Posts tagged ‘daughter’

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME. 

This morning I woke up from a nightmare in which I was getting my children ready for some imminent apocalyptic event. I don’t remember what it was, I just remember speaking to my kids and trying to prepare them, in a detailed way, including instructions on what to do if separated from me, or from each other. They were smaller, younger, more vulnerable versions of themselves, just to add to the ambiance. I was talking to them in a very matter of fact way while in my head I was screaming because I knew it wasn’t enough, wasn’t enough, wasn’t enough and the very bad thing was coming and I couldn’t keep them safe. 


Yesterday I woke up from a dream that left me so disoriented that it literally took me a full sixty seconds, without exaggeration, to work out – first – where I was, but then, when I was. In that order, which is weird. Yesterday disappeared into a bit of a hole that I was unable to crawl my way out of. The level of exhaustion is hard to describe. I read somewhere that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feel so tired all the time because you are basically on high alert constantly. After nightmares all night (I will wake up several times during the night and even if I go back to sleep all I remember are nightmares) I slump into some days. My head pounds, I have chest pains and my limbs all feel like they are made of concrete. My whole body aches with heaviness. Everything, every. little. thing. requires such effort that, even if I can be bothered, a small task can take up most of the day. There are days I can’t even pretend to be a functional human being. 

I guess this is my annual Mother’s Day whinge. Feel free to stop reading. I don’t claim any exclusivity. Everyone has hard days and Mother’s Day is hard for lots of people, for many reasons. Childless mothers, motherless children, women who mother other people’s children, children and mothers who are separated by whatever circumstance. I don’t pretend my list is comprehensive. You all know who you are. 

For some, it will be their first Mother’s Day and for some it will be their first Mother’s Day since. For some, it will be both and that’s just the way it is. What I know is that as soon as Easter was over, literally the day after, shops were full of Mother’s Day merchandise. Mugs and slippers and photo frames everywhere you turn. Brochures in the letter box and advertisements on television and Mother’s Day espisodes of television shows. Choking up my newsfeed in every direction. A constant assault that is impossible to escape. And for me this year the added bonus of a later Mother’s Day bringing it even closer to the anniversary of my Daughter’s death. Two and a half weeks to go. Bonus. 

Would I have been a grandmother by now? I cried on the packed train today, silently, after scrolling past a mother guessing her daughter was pregnant on a facebook post. Bit, fat, hot tears that dropped singly from my lashes and felt like lava carving their way down my face. 

After tomorrow there will be marked down slippers, mugs and photo frames and that is nowhere near as fun as marked down Easter chocolate, nowhere near as fun at all. But the days, even the hard ones, pass. Just a bit slower. 

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Tonight I am baby sitting three rascals of the four legged kind. Two very special babies and the big brother of the little girl Son Number Two and I have staying with us; precious souls all of them and I am glad to be here. 
A friend asked me to edit her manuscript recently. I cannot possibly put into words what it meant to me to be trusted with that task, but it meant so much. It worked for me on a number of levels. 
I have friends I can text random things to and they will meet me where I am. I recently went to see a performance of live theatre. It was an incredibly moving adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank hosted by the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts. I’ve had lunch in the quiet, leafy grounds of a University and laughed at my Daughter Number Two and my Sons. I have felt the relief of cool nights after just warm enough days. Videos of small boys and big dogs that melt my heart. And, you know, marked down Easter chocolate. 

The best of times and the worst of times. 
For the rest of my life; the best of times and the worst of times. 
Safe onward travel x 

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TELL ME, WHAT’S FEAR TO YOU? 

Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence, suicide and loss. Safe onward travel x

– A Day in the life of my PTSD and me.

My telecommunications and Internet provider is experiencing difficulties this afternoon. My mobile phone has been intermittently unable to make or receive calls and my internet is dropping in and out too. I am trying, trying, trying not to completely lose my shit.

And I am failing.

After venting to my facebook friends (during a brief period the Internet was actually working) I know that it is definitely a network problem. Not exclusive to me and so I shouldn’t take it personally. But it is personal. So very personal.

The walls are closing in a little bit and I cannot focus on anything for too long. My thoughts are jumbled.My chest is tight and my breathing is shallow and I can feel a headache coming on.

I walk to the beach and I sit, watching the waves hit the shore and the sun sink slowly towards the horizon. I play Fletcher Pilon’s – winner of Australia’s Got Talent 2016 – album ‘Banjo’ through my headphones. The sea helps, the music helps, the warmth of the slowly sinking sun helps because I feel chilled even though it is a warm day. It all helps and I am trying hard to relax into it but my chest is still tight and my head hurts more.

