Part 1: My Story | Part 2: Grieving

Part #1 My Story

My brother passed away from cancer at age 27 in 2003. It was a long time ago. I get it. Why would I bring it up now all these years later? Why drag shit up from the past. Well because I have to. I have to because I have never actually moved very far forward. I have carried this hard and awkward grieving process with me this entire time which, I realise, is too long and to move on I need to let go. Not of my brother but of my grief story.

The final stage of my brothers life was during a time that I was facing difficulties in my first marriage. We were partying too hard, hating each other too much and trying to raise two and a half kids on a very tight budget and in a house that was falling apart. Life was, to say the very least, shit. 

But my brother was dying and there was nothing harder and nothing that could prepare me for it. He was dying but he had overcome his first cancer diagnosis at age 14 so I kept telling myself that he would be fine, that he would bounce back, that I had more time to be better. In his final days, watching his shallow, slow breathing, I remember thinking that he would, still at some stage, jump out of bed and say “Just joking!” He was the family jokester after all. But he didn’t.

When he finally passed away in the early hours of the morning of the 28th September I wasn’t there. I had gone home to have a shower. I was 28 weeks pregnant. I had, that very same week that he’d been placed into palliative care, gone into early labour and been admitted to hospital. I was embarrassed that my body let me down and had made this traumatic time in my families life all about me and so after my shower I remember sitting on the edge of my bed. It was 5am. I just sat there and cried. I cried for my family. I cried for my brother. I cried for my baby who was hanging in there and I cried because I didn’t no what else to do with all these emotions I had. I remember, after allowing the tears to flow for awhile, that I took the deepest breath in and pulled my shoulders back. It was a very deliberate move physically to get myself prepared for the next part of the day. It was time to get back to the hospital. Look strong. Be ok. Be supportive. Be good for once in my fucking life. It was time to get back to the hospital because I didn’t want to miss his last breath.

But I did.

He died a few minutes before I arrived. My other brothers face said it all as he stood on the other side of the hospitals palliative glass door to let me in. His red blood shot eyes. His head slightly shaking. The look of despair on his face. I had missed my dying brothers final moment and to me this was the catalyst into my guilt. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t a good sister, a good daughter, a good person. I left at the most significant moment in my families life – the last breath of our brother, their son. Our family, the only one I’d ever known, was no longer six, well at least not on Earth together and the realisation of this was soul destroying.

My story began to unravel from here. Guilt ridden for not being there, for not being a better sister, for being admitted to hospital the same week as him – like an attention seeker would – guilt ridden because I didn’t actually, at any point really think he would die. But he did.

At the time I really did expect the world to stop. I expected my friends lives to stop. I expected people to understand what was happening to me when most around me had never been through anything like this before. But their lives continued on as normal. Which to me, back then, told me I was shit. I was nobody worth caring about.

And so the spiralling of my story continued. I remember at my brothers graveside funeral that I chose to move as far away as I could once the ceremony was done. I stood in the corner of the garden bed because deep down I didn’t want anyone to hug me. To say they were sorry for me. To give me any comfort. I didn’t want it because I felt I didn’t deserve it.

At his wake my friends asked me if I would like to join them in giving Reiki to a girlfriend going through a hard time – a nasty marriage separation. I was so hurt and it reaffirmed to me that my pain was insignificant. I remember thinking that this friends pain was more momentous than mine because those I loved only saw the importance of healing her wounds whereas my pain wasn’t worth healing.

I began to withdraw from here on in and then the final nail on my grief stricken coffin was two weeks after my brothers death. A friend came to give me a “talk” and told me that I needed to make more of an effort in the friendship, that it was time to get over it and that I wasn’t the only one grieving and that she, too, was grieving him. Again, I didn’t understand. Was I supposed to help her through this difficult time when he was my brother and she had only spent a short amount of time knowing him. Was I doing this grieving thing wrong? Was I selfish and unworthy of these feelings I was having because I hadn’t been a good enough sister? Were these feelings even real? Didn’t I have any right to be sad?

It was all a very confusing time for me. So confusing that it has stuck with me for over a decade. There were so many other moments to my story that confirmed my feelings of guilt, unworthiness and shame over the months and now years. I’ve become like a snow globe where the confused feelings would settle for awhile yet they are always there and it only takes something minor to shake all those feelings up again. Something big gets them going real crazy and crazy is the only word that can describe it. It makes me feel like I did something wrong in my grieving. That I am going crazy to think that I actually had the right to be upset during that time of my life.

