Well Rowan, six years on and the true meaning of ‘forever young’ strikes home. This saying has been playing with me for a week or two now; nudging me, teasing me. I look at your photographs almost expecting to see an older version of you! Is it true that when we cross over we all arrive there at an age of around thirty? I have read this in so many books. Our sojourns in Heaven see us all of a comparable age. This must make for highly entertaining stopovers in Heaven before we choose to reincarnate again. How I look forward to spending some time with you as two adults in paradise where you will be the teacher and I will be the student.
Christmas decorations; six years ago the house looked like Santa’s grotto! You did the most amazing job of decorating; every single piece of tinsel used, no wastage of baubles and trinkets. Even the sad and broken ones’ found their way onto the tree or into some nook or cranny. Your blue lights are still up in the dining room; looking a little shabby but still shining on us every day. We haven’t put the tree and decorations up since 2012; I kind of feel that we couldn’t do them justice – you did such an awesome job then. I feel sad for the ornaments, ribbons and garlands collected lovingly over the years. Crid and I started collecting them in 1982 when we spent our first Christmas in our first house and we have been collecting them ever since. Maybe Francis will share them with Harri down the track when we are no longer around. I am sure they will bring back fond memories for him as he searches through them for his “special” decoration – Santa playing his double base! Crid’s Robin Redbreast that sits on top of the tree (because for many years he was the only one who could reach the top) will be there too along with my little Santa that ‘hugs’ the last branch that travels to the summit! Your nest of birds is on the piano with you! We popped it there in 2012 when the decorations came down prematurely.
We are spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day with Francis and family in Pounawea and at home and you will be in our thoughts most of that time. This year Crid is not working so we will be able to spend the time together and visit your trees at school; give them the once over and decorate them with some flowers for you and tell you how much we love you and how much we miss you.
Wee Harri is excited this year. I think she has a bit of an understanding about Santa this time around……….….although she still has no desire whatsoever to spend any time with him, she is happy to let him deliver presents outside at the mailbox (no chimney descending allowed)! She was happy to sit on his chair at the grotto whilst he was away for lunch which was the closest she got to him! I am sure you spend time with her, watching her grow. She’s a credit to her parents. How I wish I could watch you doing fun things with her as I know you would have done.
Happy Christmas beautiful soul. I love you, I’m in love with you and I will love you forever.
Well, it’s been a while!
This doesn’t mean that nothing has been going on in my life – it just means that I wasn’t sure if I had anything interesting to report!
Since starting back at work I find little time to write. Book two may well be years away from completion! I find this quite sad and more than a little frustrating. I love writing. I have found this pastime very therapeutic since Rowan passed over. It also allows me to talk about him which is something that I never tire of doing.
I also love my job. The people I work with are beautiful people who have extraordinary understanding and empathy for others; others who are struggling to find their way through life. I have made some wonderful friends with people on the other side of the counter too. I see in them like-souls who are constantly battling their own demons like we battle ours and it isn’t hard to smile and offer warmth to these wonderful hearts.
Boxing Day 2017 was a milestone – five years since Rowan returned to his first home; taken from this world quickly and without any warning. As I’ve said before, at some level he knew that he wasn’t going to be with us for very long, but to those of us left behind, it was a cruel, catastrophic and appalling event that has scarred us forever. We aren’t the first parents to lose a child and we certainly won’t be the last. Our club seems to grow in number at an alarming rate. Owaka has lost so many of its young. For a small country town it has lost more than its fair share. I sometimes wonder why this is………..whether there is some ancient, historical reasoning for this or whether it is just coincidental. But, I strongly believe that there are no coincidences! Everything happens for a reason.
I would love to create some sort of spiritual retreat and holistic healing centre in The Catlins. I think that is what is needed to restore some balance. Who knows what is ahead?
Where I’m at now
When you are busy working full time it takes a lot longer to quiet your mind enough to make any inroads or forays into mindfulness.