So still I try. Try to re-establish control and restore my equilibrium. Try to take deeper breaths. Try to stop the rocking I suddenly notice I am doing. And writing everything down helps. Mindfulness, yeah? Grounding myself in the moment. I can feel my heart banging around in my chest. I hear the waves crashing on the sand. I take some photos of things that appeal to my eye.

  
This must all sound an over reaction. Phone companies have issues. Shit happens. First World Problems. But today, after I first noticed my lack of ability to communicate with the outside world the Internet kicked back in briefly and multiple messages from my seventeen year old son filtered through. “Mum, I need my Medicare number please” “Mum, are you there? Do you keep hanging up on me?”

Walking along the waters edge I notice several feathers. Further still I see what I think at first is a dead fish, being pushed back and forth gently by the waves on the very edge of the water. Then I am closer and my sluggish brain returns my gaze to it until I realise it is a wing of a bird. Ripped and torn; it’s white, white bones spilling out and the feathers gently ruffled by the ocean. I recoil as my mind starts to kick in reflexively, and make suggestions about how that wing came to be there. I don’t take any photos of the wing. But it is too late. It is too late for me and for the bird no longer flying. The wing is there anyway, in my mind’s eye. And my mind throws up the picture every so often, like a macabre Viewfinder, shuffling images as I walk.

  
I manage to get through to my son. He is having chest pains. He is heading to the GP. He is young and fit and healthy and I have no reason to think it is anything more than a pulled muscle from teenaged hijinks. So says my rational mind. He has friends with him. This is good. They are good friends. I have good friends too. I am lucky. And yet my chest still feels like I am buried under concrete.

I play the same album, over and over again. I listen to the lyrics, letting each word wash over me. When my internet kicks in I check facebook and see what my friends are doing and try to relax and try to feel normal and try to feel real. I run the sand through my fingers and feel the coarse grains. The sun is losing it’s heat. There is a sailboat on the horizon.

My son has his appointment with the doctor. She says his heart rate is a little elevated but he seems ok. She advises rest and if the pain gets worse to go to an emergency room. I manage a call that actually connects and I hear my son tell me this in his own voice. I am relieved. But my own chest stays tight.

  
I hear the counsellor ask me earlier today “When do you have a rest from this stuff?” And my voice answering “It is with me always. Always.” And it is. To varying degrees in a million ways which can be heightened by anything, or by nothing.

Not being able to contact loved ones by phone does me in. There is the illusion that they are right there, right there at the end of a phone call or a text message. I don’t wait patiently for responses. It is agony for me! All hail read receipts! And I know, better than most, that it is only an illusion. That each and every time I physically let someone leave my sight it may be the last time I see them. Life happens. But having them on the end of a phone line is something, because I can’t handcuff myself to everyone I love indefinitely. Even if I could, life would still happen. I know the security of having them at the end of a phone call is only an illusion. But it is a beautiful illusion and it is all I have.

  
On the night my beautiful daughter was murdered I rang the mobile phone of her killer dozens and dozens and dozens of times. It was turned off. I didn’t understand. It was never turned off. They were meant to be at the movies though, so maybe the film hadn’t finished yet? I didn’t understand.

On the beach, in the present moment, a gorgeous chocolate brown and caramel kelpie trots towards me. The largish stick it is holding pulling the edges of it’s mouth into a happy grin. It trots right up to me. The orange of the sunset ringing it’s silhouette in a golden glow. The chocolate dog comes right up beside me and then sits down. It stays with me for the few seconds it takes it’s human to catch up and then it trots happily off again. And I give thanks for the chocolate dog who let me touch it’s soft, warm fur and who stopped to comfort me because dogs know, they really know.

On the night my beautiful daughter was murdered I rang the mobile phone of her murder again and again and again for hour after hour after hour. It stayed off. I couldn’t work it out. It was night time and there was still no answer and I started to ring hospitals because the only horrible conclusion I could come to was that there must have been an accident. But there was no accident. It was not an accident.

The sun is touching the horizon now and soon it will dip beneath it. A man sits thirty metres up the beach singing to his crawling smiling baby and watching the setting sun. It is over three and half hours now, since this internet issue started and the service is still dropping in and out. The sun is half sunken and the wind picks up and the waves, like the days, keep rolling in.