But this has just been my story. A story that hasn’t served me well at all. It is a story that has extended my grief beyond belief and one that holds me back in life and relationships because of the anger, guilt and confusion. Letting go of my story is not easy when I feel so much injustice was done to me at the time. Then I feel guilt for having had any expectations on other people. Then I feel stupid and unworthy for being all high and mighty thinking others might care the way that I do.

As I come through a challenging year now, I feel that it is time to let go of my story. It is time to let go so I can heal. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen or that I didn’t have the right to feel the way I did at that time in my life but at some point you have to grow and move forward – don’t you? I’m really unsure of the process but by acknowledging that I’ve had enough of the pain I carry, the guilt I burden myself with and the frustration I feel towards it may just be the first steps in my own healing.

Part #2 Grieving

In telling my story I want to finish with something useful. Something that may help others when someone they know is grieving. There are so many cliches that people say. Most come across as hollow and insensitive. So I want to share, from my experience, what you should refrain from saying and of course what you could say – but it is really all about how you say it. The words won’t always be right because for everyone the grieving process is different but I can guarantee if you come from a place of love and a place where you aren’t trying to fix them then you are in the right place to be there for them.

Things you don’t need to say to someone grieving…

* What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger: no this is not true and is genuinely insensitive. When your heart is breaking into a million little pieces you are already dying on the inside and being stronger because your loved one has died is not a comfort nor a support.

* Everything happens for a reason: whether it does or it doesn’t this is not the time to tell someone that the death of their loved one is for a higher or greater good because right now in their pain all they feel is … oh yes that’s it pain!

* Only the good die young: well bring him back then! We’d rather he be ‘bad’ and still alive then good and dead! Someone grieving is missing their loved one – good or bad. The good die at any age. My Nana died in her 80’s which is, to me, a ripe old age but she was good… It’s a cliche don’t say it.

* Cheer up. He/she wouldn’t want to see you sad: we know, or at least we hope, they are up there somewhere looking down on us but for right now, in our pain, the last thing we need is a guilt trip. We miss them, we are heartbroken and we are entitled to feel sad.

* They are in a better place: Really? Because last we checked that better place was here in our arms. We have no idea what Heaven or the afterlife is like but don’t tell me at this stage of my grieving that there is a better place than on earth with us.

* At least they are no longer suffering: yes we are aware of that but please don’t place that heavy weight on our shoulders. Seeing a loved one suffer for years is painful enough. All the “what if’s”, “if only I’s” has placed enough guilt in our hearts. The younger they are the more questions you have and the unfairness of suffering and death.

* Be strong: we can’t. We do not feel strong and why do we need to be. Our insides are crumbling, every core of our being misses them and being strong is not high on our list right now. These are people who we’ve known all our lives who are no longer walking through our front door, sitting at the dinner table at Christmas and celebrating another birthday. When someone passes away we always feel like something is missing… because there is.

* You need to move on: no. No we don’t. Our grief does not have a time frame. It does not say 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years. It says there is a hole in your heart where a person once lived. A person you miss with every fibre of your being. A person whose memory will have you heartbroken and crying one minute and laughing like a crazy woman the next. Grief has no rules, timeframes or explanations and you have no right to place them on someone.

Well then Superwoman what can I say? Why are you creating a dictatorship on what’s right or wrong? I’m not and there isn’t. This is just advice from someone whose been there. Who has felt additional pain from insensitive moments and I’m just giving a heads up.

Things you could say instead…

* I’m so sorry for your loss: yes it’s not much when you want to say more and it is also said a lot but there is a difference when it is just words said and when it is FELT. So feel it when you say it. Hand on your heart feel it.

* I am here for you: Like, right here for you any time of the day or night… BUT only say it if you really mean it because when you try to reach out to someone and that first person you try isn’t there then you rarely try someone else.

* I am here to listen: And then listen! Listen with ears and hearts open. Laugh at the funny memories, grieve with them during the painful ones, hold their hand, pass them a tissue and hug them when that moment is all over. Listening is the greatest skill human beings can acquire and we all can do it better.

* I wish I had the right words. Just know that I love you. Own it. We know you aren’t mind readers to be able to deliver the right words but the pain you go through when someone dies is immeasurable and love is the only thing that gets us through. So love us through it ok?!

* I remember when…: share your favourite memory of their loved one. A happy one. One that will remind them of love, laughter, happiness. Don’t force it. Don’t pretend. Just remember their loved one with tenderness so that moment of happiness fills their heart with joy for a little while.

