Posts tagged ‘kids’

AND THEY CAN NEVER TEAR US APART.

For my True x

What goes up must come down. I’m definitely in a slump at the moment but also highly strung – isn’t the English language funny? I’m both of those things and also feel on edge which sounds like I’m being torn in three different directions and actually that’s fairly accurate, if not an understatement.

As wonderful as having my children together is, it is proportionally devastating to have that change again. It is hard.

When they are together it is as if they have never been apart. Sometimes they squabble and I have to remind myself that it is normal sibling behaviour, even as the anxiety rises in me because as soon as the clock starts time is running out. ‘Play nicely guys because this is all the time we have’.

But now is always all the time we have so I try not to focus on the hard stuff to come or the hard stuff that’s been. Instead I marvel at how alike they are, how in sync they are. How much they love each other.

We talked together about Daughter Number One. It made Son Number One too sad so we had to finish the conversation when he wasn’t there. It made Son Number Two sad as well so he phoned his best friend. It made Daughter Number Two sad but she said through her tears that she would rather know all she can about her sister even if it made her sad and together we read some of the things Daughter Number One’s friends had written about her after she had died. We talked about her hopes and dreams and Daughter Number Two’s understanding of her Big Sister gained poignant dimensions; that her Big Sister was a girl not much older than she is now herself, who had hopes and dreams. Followed swiftly by the cutting realisation that Daughter Number One never got to live out her dreams, or her life.

Talking about her Big Sister and sharing our memories is the only way that Daughter Number Two will know her but they are so very alike it is uncanny. Both with similar talents and passions. Both with huge open hearts.

When our time with Daughter Number Two was coming to an end this time – just for now, just until next time – we travelled the country and beat our previous record with four states in twenty four hours. Definitely taking the scenic route! Although we didn’t have time to see everything and everyone we wanted to see we did have time to connect with some very special people who are dear to us. A constant theme here is the wealth of love and support we have to draw on and how strong our family of the heart is. They are there to lift us up, to love us and our lives are so much the richer for it.

Someone speaking to my ten year old Daughter Number Two this week called Son Number Two her ‘half brother’. It was a remark meant to belittle and diminish the bond between them. Instead, it only served to belittle and diminish the speaker, and really, who even thought that was possible?

How pathetic that an adult would try to lessen for my Daughter a relationship she holds so dear. Technically speaking Daughter Number One and Daughter Number Two are ‘half sibling’s as well. Her Big Sister that she will never get to meet. She will never get to sing a duet with her Big Sister or go on adventures with her, as she does with her Brothers. She won’t ever feel her Big Sister’s arms around her, giving her one of the hugs she was renowned for. Daughter Number Two will never see for herself the ways that she and her sister are similar and the ways that they differ. So, hasn’t she lost enough, my ten year old girl? Why would anyone want to try to take any more away from her? Why do some people have to try to tear others down to build themselves up?

And I think of all the people we are privileged to have in our lives, my Daughters, my Sons and me. I think of our family of the heart who stand with us so that we know we are never alone. I feel the fierce love that surrounds us; from one end of the country to the other, across the world, through the years and, as we head towards the fifteenth anniversary of Daughter Number One’s murder, even beyond death. People who show up for us, consistently, when we need them. People who love us, even when we can’t love ourselves. People who speak my Daughter Number One’s name and remember her always. And then, I can feel pity for the person who can only define family in such limited, simplistic terms as shared genetic material. Compassion I will have to work on.

Although I feel in a bit of a slump I lean into the love that surrounds me. All the laughter and good times my children and I have shared are still with me and with them also. Even those I am apart from are always in my heart.

Safe onward travel x

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MAY YOUR DAYS BE MERRY AND BRIGHT.

A few weeks ago Son Number Two came home from a movie night with The Boys. He said “Mum, there’s a movie we have to see!”. He went on to explain that he had seen the shorts for a film called’Goodbye Christopher Robin’. He said “Mum, we have to see it, it’s Winnie the Pooh”.

As I’ve said before, Daughter Number One loved Winnie the Pooh and her room was full of Winnie stuff. After her murder my Sons and I decorated her coffin with Winnie the Pooh stickers, messages of love, glitter and their tiny handprints. So, “Mum, we have to see it, it’s Winnie the Pooh” – Of course we did.

