Have you lost someone that you love, a family member, a close friend, a partner? Grief is utterly horrible and it is so individual and unique. I know there is such a thing as the 7 steps of Grief but by God some days I feel like it’s 177 steps or at times that I’m stuck on a step or about to fall off a step!
My Mam’s 5th Anniversary is looming now at the end of January and in some ways it feels like she is only gone and in other ways it feels longer. Time is a funny phenomenon. Looking back I had thought I’d ‘grieved’, dealt with her death probably due to the fact we had known for some years that she wasn’t well and that there was no cure but I don’t think you ever give up HOPE for that miracle, that once off blessing that defies all odds? No matter the circumstances, the warning, the way we loose a loved one, it’s never easy to let go or to accept their death.
For many years I felt stuck, enveloped in the sadness, the hurt and pain of not having my Mam by my side to talk to, to laugh with, to do Sudoku and crosswords with. There is a real empty void when overnight their physical presence has vanished. Us humans are such sensory beings so not being able to smell their scent, their perfume, hear their laugh or voice or feel their hug and warm embrace is heart wrenching. It does feel at times that someone opened you up and broke your heart into tiny pieces.
However, having all that said I now feel I have turned a corner, I can feel more at peace about my mam’s death, I am able to look at her photos and smile rather than cry, I can bear to have little chats with her and it’s not as painful as it once was. Surely I must be on Step 6 at least!!
For me what’s changed is my perspective, my emotions and my relationships. Now I can see back to more happier times and not feel stuck within the cycle of her sickness and the trauma we all suffered, now I can feel all emotions again (still a slow process but I’m moving!) before at times I felt I couldn’t feel happy from guilt, or sad from the pain or anger from the shame! Gosh we are complex beings!! Now I can relate and communicate better than I ever could. I can now express calmly my emotions, my views and trust my thoughts.
I’m slowly regaining control again over my thoughts and being able to reminisce of times in my childhood with Mam, fond memories shared together and smile as I do so. I know she is with me every single day, guiding and protecting me and also giving me a good shake when needed!!! She wouldn’t want to see me sad, regret, have guilt or pain while remembering the past. She would only want me to feel the warmth of her, remember the true Anna Ward aka the Tough Cookie, the one who never missed a basketball match, the one who would give everything she had to make others happy, to lend a supportive and listening ear in times of worry or stress, help me with my homework/studies and pour out her love.
Coming up to Christmas and it’s just not the same as before, it’s a time for family and how can you be happy and joyful when someone isn’t there. That would have been my thoughts before now. Now I’m choosing happiness, I’m choosing fond memories and I’m choosing joy. The power lies with us which way we think/act and live. It’s not that I’m forgetting I’m now remembering. Remembering without the pain, the loss or hurt.
Sometimes we’ve got to take action in doing so. I’m organising a fun basketball gathering just after New Years (2nd of January) in memory of Mam, where we share stories, gather and remember the good times while making more!
How do YOU choose to Remember?
In all My Glory!
I know You’re Sad
You Miss a Friend you Had
But I’m Not Gone
Eventhough Time can Feel
I’m Still Here
Don’t You Fear”
Thank you to this Tough Cookie for a very insightful and touching piece. It came at just the right time for me to read it 👌🌊🙌🏻
I don’t have any particular wisdom to impart. At the end of the day, we share universal experiences in living and suffering, yet each experience is ultimately a personal journey.
A friend of mines father passed away recently. He suffered from dementia. My friend said he had died long ago to him. I can’t really relate to that – but my mom did die prematurely from cancer. The finality of it all remains a tough pill to swallow, even though the acceptance came eventually.
Dad has given up a lot on life in fairness. Can I blame him? Yes – but it’s his life ultimately. He will chose how he will live the rest of it out. It can be an exhausting battle to raise spirits, but it’s worth it for the fleeting moments of relief spread across his well wrinkled face.
Friends mean well and try to lift spirits when days get a bit tough. I think it’s those who just cannot relate who cause the most frustration – and yet they are inevitably the ones who go to the most effort to “help”. My perfect life is long gone lads but that’s OK too, it was never meant to be.
Some of those people turn out to be my closest friends. It can be an awkward scenario.
I had the birthday recently. “Why don’t you celebrate it?” is the common question.
Its complex lads.
