‘taste your words before you spit them out’ 

Lots of articles, stories and links have been coming up on my Facebook news feed about bullying in different case scenarios which has got me thinking about my own experiences with this new age ‘deadly sin.’ The old phrase we used to say in the play ground doesn’t quite cut it in this day and age – ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ It goes way beyond the teasing we used to get at school. The Internet, smartphones and the like make bullying much easier through Facebook, email, Twitter, snapchat, Instagram etc. Bullying has transformed from being delivered in a physical way towards a more mental insult. The ramifications of cyber bullying is more likely to lead to depression, self harm or for people to question self worth which are some of the leading health issues among young people at the moment.
I suppose I was taught about bullying at school when I was young but the subject came more under the topic of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ I’m sure I can’t remember it as being as scary as it is today. I may have got teased for my choice of say a lunch at school that wasn’t everyone’s taste or the way I played hand-ball (my lack of eye/hand coordination) but must have been able to shrug the feelings of embarrassment and disappointment off by having had a positive upbringing in a loving family who helped guide my current morals and values in life. I survived my childhood and grew a bit of thick skin to the occasional tease.
Nursing, my first passion of a career I so desperately wanted and succeeded in following,  is one profession known for bullying. Many have experienced acts of ‘horizontal violence’ from colleagues often driven by leadership hierarchy. I didn’t escape this either. I was humiliated at my workplace as I was pinned up again the wall in the corridor of the hospital in full view of everyone by a person in a superior position for speaking up in defence of myself, I was only telling my opinion and the truth as it was. As a mature aged student I changed my career from nursing to early childhood education. During my studying years at university completing my degree in early childhood education I was intrigued and saddened that this profession too had a statistical story to tell as well. I read a really interesting article by Louise Hard, a senior lecturer teaching leadership and management and wellness and wellbeing at the university I was studying at. She introduced her students to the ‘crab bucket mentality’ in a workplace environment, particularly early childhood. If a new person came into the centre with bright eyes and fresh ideas and shared their desires of change the ‘crab bucket mentality’ would come into action. Have you ever been crabbing down the beach searching under rocks for crabs and placing them in a bucket? Ever noticed that if one crab worked it’s way to the top to escape the others would pull it back into the bucket. That one new person in their new environment full of new and exciting ideas is that crab trying to reach for the top of the bucket. The crabs pulling them down are the colleagues who are resentful of change or think they need to knock them down a peg or two. These types of bullying experiences can make you stronger in character depending how you face them. I am very fortunate that I work with a brilliant team of individuals who bring out the best in me. 
I was fortunate enough to be aware of my children being bullied and I’m forever grateful for our relationship in which they came to me for advice and guidance when they were hurting. I’m very proud that they turned out to be very fine well adjusted young adults. I hope some of my beliefs, morals and values have been passed down to them and they can share them with their own children. Wouldn’t it be a nicer place in the world without bullying! I work with our future generations in early childhood education so I’ve got an important role to help shape the minds of the young to develop the social skills to prevent and stop bullying. I will continue to take advantage of teachable moments. I will teach the children respect and empathy and set a good example and be a positive role model. Isn’t that what all parents want to teach their children?
Jacob was proud to be part of the Wollongong Diocese ‘Fix You’ anti-bullying video production that was filmed at his high school. The video is an anti-bullying learning and teaching resource to provide information and strategies for teachers. Jacob’s dream of becoming a cinematographer was a little bit more palpable for him by giving him the opportunity of being in the video. For the cinemaphotographer behind this production was the very person that took Jacob under his wing as his personal apprentice on many jobs which further ignited his passion. Jacob in fact bought this very talented man’s camera. The one that Jacob used in his own films on his YouTube channels and the one I’m using in his absence – capturing the world through his eyes through the lens of his camera, keeping us connected in the hope he sees what I see. I am very proud he will be still helping others without physically being on earth anymore because of this video, doing his bit to make it a better world to live in. As I watch the video tonight I will pause it on his beautiful face with his afro hair and cheeky grin and say ‘I wish I could have fixed you’ (by taking away the cancer).

