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

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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…





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 steep path of grief

23 01 2012

Bluff Knoll - Stirling Range National Park, Albany. WAustralia.

I wish you were here.  I wish you were here to help me walk this way, I’d be telling you all about this journey.  You’d be leading, making us rest, cheering us on, keeping us going.  I can’t see very far ahead today, the path is steep and uneven, just as I thought it was levelling out.  How did I get here?  I keep stopping, looking back over land that spans a lifetime, the pauses make the climb seem easier for a moment.  I can catch my breath, see where I’ve been and trace my footsteps with certainty.  I look backwards towards the horizon and see some things with a clarity never realised.  Some familiar landmarks look totally insignificant from this viewpoint – funny, I thought they were monumental.  Each step forward is uncertain and tiring but it’s physically impossible to rush.  The ground is unfamiliar and I have no idea how far I have to go until I’m ‘there’.  I have no idea where ‘there‘ is.  I wonder if I’ll recognise it.  I wonder how long it will take.  I wonder where the others are.  I wonder why I bother planning when the only certainty I have in life is this moment – this breath, this minute.  I wonder what I’m doing.  I pause to breathe deeply, sucking in the silence before turning back to the path before going on.  I try not to look to far ahead, just take one step at a time – “When walking, just walk” I hear my Zen-voice say.  I still wish you were here.





Life is a blur

19 01 2012

Blur

 
 

Time is an illusion.
Last month it crawled through
broken glass with weary sighs
so slow it doubled in size.
This week it is all a blur,
the spinning force pinning
me to the outer walls
leaving me giddy.
Looking forward, looking back.
Time is an illusion.





013 Anointing

13 01 2012

Elemental water: flowing and restorative.

Applying a handful of oil you

Nourish my skin and soul with

Open hands, warm and scented.

Imparting care and love through your

Nurturing touch and kindness of heart.

Telling me to breathe, to let go of the

Inner hurt I’ve tucked away for later when

No one is looking.

Gently helping me come back to life.

 

With thanks to Glenda today.








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