Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

28 01 2013

No one has loved me as purely and unconditionally as my dogs. They were always so completely happy to see me, no matter how long I’d been away, or what mood I’d been in when I left.  We farewelled Jasper in March 2012 and sadly today, we had to say our goodbyes to our beloved Gilly.

Rest in Peace my beloved friends.

Rest in Peace my beloved friends.

Eternally missed – eternally loved.
Beauty and Elegance, Love and Devotion

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Waking up to the rat race

22 01 2013

In the months after Beth’s death, we discussed the absurdity of our lives. I can’t being to express the shockwaves that we still feel today as a result of her loss. It’s not about ‘working through it’ or getting ‘over it’, it’s just that your previous framework shatters with such a loss and you start living on a different scale, in a different realm and with a different perspective to those around you. Everything is all so familiar but life itself has changed forever.  Completely.  Utterly.  It’s like living in a parallel universe.  It makes you feel like an alien, an outsider, excluded from the world you live in, unattached, abandoned, misunderstood and strange – in comparison to those who go about their daily lives and don’t see the thick pane of glass you’re stuck behind.

In the months following, it was like we had suddenly woken up to the rat race and the trap we’d slowly become accustomed to.  We didn’t fit any more.  We’d spent years getting up, going to work, earning money to pay for a house and fill it with ‘things’ that we actually didn’t have time to enjoy because we were out early and home late, earning the money to pay for it all. When we sifted through the pieces of our lives and routines left after Beth’s death, we realised all too clearly that it was an absurd way to ‘live’ and really wasn’t living at all. We realised we’d just been existing.

Make each moment count...

Make each moment count…

It seemed so ‘normal’ to be doing that. Everyone around us was in a similar position – with a mortgage and a job that paid the bills.  It was okay enough.  We’d accepted that we’d have to work long and hard to pay off a mortgage so we could retire with a modest amount of savings that would allow us to have ‘a life’. We’d accepted that we weren’t rock stars so we weren’t going to wake up and bound out of bed to a job we absolutely loved.  We’d often talked about the places we’d go and things we’d do once we retired; like travelling, spending time on hobbies, volunteering and creative interests.  I can access my Superannuation account once I turn 65. But what if, like Beth, I don’t make it to 65? We’re working now, saving now and putting off life for some later date that might never come…  It  became all too clear and sad really – looking around and realising that if I died tonight, I really hadn’t done much with my life.  What would I leave? What would I be remembered for? What difference have I made?

It’s all a giant game of risk isn’t it? We just don’t know how long we’ll be here on earth. I might live to be 100, I might die next week. We just don’t know.  Whatever happens, I want to enjoy my days and not just plod through them in some endless ritual. That means I need to enjoy today, enjoy now because that’s all there really is.

changeWe decided to make changes in our lives. We decided to ‘downsize’ and live more simply. The stark light of grief reveals the absurdity of possessions – they really are just things. They’re not that important. Time and people and health are important.  We don’t actually need much ‘stuff’ at all.

The crazy thing is that when I was stuck in the rat race, I knew it. It’s pretty obvious really and I bet you ‘know it’ too.  But does it make you want to do something about it?  Only now does it strike me clearly and strongly enough to take action. The difference for me in knowing it, and knowing it fully is like this.  If you stand in the supermarket and remind yourself that you’re actually naked under your clothes, you know that right?  But, to know it fully means to actually stand in the supermarket naked.  Entirely different perspective isn’t it?  Well that’s where we are, and it’s a tad uncomfortable.  We’re making changes.





Feeling fragmented

10 07 2012

I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been feeling fragmented for a couple of weeks. I’m not overly emotional, not shattered, not broken – just not.quite.together. My energies are not consolidated, my body mind and spirit are at odds, I’m not cohesive or tuned. I can feel it. It comes when I take on too many things and my mind, heart, soul and body get out of synch. I need a break – time to unwind, slow down, de-clutter my mind and relax my body.

Feeling fragmented

A couple of weeks ago, I changed my name. It was a big decision and it was (and is) great, but it brought with it some grief I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve said goodbye to part of myself, part of my history and part of my old identity. My old name had a certain power to it and has not died easily.

Amongst the name change there was also the grief at not sharing that good news with Beth – it has been nearly seven months since she suddenly passed away and each month a deeper layer and level of grief washes through me. Unannounced. I like to think I’m an intelligent adult but when grief barges in uninvited, it brings great wracking sobs and I lose all sense of adulthood and feel lost and small and naked.