  
At about twenty past eleven on the night my daughter was murdered, after I had called the police to say my daughter and her murderer were missing I called the mobile phone again. And my daughter answered. I asked where she was and she said she could not tell me. I asked her yes and no questions – I heard her say to her murderer “She doesn’t understand”. The phone dropped out at her end. I could still hear my daughter but she could not hear me. They were driving through mobile reception black spots. I hung up and rang again. My daughter answered! I kept trying to ask questions that might give me a clue. I asked if she was coming home and she said no. I didn’t say “I love you” because I couldn’t say goodbye. And then the phone dropped out again. She could no longer hear me.

I heard my beautiful daughter’s voice as she said, not screamed, just said “Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad.” Over and over again. Still calling him Dad. And then I hung up so I could call the police back to let them know Sam was answering the phone. When I tried to call her back there was no answer.

  
Later, when I got my phone bill and read the witness statements I realised there were probably only seconds between my hanging up the phone and the car my daughter was in hitting the rock face wall on the expressway. When I heard her saying “Please Dad” she was begging for her life as she hurtled towards a rock wall. I just missed hearing the impact and I am glad for that. Because for half an hour longer, until the police car pulled silently up in front of my house in the dead of night, I still had hope my daughter was alive.

The sun is long gone. The light with it too. Who knows when the telephone service will be fully back on line. My limbs are stiff. It is getting cold. I am shivering. My phone battery is almost flat. But while sitting on the beach, writing this, I have begun to breathe a little easier. A chocolate dog, a giggling baby and waves that keep on rolling in.

Sam is with me always. Always.

  

BACK FROM OUTER SPACE.

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve just been doing other things. As you know, there was the wedding and the travelling involved and two weeks to spend with Daughter Number Two. But all good things must come to an end as the saying goes and my girl is gone. I am desolate and it hurts so badly. My special friend who gives me so much love and comfort is off having his biopsy today.  It’s not just that  selfishly miss him, although of course I do – who else lets me cry into their black velvet coat without complaint? – but I am worried about him. You can find Frank’s GoFundMe page here. To those of you who have already donated, again, thank you.

As you know, I love flying. What I enjoy less is missing planes. I seem to be developing a knack for it though. On the journey to take Daughter Number Two home both planes we caught had been delayed, which was a bit of a novelty, but it didn’t really upset anything so I wasn’t all that bothered. I dropped Daughter Number Two off to Baby Daddy and all I really wanted was to fly home. As fast as I possibly could. My lovely kindred spirited friend was driving me to the train station to catch the train to get the plane. By this time I had already been on two aeroplanes and been in three states and said goodbye to my little girl all in sixteen hours. It had been a big day. As we neared the train station I looked up the train timetable on my phone and realised the next train would not get me there in time.

At which point my world started slipping out of time and as I spoke to my friend it felt as if I was listening to my own voice coming from far, far away. “I’m going to miss my plane”. I rang the airline. The lady on the phone said that as my ticket was non refundable and non-transferable there was nothing she could do for me; I would just have to buy a new ticket. Oh yes, with what exactly? But it wasn’t her problem and she was right about my ticket conditions so I thanked her and quietly continued my nervous breakdown. “I’ll going to miss my plane”. (I won’t be going home to The Love of My Life. I won’t be there for Frankie on Monday. I can’t afford a brand new ticket. I am stuck on the wrong side of the country.) My dear and long suffering friend said he thought, after consulting with his phones map thing, that there might be the tiniest, teeniest, sliver of a shadow of a possibility that we could make it. And he drove me the further couple of hours north to the airport. As the car pulled up he hugged me and told me to run and I opened the door and stood up…… and realised I could barely stand. My friend left to drive the three hours back to his home.

I moved as fast as I could and got to the gate before the plane had taken off. But after they had shut the doors. Just in time to see it take off without me. Fuck. I turned around to the QANTAS desk. I must have looked as pitiful as I felt because the lady behind the counter said she would put me on a flight in the morning, at no charge. Thank you to the QANTAS desk angel. However, I was still stuck on the wrong side of the country for the night, in my forth (geographical) state of the day and I still had to call The Love of My Life and tell him what a big idiot I was and that I wouldn’t be home that night. Fun times, fun times!

