Bigger than fear

I’ve been at the hospital most of the day. Andy’s having another crisis. They’re getting more frequent. He seems to have stabilised somewhat, but he’s on oxygen now and his swallowing difficulties are much worse. He’s hardly eating at all. His breathing is laboured, shallow, gurgling. It’s 3.30 am and I’ve just got back home as he’s sleeping, the hospital will phone if there is any change in his condition. But we’re reaching the end of the road now.

I am afraid. Afraid that he might suffer. Afraid of my grief. Afraid of being alone. The fear nests inside in the depths of the soul, but it is mine, a part of me. I own it and acknowledge it. And when you do that you realise that you are bigger than your fear. Fear is small but the soul is infinite.

I stopped my claim for Carers Allowance yesterday. I still care but am no longer a carer. I feel like I’ve started to inch over the dark valley between our life together and life alone. The other side is in sight. Getting there is the difficult bit. The short term is painful and full of grief, but in the distance, hazy beyond a veil of tears, there are bright lights ahead that speak of a new future, a new life. There is hope despite everything. As I look down into the chasm it’s hope that keeps me afloat, hope that keeps me going. Cling onto hope, trust in your own inner strength, in your family and friends, and all will be well.

Getting home, news of a new poll brightened my mood somewhat. Comfort must be taken where you can find it, and YouGov’s latest poll is very comforting indeed. 47% Yes, 53% No – a 3% swing is all that is required to put Yes ahead. It’s within margin of error. This poll is highly significant, both for its large swing to Yes, but more importantly because YouGov has always been the polling company which returns the worst result for Yes. YouGov applies the infamous ‘Kellner correction’ which reduces the Yes result to account for the ‘shy No’ factor. We are on our way, we are inching over the chasm and the bright lights are ahead. Only this time there are no tears.

Scotland has looked into its soul and found the fear placed there by nay-sayers and doubters, by careerists and opportunists. We’ve looked at it, examined it. And we’ve come to realise our fear is as small as their horizons are limited. We are bigger than our fears, we are a people of infinite potential. And we will flourish.



62 comments on “Bigger than fear

  1. macart763 says:

    You know a little of my recent history Paul. I don’t think I’ve had a full night’s sleep in months, but there’s something that’s given me great comfort over the period and a perfect example is to be found right here in particular on this site. Its friendship, its warmth, its hope and community.

    I see in the people who contribute so much potential of what we can be, what we can achieve when those attributes are nourished and allowed free expression. Every day on so many sites, YES shops, events, the crowd funding stories, the wider YES community that’s been generated… …its simply amazing and so very inspirational.

    People working, sharing, communicating as never before in their lives toward something that is, as yet, an ideal, a promise of what could be. I sometimes wonder if those who achieve these minor miracles realise that in every action they have taken that ideal becomes a little more solid and a little more real?

    Communication, talking, writing, gathering, doing. A coming together of people the likes of which I’d almost forgotten was possible. And its not always been driven by a referendum agenda as you know. People reaching out simply to help or comfort those in need, to share and shoulder some weight when required.

    People are never alone so long as they communicate so it is in personal life, so it is as a community and so it is as a country.

    • Bamstick says:

      I picked you Mac for this comment, not sure why?
      Could we make WGD our Scottish Bard, writer in residence, commentator for the People?
      A proper job working for the People or the Scottish Government or whoever?
      A job that would record not just history in terms of dates and places etc but how our movement feels whatever the outcome on the 18th.
      What do you think?

      • Davie G. says:

        I can’t think of anyone who could do it better.

      • macart763 says:

        I’m with Davie G. I couldn’t think of anyone more suited. I’d like to see the body of work on this site somehow collated into a book or a diary of this campaign. A dug’s eye view if you will of the campaign for independence.

        But that would be up to the man himself.😉

  2. Morag says:

    Oh Paul, it’s so hard to know what to say apart from, I feel for you and I wish I could somehow make it better for you.

    I know you’re not religious, but some of what you said reminds me of one of the hymns I chose for my mother’s funeral. She lived with me latterly, so I was in a similar sort of place.

    “Green pastures are before me, that yet I have not seen.
    Bright skies will soon be o’er me, where darkening clouds have been.”

    Mum didn’t live to cast her vote for independence, so on the day I’ll cast mine for both of us. But she did vote in 2011 and she knew the day was coming.

    Andy knows too, and he’ll want you to go forward to the bright skies he only got a glimpse of.

  3. jdman says:

    Stay strong my freind, we’re with you!

  4. Craig says:

    Paul – I’ve long been a follower of your blog, since my sister pointed me in its direction, although I’ve never commented before.

