I am a huge fan of this quote, I can’t even tell you the number of times that I have bought items of clothing because they were on special and then never gone on to wear them! Or wore them once and then they were put in the back of a drawer never to be seen again.
First of all, let me say I am not a natural born event planner or cake decorator! The first couple of years on their birthdays the boys got the token chocolate cake (square, iced and a number shaped candle shoved in the middle). As they have got older I have had to get a little more creative but I have drawn the line at fondant or any other sort of fancy coloured smooth icing and instead adapted to the chocolate theme as best I can get away with.
I read another blog post today that reminded me of this one time last summer while hanging out washing.
Set the scene in your mind: It is early on a weekday morning (and I do mean early, circa 5.45am-ish before I had even taken a sip of that blissful first morning coffee). I was outside hanging out washing as the sun was coming up on a fine and still day. Out of the early dusk silence I hear the squawk of some sort of bird echo around the backyard. I look around trying to see where it is coming from but I can’t see any birds, so I carry on the task at hand.
I’m pretty excited to show off to you all what I have been working on behind the scenes for a couple of weeks now but I’m definitely nervous to publish this baby too! I really hope you guys like the new look and you can see the ‘me’ shining through, because after all that is what a blog is all about – a reflection of who you are translated into words. Those who know me can probably see ‘Haidee’ written all over this new design, right down to the not so subtle coffee theme! No joke, I get so many coffee quotes posted onto my Facebook wall a week! It is the essence that keeps me sane and everyone knows I am the biggest self proclaimed coffee addict out so I had to tie that in somewhere.
Have you ever tried having an argument with a 2 year old? It’s an act in futility, they are determined and feisty and always right. At two they know everything.
Much like husbands think they do, but we all know how that usually ends.
We have a book of animals and Finn is pretty good at naming them all – we have kitty cats, doggies, duckies, wabbits, more ducks (platypus), lion (tiger), elephants, monkeys, spiders (the fly, grasshopper, ant, moth) and the goldfish (cockroach). The actual goldfish is a fish but the cockroach is a goldfish. No matter how many times I try to reason with him over these things, he is stubbornly adamant and won’t listen to reason. He often comes running out to me proclaiming hysterically to being chased by a ‘spider’ and any worm that crosses his path is a snake and requires an immediate return indoors. I’m not sure if he is just being petulant or actually has it wired into his head that a cockroach is a goldfish but I can leave it for weeks before going back to the book and it is still a goldfish.
I touched on this in my last post, the mini man flu has struck super early in my household (if you haven’t had it yet, then it’s coming to a house near you!) but the two year old was taking it pretty well …. until last night that is. It all started with a terrible mistake on my part. The boys came and picked me up from work early given it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and I suspect by this point my husband just wanted to get out of the house. We then stopped for a few bits and pieces at the supermarket where I made the worst mistake known to mankind (in two year old land) and that was to leave the lemonade iceblocks at the supermarket. I mean, how dumb can you get right? Sick two year olds and iceblocks are a given and I left them behind. You’d think I had killed someone the way he carried on, so back in the car I hopped (I’m a sucker) and in rush hour traffic (fabulous!) I raced back down to retrieve the forgotten icy gold.
So that was fine. Iceblock crisis averted.
Yesterday I discovered something rather monumental.
There is a fate worse than a sick husband with so called ‘man flu’.
That fate is in the form of a 3 year old boy who has ‘mini man flu’. He’s not even really that bad at present, he has a mild cough and a cold and his 2 year old brother who has it ten times worse is taking it more in his stride than him. But the three year old is dying. I believe his exact words were ‘Mummy, I can’t live like this anymore *cough cough* I’m dying!‘.
I just wanted to send out a hugeand heartfelt thank you to everyone who responded with such kindness after my post on Tuesday. It was a difficult piece to write, though the words flowed pretty freely once I put fingers to keyboard. I have been getting the most beautiful responses from far and wide, from family to friends to strangers.
Many people have been asking me if I feel any kind of relief after having written it. Right now I just feel a little emotionally drained but I am sure with time the benefit of having got that off my chest will pay off and bring with it some sort of peace.
I have been trying to work out why this has started to really play on my mind lately, why 12 years later the residue of this loss is starting to come to the forefront of my mind and play havoc on my emotional wellbeing. I was talking to a friend about it recently and her response made total sense.
From the day she died I have had distractions.
First, my relationship with my now husband was literally a couple of weeks old when she died. So I had him as a distraction. Then we got engaged and I went to Europe for my big overseas holiday. Planned a wedding. Got married and bought a house. Started trying for a baby and discovered it was not that easy. Cue three years of battling infertility, an obsession of trying to get pregnant that took over my life. 3 x IVF cycles. Finally, a pregnancy! Cohen was born, new motherhood awaited. Surprise! Baby #2 was on their way when Cohen was 9 months old. Pregnancy again and another newborn.
So many distractions to keep my mind and life busy.
Now, the boys are 3 and 2. Life has settled down into a routine and my mind is quiet by not having so many huge events one on top of the other to concentrate on. So things long buried are starting to come back up. I will probably use this blog at times to write about those.
For now I will just sit quietly, reflect and see where that takes me. x
She picked me a handful of flowers today
Marguerites, pansies, some dandelions I had ferociously
attacked last autumn
but which had nevertheless survived
I looked into that expectant face
tendrils of hair falling against the wild flush of summer
in her cheeks
and knew that soon
there would be no more lovingly snatched flowers
or breathless smiles
quite like that
and so although they weren’t my kind of flowers
I put them in a vase
and kissed her
and listened to all the things she was trying to say
for childhood cannot be stilled
or put on hold until that last desperate moment
feeling it flutter its wings against us
we clutch it too tightly,
Like a bird
it will simply struggle
and fly away.
