“You gotta be tough when life gets hard. This is when you need to be strong. It’s easy when everything’s great.”
These are the words Hubbie was telling me as I lay on the couch tonight crying.
I’ve had health issues with seemingly no end in sight. And when I say no end in sight, I mean 9 months counting.
I was having a particularly low moment tonight.
But what I did next helped insurmountably.
I talked. I spoke to Hubbie. I messaged my bestie. I messaged my sister.
I reached out. It was hard, and I was crying my eyes out as I did it, but I did it.
And it helped so, so much.
And I can say, I understand the intent of the quote “a problem shared is a problem halved.” It is. By talking about your problems with someone, the weight is lifted off of you… the issue itself moves away from you, is made a bit lesser, just by letting it out of you, and watching your words float away…
Speaking of quotes, bestie shared a great one with me.
“Before something great happens, everything falls apart.”
I feel that. I believe that. It’s just sometimes, everything gets too hard and I fall into falling apart, more than I do reminding myself that something great will come out of it.
I’m still in the first stage, but I’m waiting…
And it’s set me off to look for more quotes that will inspire me and get me out of this funk.
If you are feeling low, please:
Talk to someone.
Distract yourself with something that will make you happy, i.e. inspirational quotes.
I will not be sharing this post on facebook like I do my others. Last time I shared a difficult post I had all manner of family and friends reaching out in concern, which was wonderful… but it’s also not why I do this.
I am doing this, to find gratitude in every day, no matter how hard it is. And I know how truly hard it was for me today, because I was an inch away from giving all of this up. The gratitude, the blog, everything.
But, I held on. I am HANGING ON. And this post here, is proof of that.
Things aren’t perfect, and they can always get better. But I find myself at a point where I feel like despite everything, there is nothing else to do BUT keep going.
Keep yourself distracted with passions, personal pursuits. If some things aren’t working out, well then find what IS, and run after that at full-speed.
But also, don’t be hard on yourself. I found myself the other night nearly crying with despair to Hubbie.
“And I want to do this, and do this, and I’m trying to do this, and then I’ve got my book! Then I want to do this, AND this…”
The list goes on and on and on.
We put sooo much pressure on ourselves.
We want to create this perfect family life. But we have to also work, and make money. Maintain the house. Cook wholesome food. Clean. Wash clothes every second of every day (or so it seems). Feed people.
But also chase your dreams! Be fit, exercise. Eat mindfully. Take time out, but don’t waste a second!
Play with your kids. Give yourself me time. Take walks. Sleep in. Keep in regular contact with family, friends.
What the actual fuck am I to do with all that?
Something has GOTTA give.
I’ve been giving so, so much lately. I can only do things, and move forward in incremental steps, and it’s these tiny baby steps I’ve been taking that are making me feel like things are actually moving.
Snail place, but still moving forward.
And that leads me back to, don’t give up.
It’s so tiresome and banal, telling people to not give up. I’ve felt like telling people over the last shit year who’ve passed out that quote, to piss off and shut up.
But I find it to be true, too true. Even in super-crawl slow-mo pace, I find it to be the most factual of all things.
Keep your head up. Look at what positives you can… even if it’s the blanket on you right now. A hot drink. Sun peeking through the clouds. Someone sending you a nice message. A cute cat.
I am skilled in the art of looking for things in the smallest of spaces. I should know. It’s awfully difficult, but it can be done.
And I guess, it’s nice to be passing out this advice, instead of looking for it.
The rain started, right before the end of school bell rang.
I was already there with my umbrella, and baby girl’s. God forbid I forgot the purple unicorn umbrella with ears, oh oh oh.
I watched the rain come in fast, like sheets on an angle, getting in and behind people running through it, and even reaching people like me who thought they were safe with a nylon canopy covering their heads.
Baby girl, and the rest of the school kids emerged from their classes, bolting, and SCREAMING. They weren’t worried about the rain. They just wanted to have a good time and let everyone know it too.
