Monthly Archives: August 2016

Ti 22 (titanium) 

‘The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.’ I can still remember how that felt when my adult children were little and they would put the short chunky little arms tight around your neck to make them feel safe and secure and loved. I don’t think I have many photos that captured these moments but the memories hold the vision in my mind and heart. The years fly by so quickly and you lose those moments as they grow up and cuddles become a bit too embarrassing for little people, to do in public yet alone in your own home. Hugs and kisses were fine for birthdays, hello’s and goodbye’s in our family. Maybe a bit backwards in physically showing the love through touch but we surely made up for it in words and said ‘love you’ lots. I did feel the same arms around me again in different circumstances looking for strength, love, encouragement and guidance when I transferred Jacob from chair to chair as the disease had taken the power of his legs. I used to tell him it was our funny way to dance as I pivoted his feet with mine to enable him to sit comfortably. I loved those impromptu cuddles and hugs but hated it at the same time because it was a stark reminder of what the disease had done to his once strong beautiful young adolescent body. He had the most beautiful hands and I got to hold them as he took his last breath. Those hands once held me tight. I do think though since we lost our beloved son and brother we have become more aware of affection we show towards one another and more spontaneous hugs and kisses come our way.
I don’t have their arms around me anymore like the quote in the first paragraph, and I don’t have jewels. But I do have something just like a precious jewel that I wear around my neck and close to my heart. We had some extremely unique and exquisite jewellery made from the titanium rod that was put into Jacob’s leg to replace the space where the tumour was. He was very proud of his scar that the operation had left going from the top of his knee the his hip. A 6foot 2inch frame meant a very long femur bone. He would often laugh about the rod making the metal detector machine go off at the airport when he would travel. He never got the chance to try it out.

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We had to find a jeweller that would play and experiment with ideas of how to make memorial pieces of jewellery out of a metal that’s so hard. Our local jewellers took one look and said it was in the too hard basket. We had to search further. A good friend of Jacob’s said he had a jeweller in mind. Harry’s mum had used this jeweller to make them several pendants into quite an unusual shapes of two hands clasped together and did a fantastic job. So we set about asking him if he’d be willing to help us out. We corresponded by email telling him stories about who Jacob was so he could get a better feel for the person as he was making the jewellery making the end product more personal and individual. The jeweller Robert Young was honoured to be taking on such an emotional challenge to produce something that meant so much.
As it got closer to having a design we took a drive to Robert’s studio in Sydney. Amy, Ben and I took a drive early one Saturday morning to meet him with our own ideas of how you utilise the rod as turning the rod into rings became an impossible task. Ben had drawn and designed several pendants to wear on a bracelet or necklace. He welcomed us into his studio and shared with us his ideas of how the pendants might look like. Ben showed him his ideas too. We left there in complete satisfaction that Robert was going to make us something very special.
We asked him to make 20 pendants to represent the age that Jacob will be forever. He had to cut the titanium rod with a diamond cutter as it took all the teeth off the regular tools that are used to make his jewellery. He puts a lot of effort into each piece of jewellery he makes. In most of Robert’s jewellery you will see the word ‘love’ inscribed within the design. This is hand cut by using a jewellers saw that pierces the jewellery from one side to the other. Each ‘Love’ is unique, because each love is unique. The time, care and skill that goes into each piece of jewellery is all worth it for Robert knowing that his art found the right owner and will become a life long treasure.’ Each jewellery piece is a work of art that is indented to connect the wearer with meaning. The pieces are designed to be a timeless symbol of ‘moments full of meaning.’
Robert’s studio is situated in a pretty sounding name in a suburb of Sydney called Lilyfield. The road was called Balmain Road, which was another coincidence as both Amy, Pete and Jacob are avid Tiger’s fans and they were once called the Balmain tigers and we were in their territory so Jacob would have been smiling down on us for that. It was on this trip that I first heard the song 7 years that has become such a heartfelt number for me.
Because of Jacob’s interest in becoming a cinematographer the design of pendant became a shutter of a camera with a titanium piece individually set in the silver. When we received them all they were all very different as individual as a fingerprint so it meant more to you when you chose which one to wear. The hole in the middle would signify the loss and emptiness of not having him physically in our lives anymore.

