On photography and memories

As I have been scanning and backing up photos over the past few days, I have found some photos that really start the memories flowing.
Many photos are of grandparents, great grandparents, their siblings or other relatives that are important for the knowledge of my roots however I didn’t really know too many of these people well. Some I have never met but know only through photos, notes scribbled on the back and the stories of my relatives. I can look at them and see  my children, cousins, nieces and nephews (and even myself) in these faces from long ago.
Then there are the photos of people that I have known, loved …. and lost. Continue reading

Is it terrible to have forgotten something?

I ponder that question this morning.
In life, many things happen to us. These events shape us. They mold us and change us.
They make us the person that we are now.
Some events we will never forget.
We don’t forget the feelings of love, loss, hatred, anguish … or any other number of emotions that course through us with the memories of those times.
We don’t forget those who journeyed with us or the events surrounding what occurred.
But sometimes as we begin to live the ordinary of the every day, the little things begin to fade. Continue reading

The Jardiniere

In the corner of my lounge room sits a jardiniere. She is a grand old beauty however her age is beginning to show.
Once she contained ferns and other indoor house plants and lived on the top of a silky oak planter stand by the window in my grandmother’s lounge room. Before that, she belonged to my great-grandmother and lived in her family home.
I have more than likely insulted her with the plastic ivy and wooden tulips that grace her insides now however she is aging and her strength is not what it used to be. Plastic ivy it will have to be.
See that crack on her side? It is only a small part of the further damage around the back that is now disguised by the wall. Continue reading

How it all began…. my depression that is

ultrasound
The ultrasound that broke my heart

The year was 2002. My little girl was almost two years of age and after many discussions, my amazing partner and I decided to begin trying for a second child. I already had two older children when I met the Garden Gnome and (the Tween) was our first child together. She was conceived after many difficulties and brought so much joy to our lives that we really wanted another child. Although (the GG) loved my son, I know that he secretly hoped for a son of his own to carry on the family name. Therefore the decision was made to try for another child.

Continue reading

Difficult discussions

ImageThis afternoon a colleague at work who is having a difficult time right now came in. Her father is dying. I went to give her a hug and reminded her just how strong she is but that it’s alright to be upset. Normally when she is in the building, it rings with the sounds of her laughter. Not so today. She went about her work and so did I. As I was leaving this afternoon she called me over and asked me one of the most difficult things I think I have ever had to answer. “How do you go about planning a funeral”? She continued that she knew I had been heavily involved in the planning of the funeral for my baby brother and wondered how I did it. I gave her a few general answers and told her that I would help her in any way that I could.

Now that I am home, I have thought about a few things that I could have said but I will jot them down and share them with her later. Provided she is there tomorrow. That’s entirely dependent on how much longer her father is with us.

When I came home I went looking for the Order of Services from the funerals of my grandmother and baby brother so I can show them to her tomorrow. She wants to make things as personal as she can for her father’s farewell and is interested to see what I put together for the funerals of my loved ones. I couldn’t find my hard copies (they must be in a box somewhere safely stored away) so I searched my external hard drive for the digital files to email to myself at work. Whilst I was searching I found copies of eulogies I have delivered and also the closing remarks I gave at Peter’s funeral. I’ll share those thoughts with you toward the end.

My whole point of this post is to wonder how we deal with difficult discussions in our life (such as the one I had this afternoon). Do we tend to gloss over things for fear of hurting the other person or do we stick strictly to the facts? Do we tell them what we think they might want to hear or do bludgeon them with the truth. Of course I had to be truthful with some aspects e.g. the high costs involved but I side-stepped other issues because I was uncomfortable and I knew that I shouldn’t be. I am honoured that she asked me but scared of saying the wrong thing. Tell me, how do you handle difficult discussions? I truly would like to know.

In closing I would like to share some of my closing remarks from my brother’s funeral. When I consider that I spoke them three ago, I am floored because my thoughts are no different today than they were then.

“As I was lying in bed this morning with a thousand thoughts running through my head, I thought of this quote that I have read hundreds of times:

‘Life is too short for drama and petty things, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly, and forgive quickly.’