    Firstly – my thoughts are with you and Andy – I hope that you both get as much help and support as you need.

    Secondly – I wanted to thank you for your blog. As an exile here in New Zealand I find your commentary and opinions help ease my frustrations at the blatant media bias and not being there to be part of something I’ve wanted since I was 12 (and that was over 30 years ago). I’ve never understood our reluctance to take control of our own destiny and instead “outsource” our government and our future and our children’s futures to someone else. Could you imagine the New Zealanders, who I now share an island with, consenting to be governed from Canberra?

    I’m, rightly, not eligible to vote and can only sit and watch and hope… and it’s driving me crazy.

    So a brief message to the voters in the referendum…. please, please, please don’t believe the lies and the fear mongers and instead give me an excuse to leave work early on Friday 19th September, NZ time, to go celebrate. It’s been a long wait but we’re nearly there.

  5. mary vasey says:

    Thank you so much for being such an inspiring role model. Thinking of both of you x

  6. wendy smillie says:

    So many people you have never met, but you have affected through your posts, are thinking of you and Andy. We are willing you the love and strength you both need at this time.

  7. Best wishes Paul. I only know you through your blog (but reading it I see we were at Glasgow uni at the same time), but I feel an affinity. This is a cruel time in your life and anything we say might sound like platitudes, you are in the thoughts of many people at this time. Feel the pain for now, it means you care. It will ease.

  8. Steve Asaneilean says:

    This reply is not a post for politics. Rather it’s a piece of empathy for you Paul.
    I was widowed at 39 after a relationship that stretched back to just after my 14th birthday. Twenty five years of doing everything together.
    It took me two years to get the other side of the chasm that opened up.
    It wasn’t a case of getting used to it or coming to terms with it or learning to live with it. Rather is was simply having to accept a new reality.
    But it spurred me on to be a better person (I hope), to fight for the things we both believed in and to make the most of the life I have left. I owed her that much at least.
    And it’s why Sept. 18th was always going to be the beginning of something as far as I was concerned – not the end.
    You have my private email address – so you know where to get me if there is anything I can do.

  9. Free at 63! says:

    Paul, I have been where you are now and I felt the fear – almost crippling – but the human spirit is a remarkable thing. There will be dark days ahead but there is light at the end of a very long tunnel. While in that tunnel there will be some moments of light when friends, family and acquaintances reach out and you know you are not alone, We will walk with you in your darkest hours and you have much to look forward to building our new country. Much love to you both. xx

  10. Rosa Alba says:

    What to say? We are far away (well a stonehaven) but you and Andy are in our thoughts. It is a shock when death becomes suddenly imminent.
    We pray he does not suffer.
    We pray for your resilience in grief.

  11. Maggie Craig says:

    Peace and love to Andy and yourself, Paul.

  12. Jan Cowan says:

    I read your post earlier, Paul, but put off leaving a comment as I don’t really know how to comfort with words but felt I must let you know that along with everyone else I’m thinking of you both.

  13. nancyburge says:

    Oh, Paul… hugs. Phone me anytime. XX

  14. It’s just one foot in front of the other; one moment to the next; coping or not coping. No set rules, no manual – just doing the best we can with as much love and compassion for ourselves and others as we can offer at any given point. The only thing we can offer you is our thoughts and love, a sense that you are in our thoughts and hearts. Alex Salmond last night at Perth was a shining light for Independence, not only confident that we will do it, but moving beyond into that place of change, hope and potential, just as you will my friend. Xx

  15. Bill Dale says:

    We may not be there to help you, but know that we are all thinking of Andy and you. Your humanity and spirit have inspired us. Now let our thoughts help you through the dark days and into the light.

  16. hektorsmum says:

    Paul, life is fleeting, none of us get out of it alive but love is another country. The love you have shared has made you both the men you are today. Andy I am know, has provided you with the means to go on and we your devoted friends, I was going to say fans but that would be to trivialise the relationship we all feel. Well we will be there to hold you, as will your family. Much love to both of you and thank you for your words today of all days, because you are still supporting us when we should be supporting you.

  17. Donna B-S says:

    My thoughts are with you both.

  18. Alexandra-M- says:

    I have no words Paul, but my thoughts go out to you and Andy. Xx

  19. Nana says:

    Paul, I live too far away to be of physical help to you at this time. I hope you get some strength from the kind wishes we all send to you.

  20. Aileen says:

    Veel Sterkte (much strength to you) Paul. I hope we can deliver what you and Andy dreamed for, for you. No one deserves it more.