‘Oh the places you’ll go…’

This is my first taste of writing in the brand new year 2017. A year has passed without my beautiful brown eyed boy Jacob and we are now at 15 month since my hands touched his face and held his hands, my lips kissed his forehead and my words soothed his fear at the end of his life. Time keeps passing to a steady beat and there’s not many moments that he’s not on my mind. He’s in my thoughts, my heart, my memories and hopefully will continue to visit in my dreams. In the year that has just past I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled. Travel that involved plane trips and not just a casual car trip down the coast or into Sydney for a special occassion. 

The first trip was a fairly long 7 – 8hr drive in the car from our house in Mount Warrigal NSW to Lakes Entrance in Victoria. A beautiful seaside resort and fishing port. It was my birthday present, a nice 3 day getaway in the cool winter month of June. 

On to trip away number 2. Pete had entered a competition at the local JBhifi store buying a boxed DVD set. The prize was a 5 days all expenses paid holiday of three choices – Thredbo, Berossa Valley and Cairns. We chose Cairns. The competition was a Mother’s Day competition, you never dream that you’d ever win these sort of things – they always happen to other people. So we thanked our lucky stars for the welcome gift of travel and I secretly knew it was a gift from Jacob for his mum and dad to enjoy precious time to themselves. We flew up to Cairns from Sydney in 3 hours and arrived in the afternoon in 100% humidity. Included in the prize was activities to do while we were up here so each day we were occupied with things to do. We visited a butterfly farm, animal reserve, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation – Daintree National Park and Green Island to snorkel the reef. 

The last trip of the year was a 2 week exploration of both the North and South islands of New Zealand in November. We hired a car and drove around to check out the beautiful sights in several major cities, capturing many new memories to cherish. Home just in time to begin the rush in the lead up to Christmas. 

Rachel and her boyfriend Adam left the family home on Christmas Day just over a week ago to travel to America, UK and Europe on a 1 way ticket. The world’s their oyster as they travel and taste new experiences and culture of new lands. I’m trying not to be the nosy mum who wants to check Facebook to get updates of where they are heading and what they’re up to having just spent walking the Las Vegas strip seeing in the New Year with fireworks. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to travel when I was young too. I too travelled after leaving school, heading to the UK and Europe on a 1 way ticket. Pete had these opportunities too, just several years before we got married. 

Amy was away from us for 3 years while she travelled in the UK and Europe working as a nanny for 2 families. Now back in Australia she has a plan of completing the Larapinta Trail, just outside of Alice Springs while she plans a trip to Thailand and Phuket. Ben has travelled too, to Bali after finishing school with mates to chase the surf. I’m sure more adventures are waiting to be written on the pages of his travel book in times to comes. Empty pages are just waiting to be written and filled with wonderful adventures. Jacob had his sights on travel too, he was making plans to travel to America for his 21st birthday with his best mate Chris who’s birthday was the very next day to Jacob’s. He was looking forward to travelling on Route 66 and many other iconic places on the map. I’m sure he would have moved to America one day as his career path would have taken him along that road of becoming a famous cinematographer. He would be going places. 

Our last family holiday together as a family of 6 in 2014 we travelled to Hawaii for 10 days. We all had a great time and it will be a holiday that I will cherish deep in my heart. For on return to Australia Jacob was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma after complaining of a sore leg which we thought was because of being cramped in the seat as his 6 foot 2 inch frame didn’t leave much room to move. A small clot was the first diagnosis from the flight, but in hindsight the small clot was more likely from the tumour that was forming in his left thigh. Less than a month later after the holiday he was having his first chemotherapy treatment to cure him of the horrible parasitic disease that eventually took him from our family. 

