Posts tagged ‘Angelhands’

AM I ON MY OWN? AM I EVEN CLOSE? 


Well, that’s Mother’s Day done and dusted for another year. I know I am not the only one who finds Mother’s Day hard. There are lots of reasons it can be hard for people. Those who have lost their mothers. Those who have not been able to have children but who have deeply wanted to. I don’t pretend to have any monopoly on Mother’s Day related pain. Really, who would want it? Truth be told though, it is not a day I enjoy.

There are obvious reasons for that and for those of you following along, here’s one more:

In a few days it will be Daughter Number Two’s birthday. She will be nine. The day after that it will be Son Number One’s 22nd birthday, but he is much younger than his years in some ways and however old you are it’s nice to feel people appreciate having you around, particularly on your birthday. Thirteen years ago I was decorating a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake with my beautiful first born Daughter for her brother’s 9th birthday and then ten days after that she was dead. Each and every year since Sam’s death my eldest son’s birthday has fallen into the chasm of grief that opens between Daughter Number One’s birthday and the anniversary of her murder. Every. Single. Time. And since Daughter Number Two rocketed into the world her birthday is consumed by the same black hole.

It’s not like I forget the dates. I know when they were born! I was there. It is just that the dates kind of sneak up on me. Every time. So last Friday I was speaking to Daughter Number Two on the phone and I said to her “It’s Friday tomorrow, so there’s only one more day of school before the weekend!” And she answered “Yes! And you know what the next Friday Is!” And I, her Mother, said no.

“Next Friday is my birthday!”

Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck. “Oh yes! Of course I know that!” Fuck. Really? Already? But there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time!

When I was awaiting Daughter Number Two’s arrival into the world I was so excited she was due after the anniversary of her sister’s death. It would give me a positive focal point past that dreaded anniversary, I thought. But best laid plans and all of that… Daughter Number Two made her grand entrance six and a bit weeks early, completely overshadowing her eldest brother’s 13th birthday the following day, a fact from which he has still not completely recovered.

It’s not like I don’t try. I do. I knew the birthday’s were coming up. I knew I had preparations to make. I had thought a little bit about what to do this year. I just hadn’t done anything yet. But there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time! Except now there wasn’t any time left and to have any chance of getting anything to them in time for their birthday’s I would need to get something into the mail to them the very next day. I said my goodbyes to Daughter Number Two on the phone and sat on my bed berating myself for my failings as a mother. ‘What THE FUCK is WRONG with you Kate? You are their MOTHER! You know when their birthday’s are! How can you drop the ball EVERY. FUCKING. YEAR??!!’

Since detailing my shortcomings didn’t seem to be getting me very far I decided to focus on what I actually do have and what I actually could do, better late than never. Limited time, limited finances and limited capacity to think of anything in the face of my guilt and shame made it an uphill battle. Until it hit me; what I have in abundance! Where my wealth of riches are found. In my family of the heart. My beautiful and amazing friends.

So I wrote a post on facebook asking for help in making my Son and Daughter’s birthday’s special. I asked if anyone would be willing to send them a card, because I thought having more than expected mail would be a fun thing! And so many of my lovely people came through. People who have their own shit going on. No one particularly financially wealthy but all incredibly rich in heart and generosity. I know I have told you before here but it is a point I cannot make too often; I have the very best friends. Where ever I go and whatever I do, I never walk alone.

I had already asked for their support earlier in the week when I spoke at a workshop run by Angelhands. It is always a honour to be asked and I hold on to the hope that sharing my experiences will somehow, someway, someday help someone. My friend Ann was also there and I always get much of value listening to her speak. Ann was recently appointed an ambassador for Our Watch. They are lucky to have her. We are all lucky to have her.

On the day I spoke at the Angelhands workshop I had posted on my facebook saying only that it was a big day for me and asking people to keep me in their thoughts. As always my beautiful people had my back. Son Number Two and another lovely friend physically came with me. The kindness of the comments on my facebook post and even just in the acknowledgement of their ‘like’s’ – ‘I see you, I hear you’ – was a reminder that my friends stand with me. Always. How lucky I am.

After I managed to get something in the mail to my children I had time to reflect on why this happens each year despite my best efforts. I realised that if I don’t actively acknowledge the birthday’s are fast approaching then the anniversary cannot be fast approaching either. Because there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time!

Because I remember what we were doing and that my Daughter Number One was still alive this time thirteen years ago. Because I didn’t know that those would be the last times we ever did things together. Because there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time! But there isn’t. There is no more time. And that is that.

I am so thankful for all the kindnesses I receive. I try to pass on these kindnesses, to pay them forward. It doesn’t take much, as I said in my last post, to change someone’s day. I can’t pretend that it’s completely altruistic on my part; making someone else feel better makes me feel better. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. But a win-win can’t be a bad thing!

