5 November 2016

Bonfire Night

Breath clouding in front of me in the biting air, nose numb with cold, body wrapped up warm and cosy. It was the first time each year that I let myself wear hat, scarf or gloves; no matter how cold it got before November 5th, I saved up that delicious warm toasty feeling for that special night.  

Bonfire flames dancing, glowing against the darkness, warmth radiating.

Jacket potatoes, slow baked for hours, steaming hot in their crispy skins, dripping with butter. Hot dogs wrapped in napkins, juicy with fried onions and cheese, ketchup dripping down my chin.

Stars and sparklers bright in the night sky. 

Family, friends, laughter, fun, excited children, shrieks of delight.

Smells of smoke, wood, hot food, and the metallic tang of fireworks and sparklers. 

The delicious thrill of risk, slight danger, wrapped in safety.

Sounds of the fire crackling, food and sparklers sizzling, people laughing, fireworks whooshing. 

Ah, yes, the fireworks. My favourite thing. Bright shimmering colours exploding against black sky. Awe, beauty, surprise. A chorus of 'oooh's and 'aaah's surrounding me. One year, drunk young men overwhelmed by it all: "Orange party! Pink party! Yellow party!"

All images from Pixabay.com

My absolute favourite night of the year.

I'm glad I got to experience that. The vivid memories are so beautiful; such a feast for all the senses. But they are painful too. If I didn't remember, if I hadn't loved it, I wouldn't miss it so sharply now. 

Because that night, that was once a feast for the senses, was once my favourite, is now a violent assault for me. Those noises, smells, bright lights, now too painful, too overwhelming. Even wrapped up in bed at home, blinds and curtains drawn, ear plugs and ear defenders on, it can be hard to cope with the noise, and I dread it.

When I was pregnant, I had anticipated the joy of sharing this special night with my daughter, of seeing her face light up, her cheeks aching from smiling so much, the sparkle of fireworks reflected in her awe-struck eyes. Instead, she goes without me, holds someone else's hand, cuddles against them for warmth, rests in their arms when her legs are tired. I know she's safe and wrapped up warm and happy with Daddy, I know she's fine, but I ache to be there too. 

Of all the things this hateful disease has taken from me, bonfire night is hardly the worst. Far from it. But tonight, tonight, it hurts. 


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