Jacob is with us every step we take in this different life we live now. Although he’s not physically here with us anymore, he works his magic to be seen and felt in everything we do and the places we go in our travels. We take his ashes and scatter him in our favourite places on land and oceans. Rachel is going to let him swim at the beach where I grew up in Dovercourt, Harwich. The waters all connect somewhere. We see him in rainbows, in colours, in all the creatures great and small, in stars, sunrises, sunsets, clouds and full moons. We thank him for visiting when we see feathers, dragonflies, butterflies and when the familiar songs come on the radio. We smile because of him and see miracles in life everyday. 

We are thankful for the beautiful photos we captured on our travels and will continue to capture as life goes on and I know deep in my heart that Jacob did a grand job in trying to get his presence known and felt in the photos I will share with these words. I hope you can see the magic in the pictures and catch his spirit in action and I hope his siblings feel him close everywhere they go and capture him accompanying them in their travels too. Amy caught him when she snapped a photo of a beautiful red dragonfly in the Northern Territory (red is Jacob’s favourite colour). In the colours of the beach with the old blue tug boat, the sparkles on the water, the dragonfly that journeyed with us on the bus to Cape Tribulation, the memorial rock formation (a Cairn in Cairns) that Pete made by the beach without realising what the towers represented, the clouds that formed a photo of a baby in the womb, the Dolphins that came to say hello at the Bay of Islands, just a few to share. 

Pete and I plan to travel again this year too in September to Canada. As we begin a different stage in our lives of gradually becoming empty nesters we will continue to love and grow with one another just like when we first met before the children came along. As our children continue to have their own travels on this earth, I just visualise that Jacob’s off travelling too, having his own spectacular experience wherever life is taking him as well as accompanying us on all our adventures as our very own guardian angel in travel. 

“Wherever you go…go with all your heart” and I’ll carry my family in my heart with every step I take. Quoting from the movie Lilo & Stitch – ‘Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind – or forgotten.’ You’ll always be with us Jacob x 

‘The weight of loss may never go away, but we learn how to carry it…’ 

Since the loss of our beautiful brown eyed boy Jacob at 20 years of age after a short 13 month battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, I have made a promise to myself that I live out the rest of my life in ways that would make him proud. I talk about him often and own the bad days and the tears. I am proud of the tears because it means I have loved and lost. No one knows how they are going to handle the grief of losing a child. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right – if there is a wrong or right way. But I just know it’s the right way for me. It is as individual as DNA and a thumbprint. Unique to that person.
I’m not sure if it has been long enough since we’ve lost Jacob to say we’ve picked up any ‘grief rituals.’ We’ve really just muddled through his first Heavenly birthday, Christmas and 1st angelversary without him in the spanning of 12 short months. No one really knows how we will cope – we just do what we do cause it’s our way and it feels right for us. But there are some things that I’ve started to do that you could call a ‘grief ritual.’ I am more grateful for everyday I’m blessed with, to be alive when it is denied to so many, I’m learning to ‘smile’ again – see miracles in life everyday, we get Jacob out of his cardboard box as his life size cut out at every family function to know that he’s physically there with us all to have photos taken with, we scatter a little bit of his ashes at favourite holiday beaches and places he’s never even been to but was planning to go one day, his sister Rach and her boyfriend Adam will be taking him on Route 66 at the end of the year – a place he dreamed of going with his best friend Chris, we ring his bell outside at family get-togethers making sure everyone has a drink in hand to give him a toast. I’m sure we’ll come up with more ‘grief rituals’ over time.

I remember doing one of those quizzes on Facebook finding out which side of the brain I work on more. As if it was scientific fact that this quiz was at all correct it revealed that I used the right side of my brain more than the left which controlled instinct, art, emotion, imagination, memory, creativity and music. Since losing Jacob I have rediscovered my creative side of my brain which gladly needed tweaking and awakening as the feeling of grief and loss tends to leave you pretty numb and unresponsive to finding new things to get you through the day. I have been able to create so many beautiful and meaningful projects to honour the feelings of losing Jacob. Some of the creations were created by all the good emotions guided by all the wonderful memories and moments of his life and others were created by the all negativity and sadness that comes hand in hand with grief of losing a child. But the total amount of effort for the all the pieces of artwork regardless of what emotion that was driving force behind the creation was equal. We have his memorial bar outside with a plaque on it saying ‘capturing the chaos and creativity in Heaven on film.’ A couple of permanent markers are on the bar so people can write him a message, it’s the one time graffiti is allowed. I am using Jacob’s camera still to capture the world through his eyes, keeping us connected by what I see through the lens of his camera. 

