me of all the time. That you have to have known sheer blackness before you can be mesmerised by the beauty of the stars.


Most nights we light a candle and do our meditation. Then we say a prayer to you before we blow out the flame. I made the kids dinner early tonight as I did not want to tell them that it was your birthday tomorrow and that I am a little sad. Instead, later, when the kids are asleep, I will light that precious little flame.


Happy Birthday, Tiney,

Love Lou



#BrokenHeart #Grief

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