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Jacob’s pendants took several months to be completed but it was worth the wait. We picked them up on a cool rainy June day and were in awe at first site of them. In a little black box with a splash of red ribbon to pull the box open (red was Jacob’s favourite colour). We thanked him with a hug as we felt he’d become part of our family as he was putting so much feeling and emotion into the pieces of jewellery he was making for our family and some of Jacob’s friends.
We shared our photos of the jewellery on Facebook and wrote our own words of how much the pendants meant to us and I share photos and words here. I wrote – ‘such a bittersweet piece of jewellery x but it’s absolutely beautiful, because it’s a part of you ❤ (made with your titanium rod in your leg. I love how we can spin the circle camera shutter around the cord. Made by a very talented jeweller in Sydney, Balmain (Tigers territory) called Robert Young and it came in a little black box with red ribbon (red’s your favourite colour)

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A beautiful piece of jewellery that will always be a part of you. I will wear it with pride and will always remember you when I do. Love you forever, miss you always xxx Amy

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Got Jacob’s pendants today they are absolutely beautiful and definitely will hold a soft spot in our hearts, we will always have you close to us and always have a part of you. Made with your titanium rod that you were very proud of. Each one is individually cut so they each have their own story. Love them – Rachel

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I would like to thank Robert Young jewellery for going above and beyond to create this precious piece out of the very hardened titanium steel that supported my brother through his life’s endeavours. He has now passed on parts of his strength to help us with endeavours of our own. We are forever grateful Cobby. – Ben

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Robert made us 2 other pieces of jewellery to add to these 20 pendants. He shined up the tip of the rod where you could see the nail holes going through the rod and wrapped red wire around it.

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The other very delicate little piece of jewellery was made using a little wire that I found amongst Jacob’s ashes and I said that it reminded me of the wires he would talk about being at the back of his teeth after his braces.

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As I write these words on my iPad I’m tapping away with one hand while the other hand spins the pendant around the cord like the ‘circle of life.’ I’ll hold you in my heart until I can hold you in Heaven.

Thank you Robert Young

‘Gratitude is the hearts memory…’

Miracle challenge 11, choice no.3 – write a story using the words struggle, shadow, silence

William Shakespeare even had his own struggle with grief as he wrote these words – ‘my grief lies all within, and these external manners of lamment are merely a shadow to the unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul.’ He does describes it well but I’m not sure I would describe it like that as ‘grief’ is very individual and it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ experience. If I was to describe my grief since losing Jacob I would rather choose other writers words who are just as wise as Shakespeare. I often quote Lexi Behrndt’s words as well as another equally talented writer and artist Francesca Cox as their words float like musical notes through your whole body and your own heartbeat for the melody – ‘life’s so messy, so hard, & miraculously, still so good.’ Sometimes in life you have to have a damn harder, closer look at the good in such times and be grateful’ – Lexi Behrndt.
I completed a 30 days gratitude photo challenge on Facebook in November last year, just over a month after we lost Jacob. I thought it was a  good time to have a look around me and see the things through a bereaved mother’s eye that I’m grateful for in my newly upturned world. A friend of mine was doing this challenge and I had been enjoying looking at her photos, so I thought I’d do the same 🙂 After all that had happened over the past year it might be a pleasant experience taking a deeper look into the things I am thankful and grateful for. As this challenge was over 30 days, I apologise now for the length of this story. 30 photos and quotes that will hopefully inspire you to look closer in to your own life at the things you are thankful and grateful for. Francesca Cox’s online course for bereaved parents called ‘facets of grief’ invites you to explore ‘gratitude’ as well so I was more than ready to take a real close look at life around me.

