Monday, December 24, 2012

And So This Is Christmas......

It’s a strange time of year to be blogging I know...the night before Santa arrives…a night when I have so many things I should be doing, like wrapping those few straggler presents…emailing people back…and cleaning up my dinner dishes….but I feel like writing, so I thought I’d put fingers on the keyboards.

I’ve so many emotions swirling around this week…this time of year…especially with all that’s happened in Sandy Hook, with the tragic shootings. I can’t even begin to imagine what the families who’ve lost loved ones are going through tonight. It truly rips at my heart…..

The absolute endless sadness and longing I know they must be going through and of course the unanswered questions as to ‘Why?’ My heart goes out to all of those grieving who must be in the clutches of the worst grief has to offer. Tomorrow, I’ll spend time while enjoying my Christmas with quiet thoughts of them.

                  This was today over our home...I like to think it's Heaven reaching down to us..

My mood has been affected a lot by the tragic events in the USA, also because my precious Dad has been in hospital with breathing difficulties and it seems he’s not Superman as I thought he always was. And this is playing deep in my psyche too. I’m not ready yet to lose him too.

Lately, I’ve been surrounded by love and invitations to many social, joyful “Christmassy” outings that have stirred up the evil twin in me that yearns for Savannah and all my loved ones around this time of year. I listen to people complaining about trivial shit and over indulgent children and how many presents their kids are getting this year…when what I want Santa to bring me will never be…but you can’t mention that reality cos it’s not politically correct…so I stay silent…but sometimes it eats me up like some vile virus...

Our beautiful Angel....

On a more positive note, which I prefer….last week, I had the privilege of taking my beautiful twin nieces shopping…for their first ever bra! A right of passage for us girls, something soooo important as a teenager…and one I still vividly remember experiencing with my mum. The embarrassment....and excitement mixed in together as a stranger fits you in a pretty pink piece of satin.

And as I stood outside the change rooms, while Emerald and Charlotte tried on trendy size A bra’s… sticking their heads through the maroon curtain with giggles and questions…. I thought a lot about my sister Tarnia…how sad it is that she isn’t here to enjoy this moment…also, how I have this honor with my nieces that I didn’t have with my own daughter Savannah…AND how these moments are what counts…being there for the ones that need us, being present and loving with all that we have….

I can’t change my circumstances….but I can be grateful that I’ve had this pleasure with Emerald and Charlotte…a once in a lifetime thing for us girlies…and it was…. and I thank their Dad for allowing me that!

We’ve had warm balmy days here lately…ones where the cicadas chirp in tune with the frogs in our lake…where the breeze on our back deck is like nights I remember as a kid. Where strangers in shops are tired but happy…who are all on the same mission as us…to spread love and spend time with those precious to them….that’s what Christmas is to me these days…..

The kids have been making great use of our new pool…the giggles and happiness I hear coming out of this fiberglass pit filled with water is music to my soul…even if they are loud…they are alive and full of innocent delight…and this stuff fuels my soul.

So tomorrow is Christmas…just now, I sat with my elbows resting on our kitchen bench asking Dempsey what she thinks Christmas is all about.

And as she stuffed a few more kernel’s of popcorn into her mouth…through her warbled words…this was her take….out of the mouth of my ten year old babe…maybe some of what I tell her does get through…..her words…my Christmas present this year…what more could a Mama hope for…

“I think Christmas is about being grateful that I’m here and being joyful and spreading joy and all that and yeah, its not about all the presents I get, even though I love getting presents, its about being thankful and happy because this could be your last Christmas....”

And…..”So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young”

To all those that have been touched by the Sandy Hook tragedy…tomorrow my candle will be burning brightly with you in mind…in hope that you get through your Christmas day the best way you can. X

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Through Mum's and my looking glass... x

I think time literally flies here in Australia!   Well, it has since I’ve last blogged!!!! :)

Lately I feel like I’m straight out of the pages of Alice in Wonderland…like the white rabbit.......rushing around with a clock around my neck…aware that time is passing by so quickly, however, not seeming to be able to slow down….