Always a big family moment. The mother was always providing the black forest gateaux and lighting the candles across the table.
Jesus, that won’t happen again. Let me wallow in it.
And then the surprise cake appears and the guilt of actually enjoying the moment melts away while I share conversation with those who I’ve known through thick and thin.
The best remedy turns out to be the last thing that I think will work. Probably should note that for every other time I feel like shit.
In the meantime, Dad hasn’t brought himself to wish me a happy birthday yet. We both know he hasn’t forgotten – just it’s usually a joint effort. It was a massive moment for him not to pass the pen to mom to sign her signature saying love you to her eternally baby boy. I can forgive him that.
There’s a lot to be said for introspection. But probably a lot more to be said for just saying to hell with it.
I hate having to remember what I’ve gone through after mom died but my god has it stood to me. I actually feel slightly sorry for those who haven’t gone through a rough period yet. There’s no avoiding it really. Embrace the darkness, for you will be more resilient next time.
Life is about inspirational quotes, Instagram filters and #bethebestversionofyourself apparently. I’d probably have seen the sense in that before Mom squeezed my hand for the last time as I watched her die before me. But whatever floats your boat.
Life is a damn struggle and feeling like shit is all part of the journey. We don’t deserve anything we get but whatever we do get, it pays to stop and reflect on our experiences, whether they are good or bad. Take everything on board and make sure you learn something from it regardless.
That’s the lens I like to see it through. The joy in life has shifted towards a satisfaction with contentment. The sea of life is pretty choppy and even on the finest of days there’s usually a few waves. Anticipate the bad days and appreciate the good.
DEATH – it is a five-letter word with millions of emotions, heartaches, and tears behind it. Death was something that I wasn’t very familiar with in my younger years. Of course I knew people who died and had friends who experienced death in their families, but I was lucky that death never really appeared at my front door step. I didn’t know the tragic feelings behind the word. The first 24 years of my life, death was simply just that five-letter word.
September 3rd, 2016 was the day that death finally appeared at my door. Actually, it was more like death broke down my door and ripped apart my life, as I knew it. My Mom took her last breath on this earth. To say my world was shattered is a huge understatement. I was broken. I had never felt this amount of sadness and heartache before. I wasn’t prepared for how death really felt. It was an emptiness that I felt so deep into my soul I wasn’t sure how or if I would ever be able to fill it.
It’s been almost two years since I lost my mom and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and wish I could hear her sweet voice just one more time. Two years might not seem like a long time for most people, but it seems so long since I last held my mom’s hand in the hospital on September 3rd, 2016. I think anyone who has experienced death in his or her family knows that it’s not easy to fill the emptiness feeling. I have to admit that it still feels like a struggle for me some days, but there have been things I’ve done that I truly feel has helped me.
After my mom passed I started a new career. This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. I wasn’t extremely unhappy at my old job, but I felt that change would help me take my mind off of the sadness I was feeling. It created new challenges for me and also gave me the opportunity to meet new people and enjoy new experiences. I continued teaching fitness classes. This would have been something so easy for me to give up on because of the amount of energy that goes into it, and after my mom passed, energy was something that I lacked. However, getting back into teaching helped uplift my spirits and surround myself with people who wanted to better their lives. I spent time with my family, boyfriend, and friends. In some moments it was hard for me to get out of the house but I never regretted a single time that I did. Of course there were times that I forced myself to go out with friends or be with family, but it was good for me to interact with others and it gave me chances to talk to others about my mom and how I felt.
I have learned a lot about myself after death ripped apart my life at a young age. I had to be strong in times I felt like giving up, create new challenges for myself to keep my mind occupied, and focus on life instead of letting death consume me.
Death is something that everyone will experience at one time or another, but it’s important to focus on the things, other than sadness, that death brings. I have 24 years of cherished memories with my mom that no one can ever take from me. I choose to live every day making my mom proud of the woman she raised and the person I have become. I am not going to let death define the person I am today because I am choosing to focus on a four-letter word that means more to me, which is LIFE.
4 Years on Sunday, the day that changed my life forever, the day I had to say goodbye to you, well to you physically (because I know you’re still here) the day that our family felt no longer like a family and the day that I will always remember.
