Saturday, February 18, 2017

We keep this love in a photograph.....

Do you ever have a moment when something taps you on the shoulder to remind you life is passing by so quickly? 

I do….like when my daughter Dempsey leans up against my back, trying to point out that she’s almost taller than me….or my twin nieces who do this too….who now are taller!

And I know we can’t somehow hit the ‘pause’ button on life, but we can at least try and trick the clock…we can freeze it for another day!   

But how do we stop time.....with a photograph!

We can’t hit the pause button, but we do have a save button.  Save for later….save for a time when we may need some laughter, or tears.  Or a time when we need to return to a moment otherwise gone forever…….

And this week I’ve had a few reminders to take more photos…to capture precious moments that can be forgotton.  You see Dempsey got a guitar for Xmas.  She already plays the French Horn, Trumpet annddd piano, (which she wont play in front of me!).  So you can imagine my hesitation when she announced she wanted a guitar.  But Xmas morning, in a shiny black padded case, she was gifted one.  A good one!  One that should last forever. 

Xmas morning, I sat on the sofa with my steaming mug of tea, watching her awkwardly hold and strum it.  She’s got a long way to go I thought to myself.  Even if she will get a few lessons in her music class at school.....

But this week, as I grabbed her bedroom door handle to tell her dinner was ready, I could hear music drifting out from under her door.   I stood silent like a stalker and listened.  I listened and I smiled!

And I got goosebumps! 

Through the door, I could hear her strumming her guitar, in tune, and singing…to Ed Sheeran’s song “Photograph.” 

And she was amazing! 

My little girl has taught herself to play this song from You Tube!  And it sounded beautiful!

I stood silently at her door, scared to move in case she knew I was there. 

I stared at the photograph of four year old Dempsey on the wall, and I listened to my baby, playing her guitar and singing.  And I felt so lucky to be her Mum!

However, as soon as I opened her door she stopped!  And of course, like any teenager, wouldn’t let me take a video, or a photo or play in front of me… matter how hard I tried to bribe her.   

But the song, ‘Photograph’ and her singing reminded me I need to take more photos. 

I need to remember to get out my camera and record these special moments that can take us back.  I know I have regrets I didn’t take enough photos of her sister’s four years with us.  I only have a limited number of photos…but so many memories locked in my mind that I can’t share with Dempsey about her sister and for that I have guilt.

                                    Baby Dempsey and her big sister Savannah

But going through a storage box from our LA home, I found a locket that was given to Savannah for her birthday.  I gave it to Dempsey because she was only one years old when her sister died....and told her I thought her sister would want her to have it!

When I went back to her room later…Dempsey was sitting on her bed, rolling the necklace over and over in her hand as she played on her computer.  I didn’t say anything….but I noticed.

And that night as I tucked her into bed, she had put the necklace on.  She hasn’t taken it off since!

                                                  Dempsey with her Savannah's locket on 

And this act of her not taking her sister’s necklace off tells me so many things….it pulls at my heartstrings, it warms my soul but most of all it reminds me that memories and keepsakes are important.  They’re essential to cataloguing or recalling moments and things that have meaning….just to us!

So I’m going to make the effort to capture as many photos as I can…for later…for her…for my nieces and nephews. 

It will be a return ticket for them… moments to revisit and laugh over…or brag about, or to make fun of….but they’ll have them…memories held, frozen in time….priceless!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Just Keep Swimming....... x

Yesterday, my sister’s daughter Charlotte drove to my house.  Yes drove!  She’s old enough now and has her learner permit.  I’m so proud of her.  I couldn’t wait to watch her drive out of my driveway…and of course not back into my garage door!  And as Charlotte slowly edged back and forth with the car, giggling, my brother in law Tone rolling his eyes from the passenger seat, she finally got it. 

She straightened up the car and drove slowly out of my driveway.  And in one of those strange reflective moments, with her bright yellow L plate stuck to the back window, I couldn’t help but notice the other bright yellow sticker on the car bumper under her L plate.  

 It said “Touched Be The Road Toll.”