But this afternoon I’ve stopped the clock…come inside from being outside weeding to write.

You see Wednesday was my beautiful mum’s anniversary!

And I only had but a few tears….and then a big breathe in and a smile for my mum who isn’t here.

I’ve come a long way from those first few Anniversaries, where the hurt was fresh like a new wound and the realization that death is final…that we never get to see, hear, smell or touch those that are gone ever again.

And you think it’s unimaginable, a snowballs chance in hell, that the pain will lessen…but it’s only impossible if you believe it is!

Time like grief teaches us a lot of things…like to appreciate the little moments with your kids, they go from bibbed babes to tweens in a heartbeat it seems.

Time teaches us to tell those we love, just how much, and why they are special to us as we never know when we’ll see those close to our hearts again.

It teaches us that instead of regret we should rejoice and through grief we discover time doesn’t really heal…it just allows us a continuous current of days to learn to live with our losses.

Time has also made me realize I’m not the same girl I was…I think I’m a better version of my old self, because of the wisdom I’ve learnt on my journey!

We can’t go back, we can only go forward in hope of taking what we’ve learnt and stowing it away and using that knowledge to live life to the fullest.   I know that’s what my Mum would want from me as her daughter…she was a great philosopher about time and enjoying every single day!

This is the last photo I have of Mum…my rock!

She’d actually be mortified if she knew I’d put it on my blog. But I wanted to share her amazing spirit I think I’ve captured in this picture.

It was taken only a few months before she died….Dempsey is the little bub snuggled up on her chest. And even though we knew when this was taken that Mum only had weeks to live, she’s still smiling…with her magical spark in her eyes.

A few weeks ago, I had one of my readers emailed me and ask how I prepared for the death of my daughter….as she is facing the same heartbreaking fate in the future days.....

She wanted to know how I survived?

I wrote her a long email…and I shared that one of the ways is through the wisdom my Mum instilled inside my soul.

So on my mother Beverley’s special day, I’d like to share, in her words, some of my tools that have helped me overcome and enjoy, like she did……..

“Focus on the good in everything…the positive instead of the negative….you’ll always find it.”

“Don’t worry over things you can’t change, they have a way of sorting themselves out.”

"Always be Yourself!"

“Always wear a smile, it’s the best accessory.”

“Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going…things always get better.”

“Take a moment every morning to see the beauty outside your window.”

“You can do anything you put your mind to!”

“Be happy with what you have, there’s always someone worse off.”

“Don’t leave the house without lipstick on….looking good = feeling good.” – Mums choice was always apricot! :)

“Go look at yourself in the mirror Darling and smile…you are beautiful you!”

“Champagne should always be shared with a friend in a crystal glass!”

“Be aware of the treasures in a normal day.”

“Attitude drives destiny.”

These are just a few I reflect on when I’m having a Debbie Downer day…one of my sayings I tell myself is that “Tomorrow is a new day!”
My beautiful Mum helped mold and shape who I am today…she made me strong and wise and gave me tools to be happy and to never lose my sense of amazement and surprise of just how magical being alive is….even on those hard days.

So now it’s my responsibility to share and guide Dempsey with what I know…and I do…I wish she forever sees the wonder in the world and finds things that feed her spirit.

So today, I’ve found something to feed my essence…a gorgeous wall of happiness I’ve created in our new kid’s rumpus room…timeless works of art from my two babies…forever captured on canvas.

But I’m really not Alice in Wonderland :).....I won’t wake and realize everything that’s happened in my life has been a dream.....but I can take what I’ve learnt from my adored Mum and my journey so far…I own that…it’s mine to keep!

And in the event a rabbit hole ever appears…I’ll be all more the careful...and wiser! :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Rainbow Connection...For my sister Tarnia x

                                          PUSH PLAY WHILE YOU READ....

Sisters are pretty special.

I only have one.

Today is the anniversary of her death.

Today, I sat outside in the sunshine for five minutes and watched these magnificent pelicans on our lake, in awe…………

And I find on my sister's special day, I always reflect on life…on it’s beauty and cruelty…at the things that its capable of.

