She burned too bright for this world – Emily Bronte

sheburnedtoobrightly

Today would have been my daughter-in-law’s 26th birthday.

I woke up to this picture on my Facebook newsfeed and couldn’t help but think how apt it was for today.

I am having a hard time articulating my feelings about today.  Kari-Lee was in our lives for such a short time and yet she had such a large impact.  Her life and death changed people; she changed me, my husband, my friends, my youngest son and most especially, she changed my eldest son, her husband.

Not only did she change people, but she changed relationships.  The relationships I have now with people are different, some better, some worse, some neither good or bad but just different.

The impact of her life on mine and many others has left an impression that will be forever felt.  Her life and death imprinted on mine in a devastating and lasting way.  Nothing looks the same, nothing feels the same and nothing will ever be the same.

We all know that death is inevitable, it is the one thing that we are all going to experience, but the way we die, what we leave behind, the impact and influence we have in our death, I think that says more about us than anything else.  It makes me wonder about my own mortality and what, if any, impact my death will have.  I don’t want to go quietly.  I don’t want to slip away into the abyss without notice.  I want to have imprinted on others so that when I die, people around me are changed.

The greatest tragedy is a death that leaves no trace of having lived at all.

Life is hard; it is horrible and wonderful and terrifying and exhilarating and hurtful and kind, but above all it is messy and if it’s not messy, then I don’t think you are doing it right.  Why live a life that never challenges?

A life without challenge is a life without triumph.

And as much as the last eight months have been the most painful and the most horrible, I know I wouldn’t have changed having Kari in my life.  I know my son would not have changed having her in his life either.

Don’t be afraid to live large so that you can avoid the pain, don’t be afraid to love large so that you can avoid being hurt.

So, I raise my glass to Kari-Lee and I thank her for what she brought into our lives and what she left behind.  She burned hot and fast and her life and death left large footprints in my life and across my heart and for that I am truly grateful.

Find Your Wild

findyourwild

Image credit: The Fresh Exchange

I had a little revelation the other day…

She stood and looked at the painting on the wall in front of her and she felt a tearing. Her reality blurred and split into two, like there were two people inside her; the woman she had become and the woman she had thought she would become.  The two looked at each other, comparing, knowing that they were separate, they were different.
Their two journeys were superimposed over each other and she could see where the differences were, the choices made without thought of the consequences that had taken her on a different route to the one that she had thought she would take.  Inconsequential choices, unconscious choices, choices that at the time were not harbingers of change, they were simply decisions made without thinking about the long term.
She thought of her husband and her children and knew that she did not regret those choices and would not give up either to become that other person, but the question niggled at her…why couldn’t she have both?
Surely there was a way for her to be the woman that she wanted to be and have the life that she now had.  Surely it didn’t have to be either or.  She looked deep within herself and wondered at what the fundamental differences were.  If she was happy with part of her life, surely she could be happy with all of it.  Couldn’t she have the essence of the other woman, but still have her husband, her children? What would that look like? What would that feel like?
She realised that she had been keeping that other part of herself prisoner.  Stuffing her voice down, ignoring the pull of her desires because she didn’t think she was that person anymore, but she was, just with a few coats of paint over her. The wild, spontaneous, exciting side of her was still there, she had just been bound and gagged by the choices she had made along the way.  Now she questioned everything.  She questioned those decisions to walk away from the desires that had lit passion within her.  The woman she had become was but a dried up husk to the what she could be.
Shaking her head she admonished herself for thinking that she could be any different than she was.  Her youth was behind her and she was looking at the rest of her life as a grown up.  It was too late to make the changes, too late to turn around.  This was nothing more than a midlife crisis.
She turned from the painting and moved on, it was just a pipe dream to think that she could have both.  This was her reality and it had been nice to dream, nice to think that maybe she could recapture some of that person that she used to be before responsibilities and grownupedness had interfered.  This was life, this was being an adult.  The rest…the rest was nothing but fancy.

This was me standing in the Queensland Art Gallery realising that I had grown up and I was not the person I thought I was going to grow up to be.  There are lots of reasons why I turned out the way I did and I have no one to blame but myself.  I was not confident enough in myself, did not love myself enough, did not believe in myself enough to stay true to who I was.  I am not saying that all of my decisions were wrong, I have actually made some very good choices along the way and marrying my husband was the best one, what I am saying is that there are choices I made about the person I was becoming that I got wrong.
I believe in personal growth and change, in fact I am an advocate for it.  I firmly believe that every experience we live changes us and it is up to us how it changes us.  Where I believe I went wrong was by thinking that the essence of who I was wasn’t good enough.  Over the last fifteen years or so I have endeavoured to change my intrinsic essence to be more acceptable to the people around me.  This isn’t personal growth.
Now I am left looking back and wishing I had been able to identify the parts of me that I should have never tried to change, the parts of me that make me me.  My authentic self.
Do I think there were things that I needed to change?  Absolutely.  We all have a selfish part of us that we need to curb.  We can’t go around hurting others or demanding our way in everything.  I wasn’t a very nice person, I was selfish, manipulative and carried a huge chip on my shoulder.  These things needed to be cut away from my life.
Unfortunately I was a little too enthusiastic with my pruning shears and cut away the wild, spontaneous, creative side of me.  I became the one thing I had always promised myself I wouldn’t be – average.  I strove to become conservative, to fit in the square hole, to not make waves, to be acceptable.  I became Beige when I was really Hot Pink.
For a lot of my life I saw myself as a catalyst…I was the proverbial spanner in the works.  I thrived on change, loved it, but too many people around me don’t and I wanted to fit in.  I thought who I was, was wrong, but what I didn’t understand was that diversity is important in community.  I was created the way I was for a reason, the essence that made me who I was, was created for a purpose.
I wish I could go back to my sixteen year old self and tell her not to lose that spark, to keep being Hot Pink even when others try to make her Beige.  But maybe it’s not too late for me, maybe it’s not just a fancy, maybe I can still find my wild.