Posts tagged ‘death’

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME.Β 

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. 

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

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 

DON’T STOP YOUR LIGHT FROM SHINING ON.Β 

For Hope, and for Chris, with love, always x 

Here’s what I know;

πŸ’œ Life is short. Sometimes brutally so. However long it is, it is never long enough for the people who love us. 

πŸ’œ Death isn’t only the end of a life; for those of us still living it becomes part of our lives. 

πŸ’œ People mourn in different ways and it can bring out the best and the worst in us. 

πŸ’œ The death of someone we love HURTS. 


πŸ’œ The amount of time we spend with someone does not always equal the size of the hole they leave in our hearts. 

πŸ’œ Life goes on. It just does. 

πŸ’œ Some things in life are important. Some are not. One list is much longer than the other. Work out what is on your ‘Important things’ list. Prioritise. 

πŸ’œ What if’s don’t change what is. 

πŸ’œ Sometimes you have perfect days or perfect hours or perfect moments. Savour them. Hold onto them. 

πŸ’œ Love isn’t all we need but it is what counts. It is the best we can hope to leave behind and it is how we endure. 

When All That’s Left Is Love 

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller 

When I die 

If you need to weep

Cry for someone  

Walking the street beside you.

You can love me most by letting

Hands touch hands, and Souls touch souls.

You can love me most by

Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and

Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).

You can love me most by

Letting me live in your eyes

And not on your mind.

And when you say Kaddish for me

Remember what our

Torah teaches,

Love doesn’t die People do.

So when all that’s left of me is love

Give me away.


Safe onward travel x 

IT’S A NEW DAWN.Β 

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 

TELL ME, WHAT’S FEAR TO YOU?Β 

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.

  

BELIEVE.Β 

  
So much has happened since last we spoke. I wrote my birthday message to Sam to commemorate her 27th birthday. My gorgeous friend Eden of Edenland was generous enough to share my post on facebook. Eden had already inspired the title of the birthday post – ‘Beautiful Pain‘ – from a song she had shared earlier in the day. Once Eden shared my little post it took off around the world with thousands of views from dozens of countries. Because Eden shared my post it come to the attention of Kidspot, who published it on their site. I had the opportunity to work with lovely Kidspot editor Alex. And more and more people read my words about my beautiful Daughter Number One, my amazing Sam. 
Some of those people, who read my words, left me their words in return. Kind, loving, gentle words that I pulled tight around me and allowed to seep in with their warmth. There were many kind words from those who know me and love me and the words of beautiful strangers who had let me reach out and touch them. It was a profoundly humbling experience and an awesome birthday gift to my Sam. 
  
In the days that followed two more wonderful things happened. I had a message from someone who had not been a friend of Sam’s but who had gone to the same school. He recounted meeting Sam on his first day, how she showed him some kindness and left him with a message that shaped the rest of his educational career. A message that he carries with him still, all these years later. His story was Sam all over and reading what he’d written was like having her walk into the room with me. It was typical Sam; loving, inclusive, champion of the underdog. Sam’s legacy astounds me, then, when I think about it, surprises me not at all. I am SO PROUD. 
I have spoken here before of the police officer that worked Sam’s case and the difference he made to me at such a difficult time. The former police officer also wrote to me after Sam’s birthday. A lovely long message that made me smile. More kind words to keep me warm. He said he hoped my family knew how lucky they are to have me. Are they? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am so blessed to have my family of the heart, not necessarily related by blood but bound by love and loyalty. He said he had seen my strength, all those years ago when we had met under such traumatic circumstances. As I’ve said here before, I do not know if it is strength. My mind rebels at the word because I do not feel strong at all. What I am sure I had then and what I am lucky enough to have still, are people willing to stand beside me and hold me up when I falter. People who love me and believe in me when I am doubting myself. If it is strength that I have, then that is not me, it is all of you. 