I stood on our front steps madly waving and blowing kisses to Charlotte who gave me a big thumbs up.  I know she couldn’t see the tears in my eyes.  But it was a poignant reminder of life.   

One, how it goes on, that people do survive tragedy and thrive and two, that these little moments after grief aren’t little moments.  They have the ability to trigger such instant responses.  At a subconscious level!  The sun was shining, I was filled with a sense of such pride and happiness but in a second of seeing that sticker and Charlotte’s L plate I was reminded just how fragile and unfair life can be sometimes.  Unfair that it wasn’t my sister standing with me, so proud.   

So how do we ready ourselves for those triggers after grief?  

How do we ignore them, shut them out, block them, avoid them?   

Well I’ve learned you can’t!  It’s all part of the process.  A process they call healing…or moving forward.  But sometimes it’s like one step forward, two steps back! 

But with every shot of pain and recognition comes more resilience.  More strength….to cope when these sparks of grief strike.  I’m not scared of them now….well not as much as I was.

And I wonder how other people cope with these little set backs or obstacles?  Whether they’re part and parcel of grief or whether I’m stuck, or I have too much time to contemplate?  Or all this means is that the love I had for those gone will always prompt sadness sometimes?  Is it odd or normal to still feel this way? 

I’m glad its August as it’s the later part of the year where it seems I get a breather from all the reminders of those I’ve lost.  May was Mother’s Day.  June was Savannah’s birthday and July my baby has her birthday.  Which seems always overshadowed by her sisters.  And I hate that!

And all these special days prompt tears and wondering and questioning why?  Year after year.  Its like you have to deal with the difficult stuff for three days.  The day before, the day of and the flatness of the day after….the recovery.   But we do recover.  We regroup.  We mend.  And thats the true miracle of the human condition.    Just keep swimming as Dory said!

You’d think I’d be better at this by now.  But it seems grief is like an eclipse.  When it’s around, everything else seems to be shadowed.  Even the good stuff!  The triggers are just that, like someone has a gun pointed.  The best way to deal with them is to let the pain sit with you, or pour out of you.  Whatever works!  But I do know that burying the pain can create addiction.  And with addiction, unless you deal with whatever is causing the pain, you will never fix the addiction if you have one.

And the other night I watched a TV show called ‘Offspring.’  A scene in it showed one of the main characters celebrating her birthday.  The table was full of family, laughing.  She got up to make a speech, how it was the first birthday without her dad.  And in the scene she melts into a mess of tears.  And out of the blue, lying on my couch under a fluffy throw rug, I started sobbing.  And I couldn’t stop.  It was like someone turned a tap on.

I miss my dad.

I m i s s  m y  d a d!

That one little scene in a silly show triggered grief tears and set me off! 

But I wiped my wet face with the fluffy throw rug, took a deep breath and let the pain sit with me.  And you know what….after a few minutes, the sadness passed. 

However I still got up, grabbed a crystal glass off the shelf, and poured myself a red.  i know I’m a work in progress….and that’s ok too! X

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tapping those red shoes.....................

Pain can be our teacher....

Yesterday, Dempsey found a small purple velvet box in my sideboard drawer.  She wandered up to me very sheepishly with it behind her back and asked me if she could have what’s inside. 

“What is it Precious?”  I asked, wracking my brain to remember what was inside that box?

Dempsey smiled and slowly opened it, not taking her eyes off mine.  Inside was Peter’s mother’s ruby ring.

“Who’s is it Mummy?”  she asked.

I told her it was Daddy’s mother’s…..her grandmother’s, who died when she was only two.  Who we weren’t close with.

“What is it with me and Grandmother’s!!!  Why don’t I even have one?”  she asked.

I pulled her into me, wrapped my arms around her and kissed her head.  I told her that not everyone has a grandma, and that I know it’s not fair she doesn’t have any but that’s just the way it is.

It made me think how the school of hard knocks can certainly teaches us resilience….and some days acceptance of our ‘lot in life.’  But it is also a breeding ground for wishing for things we cant have…..impossible things, and that’s when some days can be torture and you want the sun to sink quickly so it’ll be a new day. 

