Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful...Happy Aussie Thanksgiving! X


I’ve been surfing the web from Oz, checking in on my favorite blogs today. Most of them are from USA and almost all of them are talking about Thanksgiving and being thankful! I’m not an American, although I do feel a special affiliation with the Land of Liberty.

It’s been our home for the past ten years, and a lot happened during those years. Savannah spent her last months there….and Dempsey has blossomed into our precious girl in the days spent on their shores. So yes, America has been our glue some days, super glue,……that helped hold us together as a family, provided compassionate doctors and nurses we leaned on, and friends that were and will always be a huge factor in  surviving my grief. And when we did come unstuck, it was the people that were with us, in the grand ol US of A that were like thick mortar, keeping us cemented through some of the hardest days I’ve faced.

I’ll always feel like an adopted daughter of America….even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia.   I can’t relate to how special a day on the calendar it is to Americans! I can however, relate to how some people would’ve felt yesterday with empty chairs at their table that should’ve been filled with loved ones who have died.

We did enjoy one Thanksgiving while Savannah was sick. Peter bought a fresh turkey and I spent most of the morning standing at the sink, peeling potatoes and carrots to roast. Dempsey was only sixteen months old and we didn’t know it then, but Savannah only had two months left with us. That Thanksgiving Day threw us a curve ball though, with me clumsily tripping over Peter’s tool box with Ugg boots on….breaking my right leg in three places!

Needless to say, the turkey went uneaten and I spent the rest of the day in the ER, trying to escape back home to Savannah who was on hourly med’s and didn’t understand why some burly men in paramedic uniforms had kidnapped her Mummy on a steel gurney.

                       Savannah a few weeks before she died...I still had my plaster cast on....

However, camouflaged in the heavy plaster cast that stretched from my toes to my thigh, was a blessing that I couldn’t see that day…….

A friend pointed out that ‘maybe’ the Universe had other plans for me – that I was meant to be incapacitated and the broken leg wasn’t really an obstacle after all but a gift…..and as hard as it was to realize back then, everything 'sometimes' does happen for a reason! You see, I couldn’t move, couldn’t leave the house for weeks, couldn’t do anything but lie next to Savannah on her hospital bed or on our couch beside her. It turned out to be a very very special time during those final days of her short life. A coincidence?? I believe there’s no such thing.

For those last seven weeks I got to spend nothing but time with her….because of my broken leg. ….so when I think of Thanksgiving, I don’t think of turkeys and steaming sweet apple pies, but of that special gift of precious time with our daughter.  We never thought she would almost not survive Christmas with us that year.

Yesterday I did think of others, of some families I know who would’ve been suffering, of a sweet teenager in Spain who is missing her Mom and of the many people who’ve visited here trying to find comfort on their journey of grief……….

                               My sister's twins Emerald, Charlotte, Demps and me tonight!

Today, I’m thankful for the little things….like my sister’s twins who are having a sleep over with us tonight, wrapped up in their jammies…..thankfully they are alive! I’m thankful for the succulent roast lamb dinner we devoured tonight…..when there are so many people starving. For the rain that pounded our roof a few hours ago, providing much needed water to the local dairy farms…..and for some memories that will always be mine, of a Thanksgiving we had with our girl, a broken leg and the precious gift of time we should all be conscious of and thankful for!

                                Our roast lamb dinner tonight I'm thankful for!

                                The heavy shower of rain we got today!


Happy belated Thanksgiving...there's so so much to be thankful for! x


Monday, November 22, 2010

LOVE is actually all Oz! :)


Yes, we do have internet in Australia…despite being ‘down under’ and in the ‘outback’ as some people may think.  :)  I’ve just been too busy to blog.  Too busy with visitors that uplift my spirits and loving time from my family and friends….I’m in a bliss bubble at the moment, an effervescence pool of love!

It’s funny, before we left L.A I watched an old movie called “Love Actually.” During the opening scenes, Hugh Grant states – “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around.”

It’s true; you can see unconditional love at an arrivals gate of an airport. After clearing customs, as we walked exhaustedly through the exit of our terminal at Melbourne Airport, in wrinkled clothing, with our baggage carts piled high with luggage, and Dempsey dragging her suitcase, Savannah's ashes safely in my bag.....I made a mental note to look around and watch strangers that were greeting their loved ones.

There were two little blonde girls, with a bright colorful sign with red crayon colored hearts for their father “Welcome Home Daddy” it said. They stood at the end of the barrier with grins and anticipation on their faces, checking each time the door slid open to see if their dad was next. There were two women hugging and crying, really hugging….I wondered what their tears were for? I noticed a young couple kissing, arms entwined, lost in each other. These were just a few travelers and their waiting loved ones I had the privilege of witnessing. The scene made me reflect on the power of love…….

