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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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…





Create a memory for someone

13 02 2012

Street Parade - York St, Albany, Western Australia. Photo: E. Morrison.

Photo albums full of pictures, telling stories of adventure.
Men with long side-burns and ruffled shirts. Women in long gowns and gloves.
Moments in time captured in candid colour.
People, places and parties here and overseas.
Photos of children holding fish, running races and homemade costumes.
Weddings, babies, cakes and candles.
All moments in time, all telling a story, all important enough to keep.
You documented your family’s life in pictures unposed.  
So many albums of memories for all of us left here – but so few of the one behind the lens.

I know I’m preaching to the converted here – most of you reading this will be keeping a blog of some description. But how many people know our personal story? How many of us tell our story? What will be told when we’re no longer here? For a time, some of those around us will have fond memories to talk about but what about the future?

I’ve been looking at my family tree lately, trying to piece together scant information for a particular branch that moved to New Zealand. Some relatives are literally just a name on the Census or birth certificate. There is no story. With more work I can find a marriage certificate or death certificate, but in some cases, that’s it. A great uncle moved from England to New Zealand with his wife in 1921 and he died in 1974. A life was lived but there are so many gaps, so many blank sections that make me wonder.

I’ve also been cataloging photos for our family. There are so many albums full of polaroids and insta-matic photos, all taken by Beth. She spent so much time behind the camera, capturing candid moments to share later. It has taught me a lot about the photos I take. The ones we treasure are not posed or staged. They are not straight or well composed. They’re the quick shots that capture a person’s famous laugh, rather than the photo face we all seem to find. I must get out from behind my camera too and leave some trace of me behind.

We sit now without her and tell the stories behind the photos. There is a painful irony to the activity. Beth would have loved nothing better than sitting around the table with us, going through photos and remembering stories, telling and sharing them with love and laughter.

Are there captions to your photos? Do they tell a story? Would anyone know what captured your eye as you took that shot? Was it beauty, sadness, awe? Was it taken by chance or did you set out to find it? What does it say about you?  Where were you?

It makes me wonder – how many people really know your story, my story?  When you’re not here, even the mundane questions will be mulled over. Make a start, caption your photos and get out from behind the lens so we see you and not just the world through your eyes.

I wish we’d made time to find out more, to share time and tales together. If you want to start your story but aren’t sure how to get going, check out these Interview Questions from Ancestry.com and see how you go.

If you want to take small steps, visit my friend Cee’s blog and take part in the “Share your World” posts she runs.

Write it, post it, blog it, draw it, but do something for those who will miss you when you’re not here.  You’re much more than a name on the Census.





Hollowed by grief

2 02 2012

Street art: Aberdeen St, Perth. Western Australia.

Another day when grief sweeps in seemingly out of nowhere. I know it is a process to work through and bits will come when I am ready but I don’t feel ready. Grief halts for no one. Sorrow is not confined to the emotional realm, it has a physical sensation too. It’s an internal tender wound. People are scared to talk about it. I’m scared to feel just how deep it runs. Today I feel hollow – more than that – hollowed out. My insides have been scooped and scraped and there is a void left within. Grief’s best friend is paradox – I thought a hollow object would be lighter and more buoyant.





The Precious Pearl

30 01 2012

Pearl Lugger – Broome, North West Australia.

Pearls are precious to us my love,
they remind us that our love is strong and unique,
growing slowly and quietly,
year by year, layer by layer,
shining with a soft and pearly lustre.

Our pearls grew inside the tough shell
of an oyster that had its insides punctured.
In response to the painful wound
it grew a pearl to heal the scar.
Year by year, layer by layer,
such a beautiful and precious response.

May the pain and sorrow we all feel
in our punctured hearts
heal as a pearl,
with grace and beauty;
slowly and quietly
year by year, layer by layer.
So we will treasure, remember and speak of Mum
with a beautiful pearly lustre.








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