I also entertain the idea of her still being here….

                    Nice hairdos! :)

Of how everything would be different if she was!

How she’d be sharing a chilled glass of wine with me, clinking our crystal goblets…how we’d reminisce about growing up in a country town.

How we’d be sharing our kids achievements and I’d be asking her advice on my challenges. And how’d we never, ever, ever, argue again! :) (I do like to romanticize things….)

But the reality is, that’s never going to be….and sometimes wishing for impossible dreams can be detrimental to the soul.

So instead of pining for things to be different and allowing that yearning to change my mood to melancholy, I ‘try’ to look at the bits that are possible…like hugging her kids and being a support to her husband Tone….these things aren’t pipe dreams or pots at the end of a rainbow….they are real and achievable dreams. And that's what I try to focus on….I have to…..

Like the reflection and light in my life...they say, a rainbow is a result of the reflection and refraction of light by water droplets…..

A few days ago, from our half finished driveway, I relished in the privilege of watching our overcast grey sky transform itself into a magical band of brilliant colors.

It’s like Mother Nature rolled out it’s red carpet for me…to remind me that the pot of gold is right at my door already…it’s in the beauty and allure of gifts that I see and get to experience everyday…if I take the time….

That the cloudy skies of life don’t always last and that people and things help jog my consciousness of that!

Last week, my sister’s daughter Charlotte also reminded me not dismiss the messages and rewards in the everyday somewhat dull stuff…like dropping her off at her Band practice on a Tuesday afternoon.

You see every week, Charlotte goes to her rehearsal at the tiny Band Hall here….and you are probably thinking, “What’s the significance??”

Well, this insignificant building is where we held the Wake for Tarnia after her funeral…where baby Charlotte of six months slept soundly in a bunny rug next to her sister….as all of us contemplated and reflected on how we’d go on after the tragedy of losing my sister…
And as I threw the car in reverse and watched my sister’s daughter, smiling and waving enthusiastically....happily hurrying into her band practice, the irony struck me....

                   Savannah, Emerald and Charlotte 2 weeks before my sisters accident

The power of the human spirit to overcome also seeped deep into my mind….

We do survive, and we do find rainbows, even if they aren’t plastered across the sky in all their glory…they’re in the small stuff…in the human condition of fortitude and resilience and courage…and they are miracles.

Tonight, I had dinner with Tone, my sister’s husband…all four of her children…who Tone took to the cemetery today to visit their mother. They left jasmine and I’m sure a few tears….and I reflected on that too…

The girls are here with me tonight…having a sleep over….making Dempsey laugh, and sneaking into the lounge to sit on the side of my sofa and give me a I’m typing this....

I told them tonight as I tucked them into bed and squeezed them tight that their Mummy would be so proud of they are a reflection and refraction of her…. :)

And to add to my day today….of reflecting about the joys and heartaches…my precious one Dempsey tells me she’s singing in the school choir tomorrow…for the first time…the song…”The Rainbow Connection.” :-)

“There’s lovers…and dreamers…and me……..”

Tarnia, Mum and Fraser.... x

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Words from my Mum from the other side??? x

I can’t believe how long its been since I last wrote…wow..time has moved forward quickly…as it does these days. And I don’t have a reason for not writing, other than being home = being busy with ‘stuff’…life stuff...and it feels great!

Time with my family, precious time…and of course I feel like I’ve reverted back to motherhood with our new puppy Teddy, who almost takes up as much time as a baby.

Needless to say, he’s meant to be Dempsey’s pup but somehow manages to follow me around the house and find my warm lap at the end of the day next to the fire….and truth be told, I’m loving that too….. :)

Peter is back in the USA for a few weeks, and while he’s gone I made a promise to myself to sort through our wardrobes that are stuffed full of plastic bags of my Mum’s old‘stuff’.

And I’ve been putting off this process because I know it’s like opening Pandora’s box…a box brimming with assorted emotions that bring out an ache that she’s no longer here.   But I’ve been feeling pretty brave lately, so I sat on the carpet and started to explore what exactly Mum had kept in some of those bags.