You wrote this poem about me when I was just a little girl, about the age Finley is now I imagine. You always had a way with words, with creativity and imagination being forefront to the hobbies you later developed into an art. So super talented and boy was I proud to be able to call you my mum.
I look back now and wonder if there were some divine intervention at play in my teenage years that neither of us were aware of. When all my friends were going through an ‘I don’t want to be seen dead with my mum’ stage I was looking forward to our Monday after school shopping trip and afternoon tea at McDonalds, not giving a second thought to all my friends and peers being at the same mall in groups, none of them hanging out with their mums for fun as an after school activity. We always used to share a thick shake and cheeseburgers taking it in turns to switch between your favourite, chocolate and my favourite, banana. The boys at school used to stare at us and whisper as they walked past but it wasn’t me they were looking at, it was you! I think you were quietly flattered to have so many young admirers, my to-be future husband one of them (little did I know then!). The cheeseburger tradition on a Monday is now something I share with my own son Finley on a Monday while Cohen is at kindergarten, except I have swapped the milkshake for a flat white. Perhaps the milkshake will make a reappearance in the future but for now with a three year old and two year old (and boys at that!), a strong caffeine infused coffee is more my cup of tea so to speak. These two boys are hard work! You would have loved them to pieces.
I see you in Cohen sometimes, the way he will stare into space away with the fairies imagining who knows what. Nana says that is something you used to do as a child too, lost in your own little world. Cohen is more like me and Finn is definitely his fathers son and yet opposites attract, with Cohen trailing his father around like a shadow and Finley preferring me. Perhaps in later years that will change as I realise more and more just how alike we are as I get older.
I’m 33 now which is only 7 years off the age you were when you found out you had breast cancer. I remember being in New York on 9/11 and your panic at wanting me to come home immediately. As a parent now I understand your panic, but little did I know at the time that part of the reason behind your hurry was that you had just been diagnosed and you needed me home with you. Life was never the same after that with the cancer hanging over us all like a dark cloud, even in remission.
When it came back I don’t think I ever comprehended the finality of it all.
I had loved and lost before, first with Grandad and then with Aunt Deb. But truly, who can imagine a life without their rock and best friend? I recall a friend at high school losing her mum when she was around 16 and I just couldn’t fathom at the time how she had the strength to go on.
Just 5 years later there I stood in her shoes.
I remember it all happening very quickly. One minute we were in a cafe having a lovely lunch as a family and being in denial that the cancer was back and what that meant, the next I was being called into the bosses office at work early in the morning and told to go straight to the hospital because you had been admitted after waking one night with tingling in your legs that turned into paralysis literally overnight. I spent practically every day thereafter at the hospital. To me it seems like it was months but it can’t have been, though I don’t actually remember for how long it was. I remember we used to hang out and talk about our favourite TV shows, read gossip magazines and drink coffee from the hallway coffee cart. I still didn’t comprehend it. Who can?
But you never came home again.
I don’t think even you knew or cared to admit you wouldn’t be coming home. You were still making big plans. You had giant scrapbooks at home filled with all the places you were going to go, some of them the places you had been before when you lived in London as a young, vibrant and beautiful woman full of promise and big dreams, before I came along and forced you to return home. I hope it was a decision you never came to regret, the decision to keep me and do it all on your own. Deep down I don’t think it was ever something you regretted, though it must have been an extreme change of plans for the life you had envisioned for yourself as a dreamy teenager imagining the adventures of Europe and the big impact you would have on the world with your talents. I must have altered your entire path.
Thank you for keeping me.
To this day I regret not being by your side when you passed away and from the depths of my heart, I am sorry. I just couldn’t do it. By then you were a shadow of yourself, you could barely open your eyes and my pain was too great after watching the woman I loved literally fade away to nothing. But in maturity I now see that I should have put that aside and been there the way I would want my sons by my bedside when I pass over. I can’t imagine them not being there. I was 21 and only thinking about myself as so many young people do.
I hope you can forgive me.
I loved you so much.
Grief does funny things to a person. For me it manifested itself in irrational phobias that were never something that I feared before. It zapped my confidence. It locked me in a ‘paddock’, in a comfort zone that I still struggle to this day to step outside of. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 27 because it terrified me. Flying makes my heart race and makes me feel physically ill, so I avoid it at all costs. When walking alone around the neighbourhood or with the kids I am acutely aware of dogs and I am scared a stray dog is going to attack us, however ridiculous that sounds. At one point I wouldn’t even walk out to our letterbox alone. Social situations outside my group of friends are awkward encounters. Going some place new makes me incredibly nervous. Heights. Water. So many crazy things at complete odds with who I used to be before you left. I have heard however that these things are pretty normal and I am working on it for the sake of my own sons, I do not want them to grow up to fear the world. I need to try and make those changes and step outside of my ‘paddock’. It has been long enough.
So Mum …
Happy Mother’s Day for every one of the 12 years that have since passed and the many more to come. You will always be remembered for the Shona that we knew.
Mother, daughter, sister, wife, niece and friend.
You touched so many lives and I hope you know how much you were loved as you took your last breath.
Loved in every sense of the word.
I can only hope I leave behind an imprint on people’s lives as deep as you did on ours.