I guess I could say the words in my blog that I continue to write that are dedicate to Jacob are my creative heartworks too. I write from the heart as stories of memories, love and grief.  ‘Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world…’ and the soul always knows what to do to heal itself. When completing an online course for bereaved parents I had to think of a tangible object to personify grief. Grief to me is like an onion, I peel back the layers, I forgive the past, I let it go. I feel the gratitude flow. I am slowly peeling off many layers of me to find myself. This is a more suitable way for me to view my grief in a tangible form – the humble vegetable that grows deep dark underground and alone – the onion. The best pick of the onion lies above the ground in the long green stems that grow and reach for the warmth of the sun. We too need to reach for the things that warms our heart in times of grief and our tears as we cut through the onion can also help with personal growth for the good days and the one’s we’d give anything not to feel the way we do. 

I’m quite ok with thinking like Shrek – ‘onions have layers, ogres have layers.’ We all have layers. 

‘The helpers…’

‘Family is not always about blood. Sometimes it’s about who is there to hold and support you when you need them…’ These are the people I call ‘the helpers.’ When your child is diagnosed with cancer your world revolves around hospitals, appointments, blood tests, treatments, scans, doctors, nurses and being away from home. Life gets put on hold. The mundane drill of the week changes dramatically. You have to prioritise your days better. Your mind goes into overdrive and thoughts fly in random directions. 

Work commitments take a turn for the worst. Worrying about letting the team down in your absence and worrying about how long the money will last for all the bills that have to be paid. Learning the terminology of all the things that come with chemo. Hearing the low statistics of survival to get to 5 years post treatment. Getting given a card that gives us priority to gain access to emergency at hospital if he gets a temperature. It’s a sort of ‘get out of jail card’ to bypass the usual waiting room full of people. The bald head of a cancer patient always turns the heads in the crowded room and stops conversations and chit chat. 
The fear of the unknown that our family was facing, taking tender tiny steps along a dark, twisty, curvy and seemingly never ending road. But the path became a bit less bumpy and unpredictable as we got to know our hospital family who helped us place one foot in front of the other. As the treatment began to start we had to put our full trust and hope into the medical profession to cure the beast Ewing’s Sarcoma. 
The happy welcoming faces were genuinely pleased to see us as we trudged up the long corridor of 4East to the sisters desk to hand in the medical files for the relevant admission. It was the continuation of seeing these familiar faces that made the time away from home less traumatic as the conversations continued and we picked up from where we left off from last visit. Sharing stories of what we’d been up to, like Vanessa talking about her holiday trip with family, the footy scores with Dan, Grace would share stories about catching up with Jacob’s cousin James at a wedding, Camilla opening the double doors to the verandah in both 4 bed wards to get the fresh air flow through the place while asking us to guess what nationality she was, Gina talking about her son’s dog and we’d laugh about how she’d own the place on the weekends when it was quieter without the hustle bustle footsteps of a busy weekday ward. 

