Monthly Archives: October 2016

‘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. 

‘Consciously becoming…’ 

To look at in a photograph I am still the same as I was before Jacob getting sick. My name is still the same. I still smile with my whole face and my laughter lines turn into a few wrinkles as age gets the better of me. I laugh the same (and so does our bird Chilli). My eyes are still that grey/blue colour. My hair never really changes, mousy blown/light brown with srcunched up curls the easiest style to manage. I am a wife and mum to four beautiful young adults – 3 on earth and 1 Angel in Heaven.

My weight is a bit more on the ‘chunky’ side as I’ve tended to be an emotional eater all my life. I eat when I’m happy, sad, bored and indifferent – an unnecessary comfort at times. I am the same friend I always was before. I still have the same sense of humour and drive the same car and work with the same people. I still have the same dreams for my children that I did before, for them to be happy, healthy and to lead a long life ahead with good fortune on their side. My dream for Jacob is a little more altered now, I still wish and hope that he is happy and healthy up there, watching and waiting for the day till we’ll all be together again.  “I wish people could see you when they saw me. I wish they could see why I’m better, kinder, richer, more whole. Because I met you and fell in love, and even though you’re physically gone, you’re forever one of the very best parts of me.” – Lexi Behrndt.
It’s what’s hidden beneath the exterior that’s changed:

  • I am a bereaved mum
  • I think deeper
  • I cry more easily
  • I understand more deeply
  • I hurt more often
  • I appreciate more quickly
  • I hope more desperately
  • I love more openly
  • I have reconnected with my creative side
  • I am beginning to ‘smile’ again – seeing miracles in life everyday

I can’t rewind the clock and become who I was before, I can only grow from what life has thrown along my path. I can lay down and refuse to take another step or continue as Jacob would want me to towards a bright future with his love and guidance from afar. I choose life “and though I’ll forever long for him, I need to tell myself this; it’s okay to love him by embracing life. It’s okay if over time, the love we share looks less like heartache and more like freedom. And I also needed to tell myself this; there is no shame in that.” – Lexi Behrndt.

As I venture into the unknown future – 

  • I’d liketo become an advocate, a voice for parents of youth cancer patients
  • I’d like to write a book to help others with their own grief in life
  • I’d like to live out the rest of my life to the fullest..
  • I’d like to think I’m making him proud with the choices I’m making 

…honouring Jacob with every step I take. 

I’m sure I will keep changing over the years. I’m hoping the days will get better, it will be easier to breathe, and I will let love win, as my memory will never erase him, nor the pain of his absence, nor the joy of his existance.

‘Sounds, seasons and scents…’ 

I have to be in the right frame of mind and emotions to be able to listen to certain songs and music as they can take you to a thousand different places as they stir up so many triggers of remembrance of times in your life. The playlist on my iPod is one of the most intimate things I can share with anyone. I find that If I ask people to listen to a particular song it’s because the lyrics mean everything that I’ve been trying to say. One particular song that I will treasure deep in my heart is a song that Jacob introduced me to on the way home from having chemo one day. He said ‘you’ll like this one mum.’ I did love the song as I hid the tears behind dark sunglasses while driving – ‘it’s beautiful’ I replied. This was the song that Jacob took his last breath to as the song finished on his phone. The song is aptly called ‘it’s nice to be alive’ by Ball Park Music and a song they used on the movie with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore called ‘Blended.’ The words of the song are catchy and upbeat with an occasional swear word that can be heard so I apologise if you take offence when you hear the song being played. Jacob was never one to swear (at least he didn’t in my company). But singing the swear words in the lyrics don’t count. I can sometimes sing along but other times it tugs too hard at the heartstrings and tears flow freely.