Wanting things that will never be only gets you down and as difficult as it may be sometimes, you have to dig deep and look at what you DO have instead.  It’s a hard habit to nurture, but it IS possible….. 

Facebook is a great example of misreading other people lives and wishing for what they have!  It’s a platform that can easily trigger feelings of wanting what we can’t have, or wishing we had a different life. 

But is all that stuff that people carefully post an illusion?   

When I see my friends on Facebook posting pictures of their healthy kids Savannah’s age, or photos of them with their healthy mothers out lunching in the sunshine, it creates that perspective that everyone’s life is perfect, that other people have what I don’t.  And its difficult to try to change your way of thinking….but you have to, otherwise you find yourself spiraling into that place of pining for things that will never be.  And that’s detrimental to the soul…..

Everyone has the power within to change their way of thinking, to dig deep when you need to….

YOU have the ability to focus on the positives or accept what’s not to be, it’s how we interpret ‘our lives’ that matters….it’s those shitty days and shitty feelings that become our building blocks, stacking one block after another, after another, fostering strength and shaping our armor.    

And as my dad used to say, “There’s always someone worse off than you Diana!”  and it’s this mantra I quietly say to myself when all else fails…because there is!  And that, saying is sometimes my life raft… brings perspective and jolts me back into my reality of how lucky I am!

Yes, Demps doesn’t have any grandma’s and I don’t have my mother, sister or daughter here.  But I did!  And I DO have girlfriends and close people in my life who have stepped up and are there everyday, that call me and make me laugh.  That hug me and hug Dempsey….they are like my loved ones, even though they aren’t!     

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she realizes she had the power all along to take her home, just by tapping her red shoes....she just had to discover herself!

We also have the capacity to realize we can change our way of thinking….it’s there…it’s been there all along……

So today, I’ve been down in the dumps, wishing for things I can’t have but trying to remember my mantras and remembering the Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz reminding Dorothy;

“You’ve always had the power my Dear, you just had to learn it yourself!” X  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy trumps sad....always! X


Since last time I've written, I've had a birthday.

I hate birthdays.  Not because I turn a year older…..but because most of the people I love aren’t here to share it with me.  Birthdays after someone you love has died are never, ever the same!

This year, I was without another important family member.  My dad!

For as long as I can remember, on the morning of my birthday, it’s like I’m psychic.  I’d know the first phone call I'd receive would be from my dad, with a smile in his humble voice, wishing me a quiet “Happy birthday Diana!”

So this year it seems I’m psychic too….as I knew the phone wouldn’t ring, I knew I wouldn’t hear Dad’s voice, or share a conversation with him….not on any day ever again!  And it hit me hard.  It is like the reality of his death and him not being here has finally sunk in. 

And I was sad!  I was a blubbering mess!

I had the biggest pity party…..where tears came along, anger brought his frown, sadness brought the red wine and of course pity cheered me on…. 

By mid afternoon I opened a bottle of wine, hoping to drown out all these emotions that showed up ready to party.  And I managed to forget….for a little while…..

But I’ve learnt through my journey that delaying the heartache, or burying the emotions or using something to try and fix your grief doesn’t work. 

Yes, to go into battle with grief you have to armour up….whether it be with friends support, a listening ear, or through feeling the pain and allowing that to settle in your being and then seep out of your eyes in the form of tears. 

There’s no magic spell or pill that you can take to mend a broken heart.  It will always be broken….but sitting on my deck on my birthday, feeling sorry for myself, I noticed a flash of yellow pull up in my driveway. 

I heard the slam of 3 car doors and watched as my sister’s twins and husband came smiling around the corner with a shiny yellow box that said “Moet” in Charlotte’s hand.  Each of my sister’s daughters took a turn at squeezing me so tight, they managed to transfer a few stitches into my broken bits.

And I do have a broken heart….but…..half of it is still intact….and that half is an enormous muscle filled with hope and the ability to recognize and appreciate joy.  And I’m grateful that at least that half will always eclipse the broken bits.