Off we went, on my birthday at the beginning of the month. It was a very good movie. Terribly British in a charming way; it had themes of the futility of war, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the mistakes we make as parents, forgiveness, family of the heart and how we carry on. It is the back story of bow Winnie the Pooh came to be. I didn’t have any knowledge of Winnie the Pooh author A.A.Milne outside of Winnie himself and it was incredibly moving and interesting to watch this film. I cried, oh, how I cried. And I unreservedly recommend you watch ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ too. I also recommend doing your own research around A.A.Milne and reading some of his other works.

Well guys, it’s been a year! Christmas is almost upon us and then another year. I don’t know about you but I’m tired. My plan is to spend my time and energy on the people I love, who love me. That’s all I’m sure about. As always I am tremendously grateful for those who travel with me.

Wishing you and yours health and happiness! Safe onward travel x

LOVE IS WATCHING SOMEONE DIE. 

We are through the first half of 2017, and almost halfway through July now as well. I made it through the 14th anniversary of Daughter Number One’s murder but only just, regular viewers, only just. I am still here, still breathing, still putting one foot in front of the other. 

I don’t try to pretend it is easy. It really hasn’t been. During the first five months of this year two beautiful souls I had the privilege of connecting with died and in June another, most precious, followed. On top of my own personal grief, watching people I love in pain is almost more than I can bear. I say almost because there isn’t a choice. I love them and they are in pain. If the most I can do is bear witness then it needs to be done. But I have been so sad. For me, for them. It all hurts so much. My body hurts, my soul hurts and oh, I’m so tired. So very, very tired. 

In the week before the anniversary of Daughter Number One’s murder we had the bombing in Manchester, at Ariana Grande’s concert. An attack on children. An attack on music. Shortly after came the London Bridge attack, again involving young people on a night out and shortly after that came the Grenfell Tower disaster. Babies and children, whole families, living their lives, losing their lives and all of these events in quick succession hit me like a ton of bricks. The weight of it, mixed with the other losses in my own life. The pointless waste of snuffed out potential. The reinforcement of how tenuous our grip on life is. How quickly everything we have and know and hold dear can be gone. It was crushing. 

As always, during these times, we were offered the very best and the very worst of humanity. Stories of homeless men running to give aid and strangers holding children, comforting them as they died. But the overwhelming aftertaste was of man’s inhumanity to man. These are the things I try not to hold onto. I really try. Consciously. I choose to look for the good and to be better, not bitter. But every ‘Missing! Hasn’t been heard from’ photo on facebook and each confirmed fatality, each snatched glimpse of footage showing billowing smoke and bereft people before I quickly changed the channel, took me back to a policeman’s face and the sound of his voice saying “There is nothing to identify. We’ll have to use dental records”. Over and over and over again. 

I am still sad. I am still scared. I am scared because at some point, in some way, love will equal loss, because that is the deal. And I choose to keep loving. Is it better to have loved and lost? Still, yes, I guess. For me at least. But the loss bit is just so very hard. 

Still, I get up in the morning and I put one foot in front of the other. Some days are slower than others, but I try and I try because the best way I know to honour the dead is by living. All the dear ones I have loved and lost, none of them would want me to not live my life. It would not give them back theirs. 

I have spoken before of the privilege of being adopted by a network of ex servicemen and women of all designations; military, police, fire and ambulance: Their support and generosity of spirit are second to none. A friend wrote recently to share his positive experience with a new medication he was trialling. Traditionally a blood pressure medication, it is said to have the bonus side effect of getting rid of ptsd related nightmares. As someone who routinely screams herself awake this sounded almost miraculous. In truth, after all these years I cannot imagine what life might be like without them. I just know it sounds good to me. 

After using antidepressants for over ten years I stopped taking them four years ago. A doctor said to me that she didn’t think my depression was biologically based, rather a reaction to events. I thought ‘Abso- fucking- lutely’ and at that moment there didn’t seem to be much point in continuing to take them. I only speak for myself. I don’t make judgements about what does and doesn’t work for anyone else. I was under medical supervision. But for me, I have not had any more bad days or anymore good days since I stopped taking them. That’s what I know. 

Four years down the track from that decision, hearing about a medication that specifically targets the nightmares was pretty exciting! So I made an appointment with a gp and asked. The Dr I was seeing had never heard of using this particular medication in that way so she rang a registrar for more information. She confirmed what my friend had been so generous to share. So, I got my prescription. And I don’t know that it will work for me but I don’t know that it won’t. And hope is a fine thing! 

One foot in front of the other until you get to the other side, while sirens in the distance have me listening for the voice that will never come. 

