‘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 πŸ™‚ 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” πŸ‹ 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 πŸ™‚

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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 β™‘

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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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚ 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 β™‘ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰

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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.’

 

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