A letter to you, Anna, my beautiful Mam to tell you how the last four years have been. Yes I know you already know, I know you’re constantly there keeping your ‘beady eye’ on me! I’m so glad you are 👼🌸
It’s been 4years since you died. Time is so strange it seems longer. Time is not a healer, who ever made that nonsense up. Heal? It sounds like I’ve a wound that needs mending, that I need a bandage to cover a cut, a broken arm that needs knitting? How could I Heal knowing that I will never see you again, never feel your hugs or kiss upon my cheek? That you won’t be there for my Wedding day, or to be ‘Nana Anna’ to my children? Nothing could ‘heal’/’mend’ that stark reality.
Why is it so hard to remember your voice, your mannerisms, why are my memories too painful, happier times of you in full health are hard to find?
Grief is horrendous, why does nobody warn you? Maybe because it really is indescribable until you experience it, so different for everybody no two feel it the same. Surely that’s what makes it so unbearable? No two can ever really FULLY relate? This thought literally has just popped into my head. True/Untrue?
You always worried about leaving us, in particular myself & Dad. You knew Gráinne would be distracted with her children and life in Glasgow but myself and Dad? You were worried about us and right you were!! Ha ha you knew all along that we would clash, that we would be completely LOST without you, that I’d have nobody to tell Dad to stop winding me up and to go ‘easy’ on me!! I haven’t had anyone in my ‘corner’ to back me up, to support me like you did, who understood me when I didn’t even have to utter a word, who loved me a thousandfold, who believed in me and told me so, and who just ‘got me’.
It’s not Dads fault, I’ve changed so so much in 4years. He is trying to adapt to this ‘new Deirdre’!! You probably wouldn’t recognise me. Not that I look hugely different but it’s my soul Mam, it’s who I am within. I’m different. I know you’re proud and I know you love the woman I’ve become. I have YOU to thank. I know in a weird way, in you dying you helped me reborn and live. Loosing you helped me to first loose myself, to feel lost, to loose my sense of purpose, loose love, loose passion in my life, loose friends that didn’t ‘fit’, loose hope.
But in loosing you and all above, it helped me to gain so so much and win the best prize to win: ‘MYSELF’
I nearly don’t recognise the person staring back at me. What happened to the Deirdre that was painfully shy? Was extremely anxious? Was lacking self-belief and confidence? That held tightly to the safety nets and would NEVER take a risk? Not that she wasn’t good or that there was anything wrong, she just wasn’t ALIVE. She lived by and for others. Sound strange?
I lived to please others, to love others, to help others. Why is that all so wrong? It wasn’t Mam and you know it’s in my nature, but you also know I didn’t know how to do these things for MYSELF. I didn’t matter to me. I didn’t know me, I didn’t want to know me, I didn’t feel or see ‘‘me”.
But when I lost you, I lost me. So thank you, yes for dying so that I could FIND ME. Deirdre Nicole Ward. A hard price to pay to find myself.
I thought I had grieved, I thought I was healing, but only now do I know I’m only now ‘really’ grieving. I pretended I had accepted it, that I had dealt with your illness and death, but no I was acting, just like all those years that I thought I was ‘being me’. But it’s how it was, probably a mechanism to protect and sure why wouldn’t I protect myself from unbearable pain?
What I know now for sure is that the last two years have been shit. I was in a dark hole of grief, I felt lost, alone, angry, terrified, guilty, shameful, a failure, the list could go on. BUT out of all that pain, out of all those struggles, challenges and after those blows along the way, I’ve felt relief, I’ve felt lighter, I’ve felt stronger, I’ve felt love, I’ve felt confidence, I’ve felt pride and I’ve felt YOU.
You haven’t left. Your body did. But you, Mam are always here. Thank You. 😘
I miss you every single second.
Love you Always,
Your ‘smally’ (pronounced molly) Dote
Time is a Great Healer? I’m not so sure I agree. Does the pain and heartache subside when you have lost somebody you love dearly? I don’t think so. Time can’t heal a hole in your heart, time can’t heal the voice and warmth of that special somebody you miss, time goes by but that hole in your heart is never filled or replaced. Certain people are just “irreplaceable”.