Baby girl ran over to me at the low fence, throwing her bag over and doing the tricky manoeuvre she does so well and so often, as she swung her legs over it, cheating the kids who were passing normally through the school gate 50 metres away…
But only this time, she didn’t do it so well.
As she came down on the other side, she hit the unseen part of her chin against the fence.
I could tell it was a decent hit, not by looking at it, but simply by the look in her eye.
But, it was raining. We were walking fast to the car with our umbrellas, and only when we were almost there did I ask her to tilt her head up so I could see the damage.
Ouch. Blood. And a good mark.
But, I shouldn’t have told her that. 🤦♀️
There were tears. She was wiping at the cut constantly, blood always blotting onto the paper. At home I told her she must put Dettol on it… it was a wire fence after all… and she screamed, and cried, and screamed, and cried.
And I screamed, and pleaded, and screamed, and pleaded.
She touched it with her bare hands, all grotty still from school.
“No! Don’t do that! Use the Dettol!”
This went on for so long. My ears were ringing from our feverish cries. I was desperate for her to listen to me, so I could help her, while still trying to calm her nerves and assure her all would be well…
But then all of a sudden, I just broke.
I broke. I started to sob, and these felt like actual gasps of sadness escaping from my heavy heart, so terribly upset and desperate, so so desperate I was to help her, but she wouldn’t accept my help.
My heart cried, and the tears fell.
And it got her attention. Her breathing slowed, and her tears stopped falling for a moment as she looked at me, telling me it was alright.
And then she wiped a tear from the corner of my eye.
And just like that, the roles were reversed.
I don’t know why that moment has stayed with me today. To be honest the rest of the day I’ve been pretty flat and cranky.
Even though she let me dab the sore two times quickly with Dettol…
Even though I begged her to put on a band-aid, and she reluctantly agreed…
Even though it seems to be healing, and she’s now sleeping sans band-aid…
I’ve still felt heavily low and flat, and I think it has to do with my emotional outburst. Our screaming match actually traumatised me, and only a good sleep will be able to reset me, us, fully.
Today was the day that we said goodbye to our family home.
The home that my parents have lived in for 40 years.
The home that my sister spent growing up as a teenager, all the way until she got married.
The home that’s the only childhood, family home I’ve ever known… that I lived in for 25 years until I got married.
Goodbye, number 14.
It was an emotionally bittersweet day. Emotional because oh God, all of the above! So many memories are in every inch, every corner, every crevice of that house.
Through the rush to get everything out of the house this morning, I tried to pause every so often, look around, take a breath, and say a personal thanks to the house that made my years growing up, the best in the world.
Here is the emotional part.
I was reflecting on my life spent there as I walked around the empty rooms, a bit taken aback by the hollowness of it all. The furniture, furnishings, and all the photos and trinkets that made it such a loved home, were all gone.
But oh, those walls. If those walls could talk.
Those walls would speak of happiness, of laughter. Of sadness and shock, family coming together, and family celebrating to make the most out of life.
And love. SO much love.
Memories hit me as I walked into rooms, turned corners. Looked this way, that. People from the past resurfaced, along with people from the present.
In the lounge room, I saw myself sitting on the floor while my parents watched footy on the TV.
In the kitchen I saw my Mum cooking up a feast, our family sitting down to eat at the small round table, perfect for us in size, so perfect, to keep us tight and close together, as always.
In the garden I saw happiness. Friends, cousins, brimming around, enjoying a drink on a hot Summer’s day, folk music from the garage wafting over and adding to the festive atmosphere of it all.
The garage, ohhhh, the garage. Where so, so, so many parties and events were had. Birthdays. Milestones. Weddings. Day after weddings! New Years. And all of the Christmases that Mum cooked up a storm, catering for over 30 people like it was an absolute breeze, even though it wasn’t.
She made it look effortless.
Those were the days. Those were the BEST days.
The park next door. Hearing the squeals of happiness from our younger cousins as they took advantage of the play proximity.
