Monthly Archives: December 2017


Week 51: ‘me’ 

I’m Debbie, a 53 year old married mum of four young adults – 3 beautiful beings on earth and 1 equally beautiful Heavenly son. As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a nurse and a mum. I believed I could and I did. A newly graduated nurse married her soulmate in 1987 and with this union came 4 children within the next 7 years. Life was good….fast forward to Oct 2015, to where we lost our 20 year old son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend Jacob. In his brave short battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma he taught us to be thankful for every day you’ve been blessed with. I saw his first and last breath in life (although it’s not meant to be that way) and I’m privileged to have been his mum. We are all still trying to adjust to living our lives without him and in ways to make him proud. We spent the last month of his life ‘inhaling’ and breathing him in, wrapping him up in love and making more memories to cherish. ‘Stay golden pony boy’ – a line from the movie The secret life of Walter Mitty. 

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 learning to smile again – see miracles in life everyday with Jacob’s love and guidance from afar. 

I am a better person because of him. 


Week 50: ‘shadows’ 
Never fear shadows. They simply mean that there’s a light shining nearby. I’ve never been scared of shadows. I have loved watching scary movies ever since I was really young. I’d wake my younger brother up in the middle of the night to watch the double creature feature on tv. We’d sit there with our hands over our eyes opening our fingers with just enough room to watch a small section of the screen at a scary part. I must have shared the love of horror films to my children as they have inherited the excited buzz when scared from a horror film. I loved listening to ghost stories by torch light at a campsite. I loved playing hide and seek and finding the best dark place to hide and jump out with a scream when found. 
Now I’m older and wiser I still never fear the shadows. As I dabble with Jacob’s camera those shadows cast a better picture on what you’re capturing as we learn that the best time to take those perfect shots is early morning and late afternoon where the light is at it’s best. When I look at those photos of people surrounded by a glowing light of birthday candles, or by the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree, a sense of calmness comes over me. There’s something magical about the light from a single match amongst a room full of darkness and shadows. One tiny match can give off so much beautiful light. 

I have to think that the shadows out the corner of my eye as little glimpses of Jacob’s spirit around me to keep us safe or was it my mind playing tricks? I’d like to think that it was Jacob. I’m lucky that I have Jacob’s movies on his YouTube channels to watch his creative talent come to life as he made his short, scary and shadowy movies that give you that shiver down your spine and make the hairs on your neck stand on end. People who watch one little movie in particular called – Abandoned a teaser trailer, thought it was a real trailer for a new movie that was coming out, and expressed interest and said they couldn’t wait for it to be released. I’m sure he would have become famous had he had more time on earth to pursue his career of being a well known cinemaphotographer. 

The candle in the photo that accompany these words cast shadows on the walls from the naked flame. I love how the dragonflies fly around from the heat generated by the candle. I light this candle in memory of Jacob. Emma Thompson once said – ‘once you’re a mum, you’ve been split into two people. It’s like Peter Pan and his shadow.’

That’s the way I feel about the loss of Jacob. Still connected in so many ways. In shadows, in light, in sunshine, in rain, in life, in death and in my dreams. You can’t outrun your shadow. So, dance with it. 

Here’s Jacob’s little movie titled – ‘Abandoned’ hope you are not too scared by the shadows in it… 