Grief is horrible. I can honestly say it’s been the most painful and confusing thing to have experienced in my life and continue to do so. It affects everybody in so many different ways, I believe no two people deal with it in the same way so try not to compare. It can trick and fool you, your thoughts and mind. It will try to convince you that other people and external situations are to blame and are at fault for the pain, the hopelessness and helplessness that you feel. But surely it’s not grief, Mam has been dead three years now and I fully accept it? I know she had to die, she was suffering too much? I understand it ALL. That’s where my problem lies, I understand, my brain gets it, it’s all very logical but my body, my somatic experiences and feelings cannot understand or accept the pain and heartache of that very special persons death and absence.
How I know this? Because just as I said my BODY cannot cope with the loss. Our bodies are wonderfully intricate and can run smoothly when all is well in our world. They can amaze us with what they can endure/how they function. However just as I have experienced our bodies are also very sensitive and can react and run havoc when all is NOT well in our world. For the past year in particular I have been struggling with health issues, food intolerances, gut issues, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed at times. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster trying to figure out bodily reactions/sensations. As mentioned for most of the year I was looking at external factors, wondering what changes I had made with food, with products, decisions/situations etc The real change that I avoided for so long is that my mother, Anna is missing and is no longer here beside me. It took me a lot of side roads and roundabouts to finally and fully reach that sign that directed and steered me to finding the location of that ‘void’, that ‘hole’. The sign read Grief.
Now I have reached the point of not ‘trying’ to figure it out, not trying to change certain feelings/reactions within my body/mind. I try to acknowledge that is there but also to let it pass and move on. For too long I held on tightly to every ounce of pain, trying to figure out every single feeling. This is exhausting, this will deplete you of every ounce of energy and drain the life and soul out of you. Allow yourself to FEEL every way that you do. It’s ok to feel those emotions, they each do pass and yes ‘Time’ does move and yes it ‘heals’ to a degree.
I have decided for me that it heals me of the unbearable pain/realisation that Mam is not here physically or in person anymore, it heals me of beating myself up to ‘figure’ out all my emotions and just allow them through and to pass, it heals me of trying my hardest to make others understand and feel the void/pain as nobody can and nobody will ever feel my pain exactly as I do. So yes I do agree that “Time is a Healer” but Time certainly does not ever Replace or fully mend. There will always remain a piece missing, a very special place in my heart that is irreplaceable. I now fill it with memories and “love from above”
Life IS so PRECIOUS, please don’t ever devalue yours or another’s, to have a second again with my Mam would be a dream come true. Don’t waste a second, LIVE LIFE and LOVE LIFE.
This part of me has been extremely private and this past year it has been a difficult story to unravel and read. The ending? Unfinished perhaps in your eyes, in mine perhaps the ending is to be continued some day but very much for now it’s a closed book.
I am adopted. It has always been known to me and was never a secret. I have fond memories of going to special adoption masses with my family and it was a day out to meet other adopted children in Donegal. I did feel special but at times I couldn’t help but feel different. This was by no way fault to my lovely parents, they were always so open, loving and supportive but what I’ve learned this past year is that no matter how logical and understandable the situation was for my birth parents to give me up for adoption that feeling of being rejected and not being good enough remains.
I have nearly finished my first year sudying as a Play Therapist and it has been a very interesting but undoubtedly challenging year. To sit in class and to learn about how crucial and important the bond and attachment between mother and baby in the womb and then in the early days of life is was heartbreakingly tough. I couldn’t help but wonder and think of my own personal story. To be carried by a woman for almost 9months, to hear her voice, to feel her heartbeat, her laughter, her cries – to be connected to her whole being to suddenly being removed from that and to not hearing her or feeling her again. I never realised before how huge this would impact on my life. People talk about having trust issues well here here!! No wonder I was wary and cautious as a child and can still be to this day (however through my own hard work and self reflecting I’ve learned to trust and can see that being an open and loving person is the most rewarding way to be). I am so lucky and grateful to have the parents that I have. I never wanted for anything, I was loved to the ends of the Earth and I’m still the apple of their eyes! I never gave my birth parents much thought until loosing Mam.
Death is scary. No matter how prepared you ‘seem’ and tell yourself you are it is never a welcomed visitor. It is heart wrenching to say goodbye to someone you love with your whole being and who loved you in return unconditionally. To never feel their hug, their kiss on your cheek or the sound of their voice again. Unknown to me at the time (I did not connect the two events) it was the second such experience I had had. For the second time I lost my mother. For the second time an attachment was broken and lost. For the second time I was scared. For the second time my body was grieving and in pain. For the second time I felt lost. For the second time I felt alone.
