IT’S A NEW DAWN. 

Well, here we are again. Another year.  2017. Donald Trump is the American president and it’s safe to say the times they are a changin’, for me personally and on a worldwide level. It’s safe for me to say that because times always do. Change is our constant. 

My current psych is trying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with me. Part of that is mindfulness. Be in the now. Sure. Still, as much as I acknowledge that the past is the past and cannot be altered the inalienable truth for me is that the absence of my Daughter Number One is my present. I acknowledge that she is gone but that loss, the great, gaping, abyss-like wound caused by her absence is with me always. And most days, most minutes of most days, it takes everything I have not to just fall right in. Some days it takes everything I have not to just jump. Or to simply let go and drift gracefully into the warm, inky, welcoming, comforting, NOTHING blackness. 

Because for me, there is nothing beautiful about my own struggle. It is me, hanging on by my fingernails as I feel them splinter, grazing my knees and elbows as I stumble along, blinded by my tears and struggling to breathe against the constriction of my chest. Aching joints, aching head, aching heart. And that is me being mindful. That is me living in the now; where my other children grow older and my Daughter’s friends get engaged to be married and my first born Daughter never does and never will. Where I accept the reality of her absence but that will never make it ok. 

After George Michael died last year, after Prince and Leonard Cohen, I commented somewhere that it was the year the music died, but of course I was wrong. The music is eternal. The gifts people give the world, that is what they leave us to hold onto. For someone who only lived fourteen years the legacy of love my Daughter Number One left behind is immense. I am awed by it. Sometimes I am even comforted by it. But it is not enough and never will be. Call me a greedy bitch if you like, I know some people have much less. But I want more. 

Since I have told you what there is safe to say and what is fair, let me tell you what is UNFAIR and not safe to say out loud. Ironically, as I wrote that last sentence I wrote ‘fear’ instead of ‘fair’ and I allowed myself a wry chuckle, that, sitting on a crowded flight with tears escaping from my eyes, could only enhance the aura I imagine surrounds me!

This year I face the fourteenth anniversary of my Daughter’s murder. No anniversary is easy and I have told you before that the months between her birthday and the anniversary are progressively excruciating. As the years have passed though (how is that even possible?) I have been aware of an increasing dread. As we start off another year I can tell you it has now grown into a creeping, cold terror that wraps itself around me. It is crushing. It is paralysing. 

It is the knowledge that at a certain point this year my Daughter Number One will have been gone for longer than she was here. And for some reason the thought of that is DEVASTATING to me. For a start, it doesn’t even seem possible. To continue to be living this long without her. It is a thought my mind has trouble containing because it is just so wrong. JUST SO VERY WRONG. Incomprehensible. Perhaps it is the simple fact that we are not meant to outlive our children. It isn’t the way it is meant to be. Which is why, when Debbie Reynolds died so quickly after Carrie Fisher, I thought ‘Oh, that’s good’. 

Rationally I know that this year will not make my Daughter any more gone but I can only tell you how it feels. And how it feels is like I am losing her all over again. That, somehow, she is getting farther away. That she is disappearing further and I literally do not know how I will bear it. I do not know how to do this. To keep doing this. I am so scared. What I don’t expect people to understand unless they have similar experiences (and I don’t wish that on anybody) is that it isn’t and has never been one finite loss. Clear cut and contained. It is a million, billion losses that still – daily – assault me. Sometimes with the force of a sledgehammer and sometimes more of a pin prick but they are chronic and unending. My loss does not diminish. It is infinite and immeasurable. I have simply lived with it longer, the longer I live. 

My other children, my beautiful friends, my family of the heart; they are the reasons I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know I am so lucky to have them. I know I do not walk alone. But oh, gosh, it’s been such a long walk. I am so tired. It is not so much good days and bad but better days or worse. I know joy, I feel happiness but they are bittersweet. Part of that is guilt. Even when I am happy I am sad. Trying to ‘pass’ as a functional human being is exhausting. 