* Say nothing. It is golden. Saying nothing but a gentle squeeze, a loving touch. But saying nothing doesn’t mean avoid at all costs. Saying nothing doesn’t mean pretending it never happened. There is a difference between a heart felt nothing and a I-can’t-deal-with-this nothing. Always lead from your heart.

REMEMBER: You can’t fix it. You cannot take away their grief or put a timeline on it. Everyone grieves differently and just because you see them laughing, momentarily, a week from death doesn’t mean they aren’t crying, in solitude, for the next 12 months. You cannot put your own grief on top of someone elses. You do not have the right. And remember… Grief is a process. There are many stages of grief and none of them can be solved with a cliche life quote from Pinterest.

Only support can help the process.

Only love can help heal the pain.

Much love.

DRK xxx

*** Aside from some editing this was written in 2013. It has sat unpublished because I wasn’t ready to let go of it. I wanted to so bad but I didn’t understand how to or even why I should have to. But I understand now. I understand that holding on and not forgiving people only hurts me. Only holds ME back and only makes my pain last longer and feel harder than it needs to – than it needed to be. 

I post it today not to cause trouble. Not to make people feel bad. Not to get responses. I post it because after much growth and self awareness I realise my story is just that. I’ve carried guilt and shame around with me for so long and it has affected me in ways that you can not believe. My Mum has her own guilt as I found out yesterday. My Dad, I’m sure has his too. But I don’t  know why because to me they were amazing parents who did everything in their power to help him. To prolong his life and to make the life he had safe, fun and as carefree as possible. It is clear that we all have our own versions of guilt and who hurt us during this time. 

I post my experience for others who feel the same because if I could just help one person grieving let go of the guilt, the injustice, the anger. To forgive quicker, to feel normal and comforted in their grief and to not allow these parts of our stories to hold them back for as long as I have then I’ve done something good with my life ~ one love, DRK xxx *** 

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two thousand and sixteen – a year of goodbyes

two thousand and sixteen has been a challenging year for so many of us. Obviously there has been a shift in The Universe’s energy or something ‘out there’ but I’m not here to speculate on that.

This year has seen so many ‘greats’ of our lifetime die. Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Prince, David Bowie and more. This year many family members and friends, our very own ‘greats’, have also left this earth. I’ve seen myself at six funerals this year… Most of them cancer related. Most too young to be gone already.

A year like two thousand and sixteen makes us reflect on life and death. It makes us realise that people can never die when they leave behind so much of themselves for us to remember. Their memories, their life walk beside us, every day, in our thoughts and in our hearts until we are face to face again. And we will be, this is my whole hearted belief.

two thousand and sixteen makes us question the things we’ve been taught all our lives. Things that society place importance on. It makes you question why we place significance on living in a mansion over a caravan when loneliness is the same. Why, if we still arrive at the same destination, does it matter if we drive a Lamborghini or a 1970 VW there. Why wear a Rolex watch over a Target watch if they both will tell you the same time.

A year like two thousand and sixteen makes you grow up and teaches you to let go. Let go of the importance placed on material possessions. Let go of the pain from friendships that hurt you. Let go of patterns of behaviour that keep you stuck in a rut because being stuck in a rut over small things keeps you living in the past and if my past is two thousand and sixteen then I will do anything to let that go.

A year like this makes you honour your true friendships, love your beautiful neighbours, embrace your wacky family and look forward to new beginnings. It makes you grateful of good times and learn lessons from the bad. It teaches you what is important, really, in the life we live and reminds you that life is too short to fuck around being self-absorbed.

two thousand and sixteen has taught me to be kinder, more aware of others feelings, to listen harder, to worry less about material things, to let the judgement of others be their burden not mine and to laugh harder with the ones I truly fucken love. It taught me that the only person I need to be better than is the person that I was yesterday.

This year was challenging. For others I know it was way more devastating than that. Challenging is simply a way to test one’s abilities. An opportunity to rise and to learn. That moment when you feel defeated but choose to stand up again. Challenging means we’ve been blessed with difficult times for how can we know the real beauty of fun times without them.

None of us have to wait for a New Year to start again when every day we wake up is brand new. But on the first of January two thousand and seventeen we get to start a new year. A year beginning with hope of good things and in gratitude for getting the opportunity to see it in when so many others around us haven’t. For most of us it’s where we can shake off the two thousand and sixteen dirt, step over the threshold and welcome a fresh, new beginning.

As two thousand and sixteen ends and two thousand and seventeen begins just be kinder. Kinder to every one you meet. Kinder to yourself. Kinder to the expectations you would normally put on yourself. I don’t believe it is the time for resolutions. Why set yourself up for failure? Why enter a new year with demands placed upon your days? Why weigh yourself down with a whole lot of pointless things when you can simple choose two thousand and seventeen to just be.

