Connect and reconnect

This is the Banana and Coconut Loaf I made for my colleagues to eat during our department meeting. It’s a lovely moist loaf. (See recipe below). I think banana & coconut is a winning combination. It always feels like a waste to throw out over ripe bananas so I find myself using them up in a bake. It’s a silly idea really as I end up using a whole load of other ingredients (flour, eggs, sugar etc) just to avoid throwing out two bananas! Its a very easy loaf to make, so go on, sweeten up your work meetings with a slice of cake.

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Somebody I know described grieving to being like a boat on the ocean without a mooring. As an ex sailor this image has stayed with me. I know that the sea can be a very unforgiving place. I also know what it’s like to look towards land and feel completely removed from what is going on there. Conor’s daddy & I are good swimmers but being out at sea can be incredibly lonely and frightening. Sometimes we get a glimpse of what it might be like back on dry land but for the most part, just one year on, we are still out at sea.

I have been giving a lot of thought to what’s helping us stay afloat. It’s the idea of CONNECTION.  Much of our young adult lives are spent making friends and looking for life partners. I am always amazed by the effort Irish people go to to find people in common.  I’ve even been asked “You’re  from London, do you know……… ?” The need to connect becomes even stronger after a life changing event like a death of a loved one. When we connect with other bereaved people we learn we are not alone. For a while we stop asking “why us?” because we realise there are others with no moorings too. Our connections with those on dry land remind us that people care and that we haven’t been forgotten. It makes reaching dry land seem more achievable. During better days we have the energy needed to connect with others. Yet its during the bad days that we can find ourselves alone and most in need.

Through the power of social media we have found ourselves connected with a man whose young wife died the same year as our Conor. Spotting a beautiful but heartbreaking picture of a man on a tandem with daisies where his wife should be drew my attention to his story. Dave and his dog Lotte are cycling from Croatia back to the UK raising funds for his wife Emma’s favourite charities and planting Daisies along the way. After a short exchange of messages Dave dedicated a day of his cycle to our Conor. I invite you to read about Conor’s day in Croatia on Dave’s website daisytrailcycle.com. I subsequently received an amazing gift of a picture from Dave’s friend Sarah which I’d like to share (look carefully at the reflection)…

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At the start of this week Dave and Sarah were two strangers. Their generosity and interest in Conor tamed a potential storm and will never be forgotten

This week I returned to the workplace. It was always going to be a tough milestone. One year ago I left work to start my maternity leave a very different person. I didn’t think life could get any better. One year on my heart breaks for the loss of Conor and more recently my dear Dad. I feel like I have landed back into the workplace having been shipwrecked. I have a wonderful manager and colleagues who are going out of their way to help me to settle back. After Conor died my manager sought the advice of someone whose job it is to support bereaved parents. She was told “keep in touch, even if you feel like you are being pushed away and be the one to initiate”. This is exactly what my colleagues did. Over the year they connected and reconnected with me. I felt like I was returning to open arms that would be ready with lifeboats if needed.

Knowing now what it feels like to be at sea without a mooring, my manager could not have been given better advice. I previously would have thought that if it felt like I was being pushed away, I should back off. Now I realise that connections really can be lifesaving.

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*Top tip

Here’s today’s recipe:

  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 55 g desiccated coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 90 ml sunflower oil
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 125 ml soured cream (I use buttermilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract ( use the good stuff and not cheap vanilla essence)

Preheat the oven to 180. Line a medium loaf tin. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. (I don’t sieve flour but mix with a hand whisk.) In another bowl beat all the wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix gently until the mix is evenly combined. Spoon into the lined tin and cook for about 1 hour until risen and golden brown. Good Luck!

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