While we are talking about footsteps we’d always recognise Jacob’s oncologist Antionette coming up the corridor. A tell tale distinct clip-clop patter would sound until she turned into the room with her entourage. Always dressed in high fashion that Jacob would reflect to me that she looked really nice and that he should have complimented how good her hair looked when she wore it braided with beads. She often commented on his awesome dress sense so it seemed fitting that he should return the compliment. 
Cath and Fiona, Jacob’s clinical nurse consultants became like lifelines, over the phone, email and in person as they accompanied us to every visit to the specialists that occurred. As our relationship grew we shared stories and wishes for all of our children. They offered their shoulders to cry on when tears took their toll, open ears when you needed to vent, and said the right words that you needed to hear. They were the doers, the ones that helped the cogs and wheels keep turning during the plans in motion. It was lovely to see them attend Jacob’s celebration of life and to find out that Fiona is a relative of one of our close family friends and her connection between my nephew Paul and rugby union. They both visited our home a month later and shared drinks during a summer thunderstorm and they will always be welcome to visit again. They both read my blogs and encourage me to keep up with writing them as part of my healing. 
I nominated Jacob’s favourite nurse Sarah for a nursing award as a consumer writing on behalf of Jacob. I will share with you what I wrote about his favourite nurse. 
~ I would like to nominate Sarah Hayes, Nurse Unit Manager of Prince of Wales Hospital Oncology Ward Parkes building 4 East on behalf of my 20 year old son and brother Jacob who we lost last Oct after a short 13 month battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. She has become a valuable part of our family because of the role she played in that emotionally traumatic event in our lives. It wasn’t just one thing she did, it was all of the little things she did that added up over time that made her worthy of recognition. Her involvement started in our lives from the very first commencement of chemo treatment. She stayed back doing overtime just to make sure he didn’t have a reaction to his very first treatment. She left at 8.30pm on a Friday night – that’s dedication for you. She formed a great fun loving relationship with him which is important to youth and young ones going through cancer. She told him to cut his toenails as this would be a turn off for future relationships with girls. 
Every admission she’d greet us like an old lost friend and would let our family help decorate the ward for Christmas to help with the spirit of the festive season for those who spend the holidays in hospital. But it wasn’t until Jacob was nearing the end of his life that her beautiful nature and caring soul shon the brightest. If he was in need of a blood transfusion or platelets she was always there to make the path a smoother one to travel on – nothing was ever too much trouble. We look forward to decorating her ward again this year for Christmas in honour of my beautiful boy and another equally beautiful girl who we lost last year too. 
At a recent celebration at the ‘dreams2live4’ ball she offered me a shoulder to cry on as pictures of Jacob appeared on the screen at the presentation, coming alive through my words in my blog that I wrote about Jacob’s experiences with his own ‘dreams.’ I was once a nurse but had to give it up after a car accident in 1997 and changed careers to early childhood education. But after going through this time with my son it has reignited the spark of enjoying the nursing profession. I don’t think that the spark has ever dimmed of loving my first chosen career and to watch the dedication from the nurses on Parkes 4 East makes me feel proud to be amongst such lovely caring people. Sarah leads a beautiful team of inspirational people and I’m sure they’d agree with all I say about their boss. In memory of Jacob – we hope she wins. ~ 

Sarah didn’t win 😞 but she was a finalist that had already won in our eyes. I will be catching up her again at the upcoming ‘dreams2live4’ Champaign lunch next week and we’ll be up on the ward decking the halls with Christmas decorations in no time. We are aiming for a 1st spot in the competition this year. 
Michael the social worker would stick his head around the curtain to say ‘goodaye’ and to touch base with Jacob as he came in. Bob and his loyal team in radiotherapy made us feel welcome. Jacob would tease me when he thought I had a crush on Andrew, the doctor that stayed by his side before and after his emergency surgery on the new disease in his spine. The technician team down in radiology, the girls who kept the appointments running on time, the cleaners, the porters, the man in the volunteer cafe who commented on Jacob’s beautiful smile, Anh the doctor completing her prac with Antionette in the Oct 2014 who wrote a nice message of condolences on Facebook when she’d heard of Jacob’s passing, sharing how he had made an impact in her life as a doctor, remembering fondly his gentle nature and his strong sense of self. And who could forget the bubbly Dr Michael, you’d hear his laugh and you knew it was him. Jacob was happy to see his familiar face when he had to go to A & E before his operation on his spine. All these relationships occurred over a very short time, just over 12 months. A short time in reality but the imprint of human connection lasts way longer. 
When the treatment comes to an end – irrespective of the outcome – the hospital life as we’ve become so familiar with comes to an end and the human connections we’ve made during those times are severed. It is hard to let go of the people who have become so important and reliable in your lives. We had become dependent on their words to get us through so many of our bad days and now we had to do it on our own for we automatically think that our need isn’t relevant anymore and to contact them may become bothersome. But that’s not the case. I have kept in contact with the beautiful people I have come to call ‘the helpers.’ It must be a hard job that deals with the end of life in some cases, but it makes it easier when you have the supportive helpers by your side. It is nice to hear a positive story rather than a negative one that the media tends to portray. 
Catching up with Antionette at the canteen and youth cancer service event a year after Jacob’s passing we were greeted with hugs as two mum’s would together after having not seen each other for awhile. She commented how she hadn’t read a story about ‘the nurses’ so I took pen to paper to pour out the thoughts that have been stored in my mind, just waiting for the right moment to be shared with the world and so the entry was created.  