Be in the moment.

Be a part of life and living.

Be a part of your journey and in moving forward.

Happy New Year xxx

One Love
DRK xxx

Living With Regrets

We’re not supposed to have regrets or at least we shouldn’t admit to having them. “No regrets” is the life motto of so many and it’s honourable. Admirable. Dare I say it – inspirational?! But I’m all about being different and real so let me do those two things for you for a second here…

Do I have regrets?

Hell to the yes I fucking do!

I regret wasting 20 years of my life hating my body. Not swimming because of my body. Missing good times and parties because of my body. Not allowing myself to talk to that super funny chick and making a new friend because of my body. My hideous, unlikable body – I regret feeling that way about myself for so long.

I regret not being a better sister. I really fucking do. My brother was dying and I was thinking of myself, constantly. I really regret that selfish phase of my life and I’m sure he is ok up there with it all but I missed out on more memories because of my selfishness. And there I go being selfish again – but that I don’t regret.

I totally really regret sleeping with so many boys as a youngster. Yes, I would call myself a slut – but hey had I been a boy I would have been a total stud. I regret it because they mostly treated me like shit and I regret so badly that I didn’t stand up to them and tell them not to treat a desperate, low self-esteemed girl like that. Warn them that one day they would have daughters of their own and most of them do which makes me laugh like a super-villian-evil-bitch. I would warn them that it would kill them to see their insecure child being treated like a piece of meat. I regret not mastering that super-attitude-finger-waving-head-tilting thing that women do. I regret not having enough self worth to treat myself better and to tell those boys to go fuck themselves. I don’t look back at those times and think to myself “Yeah, that sure was fun!” Honestly I cringe and I think how desperate and ugly I felt back then – it wasn’t fun at all.

I have spent twenty plus years, regretfully wasting my precious life on being something or someone that I thought would please others yet I hated everything about the wannabe that was me. Always seeking external gratification, external recognition, external la-di-fucking-da’s. I wish I had been taught at a much younger age that all of those things were inside me all along.

Over those two decades I’ve shed a few of the try-hard-qualities as I have grown, lived and learned (eventually) but it’s been the last three years where I’ve picked up the speed on that shedding and all those things I thought I had to be or couldn’t be no longer exist or matter as of today in my dirty thirties. It is liberating and soul freeing. I’ve un-become so I can be exactly who I am. And my regrets aren’t filled with anger or sadness they are simply regrets. Which is my point. That it is ok to have regrets. The point is not to dwell on them. The point is to learn from them and the most monumental point is to embrace them as part of your life story. I wouldn’t have, be or understand life as I do now if I didn’t do all those shitty things I regret.

What’s most important of all is that you stop being somebody else and be yourself instead! Become you because you are living a life nobody else can. You are in control and all the choices are yours for your present and future. Sometimes the past sucks big hairy sweaty balls and those things sure do taste like shit but RIGHT NOW you are in a completely different moment and you get to CHOOSE whatever it is you want. Happiness. Gratitude. Weirdness. Whatever. Open those big fucking eyes of yours and look in that mirror. You don’t have to make love to yourself to love yourself but you can if you want. You don’t have to tell the whole world how a-fucking-mazing you are. You don’t have to do a single damn thing to live with your regrets. You just live. You just choose to live as you. Which is not always easy but shake off the shit you’ve pretended to be for so long and just be you.

Now go. Go and live in the present moment, which will soon be your past, and live it as YOU. Because, trust me, when you actually make decisions in life based on being you they can’t become regrets. They are instead whoopsies. When you make moves in life, as you, and you are being real and honest with yourself any fuck-ups simply become good memories… Eventually … One day … And you will laugh about them because you will know you were just being yourself. Your adorable, imperfect self.

One love

DRK xxx

Life is Short

“Life is Short”

I say this often, mostly to myself, but I’m not sure if I’m living it in the right context.

This saying first came about for me, cementing itself into my world when my brother passed away from cancer. I was around the age of 24 with two children, a third on the way and in a complicated marriage. I don’t remember being particularly mature for my age even with 2-point-5 children and a marriage under my belt. I was still making bad decisions and still very unhappy within myself for many different reasons.