Safe onward travel to all my lovelies, wherever you are and wherever you are headed x 

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

A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven.

I said goodbye to Son Number One today. Actually, I said ‘See you next time!’. I have said my last goodbyes to my Nana. Over the next few days I will be saying goodbye to Daughter Number Two and my dear friends. That will also be ‘See you next time!’ for as you know I am the eternal optimist.

In his first interview on his first Monday in his new state my Young Friend got a job! A new beginning. And as I write another young friend is in labour, about to have her first child. A very brand new beginning. I am so happy and excited for them both.

There is much that awaits me on my return, both business and pleasure. Onwards and upwards my friends.

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Connected.

Daughter Number Two can sing really well. For an almost six year old she can really belt it out. She watches a lot of Barbie DVD’s with Baby Daddy. This is a man who was totally opposed to Barbie before Daughter Number Two was born. Anyway, I digress. Many of the songs she sings are from Barbie movies. She has been singing one today with the following lyrics;

I’m blind-folded on this carriage ride that they call life.
Keep trying to make it through the next turn, knuckles white and holdin’ tight.
So here I go, takin’ the curve,
but I know that I’m never alone.
I think of you, and how you never let me go.

I feel connected (connected), protected (protected), it’s like you’re standing right with me all the time.
You hear me (you hear me), you’re near me (you’re near me),
and everything else is gonna be alright.
‘Cause nothing can break this, nothing can break this, nothing can break this tie.
Connected… oooooh connected inside.

It’s not an accident, the time we spent apart.
But now we’re so close, I can always find you right here in my heart.
You’ve given me somethin’ I need, and I don’t ever want it to end.
Because of you, I know I’ve found my strength again.

I feel connected (connected), protected (protected), it’s like you’re standing right with me all the time.
You hear me (you hear me), you’re near me (you’re near me),
and everything else is gonna be alright.
‘Cause nothing can break this, nothing can break this, nothing can break this
Connected… ooooh connected inside.

Everytime that I breathe, I can feel the energy.
Reachin’ out, flowin’ through, you to me and me to you. wake or dream,
walk or stand, you are everywhere I am.
Seperate souls, unified, touching at the speed of light.

oh, yeaaaaaaaaah, oh whoa YEAH

I feel connected (connected), protected (protected), it’s like you’re standing right with me all the time.
You hear me, you’re near me,
and everything else’s gonna be alright.
connected (connected), protected (protected), it’s like you’re sitting right with me all the time.
You hear me, you’re near me,
and everything else’s gonna be alright.

‘Cause nothing can break this, nothing can break this, nothing can break this tie.

connected, connected inside, connected, connected inside, connected.

oh Yeah!

In a funny way it is comforting to me, hearing her singing those lyrics about staying connected although apart. I leave here knowing our connection has not been dimmed by distance or time. With three sleeps to go we have been talking about my going back. We have been talking about her coming to visit me. It is one of the things on my list to sort out on my return.

My choices may not make sense to anyone else but I don’t need anyone else’s approval. People say to me all of the time that they don’t know how I have made it through the last almost ten years. Truth be told, neither do I. All I know is that it has been hard work.

I got Son Number One to adulthood. He is set up with everything he needs and all that I could hope for. He told me last night that he is making friends at the day program he is attending. Son Number Two has had opportunities and experiences. He is no longer the four year old who had his world blown apart.

I’ve done the best that I could do with what I had. I am not perfect but I have done my best. It is all any of us can do, at the end of the day.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

The Clearer your destination, the more you’re Slip Sliding Away.

The stars from Daughter Number Two’s night light dance across the ceiling. I have packed a lot into the day but as usual night time does not equate sleep.

My friends and I took three of our children to the beach at dusk. The wind was bitter and the sand cold beneath our feet. The water, though, felt as warm as a bath and the children ran in and out of the waves, laughing with delight. When it grew almost too dark to see them we called them from the water and wrapped them in towels. We walked up the beach, past a couple fishing. Their fire was crackling and flickering on the beach behind them and when we passed them again on the way back the kids stopped for a minute at it’s warmth.

Then we packed my friend’s car and headed to Son Number One’s house for the weekend. We drove through the darkness and listened to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and talked and laughed. At my Son’s home I hung a photo of the four of us on his wall, a portrait I’d reclaimed from Nana’s room. I hung Nana’s paintings on his walls and it was a good thing to do. I gave my little Daughter a bath and tucked her into bed. Now I lay beside her, listening to her sleep and I watch the stars dance above my head.

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