I completed, and passed, my BSc in Metaphysical Science some nine months ago. I loved working through the degree and learned many things about myself that surprised me. I am now a fully Ordained Minister and Practitioner of the International Metaphysics Ministry; qualified to “hatch, match and despatch” as the old saying goes. As yet I am not entirely sure that I want to perform ceremonial duties as a Minister. I find the thought quite daunting but perhaps this is only because my time seems so committed already. My next step is to tackle my Master’s; this includes a 10,000 word thesis. If I could come up with a topic for this I would be on to it in a flash!
I have had some exciting times catching up with Rowan again.
I was advised that I should spend some quality time with him! I found this instruction a little confusing but, still chasing shadows, I thought I would give it a go.
I was told to set a specific time every day where I enter a private space and talk to Rowan. I set this time for six in the evening. My private space, of course, was my healing room; full of beautiful pictures, crystals and incense. I was instructed to talk to him as if he were sitting with me; I was in fact told to prepare two chairs, one for myself and one for him.
My intention was only to spend a short time in the room with him – not more than ten minutes because I am told it is extremely tiring for spirit to remain on task for any length of time. Sometimes this ten minutes seemed like ten hours as a struggled for things to tell him; especially on the days where I got no response. Other days I could have gone on for ever – chatting and laughing just like old times.
I now realise why this exercise was so good. It has taught me how to recognise when Rowan is with me and when he isn’t. There are times when I walk into my room and I have a powerful and consistent circle of goose bumps that revolve around me; the hairs on my arms stand on end and my heart rate quickens. These are the days when he is with me – loud and proud! Other times I can walk into my room and feel absolutely nothing. I began to identify these senses and as I did, they became more intense which made the days that he wasn’t there hugely disappointing.
I spent seven months carrying out this routine. On the days that it was impossible for me to get to my room for six (which weren’t very often – it was an extremely important time for me), I left him a note explaining why I couldn’t be there. I wish he had allowed me the same courtesy!
After seven months of practice, I became aware of him in other places; not just my room. I will get an extemporaneous chill; usually while I am somewhere else in the house but on occasions this would be delivered in the car, or even at work in a quiet moment. He really is a very clever soul!
Hindsight says that I should have continued longer with this practice. The more familiar I became with Rowan, the higher the likelihood was of me developing a better way of communicating with him. Jodie said that as I developed my senses more, I would likely be able to feel his touch. I need to make time to do this. Life just seems to be so busy. Or perhaps I am scared of being disappointed!
I would recommend anyone who wishes to work on their clairvoyant skills to give this practice a shot. You will learn so very much. You just need to create a quiet, private, safe space where you and your loved one can learn together. Make it a space that it beautiful; scented with flowers or incense; no need to go over the top! A white candle is always a good mood enhancer. Ask to be clothed in white light before you start.
Our journey continues. I was told back in 2013 that I was unlikely to develop skills enough to catch up properly with Rowan for around six years. Back then this seemed like a lifetime – I couldn’t bear the thought. Well guess what; 2019 just might be a good vintage!
Most importantly, you must remember that your grief is as unique as you are.
The five stages of grief as outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, one of the first authors I read after Rowan died, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She suggests that this skeleton framework is the one most of us use in learning to live without our loved one.
Grief can be the result of the loss of a loved one through death, the loss of a relationship (marriage break-up or friendship break-down), the loss of a pet, job loss, the loss of a personal vision or dream – so many causes and so many actions and reactions.
Denial, the first of the five stages, helps us to survive the initial impact of our loss. The world is cold and cruel and meaningless at this stage. Life makes no sense whatsoever. We feel numb and totally overwhelmed. Denial is a way of pacing ourselves. It allows a little bit of reality in at a time. This process aids our survival after a loss. If all the pain and angst and shock hit us in one fell swoop it is unlikely so many of us would survive to see the next stage in our grief process. Through this denial, you are unknowingly beginning to heal. You are gaining a tiny little glimmer of strength.