I grabbed five of my mother’s precious crystal flutes and called Dempsey.  I told the girls I was going to share my beautiful bottle of sparkling bubbles with them….only if it was a sip!  YOLO I told them! J

Their faces lit up....Dempsey was a bit hesitant, but I told her a sip of French champagne is ok because its my birthday….and if we were in Italy, they’d most likely be enjoying red wine with their dinner at night….well that was my excuse anyway!  I wanted them to feel special and to create a memory where in years to come maybe they’d reminisce and say “Remember old aunt Diana giving us a sip of French Champagne on her birthday!”

And this week my baby has been on camp….the anxiety of Dempsey not being in my clutches is very real and it’s a demon I fight with….a bit like the emotions I battle on special days.  But I’ve been trying to trust in the Universe and trust Dempsey’s big sister will keep her safe….but it feels like someone has cut my left arm off.  The house is way too quiet!!

And it’s in these quiet moments when you can’t escape, that all those grief emotions start to bubble up to the surface and you have to face them.  There’s nowhere to run….where do you run to? 

Who do you tell? 

Who wants to listen to someone who’s sad and down?  Nobody! 

So I’ve had to face a lot of buried emotions this past week…and it’s been exhausting, but I’ve feel like I’ve come through the fog, I feel like I’ve won a war! 

And last night, my sister’s girls had their Production at school. 

Emerald asked with puppy dog eyes if I’d please go!  And to be honest I didn’t feel up to it.  I just wanted to wallow at home.  But I went….for my sister!

And as I sat next to their dad and watched them light up the stage with their presence, beauty and fun energy…..I thought of my big sister. 

One of them is becoming more like her every day in the way she pulls faces, and how she holds her head….even though she can’t know Tarnia’s quirky little ways as she was only a baby when she died.

But there on that wooden stage was my sister…reincarnated. 

I was so proud to be there watching….also a little melancholy that Tarnia has missed out on so many of these moments. 

And it hit me then….that there is life in grief….that there can be happiness in sadness and that you can’t escape fear and pain anymore than you can avoid the joy and beauty in moments…. e v e r y  s i n g l e  d a y !  And that right there was my light bulb moment!

Yes, between the pauses of grief, beauty and joy shines through and fixes the broken bits…..there’s no safety net….but for every down moment, the UP one’s fill our blue cup with sunshine and give us strength and courage to face whatever life throws at us.   They sweep us up and carry us along, slowly mending our broken hearts and ensuring our smile will always return....  X 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The gifts...........

Grief is such a lonely place. 

When you’re in the thick of it, it’s like quicksand…there’s nothing that can help you. 

And I’ve found like a surfer, you just have to ride out the wave…….

And for anyone reading who’s in that place…that’s OK too…cos I’m here to tell you, it does get better………..

I usually find if I’m down, the next day I feel stronger….and I seem to get a renewed energy to face the world with a different outlook.  It’s bizarre, this concept, but it’s the roller coaster theory of being up and down…the high…and the low! 

Like Friday.  You see my baby went to the big smoke with the debating team.

I had to have her at the bus at 0730am stat!  Which was a far bit earlier than normal….but Dempsey was excited….dressed in full uniform, with her blazer and tie knotted perfectly in place and a smile on her face that couldn’t be wiped off.

I pulled up my car behind the school bus, got out and embarrassingly (to Demps) took a proud photo of course….to capture the memory.   

Then I got back in my car and sat there.  I just sat there, enjoying the moment. 

Through my windscreen I watched other parents come and go, dropping their kids off quickly.  But I stayed that little bit longer…watching my baby’s face, lit up with excitement and enthusiasm, chatting to her friends, making silly teenage faces as she boarded the bus.  Then I tucked the moment and the joy it brought to me deep in my heart, and drove off…..with Kings of Leon blaring through my car speakers, leaving the school bus behind in my rear-view mirror! 

So tonight I’m a little melancholy…I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s wishing for things I can’t have.

But I guess you can’t be ‘up’ all the time.  And it’s OK to be a little down sometimes.  As the down times make the up times so much richer.  The gift of grief has taught me that….it’s also taught me  

Knowing sad makes happy so much bigger and brighter.

Knowing how the lowest of lows feels means understanding up has to happen…it’s the law of gravity!!! J

Watching someone you care about achieve something they’ve worked so hard for makes success more rewarding. 

