Later this August it’s my birthday. I’ll be 33, like a long-playing record, or the temperate at which water boils. Or, interestingly (/uninterestingly), the one age I’m likely to share with Sgt Pepper. (In cat years, like. I’m not 4. Just to clarify.)
Anyway, yes, birthday. There was only one thing I wanted for my birthday: to make it there. And, provided I can avoid getting sawn in half, tripping over boxes marked ‘TNT’ and keep away from falling pianos on the run-up to the 30th, I think we can safely say I’ve done it. So what else do I want for my birthday? (Aah, 33 years of ‘I want doesn’t get’ utterly wasted eh, Mum and Dad?)
Well, since you ask, there is something I’d like, please. (Pah, as if my parents didn’t drill politeness into me from the womb.) Just one thing. And it’s pretty simple. See, with my birthday in mind, I’ve been looking at my life in terms of the things that I need. Not the working-iPhone, Mulberry-handbag, three-pairs-of-Converse stuff, because a) I’m a jammy bugger who’s already got that covered, and b) none of that matters, in the grand scheme of it all. And so, what I realised I really do need, then, is to continue my life in the manner in which it’s currently being lived: sometimes expectantly, sometimes anxiously – but, ultimately, happily.
But where the hell can you find the wrapping paper for that, eh? Well, that’s kind of the point: I don’t want you to buy wrapping paper. Or, for that matter, a card. And more to the point, I don’t want (sorry – wouldn’t like) you to buy me a present, either. Because, as suggested in the above paragraph, there’s something I need a lot more instead.
As no doubt you’ve heard from me over the last few months, I’ve been spending some time – every Thursday, actually – at Trinity Hospice. (Yeah, I shuddered the first time I heard that, too. Turns out, though, it could easily rival Disneyland for that ‘happiest place on earth’ title. And if you don’t believe me, come along one Thursday and I’ll be happy to prove you wrong.)
It took a rather unadvised handful of anti-anxiety pills to even get me out the door on my first visit, so shot to shit was my confidence. But, as I later explained in this blog post, Trinity’s mobility-bus driver Mick, who came to pick me up, assured me that the happy-go-lucky girl I once was would be coaxed out again, with the help of the day staff at Trinity’s day centre, Mulberry Place.
Thursdays have since become the jewel in the crown of my week. I’ve benefited from physiotherapy, worked my way through some tough-ass psychotherapy (and some much gentler counselling), learned new skills and made new friends. And granted, those friends are, um, let's say 'more than a few years' older than me, but they’re mates in the truest sense of the word: we love each other’s company, we can talk about anything (and equally, nothing), we constantly take the piss out of one another, gossip like teenagers on a lunch break, we’ve got each other’s backs, and have each contributed towards the building of an enormously special dynamic. Seriously, if we weren’t all so bloody sick, we’d be the Avengers or something.
The aim of the staff at Mulberry Place is to “improve wellbeing by building the confidence of patients, families and carers; helping them to find ways to cope with what may be an uncertain and challenging future.” All of this care – both at Mulberry Place and Trinity’s in-patient wing – is provided free of charge, yet only one third of its funding comes from the government. Without the £6 million raised in charity every year, Trinity Hospice simply wouldn’t exist. (And £6 million is a heckofa lot to ask for a local charity.)
Which brings me back to my birthday, and my wishes for it. I’m lucky enough to have an incomparable husband, an exceptional family and truly wonderful friends. I have a lovely flat, with a wonderful cat and a fully-stocked fridge. I have the ability to work, enough money in the bank to keep me in Tunnock’s Teacakes (or, more to the point, mini Twister lollies – The New Tunnock’s) and, for now at least, I have my health. But despite the combined brilliance of every thing and every person above, when I found myself in a sickeningly depressing, post-treatment slump of terrifying uncertainty, only one thing was able to bring me back to life: Mulberry Place, and all the superbly rehabilitative, healing, restorative magic that goes on within its doors.
Thus when I said that what I’d like for my birthday is to continue my life in the manner in which it’s currently being lived, I’m sure you can appreciate how integral Trinity Hospice is to that. So, please: no presents or cards this year (I won’t be in the country to accept them anyway) – how about giving whatever you might’ve spent to Trinity Hospice instead? (Or, more specifically, to Mulberry Place, which is where I have asked that any money raised on this page be apportioned.)
There is, quite genuinely, nothing else I need… nothing except my Thursdays, and all the lovely things I already have in my life. So let’s save the festivity-type-stuff for another time, yeah? Maybe for when I make it to 34. Because hey, who wouldn’t want to celebrate being the same age as the atomic number for selenium, or the dialling-code for Spain, eh? Oh aye. We’ll go mad then.
With all my love,
Happy-go-lucky Lisa x
PS: Obviously, not all of you reading this are in the circle obliged to know my birth date – and thus, of course, I absolutely don’t expect you to contribute towards my birthday fund for Mulberry Place. What you might like to do instead, however, is help me spread the word about how wonderful Trinity are, whether by sharing this page, or by learning a little more about the hospice via their website, here.