Day 1: HOME – “Home is where our story begins” I guess mine started here in Dovercourt, United Kingdom on the 10th June, 1964 (photo taken in my first home in the backyard)

 

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Day 2: INSPIRATION: “when life gives you lemons bite them and make a funny face” 🍋 that’s my funny inspirational take on life

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Day 3: LOVE – love you Toffee, Mungo, Chilli, Ozzy, Axl & fish x

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Day 4. Colour: Happy and colourful were my girls in their first colour run this year…..”Life is about using the whole box of crayons with all the beautifully different colours” & I love creating with colours 🙂

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Day 5: Happiness: “Happiness is not the absense of problems, its the ability to deal with them” – I’m happy to have Jacob’s special memory place to be finished, so I can sit in the family room & really feel his presence with lots of sentimental items. I would rather have him back with us than have this memorial space – but I can’t, so this is my best way to deal with the loss ♡

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Day 6. Words: “The power of simple, artistic, creative, beautiful, descriptive, thoughtful words” – and you can’t beat great words in a familiar song….I waved to Barry Gibb (and he waved back) after a concert in Sydney with Pete a long time ago and he did a fantastic job singing all the hits……one in particular ‘Words’

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Day 7: Keepsake: Jacob’s year coordinator at St Joseph’s sent us a letter that Jacob had written to his future self several years ago at a school retreat & she was supposed to give it to him at the year 12 graduation. As he finished in yr 11 he didn’t get it. The teacher was cleaning stuff around & moving rooms & she found his letter & sent it to us. It was a lovely surprise but sad at the same time x but it is a special keepsake as it’s written with his funny sense of humour & he had a great sense of self. We have framed it & put it in his special place as a ‘keepsake’

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Day 8: Nature – ‘oh what a marvelous web we weave’ – enjoy the gifts of nature. I spied this little web while its creator slept curled in a leaf during an afternoon outdoors sipping a cold bevy with Pete & the cats 🙂

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Day 9: Laughter: I went to the 1st ever Youth Cancer Summit in Sydney over the last 2 days & represented Jacob as he had expressed his interest in attending. The last session of the summit brought so many laughs & what a way to finish an emotionally packed & informative event. ‘A funny thing happened on the way to chemo’ is a book written by Luke Ryan (I couldn’t post his picture of his book for copyright reasons so I took this off the program of the event) he is a young man who has had cancer twice in his life at 11 & 22 (& he jokes to the audience that he will get it again at 33) he entertained us as he shared his own cancer ‘roadtrip’ with adversity & humour & he had me in tears, not from sadness but from laughter 🙂 I’m buying his book now. Jacob would have loved his sense of humour too…

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Day 10: Music: Instead of photo here’s a video – harmonica playing “music to dog’s ears” (not…..) with music you are in control: > play the moments, II pause the memories, # stop the pain and << rewind the happiness

Day 11: Gift: “Everyday is a gift. Open it, Celebrate, Enjoy it.” And I’m loving my early Christmas present from Pete. Going to be some fun memories made while enjoying this relaxing gift ♡ Thanks for all the gifts that happen in ‘Life’ x

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Day 12: Wisdom: Wise words from one scientist (Albert Einstein) to another lol!…..1. Follow your curiosity 2. Perseverance is priceless 3. Focus on the present 4. The imagination is powerful 5. Make mistakes 6. Live in the moment 7. Create value 8. Don’t expect different results 9. Knowledge comes from experience 10. Learn the rules and then play betterScreen Shot 2016-08-24 at 12.19.56 PM

Day 13: Art: “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” This beautiful piece of art work by the talented photographer Warren Keelan was taken at Kendalls beach Kiama. I outbid my brother for this art work at a breast cancer fundraiser. We gave this just recently to the oncology ward where Jacob and Ash were treated at POW hospital Randwick in the hope that others can be transported away during their own treatment (if only for a brief moment) The art work is titled ‘End of Days.’ (end of days till the completion of treatment) I love the watching the sea on a stormy day…..

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Day 14: Routine: A simple ‘to do’ routine to follow everyday – 1. Wake up 2. Survive 3. Back to sleep. But I do enjoy my first coffee hit of the day 🙂 even if it’s decaf lol!