Today I am travelling and I enjoy that. I love being up here in the air. When you get above the clouds the sun is always shining. I am sitting in the emergency exit row. My first time ever. I don’t like having to put my handbag above me in the overhead locker and not having it easily accessible but, eh, I took out everything I hope I’ll need on this short flight so ok. It seems a small price to pay for the extra leg room! I am actually sitting here with my legs crossed! Which is probably really bad for my circulation but feels so comfortable! 

This is the second of three flights I will take today and as usual I am taking the long way around. The road less travelled. My first flight took me south. This flight takes me north, over and past the point from which I started and the flight this evening will take me west and home. Five flights, four airports and three states total in forty eight hours. I am lucky to be able to spend time with people I love on this journey. But parting is always such sweet sorrow. So I am in a state of agonising ecstasy today.  

I knew early on, after my Daughter’s murder, that it would be terribly easy to slip into a cosy state of detachment. In fact, completely switching off emotionally is what I constantly, consciously fight against. It would be so easy, to just not feel. It would be So. Much. Easier. And some days I need the reprieve. But as a very dear, much loved kindred spirit reminded me today, indifference is the opposite of love. And I choose to keep loving. And feeling and living. Because how is any of it worth it otherwise? 

My not so little now Daughter Number Two said to me yesterday “It is hard when you are always missing someone.” 

And she’s right. It is. It just is. 

Safe onward travel x 

~ For Chris, and her beautiful family, on this Christmas Day – with all my love x ~

Twelve months ago I uploaded this video tribute to my Daughter Number One to YouTube and shared it here with you. And it’s been quite a year since then. 2016, right? Is it something in the air? The water? Whatever. I know this year hasn’t just been a struggle for me. On a global level, as well as more intimately it has felt like we’ve all been reeling from blow after blow. Events, that if you wrote out a list of them and gave them to someone five years ago, wouldn’t have seemed in any way plausible. Especially not all in the one year. And yet, here we are. And still the world turns. 
My little video set off a chain of events for me that meant by early March this year my words exploded across the world. I had a few things going on at the time personally and then, as now, the whole thing was surreal and humbling. In all the media hoopla I was privileged to speak to journalists with integrity, humanity and humour and others who reminded me how easy it is to be viewed as a commodity. 

I was touched by the real people who connected with my words and took the time to let me know. I was amazed by the numbers of people visiting here. I was gobsmacked to see my photos and words translated into other languages. At the time my only regular internet access was via my phone and on that tiny screen I watched the whole thing unfold and expand and take on a life of it’s own. And although I still get hits here from articles written then things have largely settled down. At the time it felt HUGE! At the time I guess it was. But I’m still me and those that know me and love me, still do. 

So, I’m in the middle of moving, again. This move comes with some security though and the opportunity to settle for a bit. I’m thinking that might be nice. I’m a little weary, if I’m honest. Somewhere to stop for a while sounds good to me. 

I’ve been looking back over this year and thinking about what ‘home’ actually means to me. If home is where the heart is then my home is scattered all over the country, with pieces around the world and between heaven and earth. 

Home is walking into a house that you’ve seen change over the years, but that feels familiar even so. Where there is a photo of your Daughter on the fridge and one beside the bed you will sleep in while you are there. It is a new tattoo and old friendships. It is fish and chips on a windy day and a death defying swing. 

Home is a handful of keys and the trust of a friend and the excitement of two four legged lunatics each and every time I came through the door. Home is being asked what you are doing for Christmas. 

Home is an unfamiliar place, with lots of jostling people and a face you love saying words you need to hear. It is the sun on your back and the wind in your hair and your hand resting on black velvet. 

Home is acceptance and comfort and shelter. Maybe home is where ever hearts are open to you. Where there are arms to hold you and hands to catch you. 

