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Living in The After

green winter coat with all-black outfit
green coat with red hair


here are certain events in everyone’s lives that have the ability to split everything into ‘Before’ and ‘After’- and nothing that occurs in The After can ever be the same as it was in The Before.

I remember when my gran died, I scribbled out the date on the calendar that hung in my room – almost scoring through the paper with a big, black X. I was trying to obliterate it – as if crossing the date off the calendar would somehow cross it out of existence, and make it not have happened –  but all I succeeded in doing was drawing attention to it: emphasising it, so that every time I was in that room, my eyes were constantly drawn to that big black X on the wall. When I think about my childhood now, everything comes either Before or After that date, which I have never forgotten, even although it was almost 30 years ago now. It was the First Before – but it wasn’t, of course, the last, because the fact is that life contains many of these dividing days, lurking innocently in the calendar for years and years, until one day they’re singled out for a big black X of their own. Not everything that comes After is bad, obviously – life doesn’t work that way – but it IS all After, and wow, but it’s an adjustment.

These photos were taken in the newest After – on the other side of this latest line in the sand, and it felt strangely disloyal to even think about going out and taking photos, even although that’s been the pattern of my life for as long as I’ve been blogging . After my ectopic pregnancy, last December, I remember telling Terry that all I wanted was for things to be normal again: to sink back into my usual routine, as if nothing had happened. Back then, that daily routine was comforting to me: now, it’s just a reminder that we’re living in The After, and that absolutely nothing is the same.  So I didn’t want to take these photos, but I did it anyway, because life goes on (Surely one of the saddest phrases in the English language…), and the strange thing about blogging is that the life that goes on still has to be recorded: both the Before, the After, and everything that comes in between.

Of course, one of the hardest things (but also one of the most comforting, I think) to come to terms with is the fact that you never really know you’re living in the Before until you aren’t any more. And while this time of my life feels like the beginning of an apparently endless After, it could just be the start of another Before.

(I mean, probably not, obviously, but you never know, do you?)

red hair and green coat

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La Redoute coat

ASOS trousers

Zara boots

Random ancient sweater

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What do you think?

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  • Beautiful reflection. It’s important to grasp everyday by the handles and be grateful for everything and everyone in your life. Something I need to remember to practice more!

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Deserae
    March 27, 2017

    That is an excellent observation, the before and after. There seems to also be a spectrum of intensity, with the memories of the last bit of “before” taking on a different quality, and the intensity of the “after” changes over time. I think there is a lot of “before” and “after” in good events, as well. Like our lives are heavily punctuated, and you just hope to keep the balance to the positive. This post has made me all philosophical. Even so, that is a really beautiful coat, and an almost obscene amount of sunshine in the photos. I hope your “after” continues to be more sunny. 🙂

  • Rosie
    March 27, 2017

    Beautifully expressed, Amber (and great coat – I know that sounds trite but thought I’d say it anyway).

  • Myra Boyle
    March 27, 2017

    I think in terms of the before and after as well, In the momentous moments in my life. I am not the same person after. I wonder how many others do the same.

  • D. Johnson
    March 27, 2017

    Congratulations to you on taking these first, snowy steps forward.

  • Lori
    March 28, 2017

    Amber, thank you for this. Very well said.

  • Deanna
    March 28, 2017

    You speak so eloquently of the dividing lines in life…these dividing lines often become the pivotal moments of our story. I’m so glad you had Rubin for 14 years, and have so many moments with him in your emotional “bank”. The sorrow upon the loss is always proportionate to the love that one felt, I think. Our dividing lines can be drawn by both good and bad events that change us forever. My most recent dividing line was participating in the Women’s March on DC on January 21, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. This is a moment that I hope my children include when they tell my story, just as I tell my children about my grandmother serving as a riveter during WWII. Keep the memories of Rubin alive and tell his story and he will always be with you…sending hugs your way!

  • Maria
    March 28, 2017

    Beautifully written Amber, your words have so much value … the validation of how I and I’m sure others have had ‘x’. The before and after … indeed , and the hardest thing at all that life goes on… seems so cruel when life as one knows it has been forever altered. … the waves that overcome you for such a long time after .. when all around sails unknowing ….

    I suppose you know inside those who know look over us would wish us only to find comfort and a smile on anything we can …. that knowledge is the thing that must drive you forward xxxx

  • Maria
    March 28, 2017


    I wondered if you may find something in reading Shana s and willows blog … I’ve followed her for years … I know you have a love of horses too …. hope you don’t mind me sharing xx