Time Does Not Equal Distance

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We used to measure it in minutes and then hours.

We counted the days, the weeks and then the months since you’ve been gone.

Now we count the years.

Two years to be exact.

They say that the passing of time gives you distance, but thoughts of you are never far away.

Time may heal, but we’ll never forget.

Never forget those few precious moments we had with you, and they are just moments.

Too brief, the time we got to share with you.

The days seem long now, although they are still the same amount of time.

Those brief minutes when we thought you’d be with us forever seem so much shorter now, compared to the time without you in it.

Now you are in eternity, but you are never far from our hearts.

Time does not equal distance.

You will always be with us, no matter how much time passes.

Hearts and minds, thoughts and love.

You still reside with us and always will.

It doesn’t stop us missing you.

Two years.

Time does not equal distance.

 

Failing Forward

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This week marks the end of a seven year journey that my husband and I have been on.  On Friday of this week, we will be closing down our business, a business that we have poured our blood, sweat and tears into.  We didn’t come to this decision lightly.  Closing our business effects more than just us, it effects our kids, our staff, our suppliers and our customers.  We held on for as long as we could, but the fact is, we just couldn’t do it anymore.

The last two years of our lives has been harrowing.  If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know that I have been suffering from anxiety, depression and grief.  These take a toll on a person, physically and mentally.  I had a breakdown a few weeks ago and was housebound for two weeks and I walked a very fine line between giving in to it and fighting back.

Fighting is hard and I’m tired.  There were only three things that kept me from giving up; my husband and my two children.  They kept me tethered to this world when all I wanted to do was disappear into the ether.  I can’t see beyond the bleakness that consumes me, but they can, and I hold onto them in the hopes that their belief in a brighter future is what will get me through.

There are so many negative emotions associated with closing a business and for someone like me, who has way too many negative emotions to start with, dealing with this failure is like stepping on a landmine.  My whole world is about to explode and I don’t know what will be left in the aftermath.

One of the hardest things to cope with is the fact that I know that I am about to become fodder for gossip.  I have lived my entire life feeling the judgement of others, never measuring up to what those around me thought I should be and now I am proving them all right.  The fact that these people, so-called friends and family, will look at us and judge us and then use our story to titillate the ears of others, hurts, but what can you do?  People love a tragedy and my life has become very like a Shakespearean tragedy.

Nobody ever goes into business thinking they will fail.  This was not our first business, not the first time we failed, but this is probably the hardest.  We survived for seven years, sure we made some mistakes along the way, but seven years is a pretty good batting average for a small business.  I know that we’ve done everything we can and now it is time to let go.  It’s the letting go that is the hardest.

How do you let go of something that you have lived and breathed for seven years?  How do you get up in the morning knowing that there is nowhere to go, not even a reason to wake up?  They tell me that my stress levels will go down and my health will improve.  They give me reasons why this is a good thing, why this is a positive move, why I will be better off when everything is finalised.  I want to believe them, but right now, I can barely see the world beyond Friday.

I don’t want this to be the end of my story, and I suppose that is a good thing.  It means that I, at least, have a tiny ray of hope that I can go on.  I want to rise from the ashes, like a phoenix.  The legend of the phoenix states that the bird that rises from the ashes is more beautiful than the one before.  I want that.  I want to be able to rise out of this mess and be better, stronger, happier, healthier.  Isn’t that what is meant by failing forward?

Maybe in a month’s time I will look back and know that, although it was hard, we did the absolute right thing.  Maybe I won’t even recognise myself as the same woman who sat here and penned these words.  Maybe I will have found a new dream.

Or maybe it will take longer than a month.  The point is that it is in the rising after a fall that determines the future.  I may not feel the strength to rise right now, but I know I will.  One day.  One day in the future I will feel strong enough to lift my head and look to the horizon and dream of what the future holds.

I look forward to that day.