I miss my ‘Team Jacob’ from Prince of Wales Hospital, although I hope we never have to meet them again in the same circumstances as when we first met them during Jacob’s care, but they will always be part of my family – family doesn’t mean you share your blood, family means you share your life. Thanks for being in our life and sharing this emotionally driven time with us, full of the ups and downs of Jacob’s treatment and being there for us. Your names are permanently inscribed on Jacob’s memorial bar in permanent marker. ‘Good people are like candles; they burn themselves up, to give others light.’ 

‘My promise to you…’ 

Since the loss of our beautiful brown eyed boy, I have made a promise to myself that I live out the rest of my life in ways that would make him proud. I talk about him often and own the bad days and the tears. I am proud of the tears because it means I have loved and lost. I am capturing our lives through the lens of Jacob’s camera…so we are seeing the world through the eyes of my child. I hope he will see all that I capture. It is my dad’s 80th birthday today and we had a beautiful family gathering, showering those we love with love. My nephew James wasn’t present as he’s still holidaying overseas so we felt his absence just like Jacob. We took family photos with Jacob’s stand out cut out again today so he’s forever present in all we do. My mum even wiped his mouth with a serviette as something had stuck on it from last time we got him out of the box. We explored the creek behind my sister Trisha’s house and saw an eel and lizards and sailed floating leaves along the current with my girls and nieces. Jacob was mentioned in my dad’s poem that I wrote for him to commemorate his special birthday day. I mentioned how Jacob would want us to live out the rest of our lives.
Happy 80th birthday dad x

Today you celebrate your 80th year

30th October a warm sunny day.

A time to spend with family and friends

A perfect chance for us to say

Glad to see you here today

As you puzzle in the sun

Doing crosswords and soduku

Checking over twice – you won

Sharkies won for us this year

Go the black white and blue

Glad we saw them win the final

Followers through and through

You scared us all a few months ago

When you became unwell

A hospital trip was needed

All good now’s a better story to tell

But life has given us lemons

And to taste a bitter pill

But we can make us some lemonade

To drink and take our fill

We are strong together

In everything we do

Despite what life’s thrown at us

We see another view

Jacob would want us all to be strong

In the ways we live our life

Honouring him in the ways we live it

Through triumphs and strife

Nobody saw that was coming

Stephen’s heart was nearly shattered

We need to keep our circle of life

As family that’s always mattered

Keeping loved ones together

As the leader of the pack

What a big role to fill

Trying to keep things on track

So as you celebrate one more year

A gift denied to some

We all should be thankful

And be blessed with many more to come.

So as we enjoy another day together

We won’t forget to smile

See miracles in life everyday

As we walk our own life’s mile

Our family is like music

With notes low and high

It’s always a beautiful song

To sing and get you by.

But the song for today

Is happy birthday your day is here

Time to spend it with those you love

Hip hip hooray we’ll cheer.

While you sit outside in the garden

And look around the view

As you spy a little butterfly

It’s Jacob wishing you happy birthday too.

We saw a black and white butterfly in amongst the trees and flowers.