We lost Jacob on the 7th October 2015 at 4.33pm on a cool spring afternoon in Australia. The sun peaked through the clouds, and shone down on his face all the rest of the afternoon as the Beatles played ‘here comes the sun’ as we continued to listens to songs off his iPhone. They say Spring is the season of new beginnings – our family beginning to learn how to live without our beautiful brown eyed boy. My heart was still in winter with him all wrapped up in his snuggly clothes that covered his shrinking frame and made him need lots of layers on to retain his body heat. With his famous beanies and comfy tracky-dacks that became his new fashion sense. At this point of his life he dressed for comfort like an old man before his time, not for vanity reasons like he used to do to attract the opposite sex. I still have his favourite jumpers that he wore when his body filled his shape and also the ones where they just hung loosely off him like it was hung on a coat hanger.
I wasn’t ready to be bathed in the warmth of the sunny weather that lay ahead. How could I bask in the glory of the sun when was heart was dark and cold? I want to go back to winter where we shared lots of time together when he was away from home, snuggled under the blanket watching movies, falling asleep on the lounge together as mother and son, Jacob exhausted from treatment and me too emotionally drained to keep my eyes open. Another reason why I’m reluctant to embrace the warmer weather is because Jacob wasn’t able to swim since he had his port put into his chest to administer the chemo. Having a swimming pool at our home that he couldn’t use was a major tease so I felt guilty going in and enjoying myself when he could not. But Spring is a time to find out where you are, who you are, and move forward where you are going. How do we carry on?
Scent is the most powerful memory trigger. I love the body spray Jacob used after a shower before going out. His brother Ben uses the same one as well – Lynx Africa. I can visually see the picture of the spray in my mind, the black can with green and red stripes. It brought a smile on my face as they went out the door on a night out smelling and looking really attractive, proud mum moments knowing I’d brought them up well by taking pride in their appearance and hygiene. He’d use the scent while having chemo treatments in the hospital to freshen himself after a shower before getting visitors. These scents are emotions which are bought to life. Eating warm popcorn at the pictures stirs the senses as these were Jacob’s favourite food on these trips as we settle down to watch the latest blockbuster. I can’t bring myself to heat weetbix up in the microwave as he always used to for breaky, for the smell of sweetness floated through the kitchen. Heating up his heat packs in the microwave reminded me of this too. The distinct smell of warm wheat. As a loyal Bunnings employee he’d always buy a sausage sandwich for lunch at the regular fundraising tents outside near the entrance, and I can’t resist buying one either. Nothing smells as good as a sausage cooking on the bbq.


All of the triggers of memory that come up in sound, seasons and scent involve the senses. We hear the songs and music with our ears, we see the beauty of the changing seasons with our eyes, and smell the fragrances with our nose and they all touch our hearts. It consumes us and we feel grief with everything we see, feel, smell and touch. As we think of the things that remind us of loved ones lost, we use the last of the five senses – we taste our tears as they leak from our eyes. The love we have for our loved ones is like poetry for our senses.

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‘Healing therapies…’ 