Loving and losing something so precious teaches you that love is all there is.  That it’s sweet and intoxicating….and addictive….and you finally g e t  it!

Life seems bigger and brighter some days!  Rainbows and sunrises seem more vibrant and breathtaking.  They just never get old do they?

                                           Sunrise in my front yard last week...breathtaking

There’s no cook book like Nigella's that can publish a recipe on how to cook grief so someone can taste what it’s like…to understand how it might feel or what people deal with if they've suffered loss.  Only those that have been through it understand how it feels and smells and looks.

But after some time, grief can be a gift.  Well, it has been with me.

It’s taught me how to embrace life, even with its sometimes cruel consequences.  It’s taught me to cherish the small moments that I’m privileged with…like today with it’s winter chill.  That reminded me of mother nature’s bite, but also of her beauty with a sky full of marshmallow clouds that somehow made up for the cold winter’s day.

And I don’t think I’d recognize them if it weren’t for losing the most precious thing in my world.

Loss makes you understand that life is a gift, a privilege….something to wrap both arms around and embrace and to face with energy and gusto as tomorrow is not a given for anybody. 

Whatever it is…I’m grateful for it.  Cos tonight I’m thankful to be sitting here, with a rich glass of merlot…..the sound of frogs serenading me on my lake…Teddy dog at my feet, my friends and family only a phone call away.  

And my special little girl, sitting at her desk in her room, drawing with Derwent pencils under a halogen lamp, and gifting me with special moments, every day…..e v e r y day!

How lucky I am…..

Sunday, July 26, 2015

YOLO - What if we had an expiry tag?

What if we all had an expiry date tied to us on a tag?

What if you knew what your expiry date was?

Would you do anything different than what you are today???

Would you write a list of all those things you want to do???

It’s funny, but for anyone who’s been through a life changing event, it transforms
you… so many many ways. 

And at the time you can only see the bad if it’s a tragedy or a challenge.  You become bogged down and consumed with the “why me?” and the “if only’s.”  But over time, as you heal and become more resilient….and you start to understand the fragility and randomness of life, you begin to understand just how short life really is. 

You begin to want to suck the marrow out of e v e r y little morsel of each day, good or bad.

My friend who I wrote about in an earlier blog who was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years ago is doing great, however she’s been given the gift of recognizing life is short and random shit happens to good people, no matter if you’ve done everything right in life.

Anyway, this friend and I had a conversation on Friday….about how people live, or how we should try to  live….and we talked about what people would do if they had an expiry tag pinned to them. 

It’s an interesting concept.  It makes you question your mortality and your time or how you spend it…..and just what it is you want to do with your one wild and precious life?

I know losing my sister, mother and four year old daughter have made me understand life is short….and there’s no guarantee’s.

And last night, my BFF and I were chatting….she’s tossing up whether to undertake more study.  YOLO(You Only Live Once) I said down the phone!

And it’s true….YOLO should be pinned to our chest too!

The gift of grief has taught me how to suck the marrow….how to get up and go and to not put things off.  To buy that bottle of Moet….or dance on that table!  To tell friends and family how much they mean to me….to take risks and to push myself.

                                                  yes that's me dancing on that table! :)

We’re all dying.  Every day.  But are we living?

Do we put off things because they’re too hard?  Or because we’re scared of rejection…or failure?  Or is it we just can’t be bothered?

Life is such a gift…and I know that’s clich├ęd, but its true.  I know it’s a privilege for me to wake every day. 

I know I’m absolutely blessed to have a daughter who’s happy and healthy….how things could be different, just by a twist of fate.  Knowing these things has changed me….they’re the remiinder….the kick and the sparkle that lights my spirit to make me take risks and live each day and appreciate what I have. 

My precious daughter turned thirteen this week.  Dempsey reminds me every day how life is passing us by so quickly…that time is ticking away and that this day will never happen again….so to make the most of it! 


