Posts tagged ‘family’

I’VE LOOKED AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES NOW. 

In the last few weeks there has been the twentieth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana and the sixteenth anniversary of September 11. There were many television programs commemorating the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. I watched some of them. I heard her sons speak of the last conversation they had with their mother; a brief phone chat. Their regret that they had not spoken to their mother for longer. Those poor little boys. 

There were also lots of articles commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. Tales of ordinary extraordinary people. Stories of brave survival and honourable death. Poignant conversations. Answering machine messages. We don’t generally have the luxury of knowing in advance when ‘last’ times come. The luxury of savouring each millisecond and commiting each moment to memory. We usually only recognise them when they are past. The last time we hear someone’s voice or see them smile or hold them in our arms. 

In between the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death and September 11th this year Connie Johnson died. Boy, that chick knew how to live! And how to love! Connie was amazing. Her public memorial service was held in Melbourne today. If you are not familiar with Connie’s life and her work you can read up on her at loveyoursister.org  Please do! Or, you know, google. Look up Connie and what she was about. She left quite a legacy for everyone who loved her, especially her sons. But I bet they’d rather still have their Mum. 

Anniversaries, anniversaries, anniversaries. Whether it’s an hour or a day or twenty years they pack a punch. That’s loss I guess. That’s life. 

Even without working it out exactly I know that I have now lived longer without my Daughter Number One than I lived with her. I don’t need anniversaries to still feel the enormity of that loss. It is the way it is. This cartoon references mental illness but could just as easily relate to grief and loss for me. 

It’s not that I am unaffected now. Far from it. Just that it is what it is. I have lived longer without my Daughter than she lived her entire life. And however wrong that is, , however unbelievable, however fucking unfair, that’s the way it is. Knowing that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a night last week, as I turned the tv off and locked up the house, when I glanced at a photo of my Daughter and a sob burst from me with such force that it bent me double and I found myself on my knees, with tears streaming down my face saying over and over “Please come back! Please come back!”. But however much I plead and beg and cry she is never coming back. And the world keeps turning and the sun keeps rising. 

This year has been another one filled with loss, for me and people I hold dear. But not ours exclusively. Loss is the flip side of love. I try to focus, as best I can, on the love. It’s what there is left to hang on to. When all else is gone love is what remains. 

So I guess this is what I want to say today; love hard. Take the photo, make the phone call, send the message. Connect with the people you care about in any way available to to you! We have the technology! Get the most out of it! Send a video message or record a voice message. Do a video chat! Or go old school! Send a letter, write a card, post a care package. Let those you love know about it. You, your time and energy, are the most important gift you have to give. So invest in the people who matter to you, while you can. As much as you can for as long as you can. Savour it all. 

Safe onward travel x 

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WHAT WOULD YOU THINK IF I SANG OUT OF TUNE? 

  

Son Number Two and I moved into a place we can call our own this week. It needs some work but it is a step in the right direction. Since moving in we have been offered a bed, a bicycle for Daughter Number Two, a vacuum cleaner and a landline telephone, amongst other things. It is heartening, the kindness of strangers. 

I am always grateful for the beautiful people I am privileged to call friends. People who pick me up when I am down and love me generously. Those people, my friends, know me though and know that I love them back. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement; a two way street. Although I am always and eternally grateful for my gorgeous family of the heart (and particularly to the phone charger fairy this week) this post is more focused on the kindness of strangers. 

I watched a documentary the other night called ‘Craigslist Joe’. According to Wikipedia:

“Craigslist (styled craigslist) is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, communitygigsrésumés, and discussion forums.”

In the documentary, available on Netflix, Joe – the protagonist of the piece – decides to spend one month over December, thirty one full days and nights, living entirely from things he’s sourced from Craigslist. Food, accomodation, transport, any extra clothing in addition to the one set he is wearing – everything. He has his laptop and phone to access Craigslist and connect with the people he comes into contact with there. And off he goes! I won’t spoil it for you. You need to check it out for yourselves. It is safe to say though that my belief in the inherent goodness of the majority of my fellow man remains. I have to believe, given the opportunity, most of us choose to do the right thing. I’m a big believer in paying it forward and random acts of kindness as well. 

