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…….