When my brother died of cancer I was shattered. I was full of grief but also full of guilt and regret. Why hadn’t I told him I loved him? Why didn’t I spend more time with him? Why didn’t I realise how short life was. Especially once it’s up. Once it’s up that’s it. There’s no more of that person in your life. No more chances to say “I love you”. To hug them. To tell them who they are to you. I regretted not telling my brother I loved him for a long time. I know now that I was scared to tell him because I thought if I did then it would be an admission that things weren’t good. That he wasn’t going to make it. I honestly believed he would just jump out of bed one day and yell “Just joking! I’m all good! Tricked you all!”

I was wrong.

Love

Recently, in November 2015 my Pop became ill. I made a pact with myself to spend as much time with him as possible. I didn’t want him to feel alone. I wanted him to feel safe in the last few weeks/days of his life here on Earth. I told him I loved him. I said goodbye. I was there as he passed. I have no regrets.

7 weeks later as my Nana quickly deteriorated. I made sure I stroked her hair, held her hand, put my hand on her heart to immerse its beating in my own and looked her in the eyes when telling her I loved her. I loved that she still managed to say it back to me, I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget the sparkle in her eyes. She wasn’t scared. I hadn’t frightened her with my words. She just felt loved. A few days later she passed away too. My heart broke but I have no regrets – she knew I loved her.

Then only a few weeks later we lost our neighbour to cancer. Our neighbourhood isn’t just a regular neighbourhood we are all close and his loss is deafening. When I’m hanging out my washing or playing with my kids he is no longer in his backyard talking to his “girls” (his chickens) or fluffing about in the garden. He is no longer climbing over the fence to have a beer with my parents. He is no longer on the other end of the computer two doors up asking me for help on some internet issues always with his bad grammar and no use of capitals. I was going to see him the night before he died but he was already in bed so I didn’t. He was gone from this life the next day. On my daughters 18th birthday. I told him in one of our last Facebook messages that I loved him. No regrets.

I started writing this blog a few days ago but I was struggling to find the words. Then I’ve been hit today, like a slap of pin-pricked realities in the face, by two friends. One on a fucked up cancer journey and the other just about to have her 11th wedding anniversary except without her husband by her earthly side as he died 5 years ago. Both of their status’s to the world were different and unique to them but both of them had the same underlining content. Gratitude.

BE FUCKING GRATEFUL PEOPLE.

Grateful you have a partner to annoy you and leave his socks at the front door. Grateful that you have a headache you can fix with a glass of water and some panadol. Grateful that even though the kids are driving you crazy and the clean house is now a mess that you have healthy, active kids who love your love and presence… And fuck the house. This gratitude doesn’t mean guilt either. It doesn’t mean you should feel guilty for being frustrated or pissed off at these things from time to time. This is life and this is living after all but we should be grateful more of the time than we are pissed.

“Life is Short” can be summarised just with this one word. Gratitude. Being grateful. Being thankful. Looking for the good in what you have in your life and being thankful for it. Showing those you love in your life that you actually do love them. That they are your living, breathing world. Life is short because once it’s over it’s over. There are no second chances. But there can be regrets, which will for some turn into lessons. I spent 10 years regretting my brothers passing – regretting the lack of love I showed him. But I learnt from that never to do it again.

“Life is Short” has a new meaning for me today because when I first adopted the popular quote into my life I did so in a negative way but today it means gratitude. Happiness. Laughter. Love. Presence. It means saying it and feeling it and not being scared of it. It means showing my kids more presence and honesty. It means listening to my husband and learning more about him and what he needs. It’s about being there for people who need a part of me that I am capable of giving – love translated in any way, shape or form. I’m not perfect and I’m not going to ride the perfect bandwagon from here on in but I am going to give more of myself. More of the ‘me’ that is truly me. The heartfelt, sensitive me who loves deeply but has always carried a barrier for protection.

My protection is removed but perfection is not my status either.

To my family and my friends – I LOVE YOU! To all the people who have come into my life in a positive way, I love each and every one of you. You have touched me. You have honoured who I am. You have left an imprint on my life and in my heart and I am forever grateful for that. I love you. I really, really do.

My heart hurts today and my tears are flowing. Sadness? Still some regret? Missing those I love? Guilt? I’m not sure. Maybe just a heartache.

One love,

DRK xxx

Please don’t forget to tell those you love just how much they mean to you. Show them. This is the message my friend wants you to hear. To really hear. The message we all need to hear. Often.

Read her amazing, raw and honest post here on her Facebook page…. You’ll need to find the post “Water your own F**king Lawn!” Thank you Kym xx

 

Joie de Vivre

I had this tattoo imprinted on my right arm to always remind me of my mortality. It was a tattoo in honour of my brother. I have had it a few years now and become ‘used’ to it rather than moved by it. But it will now again remind me. “Joie de Vivre” ~ French; exuberant enjoyment of life

 

 

For My Nana

This is my reading from my Nanas funeral. I’m posting it here as a keepsake and as my promise to remember her for the rest of my life.