Week 49: ‘Create’ 
Since the passing of my son Jacob I have connected with lots of other bereaved parents on Facebook and Instagram. It was on Facebook when I was on looking at the group ‘facets of grief’ that I first found Beryl Ayn Young’s course called ‘illuminate’ – lighting the path to photographic healing. I loved searching for that perfect photo that captured each lesson and I particularly liked the writing that accompanied that photo as I was writing from the heart. In two years I have created so much in honour of Jacob. ‘Facets of grief’ gave me 40 different prompts for creativity over 40 weeks (40 weeks was a number chosen to represent the weeks a child develops in a pregnancy) I started my blog as one of these prompts. 
From connecting with these great sites I have gained even more creative outlets -CaryMarie an artist that paints your child’s name in the sand and runs challenges and memorial days for people to join like ‘capture your grief’ and ‘ the prayer flag’ project, Lexi Behrndt with her beautiful words offering healing from the loss of her son. I’m forever grateful that I found this wonderful site 52 moments:a Recapture Self Photo Community (now Recapture Self Village) with Jen and all the lovely people I’ve got to know online. I look forward to seeing what the weekly photographic word prompt is each week. Once I know the word for that week my brain kicks into gear and I begin to think of different images I get from that one word and how I can relate it to our memories of Jacob as the photos and words each week get placed into my blog – a blog that I dedicate every word to Jacob so his spirit and memory stays alive. There are so many creative outlets that you can tap into and there are so many more that I haven’t even touched on or shared. 
Well this year I found another one to participate in. I participated in a memorial ornament exchange for Christmas. Families from around the world complete and return a questionnaire about their child. They ‘draw names’ and each family gives and receives a personalised ornament. Some families hand make and mail their ornaments, and others order and ship online. I was given a beautiful family to create a memorial ornament for who had lost a baby at birth. The questionnaire gave me 4 little things that are special to his memory – stars, dragonflies and paper boats and the colour blue. I’m sure Jacob was helping me with this creative task as I began to gather my items. I had a picture in my head of what I thought it would look like and I wasn’t disappointed with the end product. I’d like to think that Jacob has met the little baby that I was making the decoration for, that they’d both be smiling down as their mums create something so meaningful during the festive season. 
I was absolutely in awe of my memorial ornaments that I received as well. I was asked ‘what was one of Jacob’s favourite movies?’ as his career path was becoming a cinemaphotographer. He had too many favourites but there was one that he commented about on his Instagram account. This quote from the movie ‘Interstellar’ was written on the other side of his ornament – ‘love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space’ speaks volumes. 

As I continue to find creative outlets to keep Jacob’s memory and spirit alive I will think of this quote -‘Create what sets your heart on fire and it will illuminate the path ahead.’ For me, writing and creating things to honour Jacob has helped shape my mind to be in a much more healthier space in those dark times that come with grief of losing a child. I’m very thankful for so many opportunities to ‘create.’


Week 48: ‘routine’ 
The definition of routine that fits best with my weekday lifestyle is – regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure. It may change slightly on the weekend when life becomes that bit more relaxed. I open my eyes in appreciation that a new day has been given to me and then reach for my mobile phone, then iPad as we do in our digital world. I check my emails, check Facebook, check Instagram, check WordPress, check my bank account and play a silly time wasting game all before I get out of bed. I may skip a few of those items on the last list on a day at work, time is more precious to play the game. I don’t really use my devices until I’m home at the end of the day, as I relax before bed. 

I’m glad my iPad is part of my routine. This very iPad that I’m tapping my fingers on has been with me through thick and thin. I bought it on the 15th June 2013. It has travelled with me on holidays, involving trips overseas, on long car rides and was my constant companion when waiting and watching Jacob have treatment, tests and surgery. I have my favourite games that I play on my iPad. It has been the sounding block for all my blogs to have been created. So many entries in the ‘notes’ section. I never want to accidentally delete them as the words mean so much. Notes from Jacob writing a script for his next little movie to create, notes from the hospital on the day we found out that he cancer, the notes we wrote together about all the questions we needed to ask the doctor next time we saw her, notes that contained lists of what things to bring in to the hospital like his favourite foods, drink and what DVDs to bring in for him to watch, notes of appointments, tests and blood tests, notes containing important contact numbers for his nurses, notes that pointed out his bucket list of things to complete in the time he had left on earth. 

I’m dreading the day that my iPad will no longer work as nothing lasts forever. I have had it repaired once when the screen flashed in green lines. It was like losing parts of Jacob all over again, bit by bit. The things that hold memories of the time we had together. Thankfully magic was restored and I get to tap my pointer finger over the screen once again. The protective cover looks old and tatty and could tell a few stories from it’s time. I have now since the first repair backed up my notes, favourite games and all important documents in iCloud. Favourite games like jewels, solitaire, Frozen free fall, wizard of oz and cookie jam blast. I used to be a candy crush player but got stuck on a level and have since lost interest. I think to my myself that my little routine of playing these games keep my brain active and thinking in case I get dementia later in life. Well that was my excuse. When I am playing these silly time waster games my mind does relax and the thoughts that were running a race have slowed to a tortoise pace. I am getting more acceptable to the fact that my old faithful iPad is nearing the end of it’s existence so I have another one on the go just in case. You can see both of the iPads side by side on the lounge amongst some Christmas hats and bills to pay. 