I know that death is final. I understand that she’s not coming back. I know there are no deals I can do or promises I can make that will change things. I know I’ll adjust and in time, her loss won’t seem as painful even though she’ll always be missed. It seems that only now am I beginning to start to realise it, only now, after seven months is that ‘knowledge’ starting to sink in. My heart betrays my logical mind though and continues to long to see her again, no matter how much I ‘know’. I know this feeling is temporary and I know there’s still a long way to go.

I think I need to sit in the ocean air for a while, gather my pieces together and breathe them back to life. To watch and listen to the rhythm of the waves, remember the pull of the deep, and how the shore line always adapts by continually changing, growing, reshaping, replenishing. It was there before me and will be there after me. There’s a comfort in sitting with an old soul and I’m overdue a visit.





Love is all that matters

1 05 2012

French Knot Garden: Melville Rose Farm, Bickley.

Love is all that matters.
Love defies time and space and can’t be confined or contained.
Look around.  Love is everywhere.
It is the power behind life, it is life itself.
It lasts forever.
You cannot begin to fathom how much you are loved by another.
And you will be astounded at how deep your love runs for someone.
Between school and life and work
and bills and debt and success
and illness and achievements:
Love is all that matters.

Perth City Graffiti –
“You’re the greatest thing in town, I wanna give all my loving to you, LOVE IS REAL, I feel it for you”





Dear Beth, I miss you.

5 04 2012


Dear Beth,
you’ve been gone for 16 weeks. 16 weeks today.
I don’t care what the date was, I’ll always know it was a Thursday. I was there when the phone rang at 5.30am, wrenching us from sleep with an instant knowing that something was wrong. No one rings at that hour. Blinking my eyes quickly I saw my beloved standing in the doorway, her face horrified, clutching her chest in disbelief, yelling at Dad. I sat up, my heart was pounding and tried to make my ears work properly. This isn’t real, I can’t be hearing right, it’s a dream, I’m having a nightmare, a night terror. I tried again to wake up, shook my head, blinked, slapped my own face. She sat on the edge of the bed pale and stunned. Dad’s words repeated through the speaker-phone, his voice reduced to a small, husky choke. You were gone.

Just like that.

We farewelled you the next Thursday in an overcrowded chapel. I keep hoping I’ll wake one Thursday and it will be different. It’s crazy-making. My mind knows you died but my heart still holds you alive. Sometimes my heart and mind argue and I’m caught in the middle.

My mind knows you’re gone. I was there when they carried your body away. We all huddled together and I said a prayer. As your body left your house I asked you to stay in our hearts. And you did. My heart still holds you alive, tricking me, replaying your voice, your laugh, causing me to take a second hopeful look at ladies lunching in town before it sinks again. Oh, that’s right…

Some days I go along fine, I talk to you and think of you or point out lovely things to you when I’m window shopping. My throat doesn’t hurt, my heart isn’t heavy and I can miss you with pure thankfulness and love, grateful for you being part of my life.
But not today.

Today is one of those days.
They come regularly, privately, suddenly.
I miss you deeply. I long to hear from you. My throat hurts and my stomach tightens. Parts of me feel like they physically peel back as tears well up from nowhere. They’re not from nowhere though. They’re from deep within, in a sacred heart space where we shared warmth and joy and love together, laughter, a knowing look, an understanding, a great respect. Now you’re gone that space echoes without you. Why do the tears start? I don’t know, they just come on at random times, as uninvited and impossible to stop as a sneeze.

I didn’t realise how much I loved you. I feel foolish now that I didn’t show you enough. I hope you recognised what I couldn’t see. Next week I’ll go to that new fabric shop I passed near the bakery and I’ll show you around. There are some really nice table runners in there I know you’ll like… Maybe I’ll buy some handkerchiefs. x x x





RIP – Our Beauty

1 03 2012

Jasper - our beloved friend and companion


Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware, of giving your heart to a dog to tear –  Rudyard Kipling

Jasper is 13, she’s doddery now and losing herself. It’s time to say goodbye. The decision does not rest lightly or come easily. It brings a sore and rising lump to my throat.

We spent some time by the river after work yesterday. It is a place we’d regularly visit when we lived much closer. She loves the grassy banks and running between us. Finding a dead fish to roll in is always a bonus in her mind. It’s our last outing with her. It seemed right to revisit this place one last time. It was so good to see her being bouncy again, even just briefly.