My new place has been almost entirely furnished with gifts from dear friends. I love that I can look around the room and have a physical reminder of them. I have much to be grateful for, and I am. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Son Number Two and I were at an Angelhands event on Friday evening, their Tree of Angels event. I was overwhelmed before we even arrived. There’s moving stuff and health stuff and life stuff and Christmas looming and when I arrived all I was hoping for was to get through as much of the event as I could because even being out of the house was feeling like a bit of an ask. 

We got there before it was too busy and found a ‘safe’ place to stand. My mind was with my Daughter Number One and all the Christmas memories I have of her. I was holding onto myself pretty tightly by this point. Son Number Two’s phone went off in his hand and it was Daughter Number Two, ringing to tell us about her singing performance in a Christmas concert. 

I realised, my own phone in my bag, that I had already missed two calls from her before she tried her brother’s phone. I called her right back. She was full of excitement and thrilled that one of my facebook friend’s had come to her concert and introduced himself to her before asking Baby Daddy if he could take photos and share them with me. 


I hadn’t been speaking to her long before I realised the speakers were starting and I heard the disappointment in my Daughter’s voice as I told her I needed to be quiet and so I had to go. 

I tried to listen to the speakers, without actually listening to their words. Keep breathing. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Just breathe. I was feeling the loss and the guilt around my eldest Daughter’s death. The disappointment in my youngest Daughter’s voice echoed in my head. My head started to pound and my chest was tight. 

As the second speaker spoke she made reference to being a super mum “as many of us here are” and my Son Number Two patted me on the shoulder, looked down (he is so very tall these days!) and nodded and smiled at me, without a single trace of irony, not one little bit, and my tears choked me. 


Speaker number two ended and I dialled Daughter Number Two’s number with my shaking hands and she started telling me her tales again. To my dismay, a few minutes in, I realised that someone else was now speaking and I couldn’t hang up again. I had to walk, in front of the speaker, through all the people, before being able to scuttle to the far end of the room and stand with my forehead touching the cool glass of the floor to ceiling windows and I listened to my little girl and told her about the Jacaranda tree I could see in the distance. 

As I hung up the phone a little boy walked over to me, plastic case in hand. He stopped in front of me and opened his case to reveal a collection of super hero action figures. We both knelt on the ground and he introduced me to all of his actions figures, one by one, showing me the lights they had on their chests. I let him finish speaking before steeeing him back towards the main gathering and I watched as he trotted confidently into the group and felt my heart catch. 

I found my own little big boy and told him that I was ready to go. We said our goodbyes and went down the stairs and into the warm dusk light and I needed to stop for a minute to catch my breath, or rather, to release the breath I hadn’t realised I had been holding. 

When we were leaving the Angelhands event Son Number Two and I were given a delicious looking white chocolate mud cake. On the train heading back to town we resolved to pay the cake forward to someone living on the street. But we got off the train and were met with a mall full of food stalls and people. More people! So many people! One step at a time, one step at a time. Focus on the Christmas lights until you get through the people. 


And I didn’t know how we would ever find someone living rough in such a crowd but I guess the thing is, even in this lucky country, if you look, then you will find them. So Son Number Two and I did. We gifted that delectable looking white chocolate mud cake to a guy with a French accent who said thank you but wouldn’t look at us. 

And I wondered what home meant to him? 

Safe onward travel x 

ONCE I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD. 

A couple of nights ago Son Number Two woke me in the early hours of the morning. I had been having a nightmare that something was coming at me out of the dark and, in my dream, I had been screaming his name. He said, in real life, that he couldn’t understand what I was crying out, but that I was clearly distressed, so he woke me up. It wasn’t the first time, it will not be the last. He wakes me up and talks to me for a couple of minutes as I reorient myself and then he goes back to bed. And in the morning he gets up and goes off to school. 

Last Wednesday was Son Number Two’s eighteenth birthday. That seems incredible to me but there you have it. My beautiful Daughter Number One died when he was four years old and he has very few memories of her. Life ‘After’ is life as he knows it. I wanted his birthday to be all about him and I think, I hope, that he felt that it was. The birthday video I made to post to facebook had only one photo of him with each sibling; the rest of an increasingly good looking boy across the years. So many memories as I trawled through photos to pick the best ones. 