And as I type I’m smiling, Dempsey just leaned over my shoulder and read what I’m writing, when she got to YOLO came the reminder that maybe I am getting old…..”Really Mummy?” was her response.  But when I asked what she thinks YOLO means….out of the mouth of my newly teen daughter came the wise words……”You should try all the things you’ve ever wanted to try.”  Maybe she does listen!

I have to sign off now….and go write my list….what will yours say?  X

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Savannah!

Dear Bubby,

Tomorrow is your birthday. 

You would be sixteen! Sixteen! Wow!

 Oh how I wish I could wrap my arms around you tomorrow and hug you..

How I wish I had something special that you'd like. But I don't know what you'd like, because you aren't here. 

I miss you. 

Dempsey misses you.

We talked about you last night.....on Dempseys bed. 

We talked about what it would be like if you were here. How you might have a boyfriend. How you and Demps would probably hang out together. How she would probably embarrass you. Cos that's what little sisters do....

Dempsey smiled at that. 

I hate that I don't know how you'd be wearing your hair or if you'd have homework during the holidays. Or what you might want to do on your special day. 

But most of all I miss your eyes.  I could see into your soul Bubby. 

But I have your picture next to our table where we have dinner. You watch us every night. 

I'd give anything if you could join us. 

Your cousins are here staying. 

Emerald reminds me of what you might look like. 

I know you'd love'd add to the laughter I hear when the three girls are together. 

It hurts that if you hurt I can't help you. But I'm hoping in heaven there's no hurt. 

You will always be my touchstone. 

I think of you in every place. 

I know you're around....especially when I see a glorious rainbow. Or a carpet of stars or I feel the warm sun on my face. 

I know you're around Bubby......

Tomorrow I'll light your candle. 

Tomorrow I'll send a hug to heaven. 

Please send Mummy a sign.


 To let me know, wherever you are, you're celebrating your special day and you know I miss you.....more with each passing year. 

Mummy loves you....always

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Motherless Mother's Day.....a day without your child. X

I have my sister’s twins living with us at the moment.  On Thursday they locked themselves out of their house.  After a locksmith let us in, I sat on their couch waiting for them to collect their things.

I sat quietly in their lounge room waiting for them.  I looked up at the walls, at photos of my sister, one with her sitting with baby Emerald…. her arms wrapped protectively around Emmy’s bunny rug.  She was beaming. 
I sat there staring at the photo, thinking how unfair it is that the girls, my nieces, won’t ever know that love, that protectiveness like a lioness that only a mother can give.  That unconditional love!  And when they’re with me while their dad works, I kiss them good night and tell them I love them every night, I know its not the same.
It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow and already I’m hating on the day.
Already everyone on Facebook is loading up happy photos of their alive mothers…..the shops around my town are adorned with advertisements for Mother’s Day and it hurts.
Every. Single. Year.
I wait for a different feeling to wash over me. But it doesn’t.  On days’ like Mother’s Day the pain is unavoidable.  I feel like it’s a triple whammy, especially this year having my sister’s girls with me. 
I know they feel it, like I feel sad I don’t have my mum here, or my daughter.  It’s shit that I have to text my sister’s kids to say I’m thinking of them.  And I know I have Dempsey, which people remind me of….but this day will always be incomplete for me.  I feel the sting, and the ache runs deep.

Oh how I wish I could phone my mum, or have a wine with my sister tomorrow, or have BOTH my girls throw their arms around my neck and say “Happy Mother’s Day Mummy!”  but I know that’s impossible. 
My mother had such a presence…a way of making not just me but everyone feel special.  And I guess I miss that.  And I guess that’s ok too.  At least I can own my feelings of longing, which is a step towards healing.

When I was a little girl, I would wake early on Mother’s Day morning and ride my bike around our neighborhood, stealing the prettiest flowers I could find over the fence of our neighbours…I never got caught either!!! J  I couldn’t wait to ride home and gift them to Mum…just to see her reaction and smile.  How do you replace that?

