Soon I will be trekking across the country again. This is a trip that I didn’t know if I could make happen and by myself it would have been completely outside the realms of possibility. Luckily for my children and I, we have the great gift of our family of the heart. The people who love and support us in so very many ways. There are some days they make cross country travel possible and some days they make getting out of bed possible, but there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful they are there. Cheering us on, lifting us up, lighting our way.Not long ago the psychologist I first worked with after Daughter Number One died sent me photos of her gorgeous new puppy. Last week I had a phone call from the friend who rang me every day that I spent in a mental health unit years ago. Someone I’ve only ever met once in real life. Who I met through a friend I had met on Plenty of Fish. The other morning I had a message from Daughter Number One’s friend who shared her name; that is, until she recently got married! This trip, to pick up Daughter Number Two for the school holidays was made possible by, in no particular order;Another lovely soul I met through the same Plenty of Fish guy as above – THANKS GLEN MY FRIEND! The incredible mother of Son Number Two’s beloved Hope, who has been Daughter Number Two’s guardian angel on earth this year, One of Daughter Number One’s treasured school friends, who also recently made a beautiful bride, An extremely dear friend that I have really only known two years but feel like my heart has known forever, A newer friend still, who I met through the friend above, who regularly thrashes me at word games, A special friend who has had much travelling on many levels this year but has still made time and space to connect with me,A lovely and glamorous friend who has moved houses recently and mountains always,A friend who comes from my life before, before Daughter Number One died, who continues to fight the good fight for vulnerable children, The one I bought from eBay, despite their pricelessness,My dear ones who always give me a safe place to land,My favourite former housemates,My high school friend and regular bridesmaid, The sister of Son Number Two’s Best Friend and the Best Friend himself, who I trust to keep an eye out for Son Number Two when I am not there to do it, Son Number Two himself. This list above is just of people who have helped in concrete and measurable, practical ways. It is by no means comprehensive! From different periods of my life, across varying distances and on many levels we have a wealth of people checking in, supporting and encouraging us and believing in me on the days that I can’t. Every kind word said, every good wish expressed, every ‘I hear you!’ counts. I do not walk a day where I feel like I am doing this alone and the responsibility and privilege of knowing people are genuinely invested in us keeps me wanting to show up for them. With this support I am growing into the best version of myself I can be. More steady on my feet than I have been for a very long time. All these threads; old friends, new friends, dear friends, true friends; weaving themselves into this safety net/ security blanket that gives me enough confidence to fly. This week, literally. In my own ways I try to pay these gifts forward, in whichever way I can. Last week I attended Angelhands’ Guinness World Record Attempt and as often as possible I send the message, make the phone call, post a card, pay a visit; reaching out my hand to let people know that I am there and I that I care. For me, that human connection has been the thing that is worth sticking around for. As challenging as I often find social interaction – and I really do, in numerous ways – the not insubstantial effort is worth the rewards. Even as I sit here now, doing the things I didn’t think would be possible, it still feels surreal. It is overwhelming me a bit to grasp the reality of having such a huge wish come true. The joy, the utter relief, the continued anxiety of waiting for the next step to fall into place; I am looking forward to the pace slowing a bit so my head can stop screaming so loudly “WE DID IT!!!! WE REALLY DID IT!!!! THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!!!!”. We have the capacity to change people’s lives every day. Even our own. Especially our own. What you put out into the world matters. It counts. Sometimes in ways you don’t expect, many times in ways you will never know about. But in absolutely real ways that can make all the difference. Never underestimate the power of the little things. To my Dearest Hearts, my beautiful people, for every thing that you do and are, THANK YOU. I hope, even if just a little, you understand how incredibly huge this is and what we have accomplished together. We did it, guys. We really did. Safe onward travel x
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
I like being able to have my own things around me and to decide where things will go. Lovely and generous friends have gifted me things I may need and it has been like little mini Christmases each time something arrives. I love things, and people, that come into my life with stories! And they always come with stories! Even if you don’t know their histories you can imagine the journeys they have taken to cross paths with you. They have seen other places, been touched by other hands.
I looked down at my hands earlier this week; at my chipped, blood red, Chanel nail polish. I thought to myself that they were an apt metaphor for my life, or for me! Imperfect but still vibrant, or something!
There are many exciting things coming up for me and new adventures with old friends. Some of my lovely ones are coming closer to me and some I will be travelling to see. There is much for me to appreciate and more again to look forward to. When I awaken in a panic for the third night in a row and find a message from a friend on the other side of the world, their thoughtfulness is enough to soothe me, and I know I am a lucky girl!
Wherever we are or wherever we’re from, wherever we’ve been or wherever we are heading the truth for me is this; we are all just passing through.
Safe onward travel x
This time next week I will be thousands of kilometres from where I am now. I am travelling to attend a wedding. As I’ve said, I adore weddings! They are full of optimism, hope, faith and love. Because this is the wedding of two people I care deeply for it is even more special to me.
While I am away for the weekend I’ll be meeting up in person with friends I have only spoken to online – one of my very favourite things to do! Making the virtual real! I am also going to spend time with other people – and animals – that I have loved for a long time now. And two plane trips each way! I love to fly! So I have lots to look forward to.
If home is where the heart is then it is both a blessing and a curse that bits of my heart lie everywhere, near and far, thanks to my gypsy soul. Bits of me that remain and live on in places I have been and people I love. Even getting on a plane feels like home because in a strange and somewhat corny way when I am flying up there above the clouds I feel closer to my Daughter Number One.
At the end of the day we all want a place we can lay our heads. Somewhere safe, secure and warm we can relax and be ourselves. Whether that is a person or a place or just a feeling of inner peace, it is something I am still working on.
I guess I’ll know it when I find it.
Safe onward travel x
Since we were without power this morning for hours and hours I have almost finished the packing. Now the power is back on I can fine tune my travel details and make some bookings. The last twenty four hours have brought numerous reminders of how tenuous and fleeting life is. I just need to stay focussed on the road ahead.
There was a facebook outage the other day that lasted just under an hour, so I believe. Apparently Tinder and Instagram went out too. What was most remarkable about that, aside from the fact the world kept turning, is that I didn’t notice. I only knew about it from the news later. Keeping busy is the way to go at the moment and I am filling my days with real life interactions. I have one friend who has deactivated her facebook account and another who has cut down her usage. I haven’t made any bold resolutions myself but practically speaking my focus has shifted. Don’t get me wrong, my love affair with the internet has not diminished; it has brought me far too many gifts for that! However, as I said, I am engaging more with the ‘real’ world and that cannot be a bad thing! I guess too much of anything isn’t healthy. I’m aiming for balance.
Safe onward travel x
I’ve been packing things ready to post for The Love of my Life’s small endeavour. Things go all over the country and sometimes the world. I look at the names and addresses and get that weird feeling of recognition of all the millions of people out there, all living their lives, separate yet interwoven. Different yet familiar.
Sometimes the addresses are from places I’ve been to which invariably brings to mind faces of people I’ve known. Sometimes these are good memories, sometimes not. It is amazing how we work. How simply a scent or a song or a street name or a suburb can evoke an emotional response. How far you can travel in the blink or an eye or the turn of a phrase, across decades or oceans or kilometres. Distances that aren’t even measurable; across broken dreams, lost friendships, across the bridge between life and death.
Today is ANZAC day here in Oz. A day that evokes memories and emotions in lots of us. My thoughts and heart are with my special friends who have served and all those like them. My thoughts and heart are with their wives and children, their parents and friends and all those who love them.
For all the lovers, who are also fighters; safe onward travel x