And I got things together and I organised his birthday dinner but by the big day I was exhausted from the effort of containing the unfairness of his big sister not being here to celebrate this milestone with him and the brutality of the knowledge that she never got to see her eighteenth birthday. Or any birthday after she turned fourteen. Each night this week brought a nightmare that didn’t really stop when I awoke. 
On his birthday Son Number Two went off to school and I attended to the last few details. I went to visit a friend and while they were sweeping outside I stood in their kitchen with music on full blast and sobbed the kind of heaving, full bodied sobs that leave you unsure if you are going to vomit and bring you literally to your knees – and they did, and they did. But before my friend came inside I had wiped off my face and regained my composure and the day wore on. 

I came home to my Son and one friend, followed by another, then another. We all got ready to go out for his birthday dinner and there were many laughs. The general consensus amongst his friends seems to be that I am cool, as parents go. But they have no idea of how hard my Son’s life has been at times. We have had some adventures though, he and I, and I guess we have both made it this far. That’s saying something in itself even if I’m not sure what that is. What I do know is that he has a solid group of friends who, like him, are loyal smart arses for the most part. But funny as fuck. 
We all prepared to go out and I sent them off to the bus stop and waited for my own lift at the top of my drive way and with their laughter travelling around the corner to me I felt the tightness in my chest and the change in my breathing as the grip I held so tightly once again started to slip. I sent an emergency text to one of my oldest, dearest friends and then my other lovely friends picked me up to go to the restaurant. 


The birthday dinner was a good night out and a jolly good time was had by all. I limped through the rest of the week and here we are, on Father’s Day. 

Once again I feel for my son and all that was stolen from him but more than that, I am so grateful. I am grateful beyond measure for the truly good men who have been in his life. The ones who came to his birthday dinner and clapped him on the back, shook his hand and hugged him goodbye. I am grateful for all of those men who have spent time with him over his life and who have cared enough to make the effort. I am thankful for the beautiful men and fathers I have the privilege of knowing, the true good guys that mean I continue to have hope. Lastly, I am grateful for my Son, who he is and who he is becoming. 

Safe onward travel x 

Over the last six months I have stayed in five different places but now, finally, I am somewhere that I can make my own and settle awhile. It feels good! 

I like being able to have my own things around me and to decide where things will go. Lovely and generous friends have gifted me things I may need and it has been like little mini Christmases each time something arrives. I love things, and people, that come into my life with stories! And they always come with stories! Even if you don’t know their histories you can imagine the journeys they have taken to cross paths with you. They have seen other places, been touched by other hands. 


I looked down at my hands earlier this week; at my chipped, blood red, Chanel nail polish. I thought to myself that they were an apt metaphor for my life, or for me! Imperfect but still vibrant, or something! 
There are many exciting things coming up for me and new adventures with old friends. Some of my lovely ones are coming closer to me and some I will be travelling to see. There is much for me to appreciate and more again to look forward to. When I awaken in a panic for the third night in a row and find a message from a friend on the other side of the world, their thoughtfulness is enough to soothe me, and I know I am a lucky girl! 

Wherever we are or wherever we’re from, wherever we’ve been or wherever we are heading the truth for me is this; we are all just passing through. 
Safe onward travel x 

FIGHT SONG.

Images from the Rally for Marriage Equality, Perth, Western Australia, Australia – 25th June 2016. 

SEASONS OF LOVE. 

On Wednesday night I was sitting next to my tall, handsome, teenaged, caucasian, heterosexual son who was born and has lived all his life in Australia. I had met him after school and together we had gone to a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shootings.

Hearing what had happened in Orlando was completely devastating to me and the vigil was someplace I needed to be. The weather was so cold I actually picked up a $7 jacket from Kmart on the way there and my son was wearing his beanie and three layers. 