Anger is the next stage we have to endure. It is a necessary part of the healing progression and you need to allow it to happen. The stoic folk among us sometimes try to stem the anger. This is a dangerous strategy. The more you truly feel your anger, even though it might feel destructive at the time, the quicker you will begin to heal. Anger can be strength. It can provide you with a temporary buttress and anchor to hold on to in the oblivion and emptiness of your loss. Anger is another symptom of the power of your passion for the loved-one that you have lost.
Bargaining is a strange phenomenon. We say we won’t and then we do! ‘Dear God’, you pray, ‘let this all be a bad dream’. ‘I promise I’ll devote the rest of my life to helping others……….if only you…..’ It is easy to get lost in a sea of ‘If only’ and ‘What if’s’. What we desperately need is for life to return to what it was. We want our loved one back at any cost. We would sell our Soul at this stage to have them home with us. We blame ourselves in the ‘if onlys’.
Well, bargaining didn’t work did it?
Depression sweeps in like a tsunami. We then fairly and squarely slip into a relentless and ever-darkening depression. We are acutely aware that no amount of bargaining, wishing, hoping, shouting or screaming is going to bring them back. Grief grabs the opportunity with both hands and dashes in, deeper than we ever imagined that it could be. You sit in this depression thinking that you are losing your mind. You are not. You are actually showing that your mental health is as it should be. You are exhibiting an appropriate reaction to suffering a great loss. Some people see this depression as one that needs to be fixed. They expect you to snap out of it, to move on. The loss of a loved one through whatever circumstances is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate reaction. In fact, to not experience depression would be against the ‘norm’. You may well want to withdraw from life, hide away. You may even wonder if life is worth living any more – ‘What’s the point of going on?’ The thing to remember is that depression is a stage and a necessary step in the process of healing.
Acceptance is the last of the five steps that Elisabeth talks of. Don’t confuse ‘acceptance’ with ‘being okay’ with what has happened. The truth is that we will most likely never ever feel okay about the loss. This acceptance is about acknowledging reality that we have lost and that this loss is a permanent reality for us. The reality will never be okay but we will eventually learn to accept it. We will learn to live with it. We realise that life has changed and we must learn to readjust. This acceptance may mean that we have a few more okay days in amongst the horrendous ones. We may find ourselves beginning to live again and enjoy the odd thing again. It may be that we feel, for a moment, that we are betraying our loved one by laughing again. As we accept we make new connections and new relationships. We change and we grow and we begin to live again.
So there we have it – the five stages of grief. These stages all need to be experienced before we can come out the other side………but, just to keep us on our toes, they can come and go…… We may experience one, move on, move back again – leap to and fro between them all for a while – grief is not off a conveyer belt – it is custom-made and personalised every time.
Eventually the sun shines again and you keep your loved one locked away in your heart, ever present, never forgotten.
At the onset of 2016 I was visiting a good friend of mine. We were talking about cats; much loved by the both of us. I happened to say to her that I would love a kitten to turn up on the doorstep……….that way Chris couldn’t blame me for bringing another wee bundle home – it would be fate, luck, providence, destiny! He surely couldn’t turn it away?
May 2016 saw me opening the kitchen door to throw some rubbish out. There was a small flash of black…….and nothing – gone! I mentioned to Chris that I thought I might have seen a small black kitten shoot off when I opened the door. A couple of days later Chris said to me, “that black kitten you saw……it wasn’t black….it’s a silver tabby”! He had experienced a similar occurrence. On opening the door, a wee flash of silver disappeared into the beyond! I said that I was sure it was black.