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Day 15: Clothing: “clothing myself with the best character is more appealing than clothing myself with expensive labels 🙂

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Day 16: New: carrying on where I left off yesterday with my silly clothing style – I can’t wait to wear my ‘new’ Christmas attire to try to be jolly in, as this Christmas will be the first of many things to come without our beautiful brown eyed boy to enjoy the silly season and celebrate with us x he would be shaking his head with a smile on his face when I put it on

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Day 17: Weather: “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet” Amy and Ben enjoying a rainy storm outside, while Rachel prefers to weather the storm inside 🙂 Jacob was too young to appreciate any kind of weather. I try and enjoy all sorts of weather regardless of the season

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Day 18: Food: Our Christmas table last year x this little saying may become our future ‘Grace’ blessing before we share our Christmas meal together. “Bless the food before us, the family beside us and the love between us…..’ Amen

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Day 19: Beauty: “Our hearts are drunk with a beauty our eyes could never see” – I always knew there’s a reason why I enjoy my bubbles 🙂 Cheers!

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Day 20: Friendship: ” friends are the most important ingredient in this recipe of life” I am truly blessed by having lots of people I can call friends 🙂 and I thank them for coming into my life x and a hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away….

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Day 21″ Technology: “Technology is best when it brings people together” We are going to use Jacob’s camera over Christmas to capture those priceless memories through the lens of his camera, hoping he gets a real good glimpse of our togetherness x

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Day 22: Time: “Time flies….but the memories last forever….” The clock in the kitchen on top of the microwave displays the time, date and temperature and we can write a message on the top which then glows in the dark. It shines brightly at night when you come home late and it’s all dark – perfect nightlight.

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Day 23: Scent: “Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer on the beach….” I love the scent of the flower Gardenia, and here’s Rachel presenting me a leaf off our fabulous gardenia bush we had growing at our first home. The scent reminds me that warmer weather is on it’s way.

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Day 24: Knowledge: ” A teacher plants the seeds of knowledge, sprinkles them with love, and patiently nurtures their growth to produce tomorrow’s dreams.” Can’t believe I graduated 4 years ago with my Bachelor of Education (0-5years). Nice little motto to follow in the profession I work in, love the little ones 🙂 going back to work in January

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Day 25: Comfort: “you can’t be present in the moment with others if you are not comfortable with who you are as a person” yep I’m the crazy cat lady 🙂

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Day 26: Family: “Our family is a circle of love and strength. With every birth and every union the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love, every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger” all because two people fell in love….

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Day 27: Luxury: ” I cannot place the luxury of thought towards tomorrow as I am consumed by living today…” and that’s pretty much the motto we followed as Jacob lived his last few months. I still can’t believe this photo was taken the day before he passed away. Focusing on the day we were given – and if tomorrow came it was a blessing x

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Day 28: Work: “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success…” I’m very fortunate to have loved both of my two careers – nursing & early childhood education. Both recent Christmas catch ups were fun. The only way to do great work is to love what you do 🙂 not long before I’ll be back with the team at Smith Street for a brand new year 2016.

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“Creative people are curious, persistent, independent with a spirit of adventure and a love of play” – couldn’t just post one photo on this theme, with all the creative expression we have dabbled with over the last month in creating a beach themed Christmas for the oncology ward at Prince of Wales Hospital – had to share lots 🙂 it was a nice time getting in touch with my creative side that I had forgotten about & I couldn’t have been happier decorating with these beautifully creative people – we even made the hospital newsletter & poor Rach got her first parking ticket (she’ll have a great reason to get let off if they have any Christmas spirit) couldn’t tag mum Jan Ling because she’s not on Facebook lol. Our efforts granted us a 2nd place in the hospital x going to try for 1st next year….Ash and Jacob would be proud of our efforts (Thanks for asking us to help out Cathy)

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Day 30: Self-Love: “self-love is making your physical, mental and emotional health a priority” In the New Year 2016 I will get more ‘physical’ and look after my mental health (without devil’s horns on my head) and be less of an emotional eater…a jar of vegimite?What was I thinking? I had my first kiss with Pete in that outfit at Bong Bong Picnic Races….Might not look like that by the end of 2016 but at least my my intentions were good 😉

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I may not have achieved some of my goals in the above photo, but I have worked on my mental and emotional health and I’m sure writing has contributed to these areas, maybe I’ll focus 2017 as my physical change. I’m sure my grief with remain with me the rest of my life as it’s the price we pay for love. I will share some more of Lexi Behrndt’s  words again to round up my story of gratitude – ‘I could only be grateful when I realised I would rather have known you for a moment than never at all. I would rather endure this inexplicable pain of outliving you than to never have seen your face, spoken your name. I would rather be yours and you be mine, regardless, Regardless of the sorrow, regardless of the ache, regardless of the years I will walk this earth carrying you – not in my arms – but in my heart.’