Logically I was not alone. Logically I knew Mam had to die for her own sake. Logically I know she died for me to grow and learn so many lessons to which I am forever grateful. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today only for the beautiful woman that sacrificed herself for me. Logically all these things and events make sense it’s Emotionally wherein the problem and struggle lies. Isn’t that like everything else in life? We struggle with our feelings? We suppress the painful ones and cling on to the happy and loving memories? Life doesn’t work like this we cannot go on in this way, sooner or later the pain/anger/hurt will bubble and boil over.
My pot certainly boiled over. I had suppressed feelings of anger, hurt, rejection and betrayal for years. I had told myself it didn’t bother me that I was adopted. Sure I was so lucky? However the true feelings and thoughts surfaced. I felt rejected, not good enough and sad that as a tiny baby the people who brought me into this world left me. I found it utterly incomprehensible how a person could leave their newborn and say goodbye. For a better life? Out of love? Yes I’ve heard them all, yes I feel so lucky! NO! Feeling once again is not outwon by logic or reasoning. I know it was out of love for me. I know it was for the best life for me. But I couldn’t ‘feel’ that it was. As a tiny baby you feel, you cannot make sense of the world yet so feelings are what you base the world upon. No wonder my world was one to not trust and to fear.
Thank God today I have worked hard at and continue to work at eradicating those feelings. Why? Because deep down I know I AM good enough, I AM precious and worthy. I have all the parental love I need/needed in life. Through my Faith and prayer I’ve become stronger, more trusting, open and more loving. I see why my story has unfolded the way it has, I see both the reasons logically and emotionally now.
Finally I ‘See’.
“You must Feel to Believe!
If You Fail to Feel
Your World can Never be Real”
When my dear friend asked me to write a blog for her, I was initially hesitant but at the same time honoured that she had asked me to be part of her writings. As a nurse working in palliative care, I often find myself writing my thoughts, inspirations, feelings and memories of the wonderful people I have met and have had the greatest privilege of knowing as they journey through their final days, months, years of their lives. I am always taken aback by the thankfulness, love and gratitude that my patients and families display as they are going through this difficult, emotional and heart breaking time in their lives. The courage, bravery and unfathomable strength that they show each day is, what I can only describe as heroic.
I have learnt so much from listening and being present during their illness and if I could say one thing to each and every family and patient, is simply “Thank you”. Thank YOU for showing me what is important in life, thank YOU for strengthening my faith, Thank YOU for showing me courage, Thank YOU for making me believe in love, Thank YOU for letting me care for you, Thank YOU for smiling, Thank YOU for inspiring me to live, Thank YOU for “being you”.
Every patient that has come into my care, has left a imprint on my heart. But I am human and I sometimes meet families from times their loved one has been under our care, and I struggle to remember their mother, brother, sister and friends name. But I assure you that, they are not forgotten, for I am not the person I am today only for meeting them.
I often meet people and when they hear I work in palliative care; their initial reaction is always the same. It is filled with sadness and weariness “I don’t know how you do it” is the common theme! But I often think “How could I NOT do it”. My patients have shown me what is it to be human and quite simply what a privilege it is to be here today, and to be alive.
If there is one thing that my experiences have taught me, it is to take each day as it comes and to “live for today”. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, and my patients have shown me to embrace each day with love, gratitude and above all, a smile.
I have been blessed to have witnessed such beautiful moments. Sometimes it’s the words unspoken between a mother and daughter, or father and son that touch my heart. It’s the look of love in their eyes, the embrace of their hug or the long holding of their hand, that show me the importance of being with the people that matter the most to you and to treasure it wisely.
My patients have taught me to never live in fear or regret . Sometimes I feel and see a families sadness, guilt or regret when a loved one dies and they are not present for it. All I can say, is YOU were there when it mattered the most. YOU were there when they needed you. YOU simply were there for them. You were present during their journey, YOU helped them smile when they thought they couldn’t, YOU gave them strength to face another day, YOU helped them be at peace, YOU eased their pain, and above all, YOU loved them until the end.