On the morning of the 27th January the world lost a feisty, stubborn, proud and loving woman – traits many of her family members have inherited – me included! A woman who fiercely loved and protected her family. She was a true nurturer and she was proud of us all regardless of the mistakes she witnessed throughout our lives, mine especially.

Her hugs were powerful, her stories often on repeat and just two months after her beloved husband, my Dear Pop, passed away she left this world to be with him. We all knew she wouldn’t be far behind coz since when does Nana give Pop any peace and I think it’s fair to say two months was long enough!

There are many things I will remember about my Nana and so would many of you. Kelly remembers the cheek pinches and how she used to say “I could eat you and suck on the bones!” But when I say it it just doesn’t sound as sweet.

I know I will remember her for the rest of my life. This is my promise.

Nana, I will remember those hugs you gave me where you squeezed me so tight know matter how old I got. So tight that I didn’t think I could breathe.

I will remember your smell – a mixture of roses and moth balls – on your clothes, in your home, on your soft porcelain skin.

I will remember how you always confused your only two granddaughters names in every conversation… I was called Kelly, Kelly called Cristy, and on an occasion Kelly called Evan. It didn’t matter what name you called us we always knew who you meant.

I will remember the bits of advice you gave me about love, about life, about children, about making mistakes and moving on.

I will remember your bright and colourful outfits and jewels that were always matching, your style was forever fancy.

I will remember the funny speech bubble stickers on all our photos and your creativity with scrapbooking and knitting – especially those sexy knitted socks that I wouldn’t dare to be seen in 15 years ago but would do anything to have a pair made from you now.

I will remember the squeals of joy as you cuddled a baby, any baby. I will remember your passion for your beloved Eagles and support for their Benny Boy. You were always keen to give a second chance.

I will remember how you taught me to play chopsticks on the piano which I never quite mastered as good as the other grandkids.

I will remember how your face lit up every time the great grandies came to visit, the littlest ones especially. You had a massive love for little babies, a trait Kel and I have inherited from you and considering between us we’ve produced 10 of your 20 great grandchildren I think we’ve done you proud in that department. You even tried to convince me that my babies just got cuter and cuter the more I had so I definitely needed a sixth! But that is one piece of advice I’m going to ignore.

More recently I will remember your eyes and the way they would open wide and sparkle every time you said “I love you”, even in your final breathless days. I will remember that I loved you fiercely in return, I have loved you all my life.

So today we say goodbye and we love you Nana. Don’t give Pop too much curry up there for getting there first, let him read his paper in peace and once you finish squeezing Jeremy in your biggest Nana-hugs give him another one from all of us. We miss him.

We hope Heaven is ready for you, our bright beautiful spark, Nana xxx

Tissues and Stars

I watched a movie called “The Fault in our Stars” today yesterday a few days ago (ok so it took me awhile to finish writing this blog) and it was…. Wow… Just wow! This movie is as beautiful as it is touching. It’s about life, young love, young death and cancer. But its even more then that it’s also about leaving behind memories or a scar as Augustus says. It’s about being important and deeply loved by someone. Oh and by the way cancer totally sucks balls right?!

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I have had this movie since it came out on DVD but I had been putting off watching it. Why? Well for lots of reasons – the same reasons why I couldn’t finish the book I suppose. Because not finishing the book meant the story didn’t end and I knew it wouldn’t end the way I like fairytales novels to end – with ‘and they lived happily ever after’. I knew the ending would be death. I knew cancer would win. I knew it would bring up my heartbreak over my brothers own cancer battle, a life lost. The things he missed out on having and experiencing. But he left a scar … on me, on many.

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If you haven’t watched this movie I suggest you grab a box of tissues and watch it. It is not a deeply depressing movie where you will finish watching it and want to go drown your sorrows in a bottle of Jacks it is instead, heart warming and lovely. It will leave you feeling grateful for healthy lungs and it’ll make you want to hug your kids and be present with each conversation you have with people who are important in your life. It will make you want to say the things you don’t say often enough, things usually left to an eulogy. Are you brave enough to say those things out loud, to the people who need to hear it? It’ll put things into perspective and remind you how precious life is. And even though I still haven’t found out the meaning of life – or my role in this movie of Life – I do feel all warm and squooshy on the inside because after watching this movie because I realise that I don’t have to change the world to be important. So pressures off.. Phew…

tfios13

One love
DRK xxx

Saying Goodbye Every Year

Jeremy

It happens at this time every year. Every time without fail and without me even realising it is happening. Well that was until last year in the midst of all these crazy feelings of despair I finally realised why I get like this, why I cry and feel sad know matter what my day brings. So this year as the tears began to roll and after a brief moment of thinking ‘what the hell is wrong with?‘ I quickly remembered. I now know why.