I’d been hoping to grab a coffee with an online friend in that city if I had time but as the two earlier planes had been delayed once I’d dropped off Daughter Number Two there wasn’t really the time. Why is my life so crammed full of irony? Two out of three planes I had seats on that day were delayed. The two I was on time for. The other one, the last one, the one I would have welcomed being ten minutes late, was bang on time. Anyway, during the Great Airport Race of 2014 and right in the middle of my deconstruction my friend had messaged me to ask if I was going to be able to meet up so I’d messaged back that I was sorry, I didn’t think so, and that I was kind of distracted by the fact that I WAS GOING TO MISS MY PLANE but I’d get back to her as soon as I could. She said “Just come here”. She said a bunch of other very cool things too. Another Angel, almost literally as it happens. This friend is the same one who sent me the cool jumper from her eBay shop and she also made the very first donation to Frankie. A good people kind of a person.

Once I’d missed the plane my on-line friend drove to the airport and collected me. She drove me back to her gorgeous new home and introduced me to her very handsome cat. She showed me to the spare bedroom with and put towels in her bathroom for me. She ordered pizza and we had a chat and then went to bed. In the morning, Sunday morning, she got up at 6.30am to drive me back to the airport. I sent her a thank you text as I boarded my plane and when I finally, FINALLY, landed on my side of the country I found her reply, “Don’t go telling people that I’m nice or anything”. When I read that I thought EXCELLENT!! Because nice is an adjective I hardly ever use! There are so many better words!

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Safe onward travel everybody x

GONE, GONE, GONE.

Each morning, out of habit I turn on my computer. It means I can see the time and as the day gets going and the morning routine begins I play music on youtube. I open all my regular sites – I usually have at least five open at once – and it stays on most of the day, even if I am not sitting in front of it. Some things I absorb without being really aware of it; things on my home page, stuff I scroll past on my newsfeed. This morning however I was stopped in my tracks. A page I have ‘liked’ on facebook, which is for a website that I enjoy called ‘Mamamia’ had shared a story about a mother whose child had transitioned from female to male. 

Regular readers will be aware that I am extremely open and accepting of diversity. I celebrate all colours of the rainbow! In a little while I will be going to the wedding of one of my dearest, oldest friends and my friend and her wife to be have asked me to do a reading as they formalise their commitment in celebration of their happy home, gorgeous family and ten year partnership. So, any article about a mother’s acceptance of her transgender son would only be a good thing in my book, ordinarily. Except, and it’s quite a big ‘but’ really (I like big butts and I can not lie!) the story made statements about her female child having died and been reborn again as a male. Ok, metaphorically I get it. I do not think that situation would not be without it’s own grief and losses. But she lost me when she said things like “My daughter Grace passed away in September 2010. There wasn’t an obituary. There wasn’t a funeral. There wasn’t a casket or even a body to put in it. No one sent me sympathy cards. No one brought me casseroles.”

She then, two sentences later, stated the obvious “It was because my child was still alive.” Well, yes. I had lots of food delivered to me. Mostly lasagne. I had a body that was the charred physical remains of my beautiful, intelligent, loving, talented child. I got to plan her funeral not long past her fourteenth birthday. Lucky fucking me, hey?

As the writer went on and outlined her road to acceptance she waxed lyrical about special events that had caused her to shed ‘happy tears’. Um, yes, that would be because her child was still ALIVE. Able to grow and change and develop. To live and love and learn and as his mother she had the privilege of being able to watch that and support him and nurture her child. To some extent, at some stage in our children’s lives we all have to let go of the child we dreamt of and imagined and accept them for the people the actually ARE. This woman’s experience was probably more than most of us would expect but how dare she, HOW DARE SHE compare her child’s transition to losing a child to death. There were NO happy tears shed after my daughter died. Because my Daughter actually DIED. Wasn’t alive any more. I can no longer watch her grow, hear her laugh, hold her in my arms. Never again. Ever. Not in this lifetime. That kind of dead.

The article was originally published here on the Huffington Post site. and then republished here on Mamamia. If you have any thoughts please feel free to go there and share them. Comments here welcome also!

I cannot even explain the white hot anger I felt at the words so thoughtlessly used. I know that unless you have outlived your child you cannot imagine it. I am GLAD for you that you can’t. But in this situation there was no comparison and you’ll be lucky if you get to take my word for that.

Safe onward travel x

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YOU WERE ALWAYS ON MY MIND

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I had the usual ‘countdown’ from Son Number One’s birthday nine days beforehand to the anniversary of Daughter Number One’s death yesterday. Really it starts around her birthday in February but kicks in in earnest from Son Number One’s birthday. There’s been the nightmares, with various themes revolving around loss and fear (read terror). I wake from these dreams exhausted and literally sore from holding tension in my body and thrashing in my sleep. Sometimes this translates into actual injuries but aside from a painful wrist and knee I’m not doing too badly. I haven’t clawed at my face, so that’s nice. I’ve been more easily startled than usual, and with the whole hyper vigilance thingy I startle easily anyway so having that rev up a notch has been interesting. We were driving home on dusk the other night and two cars turned near us and that was enough to make me jump out of my skin. Twice. 