We sat together on the concrete steps and watched the crowd of hundreds gather. The sun went down and candles were lit. There were rainbows everywhere; on flags, on posters, on people. An Aboriginal elder named Kevin gave the Welcome to Country and while he was speaking, with tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, he said that he stood with us all today, because he also had a child who had been murdered. And I thought ‘Me too, Kevin, me too’. 
We listened to a choir sing ‘Seasons of Love’ from the musical Rent. We listened to the other speakers who all spoke from the heart with messages of hope and love. There was also an Auslan interpreter who signed everything. 

One of the speakers spoke of the importance to the LGBTI community of having a safe place to go where you could just be yourself in security and acceptance and how the senseless carnage in Orlando was so much more horrific for the fact it occurred in one of these sanctuaries. I can’t profess to know what it is like to be vilified, harassed and abused because of my sexuality but as a woman who has lived through violence in my own home and who has felt my heart rate rise on hearing footsteps behind me when walking alone at night I have some empathy and understanding of the importance of safe places to be. I cannot know the struggle of the LGBTI community on a daily basis, despite my many beautiful friends who identify. That doesn’t prevent me from understanding loss, grief, fear or any other human condition. 

As we travelled home after the vigil on the train a pretty Aboriginal girl started speaking to us. I don’t know why she chose us to speak to, there were no outward indications of where we had just been. Just one of those serendipitous things I guess. “Hey, how about what happened in Orlando? So bad, hey? If I could tell them, I stand with them with pride! You know! Corroboree style – ’cause I’m Aboriginal, see?” And the doors opened and she got off the train. Same same. Love is love. 
In amongst the rhetoric flowing from Orlando has been the assertion that ‘making this about the Gay thing is missing the point’. To that I say ‘No’. Just no. There are many issues arising out of Orlando but that it was a Gay hate crime is undeniable. Most of us in Australia have been proud of our gun laws in the wake of this tragedy. That’s cool, we should be. But to sit in complacency really would be missing the point. In this country we, at a legislative level, discriminate against the LGBTI community. That is truth. That is fact. That is shameful. While ever we collectively do so we need to take our share of the responsibility for anyone who believes that members of this community are somehow ‘lesser’ citizens. And we have to take our share of the responsibility for the actions arising out of those beliefs, because we have laws that support them. After the Orlando shootings one of my friends who lives elsewhere made the link between the shootings and marriage equality. He spoke about “we in the civilised world” and my heart dropped with the realisation that the description did not include us. I felt a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach that came with the acknowledgement that we are part of the problem. We are part of the problem. 

As my son and I sat and listened the other night I pondered the places we have been together. On both occasions I have been honoured to speak at the invitation of Angelhands about my daughter’s death my teenaged son has come with me. Listening to other speakers quote statistics and discuss issues around violence against women. Physically flinching at times but not turning away. He didn’t sit with me when his friend’s grandmother died. When we went to her funeral he sat by his friend. He did not turn away then either. 
I started this post by making note of the fact my son is tall, handsome, teenaged, caucasian and heterosexual. He was born and has lived all his life in Australia. I mentioned all these things at the start because I realised when I looked across at him listening intently to the speakers, that despite the many hardships he continues to face in his life he has much to be thankful for. Just by virtue of the above facts. Along with that comes the ability to be part of the solution.

In the cold night air one of the speakers asked us to link hands and led a rousing chorus of ‘We Shall Overcome’ and my son sang along. When I told my son about the vigil for the victims in Orlando I did not have to ask him twice. Before we arrived at the vigil and continuing after we left my son was involved in a heated online debate about gun control.
As a mother I don’t take much credit for the impressive qualities of my children. In truth, a few months shy of eighteen, my son is more his own person every day. That being said his sister Sam had been to several Mardi Gras parades and peaceful demonstrations by the time she died aged fourteen. So I know without question, because the evidence is there, that it has always been important to me as a mother to share with my children the beauty of our commonalities even while celebrating our unique differences and to teach them the importance of standing up for what you believe is right. Even in the face of objection and derision. Especially in the face of objection and derision. The importance of speaking your truth. One of the wonderful and magical things as your children grow is the realisation they teach you just as much about life, if not more but maybe I have passed on some things of value. 