This realisation makes it easier to accept the tears and with acceptance I am being kinder to myself during this process then I have in previous years. This is the week of my life that my sub-conscious goes back to his final week here. The last week that I had the opportunity to spend time with him. The last week to show him I cared and to nurture him. The last week and last chance I had to have told him I loved him. But I never did. I never said it out loud, just over and over in my head a thousand times. I was too scared to say it, my voice wouldn’t own it. I was scared to say it out loud because saying I love you was like telling him that this was it. His life was ending, it was over and I was giving up on him.

So as the tears roll now and my heart hurts, this time I know why. I know that it is the distant memory, the unforgettable pain and the sadness that we had to say goodbye that is making me cry.

I also know that I am ok. I am not sad to get sympathy from others. I am not sad because I think I am the only one to have dealt with death. My sadness isn’t forced or unnatural it just is. I am sad because I miss him. I am sad because this time will always be the last few days of his life – no matter how many years pass.

I feel sad without realising until I remember.

Today and in the days leading to the anniversary of the last time I saw him, through the tears, I try to focus on happy memories and not on the last image of his face. I like to remember his positive attitude towards life and towards his fight with cancer. I remember the mark he left on this world and I remember that even though I am sad I am also very blessed. Blessed to have been his sister, to have known him and to have him watching over us as I continue to live my life – something I felt guilty about for such a long time but try to no longer dwell on.

So as his anniversary draws near and maybe it’s his presence I can feel more during this time I just wanted to acknowledge him. To acknowledge the feelings, the journey and the ride of missing someone. And I do. I miss him and the future he should of had with us.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understandings with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints in our heart, and we are never ever the same” ~ Chicken Soup for the Soul

One Love,

DRK xxx

This is a short story below is from two peoples points of view that I wrote not long after my brother passed away. It’s not the true story of Jeremy or his relationship with my Mum but just some words that I wrote for them both, with the hope and intention that the end part is true.

Ivory Tower

14 April

For the fourth time that morning I have my head down the toilet. There is nothing left to come up but my body doesn’t seem to know that. I’m so drained of all energy but I’ve made a promise to beat this thing, again. They haven’t given me a time frame, which is good, right?

“You alright?” asks my concerned mother. She looks tired too but she smiles at me and gently touches my back.

“Yeah, just great.” I reply sarcastically. I don’t mean to sound so harsh but sometimes it just comes out that way. I guess deep down I know she is the only person who will put up with me. The only one who will never leave, no matter how I treat her or how hard things become. Mothers have that special role, sometimes a gift but in this case, for her, a curse. Sadly I only ever tell her how much she means to me in cards on Mother’s day and her birthday. That’s just twice a year but I hope she knows that’s how I feel towards her every day.

“You alright?” I ask with concern for my only child, Andrew. I force a smile on my face as he turns his head away from the toilet bowl to look at me.

“Yeah, just great.” He looks drained and I forgive his harsh tone. I touch him gently on the back to acknowledge his suffering. I appreciate that we, as human beings, usually take our anger out on the ones we love the most. So I guess he loves me lots.

I help him to stand and I look him in the eye. We connect and I have the urge to tell him that everything is going to be all right but deep down I know it’s not. So instead I help him walk to his bed in which he has laid for weeks now as the cancer has a deeper and much more powerful control of his body but not his will to live.

“Can I get you anything? Should I make you some lunch?” I’m fussing with his sheets and I know he hates that but I just don’t know what else I can do to help him. I want to take care of him, I want to save him from the disease that is eating away at his life, and all I can do for him is cook his meals – which he can hardly stand to eat; wipe his chin after he violently vomits, sometimes for hours at a time, and fluff his pillows to stop his neck from becoming stiff, just another ache to his pained body.

“No.” He abruptly replies.

“OK. I’ll leave you be. Just call out if you change your mind.” I know he won’t. He’s stubborn like that. I sigh heavily and walk out. I turn as I reach his doorway to take a glimpse of my boy, so fragile and weak. Not the healthy 20 year old that he should be. What was it that I did wrong? He doesn’t deserve to suffer like this. He sees me looking at him and he turns his back to me. I want to tell him I love him but I’m scared that if I do that will mean this is the end.