At the front door, I saw my sister being led out in her wedding dress by my parents… then I saw myself, doing the same.
The dining room showed me all of us, our big family, as we are now. The original foursome, us, being my parents, sister and I, but now with our Hubbies and our kids, filling up the table, eating heaps, drinking more, and playing music off of youtube on the mobile until the late hours of the night.
In my bedroom. The bedroom that I spent 15 years of my life sleeping, dreaming and hoping in. I had another room for the first 10 years of my life, but I claimed this one, sister’s one, after she got married and moved out.
It’s always been the better room.
I sat in my old room. Took some photos around me. And then here, I began to cry.
I remember watching Video Hits for hours on weekend mornings.
My childhood cat scratching at my window, wanting to be let in, and then me opening the window to shoo her, upset she had woken me… but when she jumped down from the window sill outside, I thought stuff it, you’ve woken me now… and so I would call her back in (she must have thought I was a crazy bipolar cat owner) and she’d snuggle up next to me as I slept a little more.
I’d open up that window, and talk to friends through it.
I talked to SO MANY people, through it.
I listened to music for hours on my bed.
I had sleepovers in that room.
I had sleepovers in that house! On the lounge room floor, covered in blankets and sleeping bags.
When Croatia played Australia in the 2006 World Cup, Hubbie-then-boyfriend and I watched it, me running around the house with a Cro flag when Croatia scored a goal, and Hubbie running around the house with an Aussie flag when they scored a goal.
I don’t remember who won that game. All I remember is the memories.
All the people who came, and went from that house. It would be in the hundreds. Friends, family, people who I grew up with, grew apart from, so many people have touched base in that house, shared a laugh, a dance, a drink, and made a memory.
Even baby girl. It was the first place that she ever visited, after her own home.
Speaking of baby girl… My waters broke in that house! And my own Mum’s waters broke in there, when she was pregnant with me!
Both sister’s Hubbie, and my Hubbie, met my parents for the first time in THAT lounge room…
News broke. Secrets shared. Heavy discussions were had. Tears shed.
People were welcomed. People were greeted.
People came in, and immediately knew that there was love. They were safe. They were in a memorable place.
And so today, the time came. We walked through the house. We took our final photos.
And we drove off, for good.
That was seriously bitter, right?
Where is the sweet?
Well, it comes with the choice. How blessed are we that this was born of my parents decision to move closer to me and sis, and not because of a bad circumstance.
How lucky are we that we get to say goodbye, together, in the best way possible… and how lucky that we still get to take ALL the memories with us?
Including most importantly, the people.
I am so looking forward to making just as many happy memories in their new abode. 🏡🏡
But my heart will always hold a very special and dear place, for number 14.
I realised with extreme sadness this morning, as we got ready to go to my parents house, that it would be the LAST TIME EVER Hubbie went there.
I started to cry.
Oh the memories. The memories. I can’t even begin to express the breadth and depth of emotion when it comes to the memories.
In some ways, I am feeling more for my parents leaving this house, then I did for Hubbie, baby girl and I moving from our first home over 4 years ago now.
4 years, versus 40 years. There is A LOT of difference there.
I even cried when we were at the front of the house today, Hubbie filling up the car with stuff to move over to their new place. I sat on the big pillar that serves as a mailbox, remembering how I sat there with my neighbours, over 25 years earlier.
I walked up to my former friends’ houses, noticing how I hadn’t done it for decades… and knowing that it had been different for just as long.
It’s hard to remove yourself from the place where you made so many memories. It’s hard because a piece of you stays there forever.
Sure, many of the people in those memories have moved away and are gone… but I was always able to visit the my parents house, my old home, and reminisce about the way things used to be.
Today I stopped and stared a lot. Looked around my parents back yard. Their enviously luscious green back yard. So abundantly healthy and blooming in all life forms of nature. Several times I went past the pear tree, and as I lifted my head, the fruit actually bonked me on the head, hard.