A couple of days later we saw a black kitten and a ginger tabby kitten hiding under a bush. I said to Chris, “ah, so there were two”! Chris said that he was sure that he had seen a silver tabby and that the wee ginger tabby was a different kitten. We began putting food down outside the kitchen door; two bowls; one for the black kitten and one for the tabby. We watched with interest. There was definitely a black kitten, and a ginger tabby………and a silver tabby. We then noticed that the ginger tabby was very adept at changing size! We had a clutch of kittens living wild in our garden, one black, one silver and three golden/ginger tabbies!
This was the start of an eventful, rather cold winter. We started luring them closer to the kitchen door until they would come in and eat in the kitchen. We hated to think of them outside in the freezing cold but we couldn’t get near enough to them to touch them. We spent our time at home with the door wide open so that they could come and go at will – note I said we! The Crid was guilty of doing this of his own volition too! 2016 was the coldest winter we have ever lived through.
Spring came and summer followed. Our cats numbered eight in total! We had our own, beautiful majestic tabby, Mr Long-Cat Yowling (Rowan’s beautiful boy) – now known, because it feeds his ego, as Mr Majestica. Obi-Wan Kanobi, our long-haired silver tabby who had been with us since we lived in Alexandra, and who sadly died a short number of months ago having reached a respectable fourteen years of age. Miss Whitey-Lighty Loo, our old white lady who chose us herself two years ago. Rumi, Sananda, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael were our newcomers. Rumi and Sananda set off for a new life in Winton at the end of 2016. This left us with our three tabbies of varying size – all male thankfully.
The New Year saw us ferrying one tabby at a time to the vets thirty kilometres away to be spayed – not a cheap business.
This winter we are hoping that it will be a little warmer. We can now close the door but we have had to remove the door to the cat-door because our newcomers don’t like it swinging closed on them! A gale blows in periodically but who worries about little things like that? I shall be a little wary in future when I wish for something though. I shall make sure that my desires are very clearly stated. However, The Crid and I will certainly not be lonely in our old age.
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.
I’m not feeling very festive this year. I have handled the holiday period better over the last three years than I am this year. I feel tearful and it doesn’t take very much at all for me to fold in a watery heap!
I spoke to a friend about this yesterday; a friend who has lost someone very close to her. She explained that for the first two or three years you steel yourself well in advance because you know that it is going to be an horrendous time. Having prepared yourself, you are hugely surprised when you come out the other side relatively unscathed and you are even a little proud of yourself for coping so well! Four, five, six years on you become a little complacent and don’t spend the time preparing like you did. This is when it sneaks up and bites you on the bum!
I find that I am anxious this year; tummy churning with a need to breathe deeply every few minutes. The old familiar ‘weight on the chest’ has returned with a vengeance. I am unable to relax, find sleeping difficult, feel a sense of panic without really knowing why, have difficulty concentrating and to top it all off, I am irritable!
I have been told that a good coping mechanism for these low spells is to distract yourself. This distraction must involve some physical movement, not just a change in your pattern of thought. Change of thought has a habit of leading you straight back to the same place again. The idea is to get up and make a coffee, hoover the lounge, change the beds, walk the dog, go to the loo, even the simple act of applying hand cream can help to make that all too valuable shift in thought so I am told.
I posted a notice on Facebook today.
“Never apologise for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength”. Brigitte Nicole.
This may or may not be true but there are times when trying to hide emotion is stifling and far from helpful. A good cry never hurt anyone although sitting at work crying your eyes out opens yourself and others to a good dose of embarrassment!
Anxiety can cause our brains to misinterpret or exaggerate minor events and turn them into major disasters. As I’ve said previously, if you give in to sadness, anger or anxiety first thing in the morning, your day tends to go from bad to worse. This is when you bring distraction into play. Relaxation techniques like meditation can be very useful if you can control yours fears long enough to still your mind. This wonderful mindfulness technique using adult-colouring books works a treat for me.