Last weekend I saw my cousin, who lost her son Paul when he was 32.    Heash had a friend visiting who’s  daughter Catherine has also died.....and its weird but we sat in the room.... and we were happy and laughing!  And I thought how astounding it is that we three mum’s have all lost children, and we were in the same room. 
A club nobody wants to join, however there we were....surviving, smiling and still enjoying life.  None of us have our mum’s either. 
It was weird, but to anyone who’s lost or has just suffered the loss of their mother or child….you do survive, and you do embrace life again….sometimes with a scary passion.  Death has taught me that!
                                                   this was taken on Mother's Day with Savvy
I hope tomorrow I’ll find comfort in my sisters girls, and in Dempsey.....she also made me a Mother. 
But I’ll avoid the happy places, I’ll probably cry as I always do, I’ll long for Savannah and my Mum, but I’ll also remember their love…..and that will always live deep within me, and help me when I'm down....and never, ever go away…..

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The death of my father........

I’m sitting typing this on our outdoor deck as Summer rain pelts down on our tin roof.  Across our lake I’m looking at a magnificent double rainbow in all its glory….a sign I hope.
On November 16th, five weeks ago, my adored Dad took his last breath.  It’s weird to write that…and I still feel disconnected from his death.  Like he’s still here, still just a five minute drive away…I think the closeness we shared has left that imprint in my psyche.
And I hadn’t really processed that I’ve now lost both mum and dad until a friend used that horrible word ‘orphan.’  I don’t feel like an orphan, but I guess that’s the term for a person who has no parents.  I already hate that word!

We are never ready for those shocking phone calls are we?  Although you’d think I’d be ready for them now!
I was enjoying a work conference in picturesque Tasmania, a reward for my hard work, when I got a call from my husband to say Dad had suffered a stroke.  I was shocked of course, wasn’t ready again for such news!  I’d only spoken to him from the airport, again, naively thinking he’d be there when I returned. 
After hearing the news, I was hopeful it would be one of those strokes where maybe Dad just had a minor deficit in his voice or his limbs.   But after a frantic call to the hospital, the same one where my mother was and my sister….I learned that dad had suffered a fatal stroke….the nurse informing me that he would NOT recover….that he’d been moved to the palliative care room and I needed to get back as quick as I could if I wanted to say goodbye.

My voice was rushed, desperate, as I asked the nurse to put the phone to his ear, so I could tell him I loved him, in case I didn’t get another chance….and for my own selfish reasons, I got to tell him….and that I was on my way home.  Dad could only mumble, “cant’ talk, cant’ talk.  

All I could think about when I hung up was the date…it was my mother’s anniversary….however I felt some sort of peace that maybe his time would be the same day as mums........... 

And like after my sister died, I wished for a magic carpet to transport me home as fast as possible…but as I already know, that’s impossible too!  I had to wait out a sleepless night, and then through my tears, crazily jump on a plane and pray that he’d be there when I got the five hours back. 

On the plane home I sat biting my nails, willing the plane home as fast as it could go, crying and trying to hold it together and hide my pain from other passengers…. until I could rush to his bedside.
I got on the wrong bus at the airport, got stuck in traffic and drove most of the way with the road blurred through my tears.  But I made it.
I made it back for a whole day before he died.
He was unconscious most of that time, a morphine pump ensuring his passing to the other side with some sort of dignity….pain free.
The bleed in his brain covered almost his entire frontal lobe….the CT Scan confirmed my greatest fear.

‘My person,’...the only one who will ever truly love me unconditionally.... my rock , my daddy….the first man I ever loved wasn’t coming back.
In his hospital room was his wife and some of her relatives, the mood was somber however they wouldn’t stop talking…about insignificant shit…this is MY dad, my time!  
I wanted to yell, “Fucking shut up!”   I wanted time with him alone….just he and I…like when I was a little girl and I’d sit on the side of his bed every night and listen to what we’d be doing on the farm in the morning!!!
I got an hour and a half with my amazing dad…..alone, holding his hand and telling him how much he meant to me, and how much I’ll miss him, my tears dripping down my face, falling onto his arm.
The pain was burning and I knew it was only a matter of time until I’d never be in his presence again.

“Dad if you know I’m here squeeze my hand.”
I felt a flutter of his fingers….I know he knew I was there….and that gives me some comfort….
But I wasn’t there when he went at 3.20am.  I was sound asleep, exhausted but figuring there would be more time tomorrow……you’d think I’d learn by now…….