Jacob had his mobile phone and iPad too to help him stay focused with his mundane routine of when he was in hospital having chemo or enduring a 6 day stint in isolation due to neutropenia where he took time lapse photos from his windows to pass the time. I have kept these too yet we can only use his iPad as his phone has since broken. He played ‘don’t touch the spikes’ another game where he’d have to insert arrows within spaces of a spinning circle, four letters and he’d verse others online in a trivial pursuit type game answering questions about all things movies. Oh how I wish I could see his long fingers of his beautiful hands work the magic of his computer, camera and phone again. 

Sometimes a break from our routine is the very thing we need. I am going to try and modify my morning routine and slow down on the tapping into technology. When my mobile phone was being repaired I was without it for 3weeks. At first I thought as though I’d lost an arm or leg and couldn’t do without it. But after a while that feeling of wanting it to be with me 24/7 dissipated and before long I was writing my blogs the original way using a pen on white writing paper in an old school book from my children. I can do that again. I am a great believer in variations on routine. 


Week 47: ‘family’ 
I tried so hard to capture ‘family’ during the week to no avail. Our lives are busy at present. I’m working 4 days a week, my husband works too, my eldest daughter Amy has been busy with job interviews and renewing her first aid as well as doing after school care, my second daughter Rachel has already moved out of home and is working as a chef at one of our local wineries and Ben is teaching PE at one of our local Catholic High Schools – hence the hard job finding a ‘family’ moment to photograph. 

For my birthday in June this year my husband surprised me with tickets to see Cat Stevens early December. On Thursday night my husband Pete asked me to get the tickets ready to take with us for the concert. Much to his surprise I replied ‘I don’t have the tickets, I gave them to you to look after (as this was what we did as he keeps things in order where I lose things). He replied ‘I can’t remember keeping the tickets and they’re not where I would keep them.’ This started a frantic search to no avail they never appeared. Thankfully we were issued another set of tickets via email and the others (if found) would be useless. This concert was last night. My husband and I set off on the journey from home at 10.30am and arrived at our destination at around 2pm, we hit lots of weekend traffic in Sydney so it made it longer. After having at least 3 weeks of glorious sunshine as we drove up the sky looked ominous. 

Normally we wouldn’t worry about the weather but the Cat Stevens concert was outdoors in one of the Hunter Valley wineries – ‘a day on the greens’ at night. Needless to say the Heavens opened and we were soaked. It didn’t matter in the slightest as we were decked out with a dark rain coat and bright yellow poncho – very bumble bee looking the two of us together. The rain seemed to make the crowd crazier and happier to be out in the elements, bare feet in muddy puddles, rain watering down wine and beer in plastic cups and wearing rain protective apparel that clearly wasn’t working as we blinked to see a few steps in front of us. Smiles all around. It was raining ‘Cats’ & no dogs (just my warped sense of humour 😀). 

He opened the concert with ‘Wild world.’ Well the weather was wet and wild but we didn’t care. When I think of rain immediately hear the conversation between the characters Allen Parrish and Sarah Whittle in Jumanji when Sarah says ‘well a little bit of rain never hurt anyone’ and Allen quickly replies ‘yeah right’ and prepares for a monsoon in June. Not quite a monsoon but it was more of an inconvenience that you couldn’t get your cameras out for fear of getting them wet and your glasses fogged up with the hot summer humidity so you couldn’t see through them. 

The rain had paused for one of my favourites. I got my mobile phone out to video the song in its entirety, I thought I’d pressed record but realised I hadn’t so only got a few short bars of the song ‘father and son.’ My husband luckily recorded it. I’m sure that song had even more meaning now that Jacob is gone. He’s never going to have those conversations like that anymore with his son but he will with Jacob’s brother Ben. The song that followed was ‘here comes the sun.’ Another important one as this was the song that played just after he’d taken his last breath and the sun was shining on his face the rest of the afternoon. Our wedding song was ‘morning has broken.’ A fitting song for anyone working in early childhood education was ‘where do the children play’ and a song for the years of our youth ‘remember the days in old school yard.’ Cat belted out one particular number that touched the heartstrings as the concert drew to a close – oh very young, what will you leave us this time, you’re only dancing on this earth for a short while…..will you carry the words of love with you, will you ride the great white bird into Heaven and though you want to last forever…you know they never will, you know they never will, and the good-bye makes the journey harder still. ❤️ The rain blended with my tears and no one could tell I was crying as I heard some of his favourite hits. 

