Having discovered not only friends, but interesting folk and physicists on Twitter, I decided it was time to really put people power to the test with a strange request…
..and this is what I wrote:
Okay Twitter, a challenge: Can you find me a friendly kind person who is also a London-based glassblower? (Srsly)
This was kindly retweeted by @LDN among others and before too long I was getting suggestions in from people. Not hundreds, but enough leads to follow up.
It might seem like an odd request, but there was a reason, which I guess I can share with you now.
My mother, fantastically adventurous, life-long traveller that she was, loved the Sahara desert. There it is. Those little past tenses, “was” and “loved”, they still don’t quite come naturally to my fingers as I type, but that’s the thing, she died. In November 2009 we marked the 5th anniversary of losing her – and what a loss it was (and indeed still is).
She died five days after her 56th birthday, and although we knew she was ill, we had no idea she was *that* ill. Ever since then, instead of mourning the loss on the actual anniversary (which of course I still do), I collect her closest friends and family, and we join together to celebrate her birthday. I think she was secretly a bit scared of getting old, so we meet up, enjoy good food and great conversation, and we raise a glass to “not getting any older”.
This year, with it being the 5th anniversary, I decided I wanted to do something a bit special, and that’s what inspired the tweet above.
After mum died, I went on one last adventure with her, travelling all the way down to the Sahara desert in Morocco, where I sprinkled her ashes from a sand dune near Erfoud, at sunset. It was rather beautiful, a very special moment.
It was hard letting go, so I made a deal with the desert. “You can have a box of mum to look after, and in its place I shall take a box of you, Sahara desert, and look after that”. And so it came to be, that I have a box of the most soft and rich burnt orange sand – some of which travelled round the world with me on my next adventure, so I could feel she was close.
For the anniversary I thought I would share this story properly with her friends, but not only that – I wanted to share some of that lovely Sahara sand so that they could help me look after her too. I had a vision of small glass bubbles, part filled with the sand, so that they could be twirled and the sand would move around inside.
Twitter helped that vision become reality. The little handmade bubbles of glass were created by the lovely people at Chemglassware and each contained two little stars, one for me and one for mum, which occasionally sparkle through the sand.
In fact the glassblowers were so touched by my story that they took it upon themselves to make an extra bubble, for me, with no extra charge. Mine contains two Swarovski crystals in place of the stars.
Thank you Twitter, you had no idea how much this meant to me at the time and yet you came together and helped me nonetheless. What more can I say, but thank you, really, thank you so much.