Thursday, June 12, 2014


After my daughter Savannah died, it took me a long time to be able to sit alone with my thoughts without some sort of distraction to stop my mind wandering to a place that caused pain and feelings of guilt. 
I have a detrimental habit of over thinking everything.  Of mulling things over and over in my mind and questioning the ‘why’s” and the “if only’s” and the “its not fair.”  And when you’re in the shower, or the car when a sad song comes on the radio, or in the dark hours of the night….. you can’t escape.  It’s a destructive process to go over things you can’t change or you have no control over….its also human nature.
There’s human nature and Mother Nature, the latter teaching me just recently that there is hope if I just keep taking day by day.  I drive a lot with my new job.  Recently I couldn’t help but notice the ‘hope’ in a bunch of tree’s lining the side of the freeway, reminding me that I will survive, and that with loss comes strength and renewal.
Lately, I’ve found I’m back in ‘that’ place of being afraid of being alone with my thoughts.  For different reasons….things going on in my life that feel out of control like a vortex, sucking me in to that dark place again….compounded by the fact it’s June, Savannah’s month! 
 My dad hasn’t been well.  He’s been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is a progressive disease that will eventually take his life.  He’s struggling to breathe, on constant oxygen, a shell of his former self.  He can’t even walk to the toilet to wee without fighting to breathe.

 A week ago he was referred to Pallative Care.  I know he’s on borrowed time.  And it’s terrifying to think my dad’s time is drawing closer and I’ll lose him too.
Grief and loss has taught me sometimes you have to accept ‘your deal’ in life and make the best of it.  Grief has also taught me to appreciate time and happiness…or creating happiness….cos that’s all there is!
I’ve had my sister’s twins living with me while their dad goes off to work to provide things for them they’ve been missing out on.  It’s great for Dempsey having them here.  It’s great for me too cos I feel like I’m giving back.  The bond at bedtime if we pile on the bed and chat about teenage girl stuff is food for my soul….and maybe too much information for Dempsey. J
And I’ve been taking my work home too a bit lately, thinking of people I work with who are a lot worse off than me…their heartbreak…their ‘deal in life’ and its difficult sometimes to accept life can be so shitty and there’s nothing I can do.  My personal life has hit heartbreak and it seems my shoulders are heavy lately.  And I’m trying to channel my past strength back into my soul to survive.  
But what does survival look like?
I know survival looks like being able to smile again.
Survival is feeling alive, or doing whatever makes you feel alive, like driving my car with the roof off and feeling the wind in my hair and the sun warming my face.
Survival is never giving up on a day if you’re given an opportunity to enjoy life’s pleasures!!!
Survival is crying when you need to, releasing the endorphins that tears bring….and being able to start again tomorrow….and know “It WILL get better.”
Its seeing the bottom of a bottle when nothing else will relieve ‘that’ pain….being able to disappear in a bottomless glass of red wine….even if it is for a few hours.
Its knowing when to protect your heart, and saying yes to the things that will lead you on a path where one day you know the sun will shine through the grey bits again.
Survival is knowing that nothing else can destroy you because you’ve already been destroyed…you’ve been to the bowels of life and you understand there’s nothing else but finding happiness in the little things.
Which brings me back to HOPE and those trees…..
In February this year we had devastating bush fires not far from my home. 
Driving past the area that was ravaged by fire and seeing the tree’s on the side of the road reminded me about HOPE.
These trees that have been thriving and growing for years were suddenly ravaged by fire.  A few months ago they were hopeless black sticks…their core ravished…dead wood.  However, they’ve survived. 
Driving past I couldn’t help but notice the new growth, the tiny green leaves that have sprouted.  The first signs of survival…….
We can all be resilient like those tree’s....coming back from the abyss, where we’ve been burnt to the core, lifeless. 
We can grow new roots and have hope that tomorrow is a new day. 
We can try to push through our hardships and survive and even though there seems to be no life left.  The human spirit can overcome. 
And I am struggling at the moment, but I need to remember…like the trees, I will survive....  x