I had to laugh.
I know the memories will come with me. I have been preparing for this moment for so long now. But until the day of goodbye comes, I will keep staring at that beautiful green, drilling it into my memory for all of time.
You know, 25 has always been a special number for me, being the date that Hubbie and I first got together, all those years ago.
But having been restricted within 25 kms of our home as of late, has been just an extension of the lockdown we’ve been living for months now.
Because all our friends and family are outside of those 25, the recent loosening of restrictions has been much of a muchness.
But today? Today I eagerly watched the announcement by our Premier Dan Andrews, and although it was fairly expected, given our recent brilliant track record of 0 new coronavirus cases for 9 days straight already, when he actually said those words…
That the 25kms would be LIFTED.
That the state was one again.
I unexpectedly, broke down a little.
Baby girl looked at me concerned, giving me a pat on the back.
I was working from home when an old work colleague called me.
She told me that a mutual friend of ours, our old work friend, had died.
She cried, and I said ‘Oh my God,’ repeatedly.
It wasn’t that much of a shock. In terms of, we knew she had been battling a serious illness for years now.
But she had been winning. She had been beating it, time and time again, and I really felt like her bubbly personality and upbeat attitude would actually kick its arse.
I really did. I thought she had.
I read her posts on facebook, and I also followed her journey, taking in eagerly her updates that she was getting better, she was part of the small percentage that was still alive since her original diagnosis, watching her face on the screen of my mobile, all happy and positive, the way I used to see her when we worked together.
Back in the party shop days, when we were both in uni. We’d usually work the same Friday night shift, 4pm-8pm, and she’d fill me in on her weekend plans, the clubs she would frequent, the friends she would go out with. She was so bubbly. So positive. I don’t think I ever saw her mad. EVER. Even when a sad or sore topic crossed her lips, all it did was lower her voice, make her eyes go distant for only a moment…
But then she’d be back. That happy girl we all knew.
Today on the phone, my old work friend cried. I just stared at my computer screen, my mind blank with shock. I told her I’d call her back to have a good chat… I was at work, and had to process it all. She urged me to check out the facebook page that confirmed the sad news.
We hung up, and I knew I shouldn’t have… not just because I was at work, but because my mind was already becoming a jumbled mess.
But I did. I looked up the facebook page and burst into tears.
Why? Why her? How? She was 2 years younger than me. She was 34 when she died, months ago, and we’d only found out now. My heart sobbed. I felt sad all over. I thought of her again and again, her fight, her courage, her strength…
I struggled to think of memories. They were from so long ago, over a decade now. But slowly they came back, more and more.
Her long nails that she kept immaculate, strong and healthy despite all the balloons we tied and dust we encountered.
I remembered her 21st birthday. It was in a huge hall and she had hundreds of people there. She was dating a guy she was rapt about at the time, but he ended up to be a bit of a douche. I have to say, I wasn’t surprised about him when she later told us.
But I was beyond floored to hear the news of her death today.
Why? How? How did this happen? She had a loving family. A wide circle of friends.
She was going places. She loved her job. She was motivated. Dedicated. hard-working. Fun and cheeky and hilarious.
How did this happen?
This afternoon, my thoughts went into a deep, dark place. I cried over my keyboard, and then Hubbie came home for lunch and I cried some more.
He just nodded. He understood.
I told him I was scared. “What’s the point of life… we’re all leading towards death, or heading towards watching all our loved ones die. I’m scared to love anyone.”
I struggled with these thoughts. To and fro I went, battling, thinking of her, thinking how life was scary, life was unfair… life didn’t ask you. Things happened.
Things just happened.
Nothing mattered anymore. All this coronavirus crap… seriously who cared?
We were alive! We were breathing. Hell even if I felt pain somewhere, it meant I was alive.
I was feeling. Breathing.