I have been doing a bit of reading on love languages recently. There are, apparently, five main ways we express love; words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. I like to think I am fairly fluent in all of those but that doesn’t mean there is not room for improvement. The more opportunities to practise, the better. Love is my religion. My reading has also been useful for reflecting on the ways that others around me show me I am loved. Acknowledging that to them and to myself is important. Especially when I don’t feel loveable.

I love and I am loved. At the end of the day it is all that counts. So, just do it, while you still have the time.
Two days before the anniversary of Sam’s death this year is the eighteenth anniversary of the day a man I loved deeply committed suicide. I still miss him enormously. He was my friend.

The day before the 13th anniversary of Sam’s death is the first anniversary of her father’s death. While I know he suffers no longer my heart breaks at the thought of how hard this day will be for his wife and his sons. Selfishly I mourn another piece of my Daughter gone forever from this world.

Then comes the 13th anniversary itself. And I inch ever closer to having the time spent living without my daughter become longer than the time I had to spend with her and, truly, I don’t know how one bears that. I just know that there doesn’t seem to be a choice.

Hard days. Hard days. I’m not going to lie. It is the love of my children and friends that holds me upright and in that way I am truly blessed. That is what I hang on to. At the end of the day that is what matters.

Life is short. Love hard.

Safe onward travel x

I’M A BITCH, I’M A LOVER, I’M A CHILD, I’M A MOTHER, I’M A SINNER, I’M A SAINT, I DO NOT FEEL ASHAMED.

This post is dedicated to the beautiful Elijah Rainbow; for all that you were, all that you will always be and all that you could have been, with my love x 

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(Me circa 1988, photo credit to my lovely and dear friend Hayley. You can find her here and here.)

Several weeks ago I was asked to speak at a Keynote Presentation on Victim Awareness in the Mental Health sector, presented by Angelhands, a not for profit organisation that works to provide support for those affected by homicide or serious personal violence. This was a very big deal for me for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that I feel very strongly that silence and secrecy contributed to Daughter Number One’s death and, like this blog, this opportunity gave me the chance to speak about my beautiful Daughter and hope that in some small way it will help someone else. Secondly, I used to go to these kind of things, back before my life imploded. I used to to eat them up. Learning is fun! I have a folder full of qualifications and certificates from training days and the like that I’ve never used but have collected in my travels. Third reason was that it gave me a boost of self worth and a timely reminder of my value. Which we all need every now and then, don’t we?

Overwhelmingly it was a positive experience for me. Although the only public speaking I have done in over a decade was at the wedding I went to eighteen months ago I was confident I could do it based on my long since past days at the Australian Theatre for Young People when I was sixteen and my desire to get it done. I was hoping to tap into a different head space, than my present day to day one, and I was able to manage that.

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Maybe I managed it a little too well. For a little while I completely forgot why I was there. As I said, I’ve been to plenty of similar events where I was on the other side of the podium. As I listened to the other speakers I found myself really getting into their words. I looked around the room and listened to the questions the attendees asked and I could have been one of them. My tertiary qualifications are probably similar. I didn’t feel out of place or uncomfortable or intimidated – which I thought maybe I would.

Son Number Two came with me and as he sat next to me listening to Ian Carter, CEO of Anglicare, speak to Anglicare’s Community Perceptions Report 2014: Family and Domestic Violence (which you can find here) I could see him reacting physically, flinching as he heard the sobering statistics. When Daughter Number One was very young she attended a few protests with me. Not a bad thing. My now seventeen year old Son Number Two hearing some hard facts on Domestic Violence – NOT A BAD THING!

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Before, during and after the Angelhands event my glorious friends surrounded me with their love and the positivity and extent of their confidence in me was truly humbling, as always. When I don’t believe in me I believe in them and their belief in me and that has gotten me through on many days. I have been thinking about the girl I was who won the scholarship to ATYP and the one in the photo above. The young woman I was when my Daughter Number One died and the woman I have become since then; the person I am today. I am all of them and she is all of me and then some. I am more than the sum of my parts and the ones who truly love me have taught me that. There are vast expanses of myself yet to discover and explore, and beautiful oasis’ to revisit and I treasure the ones who value me enough to be part of the odyssey that is me. 

A couple of weeks ago I had a message from Baby Daddy to let me know that in a couple of years he will be having Daughter Number Two undergo a cosmetic dental procedure to rid her of the ‘unsightly’ gap between her teeth. You know, like the one I have? He has no idea who I am and all the ways that Daughter Number Two is a part of me and I of her. That however hard he tries he cannot erase me from her. Given the approaching season I’ve also been reflecting on the fact that Baby Daddy told Daughter Number Two that Santa was not real the year she turned six. He told her because she had found her presents. This pains me terribly, still, two years later. She’s eight now and still young enough to believe in that magic. But instead she chooses her own Christmas presents and she knows she is getting an xbox this year. Which is super great because as it happens she is meant to be spending Christmas with me but I can’t compete with the xbox buying and cannot deprive her of the Christmas morning she is already looking forward to. Despite all of it I am never unaware that Baby Daddy is her father and as much a part of her as I am. We are all medleys. 