There was no one there to greet us, just the warm Aussie sunshine, fresh air, and an empty rental car….and home, we are home! It is such an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness, a warm feeling that generates energy....a haven.   I luxuriate in love, like a warm bubble’s difficult to describe in words.

                                 The daisy's in bloom in our front yard

Peter stacked our car full of luggage. Dempsey was almost buried in the back seat, swamped by suitcases. But, she didn’t complain for the two hour trip south to our home away from home. And when we got there, to our little cottage, with the high cream picket fence and daisy’s blooming in the front yard, it was my time….my time to be hugged and showered with love from my family.

                      My first baby Oscar....we got him in 1995, funny, he's survived everything!

And I got my present, hugs from my dear Dad, Brenda, Tone and my sister’s four children. Even my fat old fluffy Persian cat Oscar was there to greet us. Dempsey and my sisters girls raided the dress up box.....and the boys had so much to say!

Yes, love is all around..…and it feels wonderful and warm, indulgent and powerful… I can do anything because of it.

                              Demps, Emerald, Charlotte and me playing dress ups!

The kids, oh the kids, they’ve grown so much, but the love is still there, an absolute bond that has been created that I don’t think will ever be broken through what we’ve all been through……..

The night we got home I lay my head on my pillow, the sheets cold and crisp and smelling of sunshine from the outside clothes line. I fell asleep with a smile….love is actually all around!   Maybe you can get your fix from family, or friends…or strangers? And if you can soak it up, it reminds you life really is a wonderful thing.

When I woke the next morning, there were magpies (a native Australian bird) gargling their early morning song outside my window, reminding me I was back in Oz…..yes, with all the challenging emotions I know I will face while I’m here….I’ve been give fuel through love to weather anything. :)

Sending warm Aussie sunshine to fill your cup if it's blue! x


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Sunshine all the way!" :)


Sunshine all the way………………

That’s the forecast for our home town in Australia, and my mood! :)

Tomorrow night we board the gigantic jumbo jet that will ferry us from one side of the earth to the other…home, to Australia….to my Dad, my brother- in-law, my nephews, nieces and some very very special energy givers whom I don’t just call friends, but family…the family I’ve chosen for me!

It’s always a mixed mash of emotions when I leave the USA.  Dempsey doesn’t want to leave her friends, but is excited about being able to create magical fairy gardens in our enormous back yard and indulge in late night sleep overs with my sister’s twins, Emerald and Charlotte.  I love it too because I get a chance to tell them stories about their mum (my sister) when we were growing up.

      Me with Dempsey and my beautiful nieces Emerald and Charlotte in OZ! :)

I always feel a tangle of emotions as I close our door, hit the light switch and take one last peek inside our home in America.  I always feel I’m leaving Savannah’s spirit behind….she took her last breath in our lounge room and I always feel I’m deserting her when we leave…..weird I know!

She does come with us.  I carry her ashes in a royal blue box.  Peter carries her death certificate tucked behind our passports, in case we are asked what’s inside the pretty blue box?  We’ve only had this happen once amongst the chaos of the customs hall.  The official looking officer was very compassionate towards us, which I was thankful for.

I wish Savannah would be sitting next to me on the plane, wrapped in a United blanket, probably listening to an ipod for the fourteen hour slog across the pond. But I can’t leave her behind, her blue box sits safely inside my carry on bag......

                       My precious carry on luggage...Savannah's ashes

Its confronting to go ‘home'.  There’s the house where Mom died….it has a monstrous hedge growing around it, hiding the bedroom window where I said my final goodbyes to her.  I do think of her last days there when I drive past.  I wish I could drop by like I did and share a cup of tea and her positive warm love and laughter.

I adore Tarnia’s children, I love to throw my arms around them and squeeze them tight……….they usually let go first, except for Fraser.

   My nephews and nieces and Demps playing cricket in our yard in Oz...its a tradition now!

However, its always hard that first time I visit her house with little reminders of her around, and no her…. Her antique teacups, with roses on them, that she loved so much are still sitting above the kitchen shelf, where she placed them.  And her photo always smiles at me from inside the family room wall. It's heartbreaking to see Tone with the kids, and without my sister…..even though he does such an amazing job raring them on his own.  Yes, there’s little reminders everywhere.

And then there’s Dad, how I love my dad….he can be grumpy and fuddy duddy sometimes, but I still feel like his little girl when he wanders up our driveway with his shy smile.  His new wife Brenda is loving and I’m grateful for her warm embrace….but she’s not my mom……

     My special Dad and his new wife Brenda.

