Friday, 30 November 2012

The power of the written word

My uncle passed away this week.

He is actually my dad's cousin, but their relationship was that of brothers, so the loss was significant for my dad.

For me, not only was it difficult to witness my dad's pain, but I found it extraordinarily hard to reconcile in my mind, that a man who has been a part of our family since before I was born, was no longer with us.

It was the second loss my family has endured this year, after the passing of my beautiful sister-in-law in April.

Cancer took them both.

But where did it take them? Perhaps the most difficult question of all.

I'm not one to contemplate my own grief publicly.

I know it helps many, but for me, it's simply too intense a feeling, too complex and too personal for me to put into words that could possibly do it justice - or do justice to the grief felt by those closest to the ones who have passed.

But I did want to share this.  A piece of writing that touched my heart, giving me a sense of comfort - or something similar.

It's amazing how words can do that.  They have the power to heal, the power to inspire, the power to explain, to give comfort, to express love and confusion and desire and fear.

They have the power to impact lives.

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed

At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again

 By Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847 – 1918 Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral

Has a piece of writing had an impact on your life? If so, and you'd like to share it, please do. 


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Fear Overrides Pain

My youngest son has a cheeky habit of spilling water out of his sippy cup.

It's annoying. Usually because it's a pain to constantly clean up water. It also creates dirty footprints.


But yesterday, the problems associated with spilt water increased somewhat.

As I picked up speed to catch up to my little monster for his nappy change, I slipped on said water, and before I knew it felt a pain so searing, it seemed as though the world around me was disappearing.

I couldn't quite tell where the pain was coming from, but I did know that I'd hit the corner of our stone bench top on the way down.

I knew my vision was fading, the room was spinning and I felt close to losing consciousness.

But I only had one thing on my mind: get to a phone.

Get to a phone before you pass out, leaving your two little boys to fend for themselves for God knows how long.

As it was I could already see terror in my eldest son's eyes and inexplicably my youngest ran straight for the Christmas tree and pulled it over, breaking a glass bauble and sending me into further panic that he was going to cut himself.

As I tried to remain composed and encourage my boys to help me find the phone (near delirious I had no idea where it was), I pulled my hand away from my head, only to find it covered in blood.

Unaware of where it was coming from, all I could think about was getting someone home for my kids.

Since becoming a mother, it's been one of my greatest fears that I might become unconscious, leaving my boys alone and scared.

But although it's been a horrifying thought, in all honesty I didn't really consider it a likely possibility.

Until now.

As it turned out, the top of my cheek bone hit the corner of the bench.  It was pierced and required stitches.

Despite my confusion I was able to get to the phone and my husband, who had only just left for work, was home quickly and we were off to the hospital.

Had I fallen two inches to ether side, I could have hit my temple, or my eye and could easily have been knocked unconscious.

My children would have had no idea what to do. We have never discussed it.

It's now a top priority to teach my boys what to do if Mummy isn't ok.  To them how to use the phone and call 000.

I read about a case recently where a little boy's mother had been knocked unconscious, he'd remembered the emergency number from watching Fireman Sam and was able to save his mother - and perhaps himself.

There's no shortage of accidents that could happen with children unsupervised.  It's a terrifying prospect.

But while I was lying in the hospital with plenty of time to think, it hit me how much the fear for my children's wellbeing over-rid the intensity of the pain I felt.

My fear for them also kept me in control of myself and the situation, not succumbing to my personal fear of what condition I was in (at that stage I had no idea from where I was bleeding and could barley see in front of me).

I feel strengthen by this, as I usually panic easily, I don't handle pain well.

Today, while I feel worse for wear, with an achey body, sore head and unwavering groggy tiredness, I feel indescribably relieved that I didn't leave my children in an extremely vulnerable position, without any knowledge of what steps to take.

So now it's time to teach them.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Each year when November rolls around and shopping centres begin adorning the ceilings with Christmas decorations, I often hear people complain.

"The decorations are up too early," they say.

"I don't even want to think about Christmas," say others.

"Not another Christmas Carol!" also a commonly heard gripe.

Yet when I see the glitter of that first piece of tinsel - I feel a surge of excitement.

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas comes to mind and my mood instantly lifts.

I look forward to hearing the repetitive sounds of Little Drummer Boy and White Christmas.

This year, I couldn’t even wait until the month’s end to put up the Christmas tree – a tradition I’ve relished since I was a little girl.  And with my two little boys now old enough to participate, I simply couldn't resist. 