  21. Conan_the_Librarian says:

    You are not alone mate, as you can see…

    I was in a very dark place once; the comments on my blog, along with the love of my family, helped me out of it

  22. Bamstick says:

    This is just so cruel. The mixture of devastating loss and the prospect of huge gain all at one time.

  23. Conan

    I thought you still lived in Kirkliston?

    If Paul doesn’t mind me not adding to the beautiful messages of support beyond saying that I wish himself and Any all the best. I think all I could possibly say has been said much better, earlier, than I could possibly have.

    There will be time when you can come out with us one evening and watch us getting drunk in celebration of the Ref result.

    We will have a toast to you and Andy, maybe more than one.

    Sorrow is the price we have to pay for love.

  24. Graham Christie says:

    I have read everything you have written for the last 12 months Paul, and never commented before. Your amazing gift for written communication gives my partner and I our daily fix, and no one could be unaffected by what you are going through at the moment.

    On a wider scale this referendum has involved parts of the community, like us, who have never previously been excited by the prospect of seeing a transformation in the way our society develops into one we can be proud of.

    Thank you Paul for what you are doing and let’s hope that after the 18th there will still be much to look forward to and write about.

    We are thinking of you.

  25. cearc says:


    Thinking of you.

    My terrible losses were sudden, unexpected, without any warning. This knowing and waiting must be dreadful. Agony drawn out.

  26. Martin says:

    Ive followed and read your blog regularly for the last 2 years or so since I first seen an article linked on Newsnet Scotland. Never commented but have appreciated and enjoyed every one of them but this time I just want to convey my heartfelt sympathy for your and Andy’s situation, Having lost children and close family I know that the pain never goes away but it gets easier and I hope you both get as much time together as you can before it ends. My very best wishes to you both.

  27. Rookiescot says:

    I have been looking at an empty “Leave a Reply” box for around 5 mins now. I cant find the words Paul.
    How you keep going is beyond me. I would have crumbled a long time ago.
    Thinking of you both.

  28. west_lothian_questioner says:

    Stay strong Paul.. the thoughts of many folk you’ve never met but whose lives you have touched are with you and Andy in these trying days.

  29. John Duncanson says:

    The boat that passes (From the Gaelic).

    It was on the loch I saw the White Boat passing, and golden were it’s sails. In my watching, I saw the night-wind
    Catch her, and bear her down into the setting sun – and from my seeing eyes.

  30. A Meringue says:

    Nothing that I can say that hasn’t been said here already.

    Thinking of Paul and Andy at this anguishing time is all we can do.

    Sincere best wishes.


  31. david says:

    Oh, Paul. All of us here – even us straight men – just want to give you a hug. I don’t know you or Andy, but I have followed your blog and like many of us I suspect it has brought back bitter sweet memories of our own walks in the rain with both hands free. I can promise you that you will always be in a relationship with Andy – you will always know what he would have said, what he would have thought, what he would expect you to do. It does not sound like it will be long before you have to do that last walk from the hospital, and when you do try and imaging each and every one of us here holding your hand.
    Much love

  32. Steve Bowers 74% win says:

    You have to love before you can be hurt Paul, try to hold on to that as a source of comfort in these appaling times.

  33. Capella says:

    So sad to hear that Andy’s health is declining, and it reminded me of this:
    “Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.” (Martin Luther King, 3rd April 1968 Memphis)

  34. arthur thomson says:

    What it is to be loved pal. Know that we walk each step of the way with you and feel your pain. Thank you for sharing.

  35. Anne Lyden says:

    If I were a magical wordsmith like you, I would conjure up a healing balm for your pain. I’m not and can only feel it with you.
    Love to you both.

  36. Devereux says:

    Paul, so very sad and thinking of you both. We have never met and never will, but feel privileged to know you. x

  37. scotsgeoff says:

    Thinking of you both.

  38. Red Squirrel says:

    I wish I could show how much your writing inspires and uplifts us but I do not have the words. May the sincere heartfelt care and warmth expressed by all who post here be of comfort to you both.

  39. Carol says:

    Although I have been visiting this site regularly for a long time I have never posted a comment. I would just like to thank you for the incitefull articles throughout what is clearly a dreadfull time in your life.