  

Most of us, we lucky ones, have enjoyed a long weekend of family and fun and chocolate. I was doing just that, spending time with Daughter Number Two and her male counterpart, when I saw a post from one of my facebook friends. It said that one of their two little daughter’s preschool teachers – someone who she says ‘helped form our beautiful daughters into the girls they are today’ – was driving home from Easter celebrations with her own family when there was a car crash. Two of the preschool teacher’s children died. Just like that. Life spins on a dime. There is a ‘Go Fund Me’ page to help the family. It is here: 

http://www.gofundme.com/qzy8xk

It could be any of us, driving home over the long weekend. If any of you can help, even just because it wasn’t you, then please do. That goes for any occasion the opportunity arises to do something good for someone else. Just do it. Most of the time you will never know how much your kindness means but let that not deter you! Just remember all the times in your life someone has been there to catch you and hold out your own hands to someone else. 

Safe onwards travel x 


SAY GERONIMO!

Hey guys, this is the speech I gave at the wedding. As I waited to speak on the day it suddenly occurred to me what an extremely long time it had been since I had done any public speaking at all, like, over a decade at least. Which was when I began to get very, very nervous. Anyway, it seemed to go alright, so, enjoy!:

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

Looking around this gathering of the Happy Couple’s family and friends it is easy to see many kinds of love. The love of parents for their children and children for their parents, of siblings for each other, the love of extended family, the love of friendship – we are surrounded by it!

What I think William was saying in his sonnet is that love seeps into our very souls and stains us and that love becomes part of who we are. Love gives us shelter in life’s storms and love is the light that guides us home. At the end of the day, when all else is lost, love is what remains.

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments”. Every relationship has it’s challenges but love is what prevails; over time, over distance, during disappointments and trials. Love endures, love connects, love strengthens. For ten years the love between the Happy Couple has endured. They have a lovely home, a strong partnership and two gorgeous daughters that stand as testament to their love. It doesn’t get realer than that. Their love has brought together this gathering and our love for them will support the Happy Couple and their family as they go forward into the future.

I’ll close with the words of another poet who is close to my heart:

“You must be my Lucky Star
‘Cause you shine on me wherever you are
I just think of you and I start to glow
And I need your light
And baby you know

You must be my Lucky Star
‘Cause you make the darkness seem so far
And when I’m lost you’ll be my guide
I just turn around and you’re by my side”

Happy Couple, you have found your lucky stars in each other, which makes you very lucky indeed. Thank you for the honour of sharing this day with you.

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HOLLER IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE BEEN DOWN THE SAME ROAD.

This morning I received an email from the legal firm representing Baby Daddy in a little difference of opinion we are having. The email came from an underling of the actual representative, who bluntly asked for Daughter Number One’s birth date with just her first name. There were a few things that bothered me about this. One was that this person is a stranger to me and did not know my daughter so I felt less familiarity and more respect would have been appropriate. Secondly, Baby Daddy and I actually got married on what would have been Daughter Number One’s 17th birthday. I met him less than twelve months after she died; even if he couldn’t remember which birthday I married him on he knew how old she was when she died. So, you know, do the math, genius. But he WOULDN’T. EVER. BE BOTHERED. Because all she ever was to him was an opportunity for exploitation; whether he was throwing her death at me to score points in an argument or spending the compensation money received from her death. He is a class act

 

It’s funny the things that go through your head. Aside from everything else I lost in that car, on that day, there were the other incidental things that I kept discovering as time went on. My little niece’s shoes. She lived with us at the time. Not her only shoes but a favourite pair. She is in high school now. Son Number Two’s comfort teddy blankie. The one he’d had since before he was born. That was a bit of a blow. Luckily I had a spare but although it was the same, it wasn’t the same. It hadn’t been as well loved, it wasn’t as worn and soft from use. For weeks afterwards looking for things and then realising. 

 

It is over a year now since my beloved Nana died. Even so, because she died during Easter last year it is almost as if I am now having a delayed reaction to the anniversary. I miss her. 

 

The other day facebook told me the police officer involved in the case was having a birthday. A few days before that it had been pictures of his son’s birthday that pictured him with both his son and daughter. Star Wars themed. Very cool. He’s not a police officer any more. He was very decent to me. He still is. We are facebook friends. I wish him well. Life is weird. 

 

Tonight I will spend time with the Love of My Life and a young friend from an older time as well as go to see more recent friends and meet their new four legged baby. If I’m very, very lucky I might be able to wrangle a motorbike ride, which would be just the therapy I need probably. That and the company. Just keep swimming, right? 

 

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Safe onward travel x 

 

This is the End, my beautiful friend.

Less than four hours after my last post my Nana died. But before that, oh boy! The lady knew how to live.

Live, laugh, love. Do it now because the laughter is what you remember and the love is what remains.

We love you Nana. Thank you for waiting for us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for letting us love you.

Please give my Daughter Number One a hug from me.

Take it easy now x

Here comes Peter Cottontail.

Easter. Originally a fertility festival – hence the eggs and rabbits. Symbolizing new life.

