Well, doesn’t time fly?
Waitangi Day, known affectionately in our house as ‘Rowtangi Day’, is looming. This year the dawning of this day heralds Rowan Cai Parker’s twenty-first birthday! On that auspicious day back in 1996 our family had decided to go to Wanaka for a picnic only to be thwarted by Rowan’s determination to grab Waitangi Day as his own personal holiday. Francis, his older brother, is highly unlikely ever to forgive him for his mistimed arrival!
Twenty-one. Wow! He is all grown up. I am pretty sure he was pretty much all grown up when he came into the world. I remember looking into his eyes when he had got to the stage when he could focus and feeling mesmerised. He held my gaze with an intent curiosity and I now recognise that I was looking at a very old soul. I think he was summing me up.
Milestones come and go, and as a bereaved parent, you always ask yourself two salient questions as anniversaries arrive, “I wonder what he would be doing now”, and “I wonder what he would look like now”. You imagine the scrapbook that you might have put together for him and the power-point created to embarrass him at his party! You think of the inevitable speech that his older brother Francis would have subjected him to with much humour and not a little revenge.
The story of the duck attack on the beach at Lake Wanaka would be told again, much to his chagrin! I won’t elaborate here due to my absolute belief that he would make my life a complete misery if I did!
A friend of his whom he met on The Spirit of Adventure contacted me the other day. This was a friend whom I hadn’t had contact with before. She sent me a message saying
This may be a little out of the blue but I was on Spirit of Adventure with your son Rowan and became friends with him there. He talked lots about Owaka and I’m here visiting currently and thought I would go and see his grave in the Owaka cemetery but didn’t see it and was just wondering if I perhaps missed it or if he was laid to rest in another spot.”
I didn’t see this message until she had left Owaka which was very sad. I love catching up with friends of Rowie’s and listening to their stories about him. I explained to her that we keep his ashes still on the piano in the lounge. She replied saying
“No worries, I should have got your number off Liv and called! I’m in Moeraki now flying out tomorrow, but I went to the school and saw the lovely memorial there, it was really nice. Rowan told me all about Owaka on the ship so it was nice to visit. Piano is a lovely spot, it would have been great to meet you, if I am ever down in Owaka again I will have to get in touch. I hope this message finds you well.”
She then sent me a photograph of one of the stones with its plaque at the school and pointed me in the right direction to find other photographs of him that I hadn’t seen before. These exciting little occurrences that happen along the way during our journey make it all the more bearable. We have great pleasure every time someone new introduces themselves to us as a friend of Rowans.
When you don’t hear anything from anyone for a while you start dreading the fact that he might be forgotten one day and that is a really scary thought. I would hate for him to be forgotten. Perhaps that is part of my need to continue these blogs; to bring him closer to me in these moments.
I was advised to start writing about Rowie in the August following his death. Jodie felt it would be therapeutic for me. She also thought that my writing might help other people going through a similar loss. I find that writing about him also helps keep him alive for me. I see him, feel him, hear him when I am writing. I find myself listening for responses from him when I think a thought or ask a question. These responses are real. For a period of time I didn’t trust them – I didn’t trust my interpretation of them – but four years on I am aware of what is real and what isn’t.
I went to a Kelvin Cruickshank workshop way back in 2013. He was the first person to tell me that Spirit are absolutely aware of you talking to them and that they do respond. He told us how to recognise a response to a question posed to Spirit. He said ‘you ask the question and will receive an immediate response from Spirit’. ‘The response is so quick that you haven’t time to dream it up yourself!’ I didn’t truly understand this until, further down the track, I threw out a casual question to Rowie as I was driving along in the car and I was blown over by a speedy, humorous response that came right back at me – a response that I couldn’t possibly have dreamed up myself! I burst out laughing because I was immediately aware of where it had originated!
Jodie and I were emailing each other last week and she let slip that Rowie still pops to see her every three months or so. This delighted me. I just love to hear that he is interested enough to keep popping back – even though his life on the other side must be amazing and exciting and extremely busy! I decided at that point to write Rowie a letter for his birthday this year; a letter from my heart that he can read at his leisure.