I’m not hungry why doesn’t she understand that? No matter what food I eat my body will not heal. I am riddled with a disease that her love cannot cure, my will to live cannot beat and I hate it. I can see her in the corner of my eye standing in the doorway, looking at me with sadness and pain. I am ashamed that it is me that causes her this despair. I turn away from her so she cannot see the tears that well within my eyes. I am crying for her. I want to tell her I love her but I’m scared that if I do she’ll think I’m giving up.

28 April

I can’t walk or talk as the cancer has control of me. The pain in her eyes I can see and I don’t want to leave her so sad. How do I tell her I love her now that I cannot speak? How can she know that I am ok and I will meet her again someday? How can I tell her that the pain she feels is within me too because I am going to miss her so damn much? She’s taking me to the hospital today and I know my days are coming to an end. I am so scared of the sorrow I am leaving behind.

30 April

“We’ll just give him some morphine to ease his pain.” The nurse gently speaks to me. I nod my head although I want to scream and shout at them all to go away, to not touch my son, to help him, to bring him some life and not make him lifeless. I am at his beside as I have been for days. He no longer talks, he cannot get out of bed, and he is motionless. His breathing is shallow and I hang on to every breath he takes. I’m so scared that at any moment he will stop. I stroke his arm and I whisper over and over
again how much I love him. Please God let him hear me.

I feel so peaceful and safe. I can feel her stroking my arm and hear her soft and desperate cries. I can feel her silken tears touch my skin as she leans in to me whispering that she loves me over and over again. I feel lightness within and around me. I open my eyes to see what the warm glow is and it’s a beautiful ivory tower shining happiness and peace. I am going to be happy here, I think to myself. I will wait here for you to come and be with me. I’ll be at the top, I want to tell her. I look down at my mother with tears in her eyes and I whisper into her ear.

I cannot stop touching his skin. I want to warm him up and I am fussing over his sheets. I touch his head softly and I feel a lightness descend upon the room. I look up as he takes his last breath and in the silence of my pain I am sure I hear him say…

“I love you too.”

Cristy

Copyright 2004

When the World Keeps Spinning

Nothing stops for pain. Nothing stops for sadness. Know matter how deep and uncontrollable the grief you feel is the world keeps spinning, it keeps on turning, everyone else keeps on living. Faces keep smiling, there are bills to be paid, jobs to do, there is still the untouched laughter of friends around you and continued celebrations which can seem insignificant. And while in this state of grief all of that seems unfair. In fact, sometimes it hurts more. People around you continue on. They support you but they don’t understand who you are right now. They don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to make the pain you feel go away just to have the old you back. And it feels unfair. Its unfair to them. Its unfair to you.

When people die grief is left with us earth bound survivors. When they leave this earth they are free. They are still with us so they do not hurt the way we do and our grief really, really fucken hurts. It cuts deeper than any physical pain you have ever experienced and from that insane pain you become profoundly empathetic towards others. It makes you more sensitive in a much stronger way. It makes you understand those people who still grieve 20 years on for their loved one. 20 years – such a long time and people think you get over it – totally and wholly. But that expectation of seeing their face, of hearing their voice, of remembering their laugh or the desire to know who they would have been now or to have them wrap you up in a hug never, ever goes away. No, not ever.

Grief feels insurmountable at times and even as the pain of the loss lessens, the loss of their physical presence doesn’t. There is always a vacant spot in the room even if all the chairs are filled. There is always the glance at the door as it opens with a split second thought that it is them. There’s always a conversation when their name comes up and just momentarily you talk about them in present tense.  But when the sadness rolls through you again, and it does regardless of the time that has passed, you do become stronger to deal with it. Stronger for having known them. Stronger from the lessons you learnt from their living and their passing. Stronger because that is the only way to keep on going.

What I have learnt is time here is just that … Time. It is short and in time we all will be reunited. Time is all that this is. Time to cry, to feel pissed off, to grow stronger, to heal, to accept, to move on. Time to grow, to live, to learn, to reach out, to be filled with gratitude for the time you had together. Time to love and forgive yourself for those moments in time with them you can’t get back. Time you took for granted… But time is ours right now, time to not take for granted with those still here with us. And during this time I am with you. I am holding you hand in a way only others who feel this way can.

Sending all my love to the beautiful women in my life who have lost loved ones, there are many of you, unfortunately, and love and gratitude to those from my life that I miss.

One Love

DRK xxx