                       The plastic envelope I found in mum's purse..

The first thing I pulled out was a plastic pocket that Mum had tucked inside her purse.

I gently pulled out the dog eared contents, gazing at each one, feasting on what my mother cherished enough to carry around with her everyday.

The first thing I studied was a photo of me at my first day of pre-school.

The photo is creased and the edges are torn, but I couldn’t help but smile that Mum had carried this snap shot with her everyday, from eon’s ago.

I looked carefully at the photo of me, at my tiny five year old self, at my innocence and smiley spirit captured in this old pic and thought about what life has dealt out to me…and also how our destiny is so undecided and how none of us know what’s in store for us tomorrow…who would’ve thought this happy little girl would lose her first child….and also learn so much about life through the process of doing so?

Mum also kept this little card with a saying about women on it called ‘Je Suis,’

I remember sitting on our caramel shag pile carpet when I was little, gluing it to cardboard for my Mum, then sticking layer upon layer of durex tape on the top to preserve it for Mum as it reminded me of her…..I’d done this way back in 1981.

Who knew the words that I so carefully cut out of a magazine would be so fitting for my life now….

Mum had also carried this prayer inside the plastic sleeve, given to her by a girlfriend Carmel.

There’s no date on the back so I don’t know why Mum carried this with her….but for me, reading this prayer spoke in Mum's voice and seemed like it was meant to be for me….now.  It does make me wonder….

For some reason, Mum included the above poem called "Just for a time." by Maya Angelou with her treasures….I considered why....and who it might’ve been for?

It seems to be written about a lost love, however, yet again, I could see the significance in particular to my life now of how,.....‘Just for a time’

But I’ll never know why she kept this so close to her heart…she’s no longer here to ask…and its times like these that I wish she was……..

     My beautiful Dad..........

The last thing I found, ragged and yellowed, was this photo of my special Dad….wow, how handsome he was!

I know from the date on the back, it was taken the first year they started dating.

I hugged the picture of dad and thanked my mum for this little parcel left for someone to find…someone like me, her daughter, who will treasure all its contents.

                      Dad and me :)

Which brings me to my dear Dad….in Australia, Father’s Day is in September.

I invited Dad and his wife Brenda, Tone and my nephew and nieces over for a traditional roast lamb lunch.

Sitting around our table, I realized this is what life is all about…being around family and love and people who make you feel good. That you can give back in ways that don’t involve money….just time and an afternoon of togetherness.

After lunch we congregated around our new pool as Tone brushed the walls, the kids talked excitedly about the Summer that isn’t too far away….while yelling at Poppie to be careful not to fall in!!! :)

At the end of the day, Dad pulled out a present for me….a key ring with my name on it.

My Dad is pretty humble, very low key, and doesn’t get very emotional.

He put this key ring in my hand and said, "You don't have to use it but that the words describe you perfectly I thought."  

I like the 'shines best at night' bit....mornings aren't my forte! :)

Dad didn’t need to say anymore….I was so very touched that he’d bought this for me, my eyes teared up and my voice cracked as I thanked him and told him how much I love him and how lucky I am to have him.

So today is my sister’s second son Fraser’s 17th birthday…Fraser Kenneth, he has Dad’s name! :)

I’m off to take him out to lunch and wrap my love around him for my sister who isn’t here.  I love him to bits….

And my Mum’s plastic pouch….I’ve tucked it away in my wallet…I think I’ll start one of my own that maybe, just maybe, Dempsey can find one day that will be appropriate for her life and bring her comfort as finding my Mum’s priceless treasure did for me……

Cheers x

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seeing the good stuff and the glass half full! x

You never forget where you were or what you were doing when someone you love dies……when life as you knew it changed and there is no going back to your ‘old’ life.

When my only sister Tarnia was killed, it was during the Olympic Games in Sydney.

    My sister Tarnia and me...

So for me, I always associate the Olympics with her death.