This afternoon she closed her eyes for the last time. It was painless but so quick. We’ve known it for a while and have wrestled and agonised over the the decision.  When do we draw the line – how far do we let her decline before we balance kindness and cruelty?  What if we get it wrong?  It is an awful place.  I wonder if she sees it in my eyes.  We’re bereft yet again.  She is one of our best and closest friends. And now she’s gone.

Here she is lounging all over our bed on her back, head twisted one way and legs another, completely content.  I’ve always been amazed how such a little dog can take up so much room.  I routinely wake up clinging to a small strip along the edge of the bed while she snores on, loudly.  I’m sure she believes it is actually her queen sized bed which she graciously allows us to share each night. I will miss her. I will miss her love, her softness, her company, her smell, her funny little ways.  Her unwavering and totally unconditional love.

She’s stolen biscuits, dug holes in the garden, chewed my written notes, eaten my watchband, been proud of finding something smelly to roll in and is ridiculously possessive of her paws.  She hides socks, eats only one of each pair of shoes and thinks she owns whatever she can see.  She has unzipped countless bags and rummaged around in the contents.  She thinks custom dental mouthguards are tasty chew toys.  She hates anyone who wears all black clothing and her favourite toy is a stuffed wombat.  She goes crazy after a bath running laps around the house almost digging up the carpet for grip.  On walks she waits until we approach someone before she stops to cough and splutter dramatically, trying to convince people we’re choking her.  She loves to have the wind in her face during a car trip, her elbow neatly cocked out of the window.  Whenever she hurts her neck she seeks me out and shows me where to rub it.  She licks her paws until we yell at her and then licks them some more.  She insists on rubbing her face on the carpet.  She stamps and sneezes with indignation if breakfast is late.  She leaves her wet nose marks along the bottom of my windows.

She is always pleased to see me when I get home and greets me like a long lost best friend: every day. She’s seen me at my worst yet never judged me.  She has no pat answers.  I trust her with all my secrets and she loves me.  She’s been there as a quiet comforter when I’ve been ill, snuggling closer she’s content to spend a day in bed with me as I recover.  She’s cleaned my face of tears when I’ve been wracked in anguish.  She’s happy just to be around me, whatever I might be doing.  She’ll follow me from room to room just to make a nest while I work.  She says very little, but her constant presence with me is more precious than any conversation.

I want to get this right, make sure we’re not keeping her too long but don’t want to rob her of life prematurely.  I don’t want her to go but I don’t want her to suffer.  Urgh – there is that lump in the throat again.  We will hold her right to the end and hold her in our hearts much longer.

Goodbye my Beauty and elegance.  I love you and will miss you desperately.

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Shattered by grief

27 02 2012

Mosaic - Stirk Park Concert Shell, Kalamunda

The experience of grief has been shattering.  Grief is sneaky.   It sometimes stalks me, creeping up and mugging me in broad daylight as bystanders quickly flee.  I can’t explain the depth of the tremor that occurred within me after Beth’s passing.  It has surprised me and I still feel broken some three months later.  Each remaining piece and part of me is being sifted over, the rubble examined for things to salvage.  New things are emerging – new routines, new relationships, new perceptions, new beliefs, new priorities.  What will I keep?

Some parts are important and will be reintegrated into this new life.  It will take time.  In a way it will remain an unfinished work unless I decide to stop growing or changing before I die.

The mosaic is a great image for this time and process.  After the objects have been broken and the pieces are carefully selected to make up a new picture in mosaic form, a new creation slowly emerges which could be quite different, more colourful and intricate than before.

The mosaic tiles are set in place carefully and held together with grout, rubbed into each joint and sponged off.  I wonder what the grout will be that holds me together, surrounds and secures each part of me.  Will it be faith, will it be love, will it be something else entirely?   I’m not up to that bit yet, I’m still sifting through the rubble and seeing what pieces are worth keeping and which bits I’ll leave behind. There is a lot to leave behind, life has changed dramatically.  Priorities have shifted.

Shopfront: Gugeri Ave, Claremont.

Here are the bits and pieces I’ve found so far that are worth keeping.  They may (or may not) resonate with you:

1. Love never dies. It is way more powerful than you think – it is a life force.

2. There is no guarantee you’ll see tomorrow.  None.  Make today a good day.

3. You are more than your job, your title, your profession. You are a loving soul.

4. Offer kindness – you have no idea what burden a person is quietly carrying.

5. Be thankful for the (seemingly) little things – they’re really the big things.

6. Love knows no rank or boundary or class, neither does pain or grief.

7. Hold ‘the future’ lightly. It doesn’t even exist. Live your life now.

8. You are going to die one day – make a Will and spare others from guessing.

I’m still sifting…








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