I can truly say that being present during dying has taught me how to live. And it’s not buying flash cars, or having money, or having a successful career, that has equated to “having the life”. Its taught me to enjoy my life and be happy with everything I have had, the good and the bad, and to be thankful for it all. I hug my friends and family a little tighter, I look at the world a little brighter, I smile and laugh louder, and I enjoy each day and all it encounters.
So to all my wonderful “Angles”. Thank you.
I can’t believe 3years have passed since you left your Earthly body here with us. It seems longer but also just like yesterday. Time is strange. I know you are right beside me each and every second of each day and for that I am truly grateful. I know you have not and could never leave me or any of your friends/family.
Thank you for all the little and ‘big’ signs you have given me and continue to bless me with. The feathers, the light/sun, the moon/stars, the songs, the phrases/quotes, the people and so many other signs you grace me with. I’m sure there are plenty more at times and I haven’t my eyes fully opened! They always bring such peace, comfort, love & happiness to me. Yes I won’t lie at times sadness comes along with them and that void within my heart aches. Sadness because I miss your Earthly hugs, your voice, your smile and love.
I was so very lucky to have you as my mother. I wouldn’t change a single day and it’s very strange but I know that I had to loose you here in this life for so many personal, important life lessons and special reasons that have been invaluable and you know as well as I do why this had to happen. Of course it was the scariest thing and at the time the most horrendous experience but I’m so grateful for the time I did have you and for all the gifts/happiness/love you brought to my life.
The memories that are most prominent in my mind are those of basketball matches. You were mine and the girls number 1 supporter and would never miss a match if at all possible. I will always remember you standing up on the balcony in the tech in Killybegs shouting “Yes Deirdre, go go go!” Cheering us on and encouraging us always. Maybe I didn’t tell you enough back then how much it meant to me and how proud I knew you were of me. You believed in me.
Memories of family holidays to France will always remain in my mind. We had such fun exploring markets, towns and enjoying the sunshine. You loved to relax and read a good book. Our holidays always had sporting activities and a sense of fun/excursions. You loved keeping active and fit/healthy. Holidays were always relaxed, family orientated back then. You really instilled in me the importance of family time, talking and enjoying other’s company. Seeing as one of the rooms in our house is called ‘The Family Room’ where I remember playing board games and card games, it was always an important aspect to have in our family. Thank you for teaching me the value of family time and the importance of it.
I loved being off school and being sick! Those days I loved because you took extra care in looking after me! You made sure you went above and beyond to add simple little gestures of kindness and love e.g. My favourite food, extra hugs, cosy blankets etc I miss hearing your term of endearment “Dote” every day. You always expressed your feelings & love each day and again thank you for showing me the importance of being open and honest.
You were such a wonderful daughter to Granny, caring for her for half of the year in our home for many years. You never once complained and even when Granny developed Alzheimers and didn’t recognise us anymore you never grew tired/weary or became fed up. You showed what true love is like and you taught me compassion/empathy and tenderness. You gave your whole life to everyone around you out of love.
You were such an intelligent woman especially with a mathematical/scientific mind. One I definitely don’t have!! You helped me study for my exams and made my work easier to comprehend in a simple way. You had bucketfuls of patience and just wanted the very best for me. I didn’t always appreciate it at the time!!
Some of my fondest memories in more recent years are of lying in bed beside you helping you with your crosswords, sudokus and wordsearches. Even when you were so sick you still exercised your brain and wanted to keep learning! You were one Tough Cookie ( as you always called me!) I’m sorry that at times I refused to listen to your worries and fears during these special moments about dying. I was too afraid to listen and didn’t want to face up to the reality of loosing you. I also wanted you to keep fighting and not to be afraid. And fought to the very end you did!
Thank you for shaping me to be the woman I am today. I see so much of you in myself and I am so proud to be able to say that. You’ve taught me love, honesty, integrity, faith, compassion, determination, the value of struggles/pain, tenderness, selflessness, the importance of friends/family and to enjoy my life to the full/be grateful for the simple pleasures in life.
You have been and always will be my inspiration. I had to loose you, my best friend, my mother, one of the people whom I love the most to really open my eyes to WHO I AM, to really begin LIVING the life I want and to see how precious life really is and the little time we spend here.
Love you Always, Until we Meet Again. 💓👼🌟💓
‘Your Deird’ x x