 

“an old letter…”

‘Writing letters is the purest form of friendship we humans can possibly express. We capture ourselves in a moment and then we give that moment away to someone else.’ As I look in my cupboard I can see an old school case from my youth. It was a sturdy black suit case that served me well sitting on it waiting for the school bus. It was well decorated with stickers that I’d collected over the years. It is in this old school case where I keep all sorts of letters dating back to when I was 18, letters between my family and I when I was holidaying in the UK for a year. Mum religiously wrote an airmail letter at least once a week, sometimes twice. There was no Facebook, FaceTime, Skype in those days. I looked forward to getting my written weekly fix of news from ‘home.’
In this school case I have kept lots of love letters from Pete and I that we wrote to each other just as I’d started my nursing profession. I even have the heartbreaking letter that I wrote to him that broke his heart, the ‘dear John’ letter that a girl may write to break the relationship. I was a coward as I couldn’t do it face-to-face. If only for a brief few months we broke up only to get back together after some good feedback from my mum saying ‘Pete was really nice.’ I only broke it off as the girls I was training with were all single and I didn’t want to be left out on the weekends. Thanks mum for your wise words as we celebrate our 29th anniversary next month.
I have kept stories that I’d written from when I was around 15, fictional stories about my future family with names of children I’d like to have, adventures that I’d be going on, living ‘happily ever after.’ I’d keep poetry in the school case too. You’ll find letters and cards my children had written and made for me for Mother’s Day, Christmas and Easter practicing their newly formed hand writing as they began to make their mark in the world. Distinct hand writing that I will always be able to recognise as to who wrote that message on the card even without writing their name, just a happy birthday message was enough to recognise, just as an individual fingerprint shows a unique identity.
I have kept some of Amy and Rachel’s old letters they had written to Pete & I on their weekend retreats with Antioch writing about all the reasons they love us both, faults and all. Ben always had a story to accompany his drawings he would do for me, drawing and writing about our football team ‘the Sharks.’ Jacob would write his letters back to front and give himself a total new name, ending with a ‘d’ instead of a ‘b.’ Must be a boy thing as my brother used to write some of his letters back to front too. We found a message he’d written inside a cupboard when he was really young – ‘I hat my mum, don by bebbie’ obviously written after getting into trouble, blaming his sibling.
We would all love to receive letters from our loved ones after they’ve left the world’s atmosphere just like in the romantic movie ‘ps – I love you.’ Who wouldn’t want a letter from their loved one to inspire you to redirect your life from grief and loss and on to a new adventure as we move forward in our lives without them. But things like that are just good movie story lines and don’t happen in everyday lives very often. If they do happen, you are extremely lucky. I will tell you a story about how an old letter was found by mistake. A letter that has become an irreplaceable piece of hand written words in blue pen.
A teacher from the high school where all my children attended found a letter that Jacob had written to his future self. This teacher was Jacob’s year co-ordinator and held a soft spot for Jacob. I will share with you her letter to us following the loss of our ‘beautiful brown eyed boy.’

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Dear Peter, Debbie, Ben, Rachel and Amy, 
I am so sorry for your loss of your beautiful son and brother Jacob. I attended the Memorial at Windang Bowling Club and was moved by the ceremony and the number of his year group in attendance. I’m sorry I didn’t say much to except Rachel as I left quite emotional after the formalities. 
I have fond memories of Jacob and I’m so pleased that when he asked me could he attend his classmates Formal I said yes! There were even more photos of this happy occasion during the memorial (that’s probably why I was so upset).
Incredibly, the other day I found something that Jacob had written and I wanted you to have it. We have moved to a common staff room and for years since Jacob has left school I have kept the letter he wrote to himself at the Year 11 Retreat. I guess I had always meant to return it to him but it had been forgotten and sat in a tub above my filing cabinet until our move. When we moved I was extremely busy and never had the opportunity to really unpack and get organised. 
The other day I started unpacking and was blown over by this find still with Jacob’s handwriting on the front of the envelope. It’s the letter he wrote to himself at his retreat. We normally return these to the students at their formal. Even though Jacob was at the a Formal, as he was no longer a student it was not in the pile of others to return and had been separated. 
I also had a favourite photo of Jacob that I took in my classroom during a Geography lesson. I have copied that for you to have also. 
I am sending you these not with the intention to upset you in any way bug so you have an insight into Jacob’s inner feelings at this time in his life. I’m sure he would have followed his dreams and achieved well in his chosen field but it was not to be unfortunately. 
I hope these items are a comfort to you at this difficult time. 
Thinking of you all, with love…

…………….