And so yes, it is a mixed bag of emotions to leave our ‘home’ here and travel over the oceans to Oz.  But it’s worth it.  Every long line up at the airport, security check, whining from Dempsey at how much longer….and the excitement, is all such a reward, my early Christmas present! :)

This year I’ll go to the cemetery and visit my sister’s grave…..its a wake up call to drive out there, to the lush green grass where she lays.  There will be more headstones added this year I’m sure, however, they have a way of making me feel alive and grateful…even if I do get sad that things can’t be different.

Think of me tomorrow night, as the big bird takes off into the dark heavens above.  You needn’t say a prayer though….I’ll be flying with angels! :)


Thursday, November 4, 2010

The miracle of a little 'HOPE'

I love running.  Especially the last two mornings.  Its Fall, so the mornings are dark now when I run.  The  neighborhood is just coming to life.  You can see the lights from inside the houses streaming through windows, a few garage doors are rolled up with cars idling inside…waiting for their owners.

At 6.30am this morning, with Rhianna blasting in my ears, compliments of my ipod, it was magical.  The moon was in one corner of the sky and the sun was starting to peep up over the horizon in the other.  I ran all the way back home to get my camera to snatch a photo of the moon, a crescent.  It reminded me of Savannah.  Whenever she saw one of those shaped moons she’d point at the sky and say “Look Mommy, the moon is broken!”

                        The crescent moon in our neighboorhood this morning!

My moon will always be broken because of her death.  Even though I’ve managed to stitch part of it up, through love and ‘hope’.  However it will always be damaged, a piece forever missing.  And it’s when I get to have some alone time, like when I run, I get to think about life and Savannah.  It’s healing therapy. (And works off all the chocolate I consumed over Halloween. :))

After Savannah died sometimes I tried to run from my emotions, my demons…..from my life.  Some days I pounded the pavement with tears streaming down my face, the haunting thoughts of Savannah’s suffering everyday was horrible.  However, this morning as I watched the sun rise on the horizon, I breathed in the cool morning air and thought how every day is a new dawn of hope.  And how when Savannah was alive everyday revolved around those four powerful little letters…..‘HOPE!’

Hope and fear go hand in hand I think.  If you are scared about a situation that ‘may’ happen you will also have hope.  A faith that your fears won’t materialize, and, hope for a solution if they do.  How does one foster hope

In my experience through losing my sister, mom and daughter, I think that hope is a mysterious miraculous thing that we human beings are capable of…..even when times or circumstances are implausible….like when we were told Tarnia had been killed…or that Savannah would die, or that my mom wouldn’t see Christmas with us ever again.

Is hope built into our core, through genetics, from that spontaneous moment you are conceived?  Is it learned from your parents….or a loved one?  Or is it a wonderful ingreedient mixed into our soul…..deep in our being, that’s invisible…almost like an imaginary armor we have that appears when a situation seems hopeless or desperate.  Like magic, it kicks in.  Yes, hope gives us the courage to keep believing that the future ‘may’ be brighter or better.

In spite of everything with Savannah, even after we knew we couldn’t save her life, we had hopeHope for a good day for her, like when we would take her to a park and feed the ducks stale bread.  Then we'd place her big blue reclining chair on a slippery slide and watch her gift us with her incredible smile.  She’d lost her voice by then, but she’d make happy giggly noises that nourished my soul.  I hoped she felt like any other little girl in the park, enjoying the warm sun on her face.  Yes, hope is food for our spirit and strengthens our foundations to face sometimes, the impossible.

    Savannah in her big blue recliner at our park with her Daddy, feeding the ducks!

Everyone’s hopes are different, it may be something simple like hoping you’ll get that car space at Walmart, or hoping those jeans you haven’t worn since March still fit.  Or like like some of us…hope that the tears will stop….just for a day.

What is your hope?  Hope for a good day,  for laughter?  To get through some hours when you think you can’t?  Hope for something good to come out of something bad?  Hope to stay strong?  Hope to live?  Hope that life will stay the way it is….or change?  Hope that there will be more tomorrows…like today, or not?

My beautiful Dad always says “Life is as clear as mud sometimes!” It throws us all sorts of challenges and rewards, mixed together…like a big mud pie.  And when we face some of these 'unknowns' in life, its hope that helps us fight those battles.

At the end of my run this morning, I noticed a beautiful big bird in the sky, with two engines….and a little orange light blinking behind it…..destination unknown.   I looked up into the heavens, wishing I was on that plane, flying home to my family, but hoping the next six days fly by until then. :)

   I wonder where they are going?

Each day the universe gifts us with another precious day.....filled with the miracles of life......and always, alway, HOPE! x

PS;  When Dempsey was born we  chose her middle name to be was and continues to be my savior Demps! :)