  40. Lynn Marie says:

    So sorry to hear of these awful times you are going through (((hugs))) I want to thank you for the hours you have put into trying to improve our future’s, even when going through such difficult times. As someone who is disabled and housebound, who suffers huge amounts of pain each day, I know how hard it is to remain positive some times. But hope is what sustains us, without it we are nothing. I refuse to be ruled by fear. Thank you for your wonderful blog🙂

  41. Doogi Brawls says: heart goes out to you..earlier this year I lost my younger brother..he had bowel cancer..its hard to describe how you feel..but you have put it nicely in this post..thinking of you and Andy at this time…xxx

  42. Barbara Reid says:

    This morning as I dropped off a first time voters form to a packed registration office, I felt for the first time, truly confident that we have a real chance of winning this referendum and punched the air as I walked back to my car. That feeling remained with me until I read your blog. I’ve shed a few tears for you Paul and wish with all my heart that for the time Andy has left he will be comfortable and you will feel that everything that could be done for him has been. My thoughts will be with you x

  43. My heart goes out to you. My thoughts are with you both. You are truly inspirational and have touched so many lives.

    Much love

  44. WRH2 says:

    I admire your courage and I hope the end is peaceful for Andy. I’m sure it will be. My love to you both.

  45. frann leach says:

    So sad for you, but I admire your spirit. I find keeping busy helps with this stuff, but I expect you already know that.

  46. John Kerr says:

    I read your sad news of Andy’s worsening condition and send my heartfelt sympathy. My mother had the same condition, so I know the distress this illness causes. Obviously my loss was not on the same level as the pain you are presently enduring at seeing your partner slowly leave you. He will always be there in your heart and thoughts. Hold on to all the happy memories you made together, of which I am sure there are many. I know they will bring some comfort
    Meantime, you mentioned that you are now no longer claiming your carers allowance, which I guess means that you are going to have to claim Employment to Work Allowance, just to make ends meet. I know too that this is a real nightmare and is very restrictive of your time. You also, I am sure, probably are not in the right frame of mind at present to be dealing with the stress off all the bureaucracy. Can all of us out here help you financially? Many of us are happy to shell out for a newspaper – which DOESN’T represent our views, but are in the habit of doing so. You on the other hand give each of us a much needed boost every day with your beautifully written observations and razor sharp wit and I for one would happily pay a subscription each month for the pleasure you bring. I’m sure I am not alone here. Most of us could afford £15 or £20 per month ( less than half the price of the Herald) and get something more insightful to read. I am in no way suggesting you go behind a paywall, but please allow us to help if we can.
    Give it some thought. We are all here for you and if you feel any of us can help in any way, don’t be afraid to ask. I take it you have my email address through the sign-on procedure. Feel free to contact me anytime.

    • megmerilees says:

      I had had a similar idea of some kind of a subscription and as you say outwith a paywall. Perhaps someone could come up with a system which would allow us to show our appreciation of Paul’s work and help to fund Paul’s continued contribution? A book of his writings over the period of the referendum would be a great idea, but this would also be a project for the future. If someone could come up with an idea which could be initiated now. I am sure many of us would be happy to take part.

  47. Davie G. says:

    I’ve been sitting here looking at that empty reply box wondering where to begin …
    Everything I think of sounds trite …. there are times for most of us when words aren’t enough,
    what I want to do is give you and Andy a hug.

    I doubt you’ll have had any time to look at the other indy sites in the last few days so have a look at this. It’ll give you a wee boost.

    My particular favourite is Andrew Mac’s butterflies … that’s how I’ll be thinking of both of you,
    and the rest of us.

    We’re here when you need us and we’d all be ready to help in any we can.


  48. purplebadger says:

    You’re very much being thought of over here in the Badger household, Paul.

    Much love to you and Andy, and I’m glad you can see light at such a dark time.

  49. MoJo says:

    I hope you can thole the last days and that Andy’s crossing over is peaceful – you have brought so much light to us through your words here
    the least this extended global WGD community(hello New Zealand !) can do is be there for you on the other side…just say the word if you need anything… are not alone here…..

  50. Vestas says:

    One day at a time. That’s all you can do at this stage.

    Sounds cliched but anything else seems overwhelming.

    Best wishes.

  51. There is nothing I can say that helps. Words seem inadequate. From a distance we are holding your hands, we are surrounding you with our thoughts. I hope in some small way that helps you through the darkness. Only through your blog do we know you and Andy, but you have touched us all with your humour and your courage. Hugs.

  52. Sashadistel says:

    Thinking of you both

  53. jamie macdonald says:

    Me too Paul, thinking of you both..

  54. Mick Pork says:

    You are both well loved and in our thoughts Paul.

  55. Doug D says:

    Your blog by turns makes me laugh out loud, fills me with hope, or fills me with sadness. It is writing at its most powerful. I thank you for what you write and want you to know that I am just one of many people who has never met you but is thinking of you and Andy.

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