 

#whathealsyou 

 I found this mantra once online and I liked it straight away – can’t take credit for the words but I agreed whole heartedly the sentiment it communicated. ‘Healing is an art. It takes time, it takes practice. It takes love.’ Art is a healing force, it is powerful. Art banishes fear. Art is freedom. Art says what’s in our hearts. Art can wrap itself around you and give you comfort. Art is hope. Art is courage. All the things that are helping me heal connects me to the creative arts. With writing, drawing, painting and photography allows me to create things from my feelings, emotions, memories and love to help keep the spirit of Jacob alive in the world. He was here, he should be remembered and celebrated. I love it when you talk about him, sharing new stories I’ve never heard before is magic to my ears as we won’t get anymore and these snippets makes the heart sing.

Music and songs are art forms as well and I’m drawn to their powerful healing capabilities too. Sometimes you just need to hear that particular song that opens the floodgates of tears. Other times you might be able to smile and sing along with the lyrics or be able to move to the beat. It all depends on the mood.

Watching movies sooth the soul too. After all, the stories and musicals are all produced and bought to life by creative minds. I love watching Jacob’s youtube channels that feature all of his little movies that showcase his creative talent – cobbyfilms & JDScreens (if you’d like to have a look). I’ll leave with one of my favourite little movie of Jacob’s featuring his cousin Luke. It always leaves a smile on my face as it shows Jacob’s creative and funny side too. Please excuse the swear words in it. 

For me ‘whathealsyou’ is creativity as it helps me with the expression of feelings and emotions as a form of art, as I can’t seem to verbalise it with the spoken words in person – one to one. The words come out of my mouth all jumbled and I tend to get too excited when I talk so words come out even faster than possible to be understood. The thoughts that are in my mind as I create can roll around as slow as they want and I don’t have to think on the spot to produce words to say. I suppose you can say it’s just a different form of meditation as it takes me away from the moment and I’m immersed into a different landscape of colours, shapes, sounds and feelings. For me creative arts isn’t just a hobby it’s the new way I roll down life’s corridor of experiences, journeys and happenings.

  

‘I am…’ 

‘I wish….’ that there will be no more sadness from unexpected premature death of all people regardless of age. I wish the whole population can grow up to a ripe old age and die in their sleep of natural causes. What a beautiful way to exit the world, to say goodnight, god bless, sweet dreams to loved ones and fall asleep blissfully happy on your pillow. There’d be no cancer, no cot death, no babies born sleeping, no suicide, no need for euthanasia, no accidents in life or war to contend with just like the lyrics that John Lennon shared in his famous song ‘imagine.’

‘I remember…’ when I was pregnant with Jacob not knowing whether he was going to be a boy or girl I secretly remember asking if this baby could have brown eyes. I already had 3 beautiful blue eyed bubs so I thought it would be really nice to have a little one just like their dad Pete – who has brown eyes. Jacob was born, and became my ‘beautiful brown eyed boy.’ I got my wish. 


‘I could not believe….’ that Jacob took his last breath to the song he’d introduced me to ‘it’s nice to be alive.’ I saw him take his first breath and last, although it’s not meant to be that way. He passed away with 19 family and friends in the room. Although it broke my heart it was peaceful. I sat on the edge of his bed, holding his hands, kissing his face and telling him we all loved him and giving him permission to let go. I would get up from his bed to give someone else a chance to say goodbye when his siblings would say ‘you’ve got to come back mum, he wants you’ and he would become less agitated as I came close again. 


‘If only…’ things had of gone how we had wished and hoped. That Jacob would be included in the statistics – that in 5 years time 25-30% of people who were treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma will be alive. Never once did we believe we’d end up on the wrong side of the statistics, that he would not be a survivor. If only he’d stayed in remission. If only he got the chance to have the stem cell transplant he was waiting for. If only we got more time with him. If only….


‘I am…’a bereaved mum, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a niece, an Aunty. I am sad, happy, broken, blessed, shattered, thankful, gutted, mindful and confused all blending into one on any particular day. I am no longer who I was before. But I am beginning to smile again – see miracles in life everyday with Jacob’s love and guidance from afar. I am a better person because of him.