A Grief Observed

I have just finished reading ‘A Grief Observed’ by C.S. Lewis and found my very own thoughts and emotions written there.  Things that I was too afraid to articulate for fear of being judged were put down in black and white by a man who has long been held in high esteem.  His unflinching look at his own grief after the loss of his wife has prompted me to take a look at my own.

Up until recently I believed that grief was something that happened to me.  I have since been disabused of this notion and have been informed that grief is, in fact, something we need to actively participate in.  This was a revelation and has meant that I have now been setting aside time to look at my grief, examine it, delve into it and understand it.

Writing has certainly helped me make sense of the emotions I feel and acknowledging that I have to take part in this grief rather than let it happen to me has opened an unexpected door.  This was reflected in C.S. Lewis’ own writings when he says “It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier…You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears” (A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis).

I have thus far felt that I had to wrap myself in a cloak of mourning to truly honour the memory of Kari-Lee, but what I have found is that when my heart is lighter, when my mourning is less, my memories of her are clearer and my honouring of her memory is more authentic. “…passionate grief does not link us with the dead but cuts us off from them.” (A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis) It is as though when we try to hold too tight, we actually lose our grip and it becomes more about us than about those that we mourn.

But I don’t say this to discount times of mourning and sorrow, for they too are needed.  We need to allow ourselves the time to feel what we feel, to let our bodies process the emotions that such a loss initiates, but we cannot live in those moments for the rest of our lives.  And it is tempting to believe that we can never be truly happy again because of our loss, but how does that honour the ones who have gone?

“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous.  To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing, after he’s had his leg off is quite another…He has ‘got over it’.  But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man.” (A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis)

I think this passage sums it all up quite nicely.  Life does go on but we are forever changed.  That doesn’t mean that we can never be happy, just that we are different and that our happiness will also be different.  We can’t be afraid of our future, of perhaps finding ourselves happy or laughing and then thinking that we have somehow dishonoured our loved one.

“At present I am learning to get about on crutches.  perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg.  But I shall never be a biped again.”

There is so much more in the short book and, although I know others haven’t, I have gotten a lot out of it.  The raw honesty of his writings has helped me face the rawness of my own and to face them unashamedly.

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Shattered

Life, fracturing into a million tiny pieces.  Hold on to them, don’t let the go.  But they are torn from my bloody fingers, torn away with force.  I try to grab, try to keep them close, but the pull is too strong and they are gone.

Months of heartache and pain.  Every part of part of me breaking.  Every part of my family fracturing.  As hard as I try, as determined as I am to make it right, the cracks continue to form.  The pieces continue to break away.

I feel so helpless and at times hopeless.  There seems to be no solutions, only more problems.  There is no firm ground to stand on, nothing to anchor a lifeline to and a voice in my head saying, “All is lost.  All is lost.”

Empty platitudes and sympathetic smiles do nothing to relieve the very real pressures of the life I find myself trapped in.  The world marches on, unconcerned, unhindered, unknowing of my plight.  The black dog bays unrelentingly.

Where is the light?  Where is the relief?  Where is the dawn of reprieve?  There is none, there is nothing, just darkness and a void swallowing my life, swallowing my joy, swallowing me.

The night is full of terrors.  Attacks come from those closest.  The vultures circle, sensing death.  Their hungry eyes watching, waiting, claws at the ready to rip and tear.

I want the nightmare to end.  I want the pain to abate.  I want the pieces back together, whole again.  But how can you repair something so utterly destroyed?  How can it ever be put to rights?

Nothing will be the same.  The cracks will remain, the pieces missing.  The gaping holes will testify to our loss and our forever broken lives.  All is lost.  All is lost.

There’s this boy…

tomsportcarnival“There’s this boy and he has stolen my heart…he is my son.”

I love this quote.  Both of my boys have stolen my heart, but today my mind is on my eldest.  It is his 22nd birthday today and, as always, it is a time of reflection for me.