As proceedings at the vigil came to a close Kevin the Aboriginal elder took the microphone and said “I love you’s all!” and I thought ‘Me too Kevin, me too!’. My son and I stood up and he said “I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be persecuted just for being who you are” and as I nodded he continued with “but what an AMAZING community!” I couldn’t agree with him more! 
On Saturday the 25th June 2016 my son and I will be at a Rally for Marriage Equality in Perth, Western Australia. The Rally starts at 1pm and is being held in the Murray Street Mall in the Perth CBD. There is a page on facebook if you need more information. We hope to see you there! 
Be the change, beautiful people, be the change! 
And travel safe x 


“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”


Robert Frost

When I feel overwhelmed I like to remember those words from Mr Frost. They are right up there with “This too shall pass” on my list of useful phrases. They are useful words to live by because they are undeniably true. They remind me that everything is temporary. “Nothing gold can stay” – see? I have an arsenal of them. 
As always perspective is key. These phrases can be useful in any situation. If it is a more challenging day they remind me that the sun will eventually set. If it is a day full of joy then I am reminded to revel in every second of it. 

The last couple of weeks have had a few challenging days. I am not yet up to full speed but thanks in no small part to those who love me I am continuing to put one foot in front of the other. I have had places to go and people to see all week and I am extremely grateful for the love and friendships I have in my life. 

There has been a lot going on this year and I know I am not where I want to be yet but I have no doubt I am getting closer every day. Part of that is putting in some boundaries for myself. Or maybe it is being willing to reinforce them – whatever. 

Last week on my way back from having lunch with a friend I stopped in at a chemist in the city to grab some headache tablets. I wasn’t functioning very highly so by the time it registered with me that the price I was being charged was double what it usually would be my money was already in the till. 
“Sorry, did you say $9.95? I’ll have to leave them then, thanks.” 
Those words actually came out of MY mouth! Instead of just going along with it, uncomfortable and unhappy, but not wanting to make a fuss – I said ‘No’. 

And the world kept turning!! More than that, I discovered a small chemist at the train station with the same product for $5! So not only did nothing bad happen because I decided to take a stand but it actually turned out better for me in the long run. Bonus! 

This experience was to stand me in good stead shortly afterwards when I received a friend request on facebook from someone who had a brief liaison with the person I spent years of my life committed to. To be clear, I wasn’t in a relationship with anyone at the specific time this liaison occurred, just still had feelings which meant that the knowledge that it had occurred was somewhat ouchy for me. Because – human! So to say the friend request caught me a little off guard would be understating it. In amongst everything else I had going on the timing wasn’t splendid either but that’s life, right? 

Although we know some of the same people – and not all of them in the biblical sense – I couldn’t really understand the motivation. So, I did what I usually do when I don’t understand something. I asked. The response came back “It’s always good to link further (smiley face emoticon)”. But do you know what dear readers? It’s not! It is not always good to link further. Especially if you are already linked in uncomfortable ways that resemble an HIV/AIDS campaign of the 1980’s. 

So, thanks, but no thanks. Because really, what are we going to talk about? Or worse! Do we never actually acknowledge the elephant in the room and play dumb for all eternity? Neither option appeals to me. Both seem like far too much hard work. Just no. Not yes out of some kind of twisted notion of politeness – although to be honest I’m not sure there is a Miss Manners guidebook for these circumstances – just NO.  

I have heard some truly horrific examples this week of boundaries being crossed, the most public of which is the Standford Rapist. They have all brought home to me the fact that there are times when you just have to draw a line and sometimes the only one you can depend on to stand up for you, is you. Sometimes you are the only one who can.

JUST DO IT. Because when you do, you might be surprised by how many stand with you. 

Safe onward travel x 

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