And even though watching the amazing driven athletes strive to reach their goals does interest me, its always tainted by my memories of what we were doing and where we were at…and how life turned from one of carefree days into weeks of endless sadness.   And questions of why, and watching my family suffer, at a time when most of the country was overcome with excitement, in awe of the athletic world.

So for me, the Olympics will always be tarnished…a bit like a bronze medal!

In the morning when I’m in the shower, I tune the radio in to ABC Australia and listen to the latest news from around our country.

This morning it was all about the closing ceremony for the London Olympics and how the Olympic flame has been extinguished.  The radio announcer talked about how it would be reignited again in 4 years in Brazil.

And as I washed the shampoo out of my hair, I contemplated, as I always do…”I wonder where I’ll be in 4 years when the next Olympics is on?”

It’s this habit I have, of procrastinating about the future and it makes me feel vulnerable…the wondering…and the realization that anything is possible…life, death, change…..

It’s a constant battle of striving to focus on each day instead of looking too far ahead.  And it takes work to center my thoughts on the present, but if I do, I find I appreciate the little things in the here and now….like…..Dempsey in her new school uniform! :)

Seeing my baby looking like such a little lady just fills me with pride and makes me pinch myself at how lucky I am to enjoy such special moments!

And to add to the ‘newness’ going on in our humble abode that fills my blue cup with sunshine is………TEDDY! The new addition to our family…who Dempsey named with seconds!! :)

Teddy looks like a toy. He’s just the cutest little puppy I’ve ever laid eyes on…with the sweetest nature…even if his bottom is leaking all over the house at the moment!!! :)

Even Peter is under his spell….although he doesn’t like to admit it!!! :)

There really is nothing like a puppy to bring out the best in us human beings. The smiles and laughter Teddy has brought into our house in the past week has been like therapy.

Dempsey is besotted with her new little mate. And my sister’s twins Emerald and Charlotte are loving him too.

It makes me smile to stand at our window and watch Demps and the twins run down our hill with Teddy in tow, laughing and enjoying themselves with not a care in the world.

I’m learning from these girls, my nieces Emerald and Charlotte…they are an inspiration.   Their happiness, positive attitude….their spirit that shines through with enthusiasm and vivacity is refreshing. Their resilience to what life has dealt them floors me sometimes.

They don’t have their mum around…they have no idea what a Mum is.

What it’s like to have had their mother molly coddle them, hug them, sit with them like I do Demps and talk about their day….they do have their Dad, who does an amazing job…but there’s no-one like a mother!

But they don’t seem affected…..they are walking talking evidence of how we can and do survive any tragedy or challenge we are faced with.

The example these 12 year olds set for me, demonstrates how the human spirit can persevere and carry on through life and be happy, no matter what our circumstances, or what we’ve suffered. I always get a lesson out of being utterly ‘happy’ with what I have when I’m around them.

Sunday night we went for our usual Sunday drinks with Tone. And as us adults were sitting enjoying a red wine…Emerald appeared and asked her Dad if she should start dinner?

Here was my gorgeous niece, who at 12, was prepared to cook spaghetti bol for the whole family!

And as I watched Emmy wander back inside the house, I thought of how proud Tarnia would be!  How absolutely amazing it is that these girls seem to have their mums love of cooking…I quietly smiled to myself and wished Tarnia was here to enjoy these little moments that I have the privilege of enjoying.

Yes, having them around our home and in Dempsey’s life is a gift.

The gift of appreciating and being strong and of seeing the ‘good stuff’ in life...that the glass can be half full if you work at it....even if you are dealt some ‘bad stuff.’

And I guess that’s one of the gifts that grief gives us over time…that knowledge…and knowledge is power in my book.  It helps me put one foot in front of the other if I’m having a bad day…and on the good days….makes me want to dance……… :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Beginnings x

I love the above quote, a line out of a Tim McGraw song…it sums up how I felt when I left the USA last week.

It’s true, we all take different paths in life, and no matter where we go, we take a little bit of each other everywhere!

We left LA last week and as the giant jumbo jet shook and its engines roared as we took off from LAX, I got emotional, a few tears rolled down my face. 