This is my ‘family’ photo for this weeks prompt along with a quote I found on the Internet – Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song 🎼 …….thanks for the music and songs tonight Cat Stevens. 

‘The beat within’ 

The first sound a foetus and infant hears is their mother’s heartbeat while in utero. As the wiring of the brain makes connections for the ears to hear a song is created. It is a unique song and beat that harmonises the love between mother and her child. This sound is imprinted in the child’s mind. This particular song can be felt and heard again once the child is born. The mother holds them close to the left side of her body near to the heart and rocks them to the unique beat written specially for the two of them. This first sound of a mother’s heartbeat teaches that child to appreciate music. Babies move to music before they have the words to sing, they move their bodies to the beat, clap hands and shake toys and rattles ignited by the first song they hear.
As we grow up and begin to feel the music within us we are individually drawn to certain styles of music that make us feel more alive. As I entered my 2nd year as a bereaved mother I made a conscious promise to myself that it was going to be a year of trying new things that I’ve never done before. I kept my promise to myself and in March of this year I enrolled in a local African drumming group. I placed my hand on the large djembe and drummed a beat for my son Jacob. The sound I made with my hand on the drum was a heartbeat. A heartbeat that Jacob had once heard. This was what connected us. It was our song – between mother and son. I played the drum loud and proud in the hope he could hear it and feel it through the vibrations of time and space. Animals too have their own unique beat too passed down to them as a way of connecting and communication. Gorilla’s beat their chest and kangaroos stamp their feet on the ground.

Jacob’s own heartbeat stopped just as a special song had finished playing on the iPod. It was a song that he had introduced me to on the way home from having chemo one day. He said to me ‘mum you’ll like this song.’ I did like the song as I heard it with tears running down my face hidden behind dark sunglasses and I liked the title -‘it’s nice to be alive.’ I talk to him all the time in my mind and out loud and will always long to hear his voice in response. We have to find a different way to communicate and connect now he’s not in the physical world.
Over the years trauma specialists have recognised that rhythmical music can be beneficial as a way to heal trauma and grief, particularly the studies they have carried out with children. The rhythmical patterns that are played impact the centre of the brain which helps the way humans process trauma. Just this weekend I enrolled in a drum circle facilitators course and met some fantastic people who work with diverse groups within the community like youth, special needs, refugee families and elderly with Alzheimer’s who use rhythmical musical patterns as ways to improve a persons emotional wellbeing (Course was run by Arthur Hull and Ryhthm2Recovery). Maybe that’s the reason why enjoy my drumming each week. I’m allowing my body, heart and soul to heal the hurt of losing Jacob. You don’t even have to be able to read music to play a percussion instrument, you just play to the beat within you, the heartbeat that you played for your child, your song that was written for the two of you. The song that I play will tell you more about me than I ever will. I will find pieces of Jacob in every song I listen to.
To all those who have lost loved ones I hope you all find the song that’s written for you. Once you’ve found it, hold on to it and play it loud and proud so our loved ones can hear it. It’s ok to tell your heart to beat again.

‘Play, pause, stop and rewind…’ 

I totally agree with Jason Silva’s wise words ‘I always loved watching movies because I loved what certain moments inside of films did to me.’ Film; it has the power to cross generations, cross language boundaries, and provoke us to deal with issues in our culture and personal belief systems. After experiencing the emotionally traumatic passing of my 20 year old son Jacob watching certain movies that I’ve already seen before tugs even harder at the heart strings. Emotions and feelings lay just beneath the surface just waiting for that emotional trigger to erupt the tears. We all have our favourite genres to watch – comedy, horror, action, Sci-fi, romance, thriller, adventure, documentary, animation, family, film-noir, musical, sport, war, biography, crime, fantasy, history, music, epic, mystery, western and many more that I may have forgotten to mention. Watching movies has the ability to take you away from your current life and existence and offers you an opportunity to switch off and zone out. It can give us a distraction of the mind by watching something that doesn’t require any physical concentration. 