A few little things made me realise what was important in the second part of the day. I finished work, and instead of rushing off to do home-schooling, and start the whole routine of getting jobs done, I sat with baby girl. Watched her draw with some colouring pens she’d re-discovered.
We had our coffee break on the balcony.
I used my eyes to look at the water.
My hands to wave at the passing neighbour.
I smelt the coffee with my nose.
I felt the sunshine on my face.
I heard the wind breathing as it wrapped the warmth of Spring around us.
I was alive.
We took a walk around the block. I needed it. We looked at houses. We counted street signs. We laughed. Touched leaves. Ran.
At home, I read, on whim. I’ve been holding back, trying to not read as much in order to motivate myself to catch up on my Book Reviews for my blog… but it’s made my soul sad. My soul wants to read. I want to read.
So I read a chapter just before dinner.
Yes, if you looked at it deeply, darkly… we were all leading to inevitable death. Ours, or everyone around us.
And we didn’t know what would come first.
Bleak, yes. Not very glass half-full at all.
But we had this life to live… and to love, was to live. We had to spend our time on this earth making the most of it, enjoying the little moments, using our senses, experiencing them, and being grateful that we were granted time on this earth at all.
Doing what we wanted. What made us feel good, in our core. I realised I had really followed my heart today, because the news of our work friend passing was so upsetting, I had to do something to make myself feel better…
I am still so profoundly sad. I think of her and I feel like crying all over again. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe she’s not here anymore.
Despite everything, I spent my time doing something for me today. Something to make me smile through my sadness. Something to make me happy through my tears.
And it was made all the more meaningful tonight. Baby girl kept asking for kiss after kiss after hug after hug from us, as she lay in bed tonight. It became a joke to her, saying “one more,” every time we moved back.
I thought it was something entirely different when Hubbie announced today:
“Something’s at the door!”
I glared at him. Unfairly. Because a couple of days ago, I had told him that if any large-ish type parcel arrives, it is likely baby girl’s birthday present and we need to move it to a hiding spot pronto.
She gets excited about parcels, even if they aren’t for her… so it was of vital importance to hide it immediately.
After I finished glaring at his vocal announcement, I went to the parcel and saw…
My name, and baby girl’s name?
From my sister and fam?
Oh. Whoops.(Face palm).
Instead, it was an early birthday surprise.
It was so unexpected. It was early, but it came at the best time. I’d been feeling rather ‘blah’ about everything, so to sit down with baby girl (after apologising to Hubbie 🙃) and start going through the packages, well it lifted us right up.
Baby girl got some really cute gifts, and was absolutely rapt with his big girl make up/beauty case she got… and I received some really lovely and ‘me time’ gifts… a moisturiser, beauty bag, jewellery stand…
But the best gift of all, hands down, were the words.
The words in my sister’s card got me, good. I read it silently, and soon found the tears just flowing down my face.
Then, I was sobbing.
It hit me. Hard. I’ve known and been well aware that August was gonna be different this year. Hell I even forecast it as far ago as June, before this second lockdown…
But I didn’t know how hard, and how further isolated, we would get.
I am a party person. We are party people. We throw birthdays. We have people over. We go out. We entertain. And the only other time that I have not had a party for my birthday, was when I turned 30…
Why not, for such a big birthday, you might ask?
Well, because baby girl was born on that day. 🙂
Kinda a big reason.
This year, there is no good reason at all. I mean, corona is the reason… but it’s not a nice reason we’re missing out, is it?
Reading my sister’s sweet and heartfelt words, it just really hit me. I couldn’t contain the emotions anymore. The missing out.
The missing them.
The missing everyone.
The missing everything.
I am okay. I will be okay. And we will make up for this one way or another.
Today, I am so grateful for those words. Those words made me cry, but really, they lifted me today.
They reminded me that I can do it. I will do it.
We ALL will do it. Because there is so much happiness awaiting us on the other side…
That was the word spoken today by the Aboriginal Elder, as I ran a check on a file while working from home.