  
After Sam’s birthday and my post, a friend disclosed her history of sexual abuse as a child and extended me the kindness of explaining why she had not told her mother. What grace that takes! Sometimes such kindness feels like more than I deserve. 
I was in a taxi the other day, completely hysterical. Absolutely beside myself, contorted with sobs. After about ten minutes the taxi driver said to me softly in his Eastern European accent “Would you like a cup of coffee? I buy you a cup of coffee.”  I demurred “No thank you. That is very kind of you but it is not necessary, thank you”.  After another ten minutes the driver said “This service station here, they make good coffee. I going to stop. Get you a coffee. You wait. I turn off the meter.” So I asked him if he could make it a hot chocolate instead, because it was easier to acquiesce than to continue to resist. And he did. He stopped the cab, got out of the car and came back with a bottle of water, a croissant and a hot chocolate. He gave me instructions to eat the croissant with the hot chocolate – “Will make you feel better!”. Oh guys, people are good! On the whole, people are good. I really believe that. 
I don’t know if I am brave or strong or any of that, and I certainly don’t feel it, but I know that it is a small world. I know that little things matter. I know that in ways we cannot fathom we are connected to each other. I know that when all else is gone love is what remains. 

Love is what remains.

(The police officer’s nephew, Fletcher, is on Australia’s Got Talent in the semi final tonight. He’s fab! Go give him some love x) 

  

TWO LITTLE BOYS.Β 

Speaking to The Love of My Life today, we were talking about how my Daughter Number One, Sam, died. 

‘You know’ he said ‘in the future there will be cars that people can’t die in. Someone is probably working on it now, something to keep the occupants safe, so that car crashes can’t happen. And then people won’t die in cars’. And I thought to myself that that would really be something. No more fatalities on our roads. 

But then I thought, it wasn’t actually the car that killed her. The car was just the weapon of choice of her murderer. My Daughter was killed by another human being, it wasn’t a car accident, it was an act of murder by a trusted adult known to her. A man who drove at high speed into a rock wall on an expressway and ended her life. 

Then the news today that a father has driven off a wharf with his two little sons, aged four and not yet even one, after posting a suicide note on facebook. Koda and Hunter died, trapped in a car, drowning. This was no car accident either. And although the coroner will have the final word, and as much as I feel for their mother – and oh I do! So very much! This club doesn’t need any more members – I am not afraid to say that the man the media is reporting as a loving father and active member of the community is, now, a murderer and surely whatever else he may have been fairly PALES in comparison? Seriously. 

My heart bleeds for Hunter and Koda’s mother, extended family and friends. But mostly it bleeds for two little boys who are now gone, just like that, for always. 

Cars that people can’t die in would really be something. But so would an end to Domestic Violence. Fuck, why stop there? Let’s get rid of people killing other people, full stop. Because, enough already. 

Rest in Peace Koda and Hunter. And say hi to Sam for me x 

  

DIDN’T WE HAVE A LOVELY TIME.Β 

  
Today I accompanied Son Number Two to the funeral service of one of his friend’s grandmother. It was held in the same chapel as my Nana’s was but this time the room was filled almost to capacity. 
My Son sat down at the front, next to his friend. I looked at the back of their heads and realised this was the fifth funeral Son Number Two has been to in his life and that seems a lot for someone his age. I was so proud of my Son today and his unhesitating and unflinching support of his friend. 

  
It wasn’t until he came home later this afternoon that Son Number Two told me that he’d last seen his friend’s grandmother about a week before she died. He and his friend had gone together to visit her in her nursing home. He said as he was leaving that she asked him where he thought he was going without a smooch? Son Number Two also said that when he’d visited at Easter she had an Easter Egg waiting for him. She made everyone feel like family, he said. She was an amazing woman, he said. 

 
As I watched and listened to my Son Number Two today I thought he was pretty amazing also. We’ve had some adventures together over the last few years, he and I. We’ve travelled a lot and not just geographically. I am proud of the young man he is becoming. Like me he wears his heart on his sleeve. He is loyal as fuck. His friends know that he has their back. And he can do death, he knows it is part of the deal. 
I am proud of him. 

  

  

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