People tell me that eating a healthy diet and participating in regular exercise influences all aspects of life. Apparently a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle habits can contribute significantly to anxiety management and prevention! I’m not convinced that avoiding alcohol, caffeine, salt, sugar and refined foods is going to help me deal with my anxiety and grief this Christmas! The only thing keeping me going is the thought of a Champagne breakfast with plenty of bacon, berries drizzled in chocolate, rare roast beef, glazed hams, pavlovas, trifles, wine, BBQs, liqueurs, cocktails……………oh my goodness who would swap these things for a healthy diet?
Exercise? At Christmas? Well, wouldn’t you know it? The gym’s shut and too many cars on the road to take my bike out. I might find myself walking a lot more than usual though – to the fridge and back!
What started as a perfectly sensible, level-headed blog is now turning into custard.
Just a thought for Christmas – a hug is the perfect gift; one size fits all, and we are all happy to exchange them x
I have spoken before about the ‘Secret Society’ that grieving parents belong to. No-one confesses to belonging to this society until they are dragged kicking and screaming through the doors. There they meet others who suddenly appear; people who they may have known for years but not intimately enough to know that they belong to that same exclusive club. You recognise in each other the pain, sorrow, anguish that you each live with.
There are certain things grieving parents don’t want to hear from people. Members of that exclusive club are very aware of these forbidden statements. They have a deep-seated abhorrence of these well-meaning platitudes and dismissive turns of phrase.
‘At least……’ is something I began to dread hearing. People trying to be kind but turning Rowie’s death into a triviality. The worst one was ‘at least it was quick…..’! Hey! It certainly was. Not a second to think about it!
I heard others say that their nightmare was the ‘time heals’ statement! No! No – it certainly doesn’t! Four years on Boxing Day since we lost him and time most certainly hasn’t healed the hurt. I still get that panicky, breathless grasp of fear when I think about Boxing Day and the days that follow it. I think about the hurt our close-knit family had to endure and I am angry, tearful, agitated. Pleasure is something that no longer really exists for us in its pure sense; it is always tempered with a sadness that we can’t share the fun together as a family. When I think of Rowie’s accident I am still appalled, shocked and troubled by the visions that are created by this thought. No. Time most certainly doesn’t heal the hurt.
People who say ‘you need to have a faith’ make me very angry. I have a faith; maybe not a mainstream faith, but I have a faith nonetheless. But tell me, how does having a faith take away the hurt of losing a child that you have loved and carried for a lot longer than their actual years; a child that was dreamed of long before they arrived? Okay, he’s moved on – he’s in Heaven. Why should that make me happy? He should be here with Chris, Francis and I. In a way this throwaway statement is quite critical and cynical. It is stating that if you had a stronger faith you would fare a whole lot better in dealing with curved balls! As if we haven’t enough to berate ourselves about without having to deal with a statement that only serves to increase your self-criticism in allowing such a heinous thing to happen to your beautiful child.
‘Everything happens for a reason’. Now that is a statement I can personally relate to. I am pretty sure that we all have a ‘death date’ – a time and date set by ourselves before we reincarnate. I believe that there are no coincidences and that everything does indeed happen for a reason. I firmly believe that if Rowie hadn’t gone down to the Chaslands on Boxing Day, he would have died anyway – in one way or another. For me this statement has resounding truth but for others it will cause immense angst. There is no reason in Heaven or earth that is good enough to allow a much adored child to be torn from its parents’ arms. I have lost count of the amount of times I have said that a parent should never have to outlive their child – it just isn’t a natural course of events. Ask any parent what their very worst nightmare is and I guarantee they will all whisper the same thing; too scared to say it out loud.
What can you say to help a grieving parent?
I’m not sure. We are still learning.
Something I do love is to talk about Rowie. I love to hear other peoples’ memories of him too. It takes no encouragement for me to talk endlessly about him. He gave us so much to remember; he was unique; there will never be anyone like him. Encouraging us and allowing us to talk about our lost children is probably the most helpful thing you can ever do.