There are four movies in particular that speak to me more now than ever before because of what has happened in my life. I have always loved these movies but they now take on a whole different meaning within the story lines, words spoken and the final scenes. In the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ the Tin man meets the Wizard to ask him for a heart. The wise Wizard tells the Tin man ‘you don’t know how lucky you are to not have a heart – hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.’ The tagline that got the audience intrigued about what the movie ‘Frequency’ starring Dennis Quaid was all about. What if you had the chance to travel back in time and change one event in your life? What would it be? I know what I would change. Another movie which dealt with time travel and changing the past is ‘About time’ – What if every moment in life came with a second chance?’ P. S. I love you is about a young widow who discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to ease her pain and start a new life. There are many phrases from that movie that sting my face with salty tears ~ We haven’t lost everything, if we haven’t lost our hope. Am I OK? I’m lots of things. I’m lonely, I’m tired, I’m sad. I’m happy, I’m lucky, I’m unlucky. I’m a million different things every day of the week. But I suppose OK is one of them. She felt relieved to have known him, to love him and to be loved by him, and the relief that the last thing he saw was her face smiling down on him, encouraging him and assuring him it was OK to let go. Just from these movies alone I now wish I had an unbreakable heart and I could go back to a time when cancer is only a zodiac sign, so I wouldn’t have to see Jacob suffer and succumb to a horrible disease. 
Our family does have a love of movies with ‘horror’ being our favourite genre. So many memories of us all together watching the latest scary movie together with fingers and covering our faces as we anticipate a fright going to happen in the scene and we’d end up all asleep with the movie replaying the menu screen. Jacob had inherited his dad’s love of movies which inspired his career choice of becoming a cinematographer. You never know what you feel like watching when you get a chance to stop and relax in this busy world of ours. But as I do chose one to watch I can’t help but think ‘what would Jacob like about this movie.’ I’m using his camera now, the very one he created his clever and funny clips on his YouTube channels. You can find his creativity at CobbyFilms and JDScreens. He would have had his name in lights had he had more time on earth. His name proudly scrolls down along the credits from an Australian film he was a camera assistant for called ‘Forbidden grounds.’ He went to the black tie premier party for the release of the movie for Anzac Day and was proud, honoured and a bit crushed that they had spelt his surname wrong. As I use his camera I’m seeing the world through his eyes, the lens of his camera, keeping us connected as he helps guide me to what I capture. 
One of the photographs that accompanies this story about the power of films and the hidden messages within them shows Jacob and Cate Blanchette. Jacob was given a dream from a wonderful Australian charity called ‘Dream2Live4,’ an organisation that grants dreams to adults living with metastatic cancer. He worked on set for 2 days for the movie ‘Truth’ starring Cate, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace while they filmed in Sydney. This photo of the two of them can be seen in the movie on Mary Mapes notice board in several scenes. We have the movie on DVD now and pause it when we see it and proudly say ‘found you’ everytime. People have commented that Jacob looked a little bit like Heath Ledger and Jason Segel as he was growing up. We won’t get anymore photos of Jacob just like the world won’t get any more of Heath, but as Jason continues to age and mature over the years in the public eye I may get an idea of what Jacob could have looked like in the future. 
I will leave you with another quote from the movie ‘About time’ ~ No one can ever prepare you for what happens when you have a child. When you see the baby in your arms and you know that it’s your job now. No one can prepare you for the love and the fear. No one can prepare you for the love, people you love, can feel for them. As I listen to the soundtrack from ‘About time’ my favourite song plays from my iPod shuffle ~ ‘How long will I love you’ by Ben Coleman, Jon Boden and Sam Sweeney. How long will I love Jacob? Forver, till we meet again. 