As a back drop to chocolate eggs and foil covered bunnies is the concern that my Nana may actually die before I go over for my intended visit in two weeks. She has deteriorated since yesterday and though I no longer have access to my favourite medical professional I am sure enough that being on morphine and nursed in bed are not positive signs.

I knew when I left that I may never be able to hug Nana again. More than most I know that life turns in an instant and with Nana’s advanced years there was every chance that I was spending time with her for the last time. The place my sister and I found for Nana is of a high standard and she has excellent care. No, it is not the same as having your family around you but my Nana has lived her life and at times made tough choices to do so and there would be no condemnation from her. It is just internal. That woman thing of being not enough, not able to be all things to all people all of the time.

It does seem cruel though to get close enough to seeing her that I am looking forward to it and envisioning myself and my children with Nana and hoping against hope that someone will be able to lend me a camera and receiving a phone call this morning to tell me it’s only a matter or time, they just can’t say how much time. It could be tomorrow or two weeks from now.

Why are there never easy choices? Just varying levels of hard?

Live, laugh, love. x

Snap back to reality…

We’ve been away for a few days, celebrating Son Number Two’s birthday in  style! The trip also served as a long goodbye to the Current Person of Interest as we were in his neck of the woods, and when all good things came to an end we both went our own ways home.

 

I live in a paradise, in a seaside town with all the services and shops you want, but that still has a small town vibe. It is a stunningly beautiful place with mild weather. It is a great place to bring up kids. However, at heart I am a city girl. I love the anonymity. I love the bustle. I love the sights and sounds and smells. I love looking out and imagining all the thousands and thousands of people going about their separate lives, but all interwoven and connected in their humanity. So, we were in the big city and I soaked it up and it soothed my soul.

 

We were lucky enough to connect with my beautiful sister Doctor Di (www.doctordi.wordpress.com) while in town, as well as Daughter Number One’s best friend who I love. These connections are also food for the soul and I am extremely grateful for them. A good time was had by all, and that’s not even counting the plane rides there and back!!

 

I knew that on my return home I would have to start getting serious about getting Son Number One back to school. The outcome of the meeting with his school was that they feel they can no longer meet his needs. They had suspended him rather than expel because at his age ( 15 years) he is legally able to leave school, and with an expulsion on his record there would be no obligation for any other school to take him and no responsiility for the Education Department to find him a place.  Today I have made contact with the local Special School and tomorrow we will be going to check it out. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I am excited at the thought of getting him back to school and the programs and emphasis of this school sound ideal for Son Number One. On the other hand there is some grieving around the thought of him going to a special school, some adjusting of my perceptions and hopes and dreams. But I’m sure I will get over myself soon enough. There seem to be more positives than anything else, and in some ways there is some relief in knowing the constant struggle of swimming against the mainstream tide is over. It really can only be up from here.

 

Because it never rains but it pours, pours, pours in my life,  while I was in the City I had a phone call from the Aged Care Facility Nana had originally stayed at for respite. This was my dream choice of facilities for her. They had a place for her and would we like it? After a little hesitation about what this may involve and the impact on my already crushing schedule, plus a short consultation with Doctor Di, I decided yes, yes we did want it. Only I’m a plane ride away. No problem! You can have until 11am on the day after you fly home to get her here. Oh great! Thanks! No pressure then, excellent.

 

So, today I moved Nana. It took me half an hour to throw her entire worldly possessions into garbage bags and small carry bags, which all fit into the boot of my Father’s small hatchback and strip her small room bare. In the process I discovered Nana has developed an incontinence problem. Old age is so relentless and brutal. Then I literally whisked her away from her cup of coffee and into Dad’s car for the short trip to her new home. It was slightly mind blowing how much this didn’t phase Nana but hey I’m thankful for small mercies. The staff at St. A’s fell over themselves to welcome her back- they genuinely remembered Nana and seemed sincerely pleased to see her again. Remarkably the place seemed familiar to Nana and she even remembered some of the faces. For me St. A’s just seems to have more life about the place. Not so much like a waiting room for the Reaper. Nana seemed more engaged when she was there, doing more activities, given more attention. Those are the things I want for her. So, I hung her paintings and put out her photo’s and admired the little garden outside her room and made sure she got a replacement cup of coffee before hurrying off to get back to Daughter Number Two and Son Number One.

 

Before we check out the Special School tomorrow I will be going to visit Nana and see how she’s doing but I am confident this will be a good thing for her. As a bonus St. A’s is around the corner from the Special School and is much easier for me to get to for visits. Anyway, it has been a big start to the week, but we seem to be on the right track. I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

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