Christmas is just around the corner. My stomach has been leaping and ducking and diving for the past few weeks with apprehension. We have surprised ourselves for three years in a row now; we have managed to survive the festive season and come out the other side relatively unscathed. As this season approaches again I always wonder if we will survive the next one. I guess we will come out the other side as before. It’s hard to explain to people when you turn down invitations to celebrations that we really wouldn’t add anything to the party spirit. It’s not that we have given up or that we are mourning. It’s just that it is extremely hard to laugh, joke and be merry at a time of year that holds so many horrendous memories.
2017 just around the corner. I hope it proves to be a cathartic year for everyone – one that begins to heal any hurt and pain that each of us might be feeling for one reason or another. Let’s hope that it proves to be an amazing and healing year for the whole world!
In the past I have been very susceptible to people who carry negative energy – I could be happy and full of excited anticipation for the day and then crash just as quickly when someone dealt out a negativity blow. I am learning to cope with this. In times gone by when this happened I would descend into gloom and the hours would get progressively worse as negative energy filled the remainder of the day before I slept again!
I am not saying avoid people who have worries or problems – these folks we can and should help. I am perfectly happy providing a shoulder to cry on or lending an ear to people who want to off-load their troubles or anxieties. I will help anyone who has a desire to help themselves. I will help anyone who is struggling to see light. The people we need to avoid are the ones who are grouchy and cantankerous; the ones who wake up with a crabby attitude who have no intention whatsoever of releasing it. They hang on to that snappish and petulant behaviour like a dog holds on to a bone and they enjoy taking everyone around them down too. They have the sort of ‘if I’m not happy then I’m sure not going to let you be happy either’ type mind-set! They are vindictive and fully intend to spoil your day.
If you are happy in your own skin; resilient and strong, then taking on these people can prove to be a positive experience for both them and you but if you are struggling to keep your own head above water, these are the people you need to steer clear of.
We all have choices. Every day of our lives we have a variety of choices to make; some of them minor and others earth-shattering! Some of these choices only have impact on ourselves; others effect those around you too.
I finished the short-term contract I was working on when Rowie died. I was tied in to a District Supervisor role with Statistics New Zealand. I had worked for them on the 2011 Census when they pulled the plug due to the February earth quake in Christchurch. As a ‘results orientated’ body, I had made a commitment at that time to take part in the next Census (whenever it was to be) so that I could see one through from start to finish.
My District Supervisor role was one that selected, interviewed, recruited, trained and supervised seventeen collectors for the Census. 2012 saw the recruitment process commence for the 2013 Census (the rerun of the 2011 Census). My area was vast. It covered South Balclutha down the coast to Fortrose, Waikawa, Curio Bay and inland to West Clinton, Pomahaka, Tahakope, Mataura Island.
Rowie died during the Christmas break and at a time when we were bang in the middle of interviewing and recruiting the collectors. I was buddied with a bordering Supervisor, Nikki, which meant that we interviewed and trained our collectors together. I had to make the decision (or choice) at this stage, as to whether I continued to work through the Census or resigned and left them to find another to take my place. The decision was made, albeit in a haze of grief, to continue with the role. To be honest, I don’t think I really even considered resigning – I just presumed I would continue without even questioning it. Hindsight tells me that my ‘buddy’, Nikki, was an extremely patient, compassionate and long-suffering buddy! She led me through many of the processes like a guide-dog would lead his charge and I will be grateful to her for ever.
I saw the Census through; our contract finishing in late April. When we finished I flopped. I realised at that stage that I needed to take some time to process my grief that had been stored away in some dark recess.
My break from full-time work lasted for two and a half years. I did some part-time work as relief Practice Manager at the local medical practice and I read a lot, wrote copiously and spent many an hour researching, buying and then creating healing bracelets with crystal gemstones. I made the choice not to work full-time over this period because I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to concentrate enough to carry out a full-time job successfully. Not only did I have a menopausal brain (similar to baby brain); I had a grief brain too! A positive liability to be sure!