I fell pregnant young.  I was 19 and had been married for only a two months when I found out that I was expecting.  We had wanted to start a family earlier…we hadn’t quite bargained on it being quite that early.

What followed was six months of…hell. Please, if you are pregnant or planning on falling pregnant soon, don’t read the next paragraph, mine is not a pretty story and I would hate to scar you.

I suffered from horrific morning sickness.  I had to give up work, I couldn’t even walk past the kitchen without dry heaving and I was generally a miserable sap.  This blew away all my fantasies of pregnancy.  I had wanted to have a baby so bad that we didn’t wait the usual two years after getting married (well that was what all our friends were doing at the time).  I had delusions of being this amazingly tranquil earth mother who glowed with burgeoning life. Nup.  Didn’t happen.  I was sick from the get go and it didn’t get better as the pregnancy progressed.  I had a brief reprieve where the constant nausea abated, but it wasn’t long before I was plagued with swollen ankles, high blood pressure, leaking amniotic fluid and proteinuria.  Tranquil earth mother I was not.tom1

To top it all off, four weeks before my due date they thought I had appendicitis which resulted in a week’s stay in hospital.  I was finally released with no firm diagnosis and that very night, I went into labour…three weeks early.  And that was no walk in the park either.  Twenty four hours of hard labour with nothing more than nitrous oxide for pain relief.  When my little bundle of joy was finally laid in my arms, I noticed that he didn’t seem to be breathing right which led to him being whipped out of my arms and placed in the special care nursery overnight.

Needless to say, our first moment as mother and son were less than ideal.  But I fell in love with him from the moment I knew I was pregnant.  I didn’t need to see him on an ultrasound or hold him in my arms before I knew that he had stolen my heart.

tom2This, not so tiny, boy came into our lives when we were little more than children ourselves.  I was just 20 when he was born and still trying to find my way in life.  What followed was many ups and downs, post-natal depression, breast feeding issues and early marriage growing pains – each one on their own enough to slow a person down, but all three together…let’s just say it was a tough road.

Despite all this my son grew into a beautiful and sensitive boy.  He was sweet natured and a delight.  We had to monitor his television viewing because of an incident on Meerkat Manor.  We had only watched this show that one time, but he had become so attached to one of the baby meerkats that when that meerkat didn’t survive, he was traumatised.  This led to an NFT rating for some shows…Not for Tom.  We knew from that moment on that we had a sensitive soul.tom

Of course there were moments when things weren’t all sunshine and roses, but those times pale into insignificance with the benefit of time and a clear head.

Then he grew up, as children are want to do, and he became a young man with a heart of gold.  He fell in love and he got married.  We celebrated with him, our hearts full of joy that our wonderful son had found his other half.

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you will know that this story does not have a fairytale ending.  They did not live happily ever after.  My beautiful daughter in law had Cystic Fibrosis and ten months after they were married, she passed away.  That was nine months ago.  My wonderful, sensitive, tender-hearted son had to face one of the most challenging and heart wrenching moments of his life.

Tom3He could have let this pull the rug out from under his life and no one would have blamed him.  He was a widow at the tender age of twenty-one years old.  It was devastating and we are all still reeling from the effects.  But, my son has grown through it.  Instead of lying down and letting it consume him, he has let it shape him and change him for the better.  And I am so incredibly proud of him.

Yes, he is still grieving.  No, he is not the same as he was before.  But I see a strength of character in him that I don’t think he would have ever had without walking this journey.  His mettle has been forged in fire and it has become a rod of iron in him.  He is still my sensitive boy, but now that tender-heartedness is girded with strength.lovelookslike

Today he turns twenty-two years of age and he has lived through more than most of us live through in our first fifty years.  I am so incredibly proud of the man he has become and it makes my heart swell to watch him continue to grow as he makes his way through this new world he finds himself in.  He is the very definition of the quote “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”K&T-427

2015 – Make it Count

Make it Count

Happy New Year!