Today I woke up with chest pain which went away during the day but is back in force as I write this evening. The eczema on my hand has flared up. Headaches are how I usually manifest stress so it’s business as usual there. There’s some dizziness and disorientation. I am more clumsy and absent minded. My body feels heavy and apart from the soreness on waking there is a pervasive ache throughout, as if I am physically bruised all over. Everything feels too hard. I was more than usual antsy yesterday and couldn’t put my finger on it until I realised that this anniversary fell on the same weekday as the day Daughter Number One died, which added another dimension and made it harder to get lost in the present day. In the preceding days my head plays on a loop her final ones. I distract myself as best I can. On the actual anniversary it jumps to hours and minutes. ‘At this time you were sleeping in because you didn’t know it was your Daughter’s last day on Earth’,’At this time she was walking out the door and that was the last time you ever saw her’ (and I can see her still, see what she was wearing, see her leave but I can’t go back and I know, oh god, that she is gone now, that I have lost her, even though she hasn’t taken her last breath yet),’At this time you were going out of your mind because you didn’t know where Daughter Number One was and you didn’t yet understand she was never coming back’. Thankfully, last night, by the time ‘At this time the police car pulled up out the front and the police chaplain got out’ came around I was in bed with The Love of My Life’s arms wrapped around me, asleep.

I don’t pretend for a second that I am easy to be around sometimes, for any number of reasons, so I am extremely grateful to those that love me enough to stick by me. Special mention as always goes to my knights, those loyal friends who walk with me. Ones I’ve had since before my Daughter’s death, and those I’ve made since. Those of you who drop in to read my words. The person closest to me though gets to witness my grief on a much more intense level. The Love of My Life can’t scroll past my words on facebook or not read my latest blog post or pretend not to notice when he’s not in the mood, because I’m living this life right here next to him. When I exclaim aloud in the car and clutch the dashboard because something (nothing) has made me jump, it is him I distract from driving. He sees my tears and feels them wet against his chest. He asks me questions and listens to me speak Her name.

Throughout the last week The Love of My Life has been able to hold me, gently cupped in his hands, while my wings beat frantically against his palms in my fear, pain and confusion. He has neither crushed me nor let me fall. And when I’ve steadied myself it will be his hand supporting me that lifts me up to fly again.

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BABY COME BACK, ANY KIND OF FOOL COULD SEE THERE WAS SOMETHING IN EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.

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Oh Baby Baby it’s a Wild World.

Off to a slow start today, fresh from one of my recurrent nightmares. In it I am looking for Daughter Number One and becoming more and more frantic as I can’t find her. In days gone by I’d keep looking until I awoke with a start, mid panic attack, and it was only then that I’d remember. These days, eight years later, I usually remember someway through the dream and spend the rest of it trying to convince myself. ‘She’s dead Kate. You can’t find her, she’s dead’. I expect that’s progress. Perhaps. It still feels pretty shitty though and leaves a bit of a hangover of raw grief when I wake up. Much as it was for Nana when she went through a stage of asking ‘Where’s Daughter Number One?’ as the Alzheimer’s first took hold, and I had to tell her, again and again, that she had died; it is like hearing it for the first time. That is hard to shake off. 

Still, three kids to look after and all that. Soldier on. I’ve made bacon sandwiches for them all and the house smells fantastic. Son Number One has left for a social group for a few hours. Son Number Two has a friend over and some time and space in Number One’s absence to enjoy his company without being hassled.  Daughter Number Two is meant to be seeing Baby Daddy today, but I haven’t heard from him since our last conversation and it’s now past 11am, so we shall see. I am playing music and taking deep breaths in and out.

Daughter Number One gave the best hugs. She laughed often. She loved freely. She was tolerant and expressive and funny. She attended a selective performing arts high school and was talented in that regard, but also excelled academically. She loved learning Italian. She read for pleasure. She wanted to travel. She was heading for NIDA (http://www.nida.edu.au/) and I’ve no doubt she would have made it. She was passionate with a strong work ethic. She was a loving, compassionate and fiercely loyal friend. A champion of the underdog. She was all this and so much more. She was amazing, my daughter.

I miss her.

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