I blasted Bing Crosby's carols (downloaded to my iPhone) feeling ever so blessed as I watched my the unmistakable joy on my children’s faces as the Christmas Tree lights were turned on.

I wish I could bottle that feeling, indescribable though it is.

I truly am a Christmas tragic.

Christmas has always been a huge deal for my family. My brothers and I would wake at the break of dawn, ensuring my parents did the same, so we could empty the contents of our Christmas stockings.

A tradition we couldn't bring ourselves to let go of until we moved out of home – funnily enough Santa kept on coming.

I continued to love Christmas all through my teens and beyond, almost skipping through the crowded malls as I chose presents for my friends and family.

Not much has changed.  Aside from the size of my family and the chaos of my life, which has made Christmas shopping all the more frantic.

I still enjoy watching corny Christmas movies and even admit to throwing on a pair Christmas earrings on the big day.

There's something about Christmas and the lead-up to it that fills me with happiness.  

It's about family and togetherness and celebration. The environment changes, along with the weather, and everything seems that little bit brighter.

And everyone - despite complaints of busy malls and last minute shopping - seems that little bit more joyful, with a ready smile and a Merry Christmas wish.
Have your decorations gone up yet?  Do you love or loathe the pre-Christmas rush?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

My First

Well, this is awkward.

Kind of like when you’re waiting for the first person to turn up to your party.

You’ve been ready for half an hour, a bowl of chips and a couple of beautifully prepared plates of canapés waiting, untouched and perfectly placed.

You walk back and forth to the bathroom, touch up your lipstick and sit down to listen to the clock tick.  You watch the hands move ever so slowly past the official start time.  Then you wait. 

Then when there’s finally a knock on the door, you jump up, grab a handful of chips, place a half-filled glass of wine on a coaster, take a swig and breathlessly announce that you’re STILL getting organized.

“But thanks for coming!”

So as I sit down to write the first post for my shiny new blog I wonder: do I get straight down to business, or shyly introduce myself, twirling strands of hair around my finger, while smiling at my shoes.

The latter is more typically me, hence, the rather awkward first post.

Not that there’s anything unique about awkward firsts.

First times are quite frequently the epitome of awkward.

Most of own cringe-worthy firsts were related to public speaking - not my forte, being self-conscious by nature.

During my first oral presentation at school, I read every word of my speech despite knowing it off by heart, my hands shaking furiously as I sped through each palm card at record speed.

My first live cross during my time as a television reporter was one of the most terrifying firsts I ever endured. I can’t explain why.  I’d been doing regular, pre-recorded pieces to camera for a couple of years by then.  

But something happened the moment I heard the count-down through my ear-piece, (the very fact I was wearing an ear-piece enough to make my knees shake) - the sound of the music signifying the news was about to begin sent me into a near-meltdown. 

My heart began to beat so fast I thought it would burst right out of my chest. And as I heard my cue, the words I’d so meticulously prepared escaped me. 

I spoke what felt like gibberish, seemingly without knowledge of the words I was saying, as if in slow motion, wishing the ground would swallow me whole.

It wasn’t until I watched the tape back that I realised I did in fact say something that made some sort of vague sense, and relayed the message I was supposed to be delivering.

Not all firsts are awkward though.  They’re definitely not all unpleasant.  In fact many of the most amazing experiences of my life were firsts.

The first kiss. 

Few could argue against the awesomeness of the first kiss, especially when considering the simplicity of the action compared with the intensity of feelings it evokes.

The first time I laid eyes on my children. 

Painful in the lead-up, but the most magical, memorable moments of my life.  If I could relive those experiences, I’d do it in a heart beat.  

But you can’t relive a first time. It’s simply not possible.  

Firsts can be scary too.

The first time I realized everything wasn’t always going to be ok. 

When the doctors told us the routine scan for an “uncomfortable” feeling wasn’t ‘nothing’, it was a tumour in my mother’s kidney.  The first time I would have swapped any and all of the good things in my life for her to be ok.

Firsts can play with your emotions too - in fact they often do, leaving an imprint on your heart that remains with you forever. 

The first time I experienced a relief so strong that the feelings are just as powerful in memory as they were at the time - the tumour turned out to be benign after all.

Firsts can be life-affirming too. 

As clichéd as it sounds, turning 30 marked the first time I felt truly comfortable, truly confident in myself - to be myself, trust in myself and feel strong enough not to compromise that sense of self for anything, or anyone.

Now, time to grab a couple of chips and see if anybody turns up!

What have been your most memorable first times?