‘Keeping their spirit and memory alive’ 

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. When I speak or write about Jacob I don’t do it for sympathy I do it to keep his memory and spirit alive. So how do I live my life in ways to make him proud and how do I keep his spirit and memory alive in everything? I’m still learning how to find ways to do this. 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 and unique to that person. 
How is it possible that it has been nearly two years since I’ve seen his face, held his beautiful hands, kissed his warm forehead, wiped his sweated brow and heard his raspy voice and contagious laugh. The world keeps on turning and life is passing us by without our beautiful brown eyed boy in it. The first year of loss was a blur. It was if I was in a dream with memories of Jacob’s diagnosis and treatment on constant replay in my mind. It’s hard to pull all of those vast memories of his past to the forefront of my mind. I just want my life to go back to the day it was before diagnosis, treatment, grief and loss. I can’t remember what it was like before this time – I was a happily married mum of four adult children. We all lived under one roof in a 3 bedroom house with 2 cats, 2 dogs, a bird and fish. My children were beginning their own journey in life and travelling in the directions of their designated career paths and my husband and I were coming up to that period of our lives of ’empty nesters.’ I am hoping that with time those memories will return and distort the visions and distressing memories that are stuck on replay in my mind. 
I returned to work 3 months into my first year of loss, which included our first Christmas without Jacob. My beautiful workmates let me own my tears with a hug and kind words. I thought being busy would take my mind off the devastating grief I felt inside. There were so many triggers that opened the flood gates of tears – when a particular song came on the radio, when someone asked how I was, when I was shopping in the supermarket thinking about the food he loved, when I looked at photos and family videos and when I saw Facebook updates from his friends enjoying their lives when Jacob’s was cut short. I couldn’t go to church as the hymns made me cry and I was questioning my faith quite a bit at the time. 
I felt the need to talk to others who understood how I felt. I searched online and reached out for others in groups from all over the world. I have found so many beautiful people who I’ve never met before but have since become like family and I look forward to catching up, connecting and sharing stories online. 
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. 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. We ring his bell when we are outside using his bar and will ring it to announce a toast to him as we raise a glass in his honour. I am using Jacob’s camera to capture the world through his eyes, keeping us connected by what I see through the lens of his camera. A banner with Jacob’s beautiful face hangs proudly on the front of a truck at the annual Illawarra Convoy to raise money for Camp Quality, helping children and their families through their cancer journey. Thousands of people line to streets to wave the trucks past along their 70km journey. Never in our scariest nightmare would we ever think that Jacob would become part of the convoy as we watched this event from the side of the road as a family of 6 since it began. 
As the saying goes ‘The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.’ I don’t have their arms around me anymore like the quote at the beginning of this 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. 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. 
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. Jacob’s name is permanently on a trophy that is given out each year for the most inspirational person in the disabled sailing club after coming first in a sailing regatta just 4 days before we lost him. 
My daughter gave her brother a wonderful present for his 21st birthday (our first birthday without him) – a life size cut out of Jacob to stand out larger than life. Our warped sense of humour will get us through tough times and we will continue to ‘get Jacob out of his box’ to join us in all family gatherings to come. For our first angelversary of our beautiful brown eyed boy we had a star named after him where we mapped the coordinates in the dark sky eating his favourite pizza surrounded by family and friends. 

What will our family do this year as the date becomes closer on the calendar? In my search to connect to other parents who have lost children I found a beautiful mum on Instagram who creates art for angels that grew their wings too early. Bereaved mothers come forward to her with their children’s names, signs and symbols and special quotes or phrases that were unique to their memory and she then creates a colouring in artwork honouring them. The picture I was given is a really special artwork to colour in and feel him close as I slowly breathe him in as I create with pencils, textas and crayons – in the words of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe ‘I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.’ 
Broken crayons still colour. 


connection: The word connection is good for talking about the way things relate to each other. Your special connection to your cousin might have something to do with your mutual love for science fiction and barbecue.

A connection can be physical, like the leash that provides the connection between you and your German Shepherd, or emotional, like the connection you feel with your best friend. Any kind of direct relation is a connection as well, such as the connection a detective makes between a footprint at a crime scene and a suspect’s favorite pair of shoes. The root is the Latin connexionem, “a binding or joining together.” – taken from How do we connect to someone who is no longer with us anymore? 
I still have his iPhone 6 that sits on his memorial shelf along with his straw hat, wallet and other special items that belonged to him. His hands held tightly onto that phone as his life became to end. Even though he wasn’t capable of using it he wanted it to be left with him within reach of his hand as he lay in bed. But I can’t connect it to him now as I could before when he was physically here. I still have all his messenger inboxes and sms texts sent from him on my phone and I’m dreading the day my phone dies as I will lose all those precious moments in time. His last words to me on messenger were – ‘hey can you roll us over’ on the 26th September (11 days before he passed) as the disease had made him a paraplegic and he couldn’t reposition himself in bed. His last phone text message was ‘Oops sorry 😮 😥’ What did he have to be sorry for? I was the one who was unable to fix him. I’d love to listen to his voice mail message again – to hear his voice on the line. His older sister Amy used his phone for awhile before getting a new one. She copied down some of the communications with family members as we knew that when she put in her SIM card in the phone we may lose the content from the phone. I was happy that she was using his phone and he would have liked that too. 