I have been very raw lately. Small things rubbing against me like I am an open wound. Not unexpected with major life changes. We cannot stand still, we are always evolving. It is not always comfortable. The speaking opportunity given to me by Angelhands would not have happened if I had stayed where I was. I woke the other night when the soft, velvety head of my darling friend Frankie gently rested on my thigh. I had been having a nightmare and he woke me from it. How does he know? He always knows. As I gave Frankie my heartfelt thanks My One True Love rolled over and wrapped me in his arms, holding me tight. 

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(Frankie and me 🙂 ) 

I was thinking that ‘raw’ and ‘roar’ sound the same. 

raw

3.
(of an emotion or quality) strong and undisguised.
“he exuded an air of raw, vibrant masculinity”

They definitely fit me! Raw can also mean unfinished, which I am. And when I think of it like that it no longer feels like a negative.

roar

  • a loud, deep sound uttered by a person or crowd, generally as an expression of pain, anger, or approval.
    “he gave a roar of rage”
    synonyms: shout, bellow, yell, cry, howl, shriek, scream, screech

     
    antonyms: whisper
  • a loud outburst of laughter.
    “her remarks brought a roar of laughter from the old man”
    synonyms: guffaw, howl, hoot, shriek

    I do that; I laugh loudly. My One True Love is one of the funniest people I have ever known and my children are often hilarious, as are my friends, so I am lucky that I get to laugh a lot. And I’m thinking it’s time to do some more roaring, of all different kinds. Because there are different kinds of raw and different kinds of roaring and they are no more or less than each other. They just are. 

    So here I am and this is me! 

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    RAW AND ROARING! 

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You’ve got a friend in me.

A special request this evening, from my Bronwyn, to write about the good stuff. She has a fair point. That I am broken-hearted, you know. That Baby Daddy is a complete bastard has also been covered and remains unchanged. There are still good things and good people however, and for them I am truly grateful.

While I was away, as I was for three weeks, my Father and Step Mother offered to look after Daughter Number Two for a weekend to give Baby Daddy a break. So, off she went to be spoiled in ways only doting grandparents can. Son Number One had been telling me how much he was missing his brother and sister, and as his respite house was only around the corner from my parents house I suggested he arrange to visit with Daughter Number Two while she was there. The next day I had a call from Son Number One. “Mum!” he said “We are all together!”. He had arranged for Son Number Two and his carers to also meet up at his grandparents, so the three of them could spend time together. My Son Number One, with all his issues – his ADHD, his Asperger’s, his epilepsy, his chromosomal abnormality – had arranged to get together with his two siblings, so they all could spend some time together. And then, as if that was not enough, he called me to let me know that they were all together. Perhaps it is only the parents of other special needs kids who will understand the enormity of this for me. Maybe all parents can appreciate the gift of knowing you have taught your child something valuable, something useful. My Son Number One, who lives in his one step removed from life bubble, reached out to his siblings and brought them together, and then included me in their reunion. I could not be more proud. I am proud of him, and I am proud of me, because whatever my failings my children understand family and they understand love, and that is down to me.

Son Number One’s carer had only nice things to say about him, when I met her today. Similarly, the carers who’ve had Son Number Two both this time and last, a different couple each time, are falling over themselves to care for him again if needs be. I spent two nights with Daughter Number Two before she headed off for an interstate holiday with Baby Daddy today. Both nights she slept soundly and peacefully, and left me with smiles this morning, secure in herself and in her relationships with both her parents. I think for so long I have been caught up in the day-to-day struggle for survival that I have not paid enough attention to the strengths that have been there, both in my children and within myself. There are good things here, as my Bronwyn pointed out, and I should take as much credit for them as I do for the rest.

While I was away I met with Ann O’Neill, director of Angelhands , an organisation offering support to those affected by violent crime. It was a very positive meeting for me on a number of levels. I was relaying to Ann what I saw as one of my failings; that I have taught my children how to survive and not to live. Her response was that some parents did not even give their children that. That I may not be doing as well as I feel I should be, but that teaching my children to survive was not teaching them nothing. I have watched my children over the last two days and have seen their resilience. They know they are important to each other. They know that they are loved. They know how to make the best of a situation. They don’t lie down and give up. Things may not be quite as they expected, or as they perhaps would like, but they get on with it. Perhaps some of this is in spite of me, but some of it has to be because of me and the things that I have taught them. My children’s resilience is a good thing. Their connectedness to each other, and to me, also a good thing. Meeting with Ann O’Neill, visiting the Angelhands office, hearing about the work they do – all very good things. All hopeful things that speak positively of the future.

My friend Bronwyn, a very good thing also. A definite kindred spirit. Everyone should have one. I am so lucky that I do.

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