This week has taught me that it is the little things in life that count.  I remember a conversation that Peter had with (the Tween) one afternoon when she came home and said that she hated someone at school.   He spoke to her about what a horrible word ‘hate’ was. He explained that nothing or nobody in life is that bad that we should hate them. We can dislike them certainly but hate is a strong word. Hate has caused wars and countless, senseless acts. The last conversation I had with Peter was whilst he was in hospital, and we both told each other how much we loved each other. That is one of my treasured memories. So, I have made a conscious decision to not waste my time on the petty things in life. Life is too short. I think we’ve seen just how short it can be. And how quickly things can change our world. Life is for telling the people we love just how much they mean to us. It is for enjoying the sunshine and the breeze on our face. It is for seeing the beauty in the ordinary. It is for making each day count. It is for laughing and taking joy in the everyday moments. So if there is one thing we can take from our experiences with Peter, it is that he was not afraid of living and he enjoyed every moment of it. I have one final quote that I found yesterday. It is called ‘When I am Gone’.

When I am gone

When I am gone, release me – let me go. I have so many things to see and do. You must not tie yourself to me with tears. Be happy that we had so many years. I gave you love. You can only guess how much you gave me in happiness. I thank you for the love each have shown but now it is time that I travelled alone. So grieve awhile for me if grieve you must, then let your grief be comforted by trust. It is only for a while that we must part, so bless those memories within your heart. I will not be far away, for life goes on. So if you need me, call and I will come. Though you cannot see or touch me, I will be near. And if you listen with your heart, you will hear. All of my love around you,  soft and clear. Then when you must come this way alone, I will greet you with a smile and ‘Welcome Home’.

Have a blessed day 🙂

Remembering our Losses

ImageWhen we lose those we love, many of us wish to honour their memory in some way. It’s not enough to grieve and remember, sometimes we need to have a tangible reminder that those we have lost were once a part of our lives. As I write this, I look to the top of my computer desk and see photos of my brothers who are no longer with us. David (my younger brother)  left us over 20 years ago but I still remember saying goodbye to him as if it were yesterday. Damien (my stepbrother) who was taken by Leukaemia. In the photo I have of him, he is in his hospital bed beside a smiling Alfie Langer (an Australian football legend). Then there is my little bro in the frame I made of buttons smiling at me wearing his glasses and false teeth (both of which he hated wearing). Behind these photos are dried flowers from the corsage that adorned his coffin. Sadly we lost Peter after he contracted Swine Flu. His defenses were already weakened from his battle with Leukaemia and GVH (graft versus host) and he stood no chance.

I have lost more than siblings. I have lost my beloved grandmother and other loved ones including babies. The graphic above is a digital scrapbook layout created on the second anniversary of our first loss.

“Today marks the second anniversary of the day you left my body. I know your spirit had gone in the days before but today is the anniversary of the day we had to say goodbye to the baby we had begun to love. The jasmine bush that the Scrap Heap Inspiration Team gave me is in bloom once again and I smell its sweet fragrance and remember the feeling of you growing inside me. Today, I not only remember you my angel but the four other angels that we never met as well. I always wanted a large family but I guess not all of you were meant to be here with me. We don’t love any of you any less than if we were able to meet you and hold you in our arms. Take care my butterflies”

When we moved home, we had to leave the jasmine bush behind. It is still growing beside the front door of the house we left behind and it no doubt still flowers and sends its beautiful fragrance wafting through the door each October.

I keep other physical reminders of those I love as well. Each year when we put up our Christmas Tree, I place ornaments representing those I have lost on the top of the tree right near the angel. In my mind, it is important to remember those we have lost. It is just as important to move through our grief and live our lives once more. All the what ifs and longing in the world won’t bring back those who have left us. Each day, we put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

We need to stop with the blame game as well. If only I’d done this…. or that…. I wish I’d called more often… I never told him/her that I loved them…. None of this is doing anyone any good. Channel some love back toward yourself. Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself. Wake up each day and breathe. That is all that anyone can ask of you.

Grief is a process. It takes time to heal from it. Sometimes years. I still cry for my lost babies and it has been almost 10 years. For those of you grieving (and I know there are many of you amongst my readers), I am sending you a virtual hug. Take care of yourselves and above all be kind to yourself.

Have a blessed day :P)