Friday, December 30, 2011

What will you choose in the New Year?




Which one do you give most attention too…which is most important to you?

Me, well I mull over the past a lot. It simmers away in my memory bank, like a slow cooker stew….and I try not to dwell on the ingredients, as it’s just that…the past. Has been, gone, changed, irreversible….

However, the person I am now has a lot to do with my past. And with grief or loss, the past plays a huge part in how you face your future.

The new year is almost here, and I find around this time I begin to reflect on what I want to change about myself in the days ahead to make me a better person, a better mum and friend to others. It’s like Mother Nature gives us a clean slate to start again on January 1…or try to anyway….it’s all about choice.

When Savannah was diagnosed with her terminal illness and we were told there was no cure…anywhere in the world for our baby, there was nothing we could do.....I felt powerless.  All choices had been stolen. 

But over a period of time and with the help of my amazing mum, I started to see I did have a choice.  A choice in how her last few months would be spent.   Outside in the sunshine, or inside in a hospital bed. Having books read to her or leaving her with a carer…there were choices.  And that was empowering.

And her death taught me it’s the present that’s the most important.  The here and now and learning to tap into my senses to enjoy what’s happening around me….to notice everything with grace.  And after a while you learn you can do this.  You can’t buy a smile, or bottle a laugh, or replace the touch of a hand…..they are beyond price!

Christmas day was all about family for me.

I made a conscious effort to spend a few minutes looking around our decorated table. Not at the silver reindeer candelabra that had his six antlers a blaze on our table. Or the fine red wine I had topped up in my crystal goblet.

It was the faces parked up at our table I noticed. They were glowing brighter than any candle ever could.

There was laughter from a few different generations of conversations going on…the grand folks, mixed with the Z Generation made for interesting listening…. :)

Demps teaching Brenda how to play Angry Birds...and my gorgeous Dad!

And watching Dempsey trying to teach Dad’s 75 year old wife Brenda how to play ‘Angry Birds’ on her new iPod that Santa brought was priceless.  

Yes, it’s all about engaging in life and surrendering your senses.  Smelling the plump turkey and listening, really listening to the banter…it’s seeing those smiles and feeling them in your heart….and squirreling them away….being thankful.

I see death, or grief like a pushes it's way into your life.

Sometimes it’s in control and you do feel helpless.   But boy does it feel good when you stand up to it….to make the choice not to let it destroy what’s left of your life......

Not having Savannah with us will always be painful....I accept that now. 

Every Christmas and every birthday or anniversary, or even a trip down memory lane will be hard.....what I'll never know about her is hard!  And that’s part of the package.   But choice is also part of the deal.....and choice or making a commitment in trying to achieve something, whether it's happiness or succeeding at a challenge does ingrain strength inside.  It gives you that push…or shove, to do better…or be better.

Christmas night was special to me.  I had my sister’s 16 year old son Fraser all to myself because Tone had taken the rest of the family to the big smoke.

For 4 hours we talked non stop about Tarnia...and life and love and loss….and making the right choices….and there’s a lot when you’re only 16! :)

Charlotte and Emerald the night of their Graduation....

While we were in Australia I had many special moments.

Like seeing my sister’s twin girls graduate from Elementary School. I got to buy their dresses, and do their hair…and witness their butterflies and excitement.  I got to spend time with my Dad and Tone and my sister’s oldest Alexander…precious times!

But yesterday, I had to say goodbye to all of that…to family and friends, and board the big bird and fly over the oceans back to the USA…without any of them. And it was hard.

Seeing the kids and Tone in my rear view mirror as we drove away on Wednesday night made me cry. And hugging my Dad and not knowing if I’ll see him again was painful.

However, again, choosing to be appreciative that we can even afford to fly home and see family slowly ebbed its way into my mind….and that helps.

A beautiful friend of mine reminded me that life changes, that’s part of the deal too. They also said “The weight in your heart gets a bit lighter as time goes on.” And it’s true, it does.  It’s all about change and choice and committing to keep that thought always in the forefront of my mind.

So my new year’s resolution will be to ‘choose’ to be happy…no matter what.  To try to entrust I’m exactly where I’m meant to be on this journey and to embrace whatever 2012 (OMG) brings.

Thanks to you for supporting my humble blog…It’s a privilege to read your comments.

Hopefully, I’ll look forward to seeing you next year..and whatever next year brings! Cheers! x

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grief and coping in the days leading up to Christmas x

In Australia we have some unique iridescent green beetles that magically appear around this time of year called Christmas Beetles. They seem to materialize out of nowhere…a lot like grief or feelings of longing do at this time of year.

And its funny, but last week, as Dempsey started to decorate our Christmas tree, one landed on her arm. She was mesmerized at its magnificent color, and that having a Christmas Beetle appear, must mean Christmas is almost here…

I do a lot of deep breathing this time of year….its not from over exercising, or meditating…’s the weight I feel inside my heart that our other daughter Savannah isn’t here to share this special time….along with mum or my sister Tarnia.

During the festive season, grief or challenges can make you feel isolated from others…..and that’s the reality. However, finding ways to look differently at what you do have, helps balance out those G moments!

Anyone who’s lost a family member, a friend, or a precious child feels that twinge of pain come and go. For me, it hovers around….makes me breathe in the big ones, as the days get busy with Christmassy things.

Different moments, like watching Dempsey hang her sister’s sparkling ‘S’ on our tree trigger the pangs, and I know that’s normal to feel this way….as long as the sad moments pass….and I can be thankful too…to notice the little moments that foster happiness and help the hurt to heal.

And as all things Christmas invade our life in the past week, there are many twinkling, fleeting, flashes of happiness that prevail over the sad bits in the lead up to the big day…..when Santa sprinkles the good stuff around.

And I’ve had plenty of good, great and grateful stuff mixed in….one was the adventure to pick out our tree.

Peter, Dempsey and me drove to a Christmas tree farm, with the help of directions from my brother in law Tone. Out into the country and down a dusty bush track to a plantation of them in fact.

And as I happily watched Dempsey stomp through the bushes, umming and ahhing over which tree, then picking out the prettiest one….like only a female can…a butterfly appeared.....somewhat out of nowhere...and landed on the tree Demps had chosen.

I had to smile….I like to think it was Savannah, approving of her sisters choice! :)

We also had a local church Christmas fete that was filled with fun stuff….all free in the spirit of Christmas…..I hope this photo makes you smile as it did me….watching my little daughter, draw in a deep breathe, and bravely jump into the we all have to sometimes.....

You really need to do what works for you this time of year. Whether it’s wasting time doing nothing but sleeping, or turning on an answering machine to get some peace….whether it’s over indulging in chocolate…or finding some serenity in some simple moments, seeing the beauty in being alive that helps.

I’ve had quite a few of those too with our family of swans that park up each night right at sunset, waiting patiently to be fed stale bread by Dempsey.

Having friends and family around this year will be like an invisible barricade of strength for me. 

I know they love me, scars and all.   And that helps me survive those sad moments that lie just under my eyelids and inside my heart.

The presents don’t matter to me anymore…just the love, the hugs, the hello’s, the sound of Bing Crosby’s Christmas Carols quietly playing….and getting to see Christmas through my child’s eye’s is what gets me through.

I’ll think of the many others around the world who are missing their loved ones, they also help remind me I’m not the only one missing someone.....

Yes, small steps, big breathes, appreciation and love will be inside my stocking this year....along with happiness.  I'll have the privilege of telling those I care about, just how special they make my Christmas and how they fill my blue christmas cup with sunshine!

Silent night,
Holy night,
All is calm……all is bright…..  x