It is January 1, 2015 and I am doing what most people are doing…I am looking back.

I had high hopes for my 2014, there was so much potential at the beginning of the year and I decided I would grab it by the short and curlies and run with it.  We had so much to look forward to – our eldest son had just gotten married, we had two thriving businesses, our youngest son was chasing his dreams in the UK and we were looking forward to being empty-nesters and pursuing opportunities that we missed by having children so young…our life was good.  I wrote a bucket list of the things I would like to achieve in the year and I set to with gusto. But life had other ideas.

My 2014 was not the year that was promised to me in those first optimistic blushes of sunrise on New Year’s Day…my 2014 is a year that I wish had turned out so differently – from near devastating financial issues to the absolutely devastating loss of our daughter-in-law – my 2014 was not the year I thought it would be – but it was life and I lived it and as much as it was painful and horrible, I would live through it again if I had to.

I wish with all my heart that things had turned out differently.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish that Kari-Lee had not died – I would do anything and everything in my power to stop that from happening, but if I had to live last year again – without any changes to the outcomes – I would, because those precious months with her are like pearls of great price.  Her life and her death has taught me so much and forever changed me.

Last year I wrote a list of things I wanted to achieve during my 2014, twelve things in fact, and of the twelve I only achieved three, but that is ok.  It is ok because at least I tried.  We often look at life as destinations and milestones rather than looking at the journey as a whole.  Kari taught me that.  She taught me to appreciate every breath, every step, every attempt.  She lived with the knowledge that her life had an end date that was a lot sooner than most, but she didn’t let it stop her.  She took risks and never let an opportunity pass her by and she never let fear stop her from living. That is what I want to do too.

It won’t be easy.  My family and I are still in the grips of grief and we struggle daily with the hole in our lives, but I don’t want to give up on living.  I don’t want to let this next year slip by without appreciating what I have got – a chance to live – and I want to make it count.  I want to make Kari-Lee proud as she watches from her window in heaven.  I want to have a life that at the end I can say, “I did it all.”

This is a song by One Republic that we played at Kari-Lee’s funeral.  This song captures the essence of Kari’s life.  This is my theme song for the next twelve months – maybe for the rest of my life.

Broken Shards

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I expected the world to stop.

I expected the world to pause…to take a collective breath…to notice.

In that moment, right at that very moment, I expected there to be some sort of acknowledgement from the universe that you had gone.

But there was none.

We, who witnessed you stepping into heaven, knew you had left this mortal coil, knew that you had walked into eternity, knew that you had left your frail mortality behind, but there was no acknowledgement from the universe, no shudder from the world that it had lost one of it’s souls, no pause to notice that we had lost a bright light, a shining star, a gentle heart.

My heart still beats, my lungs breathe, my eyes blink…shouldn’t something have changed?  Shouldn’t there be some sort of outward appearance that part of my heart is gone?  Shouldn’t there be a mark on me to tell others that we, the world, have lost a precious soul?  Shouldn’t the world mourn?

But the world still turns.  People go about their daily lives, unaware.

I stand apart, the world a blur of movement around me, and I ask why.  Why does life go on around me?  Shouldn’t it just stop?

I feel like I am moving through honey, the world around me in hyper drive while I struggle against the resistance.  Sounds come from far away, muffled.  I am cocooned, my life seemingly out of time and space, drifting, unable to find purchase, unable to find stability and unable to care.

I expected the world to stop, just for a little while, just so I could find my feet, just so I could come to terms with living without you.

But it didn’t.

And so life goes on…without you.

And I am trying to keep up, trying to keep my head above water, trying to do what the world expects me to do while inside I am breaking.  Inside I am a mess of smashed dreams, shattered wishes and fractured hopes and every movement causes me to brush up against those broken shards and the pain is renewed, relived.

I expected the world to stop, just for a moment.  I expected the universe to pause, to make an adjustment, to prepare itself for life without you.

Because how can this world keep turning when you are not in it?