Dempsey stared out the window at the twinkling lights of LA like a fairyland until we were surrounded by the black abyss of the ocean… “Los Angeles is gone Mummy, I can’t see it anymore!” She said!

It was just a tad hard to leave the only home I’ve known for the past twelve years…to leave the house with so many unforgettable times.

The only real house Dempsey has known, from a baby of six months old.   The carpeted stairs that Dempsey took her first steps up…the four walls of our lounge room that soaked up our sadness, watching our daughter die… and our back T, a simple plastic table that holds so much laughter and love from different friends and happy hours on a Friday night. 

But I’ll take a little bit of that and those people everywhere with me now....and thats the beauty of memories.... :)

My friend Mary and me

It felt weird to turn the corner in our street, knowing I won’t be back…leaving all that behind.   But Peter will be home Saturday, and I know I’ll see our friends again one day….

Life is meant to change, no matter how hard we resist it, or fear it, we have to take a big breathe and embrace it!

It’s what propels us forward and creates direction and forces us to reassess what we want…it helps us focus on the important things like family and friends and love…the things that hopefully never change.

Change forces us to try new things and be open to new friends and new experiences…and I’m ready…raring to go…to see where this path leads, bumpy OR smooth! :)

We are home!

Back in Australia!

And it feels like a warm hug, like my blue cup is brimming with sunshine…even if we have been thrust into the midst of winter here and the fog is dense in the morning over the lake surrounding our house. Nothing could dim my spirit!

                   My friend Andrea at another goodbye send off

The week before we left California was full…and when I say full I mean frantic…but fun, filled with overwhelming love from my friends I was saying goodbye to…and watching my baby say teary goodbyes to her little girlfriends who have been a big part of molding my precious one into who she has become tugged at my heart.

I told Dempsey not to be sad…that she’ll see them again….and I had to remember my words as I too hugged and told my girlfriends…”I hate goodbyes, so I’ll just say, see you when I see kiss me and smile for me, cos I’m leaving on a jet plane…don’t know when I’ll be back again…” :)

My beautiful birthday girl...and yes that dog is real...he almost looks like a toy! :)

We had Dempsey’s 10th birthday party…with puppies and pretty little tweens who are like sisters to my baby. When I tucked her into bed she told me, "Thank you for my was the best party yet Mummy!"

I managed one more magical catch up with my friend Rose.

She came to our house this time…in all her glory, with gifts and an artist’s sketchpad and a bag of colorful paints.  You see Rose has a special hobby, where she paints peoples feet, then stamps them in a book.  Then you write a message beside your print.

Dempsey was a fit of giggles as Rose dabbed colorful paint on her pinkies…needless to say, her Mama wasn’t much better! :)

 And after we’d stepped on a blank page, Rose washed our feet and said a prayer. I felt like I was being baptized all over again…it felt cleansing!

Rose’s book was filled with footprints from all over the world, many from Ground Zero where Rose volunteered, from strangers…and…Fire Fighters. I felt privileged reading some of the poignant writings on the pages.

                  Rose's artistic hoof! :)

I miss Rose already......but the world really is a small place with the internet…and I’ll certainly take a small piece of Rose with me now.....and smile when I think of her.

So our new life starts here, back in the sun burnt country, the land of meat pies and mates and crisp country air….and my dad and my brother and Tone.....and my sisters kids...who all squeezed me so hard I think they bruised a few ribs…but that all adds to the magic and feeds my soul with Happy with a capital H…instead of the sad stuff! :)

I know I don’t have any control over my destiny, nobody does…what we think and hope and what ‘is’ are all relevant, however life surprises us sometimes with what the universe thinks we can cope with, or need or points us in the direction of where we need to be…

The important thing to remember is I do have choices in my attitude and choosing to be happy and making every day count, for Dempsey’s sake, and my own.

So I hope I can blog more now I’m home about our adventures Down Under..our new chapter...and carry what I learnt and the love from those who’s lives I was lucky enough to brush with no matter how big or small a this wonderful big ball of life rolls on….

Cheers! x :)