I was once told that I need to keep my mind still to be able receive the messages that Jacob is trying to send me. Keeping my mind still is a hard ask on my part – I tend to over analyse things and thoughts fly all around in circles every second of the day and I truly believe that I can multi-task (in my mind that is). So one way to combat this overactive brain of thoughts is that I could try meditation. And so I did – and my meditation to self healing began….’the goal of meditation is Not to get rid of Thoughts or Emotions, the Goal is to become more AWARE of your Thoughts and Emotions and Learn how to Move Through them without getting stuck.’ 
I found myself a group of wonderful women to ‘zone out’ with. It’s a wonderful feeling when we all get on well with one another as we all bring something beautifully unique to the group, you just feel welcomed. It’s funny how life sometimes draws you all together to share one another’s stories regardless of where we’ve been or where you are going to. The leader of the group is a flower child reincarnated from the Woodstock era, when you are in her presence you are in awe of her colours of her soul radiating outwards and from within and you instantly feel healed in her presence. She chooses her words wisely and calls a spade a spade if it’s due. She uses ‘true blue’ Aussie slang as she shares her stories. You can be yourself around her bearing your warts and all so to speak and she’s got a heart of gold with a broad set of shoulder to offer you when in tears. I really enjoy being in her radiant company and I want to share her with others so they can feel her true gifts. You walk into her home and the aromas sifting through the air set the stage for a successful step for healing. 
I look forward to my weekly fix of womanly togetherness, bonding on spiritual levels, but most of all my meditation time for me. I never thought I’d be able to do it as I’ve always been skeptical about people who get hypnotised on stage to do random things. But I surprised myself of how deep it took me. I listen to the instructions for as long as my mind allows then I drift off into my own subconscious and daydream from one thing to another, coming in and going out of random little acts that role play on stage, then I wake up and think ‘oh shit where am I’ take a look around and off I go again. I can barely hear the sound of my own breathing and my whole body is paralysed in relaxation. But I strangely hear noises of the surrounding areas like the traffic noise, a distant dog barking but it doesn’t take you away from the meditation experience. I did a past life regression on one occasion and had remembered feeling a flush of heat just like a flush of menopause and an uncontrollable urge to cry. The instructions were to go to a place in your childhood and think of a memory but if you felt uncomfortable in any way just hover where you felt comfortable, so I didn’t go deeper as I couldn’t control the tears. I took myself back to my childhood (and I did have a wonderfully happy childhood) and stayed there at one particular memory. In that memory I was hiding in the pantry of my grandmothers home just before our family had made the big move to emigrate to Australia. A search party were out looking for me as I’d been missing for at least 5 hours. Looking deeper into my sadness I came to realise that the tears was from me not wanting to leave the family behind and I do have great strong ties with the ‘homeland.’ So the tears were probably pent up sadness of not wanting to leave the UK at the tender age of 5. Other sessions we do take us on journeys where you open treasure chests and see things but when I travel on these journeys my minds does what it wants and it’s like someone’s got the remote for the tv channel and is browsing to get the right show that you mind wants to watch. What we all get out of meditation is individual and what works for one might not work for another, but if it helps that’s the most important thing we can take from it. 
The group has got larger due to word of mouth and its popularity of the positive words being spoken. The meditation session is offered over 2 days now one during the day and one in the evening. We all share a meal with one another to unwind from the days actions and we converse to one another before we take to our favourite spots to sit (we are but creatures of habit) and wait for our meditation to begin. We close the evening with an exchanging of some medicine and tarot cards and take photos of the messages they might prevail for the coming week. We bid farewell with hugs and well wishes till we meet again. I love my healing therapy of meditation in my life after loss. I look forward to being more open to messages from loved ones by having a clearer mind. 
This little balloon has survived so long now and doesn’t want to breathe that last breath out in its life. I don’t think anyone does. I’m sure Jacob didn’t either, not at his young age. The balloon has been surviving since we celebrated his 21st birthday in March, seven months ago. I had said the balloon was waiting till all his friends had celebrated their own 21st birthdays and that it was Jacob’s way of saying he was there too to wish them well. Meditation is like the breath inside the balloon – ‘as you breathe in, cherish yourself, as you breathe out cherish all living things…’

‘Beliefs & Spirituality’ 

I have already shared my words on my spiritual beliefs in another blog entry so I won’t rehash what has been already said before. But I do know that it is difficult for me to go to mass nowadays because I get too emotional when I hear the music and hymns being played. I recently went on a beautiful weekend retreat with friends to reconnect with my beliefs and spirituality and had the opportunity to go and speak to a nun for about an hour. I had felt guilty about not wanting to reconnect with my faith having grown up as a catholic all my life with what had happened to our family. How could losing Jacob become part of Gods plan? But having the conversation with the nun has helped. All the heARTworks and writings I’m creating for Jacob is prayer in itself – I was already reconnecting, just in a different way. I took a photo while I was on a walk with friends on the weekend and when I looked back at the photos taken later that day I was in total amazement in what I had captured in the photo. Divine intervention? One could not say, I’ll let you decide for yourself. At first I found the rainbow (no rain – it was sunny) and then there was an image in the trees (first I saw a heart, then I saw a man’s face with a beard).

‘Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience…’
I would like to share a beautiful song my daughter Amy introduced me to when she was in her impressionable youth. A song that was sung by a youngster himself – Billy Gilman’s version of God’s Alive and Well. The words dabble with a little bit of my own beliefs and spirituality. I hope you enjoy it too.