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(Jacob’s pretty bad drawing of Australia)

The teachers letter brought tears of sadness and joy all mixed together as we read his letter to his future self, written 3 years prior to his passing on the 25th Oct 2012. He was 17 at the time. The teacher wrote her letter to us with Jacob’s letter and photo inside dated the 27th Oct 2015. Just 2days shy of being spot on to the date that Jacob wrote the letter.
Hello future self, 

If you/I am reading this I actually went through to year 12 which means you didn’t leave to do a tafe course in cinematography. Which means you have made a kick ass movies for Drama and Multi. You should be ripped by now. You should have a part-time possibly full time after HSC, job that is. You should have had or still had a girlfriend if more congratulations, if not keep trying or listen to Mr Lemmon and wait your call. What else to write…
Keep trying to be a cinematographer do not give up and don’t listen to anyone else. 
You should still be friends with Chris much closer to J Cordina’s group. If I missed out on anything Improvise. “Life is an occasion rise to” “Don’t stop believing” Ok well stay alive. Stay sexy, smart and strong. 
I will always love you/me 

Don’t change!! 
P.S if I did do a tafe course disregard this letter. 

We have framed Jacob’s letter and put in on the wall near his memorial shelf in the family room. 

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There is a song that comes to mind as I write about letters. It’s a song by Elvis himself – ‘return to sender.’ Jacob did a pretty good impersonation of Elvis in the bath during his chemo treatment as you see his Hickman’s line in his chest where the chemo entered his body. Although it’s not the same song, he did it well and I’m proud that our local theatre once called him ‘little Elvis.’ His wonderful sense of humour came out in his letter and in the bath and his sense of self is very strong and I will always love that about him.  I’m proud he is mine and he called me ‘mum.’

The hardest words to read in his letter was ‘stay alive.’ He will always be ‘alive’ in me x

‘A cross to bear…’ 

When I was completing Beryl Ayn Young’s ‘illuminate’ online course capturing grief and loss through photography I was asked to look at different perspectives in my photos. There was one perspective that I didn’t capture in my selection of photos. It was ‘negative space.’ Maybe I subconsciously didn’t go about finding this one photo where I could incorporate and use ‘negative space.’ Maybe I didn’t like the word ‘negative.’ Well I thought I’d explore this perspective after all in a photo I took of a cross I had bought in Hawaii after scattering some of Jacob’s ashes in Waikiki. We purposely visited the North Shore again as our last family holiday all together was in Hawaii and we all loved the relaxed old surfing village that featured so many little shops along both sides of the street.

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Pete and I ventured into the most yummy ice cream shop that sold toys as well and purchased two to go. The shop next door looked interesting so we went in to have a ‘sticky beak’ (Australian slang to have a ‘peek’) pete was still in search of a bargain when I was drawn to a beautiful handmade wooden cross made out of drift wood, local shells and coral. It was a fitting piece of decor for Jacobs memorial shelf at home where we feel his presence. I’m sure he would like it, being part of the sea and ocean.
The topic of religion has sparked many a heated conversation between individuals where no one really saying they are right or wrong as the topic is such an individual one. It all boils down to what you believe. I have often asked God ‘why Jacob? Why us?’ How could he let a young person have so much suffering and what right did he have to take him away from us? Thinking like this pulls me away and questions my Catholic faith. My children were all educated in a catholic high school as I was myself, so have grown up being involved in church celebrations, singing, choir, pot-luck dinners after mass and hosting pilgrims from America for the World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. My girls Amy & Rachel enjoyed several years with other youth members in their group Antioch. But the hardest moment was to watch Jacob as he was nearing the end of his life. It broke my heart to think that he felt as though he needed to reconnect back to the church in the hope that he would make it into Heaven, to forgive his sins to make it a peaceful transition. He said to one of his favourite nurses talking about the way he’d like to be celebrated whenever that fateful day occurred. He said he’d like a small low key funeral and a party at a pub or club after where everyone could celebrate him. How brave he was to be even having to plan stuff like that. He smiled as he said ‘I’d like to think I’m still a bit religious.’ How could God resist such a beautiful soul?
At Jacob’s ‘celebration of life’ party at one of our local clubs his cousin James read out a beautiful poem that my mum had found and wanted read out. It is in within these written words that help me deal with my own feelings with what has happened and that one day it will all be revealed to me of the higher plan he has to those in my life, and why things happen that we can’t explain. For I am a child of God like Jacob is. I will share the beautiful words of the poem here – for all that have lost loved ones