During this time I did what I do best; I cooked up a storm! Historically I have loved to spoil my boys with food (Chris, Francis and Rowan) – and after Rowie’s death I turned up the kitchen a notch – I continued to spoil Chris, Francis and his wife, Maree. They were all working and I was at home. I cooked meals for us all – sent meals home with Francis, invited them here; made up batches of food for us all to freeze for another day. Francis learned he was to become a father – I continued to cook like a mad thing! After Harri was born Chris and I would take the Sunday roast down to cook at Francis’ house so that they didn’t have to pack up the baby to transport her up to our house just for tea; a very useful two and a half years!
I have been very lucky in my working life; I have always had the pleasure of working with professional people who have respected my abilities and professionalism. My choice was to qualify as a medical secretary for this very reason – so that I could work within a caring profession and with compassionate, sensitive people.
After this period of assimilating my grief I decided the time had come for me to return to gainful employment. The choice made, I started looking for work. I asked the Universe to show me where to look and I very quickly was pointed in the right direction by a warm and funny friend of mine. I have been back working full time now for ten months.
Now aged sixty, I feel privileged to have spent my forty working years with team players who have respected my role as much as I have respected theirs. Should this ever change, I am lucky enough to be able to stand back and make a choice; stay with the negativity or move on. And, above all else, as an old friend said to me the other day, “don’t allow negative people to live in your head rent-free Sue”. Good advice Vicki. You can choose to experience each high and low in fear, in sadness, in anger, in joy, in excitement, or in love. As the leading star in your own life’s movie, it’s completely down to you.
So many lessons learned in the last four years Rowie xx
I had a bit of an epiphany this morning!
I always like to wake early enough to perform a little ritual! I lie in bed on my side with Rowie’s picture grinning at me from the bedside table. My first words are always, ‘Love, Love, Love” – which has grown over the last three years to be my shortened form of “I love you, I’m in love with you and I will love you for ever”. These are the words that I said silently in my head, whispered, shouted, chanted, screamed for many months after Rowie died; hoping that he would hear me and understand just how much I was missing him. It sounds kind of corny but it became a routine; a ritual over time, and is something I now need to do before I start my day.
Anyway, I digress!
I had said my three words and was lying there thinking – this is my early morning kind of ‘meditation’. I’m not entirely sure it is true meditation; not like my TM that I do in my healing room, but I certainly have a great deal of inspirational guff that comes to me in these moments; so much of it unfortunately forgotten as I then move into ‘tablet taking/inhaler taking mode’ to kick-start myself before setting my feet on the ground and starting my crazy daisy not so lazy day.
Well, this morning I grumped at Rowie. I told him, in a light-hearted grump, that I had contracted to spend this life time with him and he had cheated me out of doing this! An answer came back to me immediately; bounced back as if off a taut rubber sheet. The answer was this.
“Get over it! We are all on a journey. Sometimes you start the journey with someone and you travel and finish the journey together – like going on holiday I guess, with a mate or family. Sometimes you travel alone – set off and return alone. Other times you will set off alone but pick other people up along the way. And of course there is always the journey you start with someone else but you part company with somewhere en route with a promise of catching up again at a later date…………”
It was suddenly as if a light had switched itself on. Chris, Francis, Rowan and I had started a journey together. Rowan took a detour! At some stage further along our track we will catch up with him again; for a huge hug and an amazing catch-up!
I can almost hear him saying, “there are times when you can be incredibly slow Mum!”
I got out of bed with a spring in my step this morning – and it wasn’t just the anti-inflammatories that got me going!
My visit to an awesome friend out at The Nuggets always uplifts me and gives me food for thought. She is such a positive joy germ and I always come away with some of her positive energy which she gives willingly.
There are people who are good for you and there are people who drag you down. Stick with those that lift you up. You don’t need to be unkind to those who drag you down. Just choose to be with those people who make you happy and with those who you in turn can help.