Thursday, November 27, 2014

Still Numb

It’s been a difficult week. I dropped the kids at school this morning and sat in my car and sobbed.  I miss you so much dear Amy.

People tell me that things get easier, in truth the last few days have felt harder. I can’t exactly tell you why.

In part I think it’s because I read this week that one of Amy’s friends, Sheree (from her internet circle) died earlier this week from cancer. I didn’t know her, but I know Amy did; she was 39 and had two small boys. Another life lost to this horrible disease, another little family wrecked and two more kids left without their Mum.
I think what I find hard is that I know that thousands more will die and I can’t do anything to stop it, absolutely nothing. We all go on with our daily lives while the oncology ward of every hospital is packed with young women living with this insidious disease, many many of them with young families like ours.

I’ve been blown away by people’s love over the last couple of months. So many school Mums (and Dads) offering help, friends who I didn’t really know before Amy’s death have become closer.
Aside from the emotional weight it’s been a logistical headache over the last few weeks ensuring that the kids get to school, get their teeth brushed, have food to eat and that I get to work to ensure some semblance of normality.

Some people have risen to help, whereas some who I thought would help, who I thought would be there for me and the kids have vanished. Odd.

I’ve been to a few ‘family’ things recently with the kids and we’ve laughed and joked with everyone else, but I look at the other families and realise that our family is incomplete, my best friend isn’t here to share the jokes and it just hurts like hell.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


My nephew, Daniel has discovered that there are a large number of legal graffiti walls in Canberra - the local government actually publish their location. It's a good thing - the walls are not overlooked by anyone (they're mostly storm-water ditches) and provide great canvasses for people to spray their art.

He headed down with a friend of a friend to do some 'graff" on Sunday morning and the rest of us went along to see him after a swimming trip.

He'd just wrapped up as we arrived, so Audrey and Eli got to spray their own 'tags'. Audrey chose 'A1' and Elijah 'George'.

Here's a picture of them at work.

Audrey was a bit torn afterwards as she kept telling Daniel that graffiti was bad even though she'd been a perpetrator herself.

Eli goes to work



Audrey with her silver paint can

A side to Canberra you don't often see!

Daniel's work

Yankee Hat

A few weeks ago I was introduced to Yankee Hat by our neighbour Phil who took me and the kids for a day trip there. It’s an area of the nearby Namadji National Park with a large hill that looks (unsurprisingly I guess), like a Yankee hat.

I took a day off work yesterday and allowed the kids a day off school and together with Dan (my nephew) and Anja (his girlfriend) who are visiting us in Canberra at the moment, we headed off to explore the Namadji.

The Gudgenby Valley which Yankee Hat forms part of is beautiful – rolling countryside segmented by a couple of streams and populated by hundreds or maybe thousands of kangaroos who sit and scratch themselves while watching you nonchalantly from under the shade of trees as you walk past.

Sadly since we visited a few weeks ago the flies had also multiplied and so they numbered vastly more than the kangaroos and provided a constant hum in the air and meant that you were regularly flicking them away from your face.

It’s a nice and tranquil place though. After a 3km walk in a complex of boulders is a small copse containing a small area of aboriginal paintings. Some of the paint making up the pictures have been carbon dated to 3,700 years but it is thought that some of the earlier paint there could be much older.

The Ngunnawal people are thought to have been the most prevalent in the Canberra region, but it was also a significant meeting place for other clans, including the Ngarigo, Wolgalu, Gundungurra, Yuin and Wiradjuri people. Ceremonies, trading and inter-marriages took place during gatherings.

The kids walked at their own pace (slowly) and on our return leg Dan and Anja went in a fruitless search of a waterfall which a local guide informed us was nearby. Nevertheless (and despite the flies who buzzed around us all afternoon) we had a really enjoyable time. The kids took their time over the walk but didn’t really complain about the distance or terrain. It helps that the return trip is mostly downhill.

When we got home I chatted with Eli. We’ve now been to Yankee Hat twice together and enjoyed it both times. I said that it was a shame that we never went there with his Mum (we ‘discovered’ Yankee Hat a week or two after Amy’s death).

He told me that his Mum had walked alongside us for the whole day. His words brought tears to my eyes, but thinking about it I am sure he was right.

Perspective does funny things sometimes!

Rock art

The slow walk back to the car


crazy cousins

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Flower on our Yucca

We've got (what I think is) a yucca palm in our garden. I really like it (it gives the place a tropical feel!) and it's really thrived since we chopped down two ugly pine trees which were cramping it in. It's now well over 6 metres tall

I noticed this morning that it had a beautiful flower on it. Here's a picture.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life without you

November the sixth.

The calendar this morning reminds me that it is two months since you died
I sit and stare at it and can’t comprehend
How I sat there next to your bed and you slipped away

And like that morning, once again tears stream down my face
I choose to wipe them away this time so that the kids can’t see them,
Not that I’m ashamed
Just that I don’t want my melancholy to disturb their joyful laughter.
They need to get ready and go to school.

Last week I looked back at old emails we had exchanged,
Pictures of us at Christmas past -
A photo of a bending tree, kids smiling with presents.
Our joyful life before cancer,
Before chemo wrecked your feet,
Before neuropathy swelled your arm,
Before the horror of a mastectomy and the removal of your ovaries.
Before the pain and hope and expectation           
And disappointment
Of a dozen different treatments
A life before Xeloda and Tamoxifin and all the others
You never complained, you said it “Didn’t matter”
You just wanted something to work.
Nothing really did. Turns out that it did matter. 

Christmas is going to be strange without you this year my love.
People tell me that I’m doing well.
I don’t know if that’s true,
I’m living day by day, I’m surviving.
The kids driving me on.
I tell myself it will be ok.

The noise of the children's laughing returns.
Audrey finishes the chapter from her fairy book,
Eli brings his teddy bear to the table
The toast pops up from the toaster
“You ok Dad?” Audrey asks.
I lie to her in the affirmative.
And so another day,
Another roller-coaster day begins.

I look at the children.
Their happy smiles and scraggly hair,
Their bashed up, school-yard knees.

They are the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow.

I miss you so much.