“I’ll lend you for a while a child of mine,” He said.
“For you to love the while he lives and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.”

“I cannot promise he will stay; since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked the wide world over in My search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love, not think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take him back again?”

“I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay;
But should the angels call for him much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand!”

I am planning to go on a retreat with friends at a spiritual location at Jamberoo Abbey to help ‘slow down, breathe in the mountain air, let stress and worry fall away, soak in the silence and bask in the presence and love of God.’ This may not be for everyone and by no means do I want to offend anyone or push my beliefs onto others, but I’m sure it will help me as I can’t seem to go to church now without crying. Although it didn’t take much for me to cry at church before when the children were little and I’d watch them sing at a school concert I’d be behind the video recording it with tears rolling down my face blurring what I was watching. I will share a funny memory of when Jacob was being blessed by a priest in our home and it was a very quiet and sacred moment, but that all changed when our bird ‘Chilli’ laughed at the priests words and blessings to Jacob with a loud ‘ha-ha’ amongst the silence. I had to leave the room like a school girl that got the giggles in church and you were holding the laugh back – what timing you silly bird, bringing a light moment of humour to something that is etched in your mind forever. Jacob said afterwards ‘what were we all laughing at?’ as he saw us all walk out of the room. He laughed too & we still do when we look back at the hard memories we don’t often want to look back on. Chilli still chooses the most impromptu times to do his ‘ha-ha’ moment, when it’s a life or death scene in a movie or something sad on tv he breaks the mood. We are not only left with the sad memories, but more happily we readily except the happy ones that just creep in to our everyday existence when we least expect it. Just like the laughs we will remember from Jacob’s ‘high as a kite’ conversations where we wrote down his funny words he’d say when his medications confused his mind. He often say ‘was I talking shit again mum’ and we’d say yes and laugh some more. A few examples of those outburst where like – ‘Mr potato head is on the railings of the bed with the shark’ and ‘the crystals are in his leg from Van Helsing.’ At least he knew when he wasn’t making any sense poor boy x
I cannot wait for the day he’ll welcome me with open arms to show me where he’s been hanging out since the day we lost him when it’s might time to cross over. But while I’m waiting for that time I will live the rest of my life treating people with respect, kindness and a smile, hoping in return they’d treat me the same way.

‘Negative space is the audible silence of the visual world. Never diminish the importance of white space’ – the cross stands out against the white wall. I took the photo using Jacob’s beloved camera. It is in these moments that I have those conversations to my loved ones in Heaven.

‘Home is where the heart is…’ 

‘Home is where our story begins.’ As long as I can remember I have loved ‘home.’ Home to me is where love resides, memories are made, friends always belong and families are forever. I emigrated to Australia from England in 1969 as a child of 5years of age with my parents, older sister and young brother. Apparently I didn’t want to leave my English home as I hid myself in the large pantry a few weeks before our departure causing my parents, grandparents and friends to call out a search party for me. I was in there for several hours while my parents panicked and thought the worst. I have strong memories of childhood in England. In my mind I’m taken back to the days of summer spending time with family at the beach hut. I remember the smell as we opened the doors to the hut at the beginning of the new season. A distinct smell of holidays, ocean, seaweed, plastic buckets and spades, and rubber thongs (flip flops – they are called in UK) so many vivid colourful images taking my mind on a road down memory lane.