It’s amusing to me that I find myself in a similar work role, AGAIN. Checking files, watching and listening to videos…
Whereas I watched a lot of TV in my old role, in this one I’m listening a lot more. Listening to lectures, to corporate videos, and occasionally, short films and educational pieces.
Today I got one of those regional educational type videos.
Before I realised what I was seeing, hearing, and feeling, I heard a familiar name.
A familiar place.
And then realised, it was MY REGION.
Only it wasn’t my region. Nuh-uh. Nor is it yours, or anyone that lives in town.
It’s all theirs.
The Boon wurrung (Bunurong) people. Predominantly saltwater people, their territory expanded 3000 miles encompassing the Western Port, and the Peninsula on which I live, for tens of thousands of years, before European settlement happened.
Before the invasion.
I watched these softly-spoken men give their impressions of the beaches, the waters, and the bush amongst which their ancestors feet used to tread, their connection to country through land, and how they continued to pay tribute to their people and honour their roots to this day.
I read, in horror, how the Aboriginal women were stolen by European seal hunters in the special area where they went for birthing, women’s ceremony and young women’s initiation.
The area which was most sacred and unique to them, they were stolen and taken away from.
And as I got to the end, and the Elder said “enjoy her… enjoy her lands.”
I just started to cry.
I couldn’t control it.
I called Hubbie over to show him what I was working on, and what I was hearing, what I was watching…
But I was a blubbering mess.
Something, had struck a cord. I didn’t understand it, nor did I know what it was.
I was humbled by the men who spoke, who wanted to share this paradise we lived on, not take it back.
Despite all the cruelty, discrimination and slavery their people had had to endure… despite all that…
He said, ‘enjoy.’
I was so moved, I decided then and there, that I had to visit this place.
To pay my respects. To understand her beauty. To bow my head in appreciation.
I still don’t understand why I was moved as much as I was. Was it the story? The voices who spoke? The fact that it was so close to home?
Baby girl had come over and was looking at me curiously, this blubbering mess as I tried to talk through my tears.
I’m okay, I told her, I’m okay.
Mummy’s just passionate, that’s all.
As are you!
And that’s what it is. When passion hits, it makes no sense. You don’t know where it comes from. Something moves through you, and BANG.
You are changed.
So this is just my little tribute, from what I felt and learnt today. More will come…
“Come on, you have to go to bed! You’re not gonna get as much sleep as usual.”
Baby girl is bouncing on the bed tonight, full of energy.
“I am so excited!”
She is standing on her bed, and is a touch taller than me as I stand on the ground next to her, and envelope her in a big hug.
“I’m excited too!”
She leans back, eyeing me. “Can you tell me a story?”
MASSIVE stalling technique.
“No book, not now… you want me to tell you a story?”
“Well go on, sit down…” And as I sit down myself, I am realising I have the best bedtime story of all.
But, names are modified… as per usual. 😉
“Once upon a time, there was a girl called Kandi. And she had the most beautiful daughter, called Karisa.”
Baby girl gasps in happiness.
“But one day, this terrible, horrible virus, took over THE WORLD…”
I find myself getting majorly choked up.
“People can’t go anywhere. They have to stay home. They can’t go to work…”
I am trying to gather myself, but it is too late.
“…They can’t go to school.”
And I am full on sobbing. I am acutely aware of baby girl sitting there watching me, and I’m hoping like hell she isn’t going to break down herself.
“But – ” I force myself to continue. “Karisa is so amazing. Her Mum works from home, and Karisa is a trooper, she’s a superstar. She makes her own breakfast, she brushes her teeth, gets dressed, even brushes her hair some days! She does this every day.”
“She puts on the TV on her own… she does her homework. She is, the best, and her Mum is soooo proud of her.”
I am smiling at baby girl, my cheeks stained with tears.
“Is that the end?”
“No! After all of that, she goes back to school, and she has the best day, no – she has the best DAYS ahead of her ever. She is the best student, and she goes on to change the world.”