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We spent 6 weeks travelling from the UK to Australia on our new temporary floating ‘home’ on the Fair Star. I can remember having a ceremony on the ship when we crossed the equator with a man dressing up as King Neptune. I didn’t like attending the school on the boat and hated the cream of chicken soup we were offered for tea. But I liked being rewarded with chocolate for babysitting my brother Stephen in the locked cabin while mum, dad and Trish joined a party. What mischief was I going to get up too? Nothing!
Our feet touched Australian soil in Sydney and we joined other families in a hostel in Marrickville. Dad was busy trying to find work in a strange new land while mum looked after us in our new ‘home’ and cooked in the large communal kitchen where it smelled so different from anything I’ve ever smelt before. All the different cultures sharing the kitchen all cooking their traditional fare with spices, flavours and sauces that made our sense of smell go into over-drive.

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Dad found a job which enabled us to rent a flat a street away from the iconic beautiful beach Cronulla and that’s the reason why our family are stout ‘sharkies’ supporters – go the ‘black, white & blue.’ Renting wasn’t the dream dad had for his young family so we travelled on his days off to find a block of land to call home. Mount Warrigal – with the Indigenous name ‘ native dog hill’ caught his eye. A home was built from scratch out of wood & bricks and proudly stood over-looking the beautiful Lake Illawarra. This was my wonderful family ‘home’ for 17 years where the bulk of my childhood memories took place. A time where I dressed up in fancy dress with neighbourhood kids, make cubby-houses in the bushes on the top of the hill, went fishing off the jetty, prawning, sailing boats in my neighbours fish pond, pretending my bed was a boat on rainy days, saving my pocket money to buy fireworks to share with friends to let off on the long weekend in June at a huge bonfire all the neighbourhood kids built together. In this ‘home’ I learnt our first lesson in loss, sadness and heartache as a child. The loss of our first pet – a dog called ‘Bitsy.’ These lessons in life have to be taught sometime. During the time in that house the happiness outweighed the sadness by a long shot. I moved out of this home when I became a wife and began a new chapter of happily ever after.

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Pete and I loved our brand new little home we’d made together. I dream at night of that home so often where we move back in with the same warm, fuzzy emotions as we had when we lived there. It was a house that was built on fertile soil as we were blessed with 4 pregnancies, although when we found out we were having Jacob we weren’t living there, but he was conceived in our little of love house on the lower side of the street. My sister Trish had bought a house nearby and we could both stand in our backyards and waved at each other.

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As the saying goes, new house new baby, and Jacob was the baby. We were in need of a bigger house for our expanding family and we stumbled upon a beauty. A home by the same lake I was blessed to have grown up by, and only a few streets away from where my parents still live in the magical house I grew up in. This was the perfect ‘home’ for us. It’s hard to believe how much emotion, memories and love can be held in one ‘home.’ Birthdays, Christmases, Easters, sleepovers, pool parties, the run of the mill happenings with a young family. Jacob was our only baby that was brought home from hospital into our new home by the lake. It was in this very house where he took his last breath surrounded by 19 people – family and friends. The love in the room at that moment was palpable.

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I’m sitting in the family room writing this here story, in the very room where Jacob passed away. I feel connected to him as I glance around the room at all the little things that belong to him on several shelves. I feel at home here.

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As I look back on my life I’ve been lucky to have had the feeling of being at ‘home’ in many places. Throughout my life even if I had a sleep over at a friends house I always felt at ‘home.’ I can relate to Paul Young’s words in his song- wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home. But it would be more effective for me to say – ‘that wherever I lay my head that’s my home. I’m like an illusion of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz – ‘there’s no place like home’ as I click my heels together and replay the moving pictures of my life inside my head.
The more I look into the meaning of ‘home’ it becomes clearer that it is way much more that just the walls, floor and shelter. Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love. I was first introduced to the song that will accompany this blog called ‘that home’ by my son Ben’s beautiful girlfriend Paige. I can remember her singing the song by The Cinematic Orchestra, as she played our piano at a time in our lives that was changing forever. She made our old out of tune piano sounds musical again. ‘There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
This is a place where I don’t feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home
‘Cause, I built a home
For you
For me….’