I can still connect to loved ones around me, my husband, Jacob’s older siblings, my family, friends and work colleagues using the hand held device. If only Heaven had a phone. As I browsed online for words that offered comfort in one of my sad moments I came across this anonymous verse – ‘I cannot dial your number, I can’t get through to you. I called the operator, she did all that she could do. There is no code for Heaven, I cannot place the call…there are no numbers left, because I’ve called them all. If Heaven had a phone! I’d call you everyday. If Heaven had a phone! There are things I would like to say! I’d tell you that I love you and that I miss you everyday. But Heaven doesn’t have a phone, and so for now…in our hearts you will always stay.’ 
As Heaven doesn’t have a phone, I have to think of other ways to connect with Jacob. Sometimes I have to think outside the box from using all the ways of connecting with him. Not everyone believes in psychic mediums. I was hesitant to go to one at first. But something beckoned me in to seeing a lovely lady who sat me down and began to tell me things no stranger would ever know, even if they scoured the Internet or Facebook. She revealed information that broke me into flowing tears and turned them into smiles. She even knew precious names that had been picked out for a baby that was too beautiful for earth. She said a young male with a curly mop of brown hair was with me with a ‘J’ sounding name. She gave me a message from him – ‘hi mum, I’ve been waiting a long time for you to come.’ I visited this lady only 4 months after his passing as I was more than a bit sceptical of the whole thing. Hawaii 5 O was mentioned, I explained that we had scattered some of his ashes there but she was adamant that it was more than just the country Hawaii itself and kept adding 5 O after saying it (implying the television series). I covered my mouth with my hand and drew a noisy breathe in as I remembered that Hawaii 5 O was filming an episode at a motel that backed onto Waikiki beach on the day we scattered his ashes and I had said to my husband that Jacob would be in his element with all the fancy equipment of cameras, lights and action as the career path he had chosen to follow was becoming a cinematographer. She said he ‘was’ there with us on that day. I have a recorded copy of the reading as a remembrance. I walked out of there wanting more and I have had the pleasure of seeing 6 different psychic mediums now over the last two years. They have all been highly skilled at their given talent, all having unique way of connecting and communicating the messages from our loved ones.   
The last talented man I saw took a walk through my house and could visualise where things were situated. He took a walk in my family room where Jacob had passed away in and mentioned their was a framed picture on the wall with writing on it. Yes, we had a piece of paper in a frame which was a letter Jacob had written to his future self. He pointed out that there was also a framed piece of clothing. This was a caricature of Jacob painted on his t-shirt on our last family holiday in Hawaii. The man asked who the painter and decorator was – he was talking about my husband who had recently ripped up the carpet in bedrooms upstairs and polished the floorboards underneath and he said that Jacob approved of his bed being used again by his brother although in a different room. There were so many more beautiful verifications that he was still here with us all. He knew that a particular photo that was placed on his coffin at his funeral had been used many times. This photo was used on the front cover of my book titled ‘strong words from a wieckling’ in which 58 copies have been printed. 

I will continue to connect with Jacob through my periodic fix from a psychic medium just as I communicate to his dad and siblings and family and friends with conversations, with hugs, with body language, with the wink of an eye and an ever burning love in my heart. Oh how I wish I could connect like that in the personal space again with Jacob. I will continue to find all the beautiful ways to feel him near. In each sunrise, sunset, rainbow after a storm, the appearance of a feather, pennies from Heaven, butterflies and dragonflies, shells washing up on the shore, songs that play on the radio, in things that are ‘orange’ my new happy colour, using his camera and seeing the world through his eyes. 
I will finish on a slightly humorous note (Jacob had a wicked, dry sense of humour) Why did the medium cross the road? To talk to the other side. Just as Adele’s song belted through the iPod shuffle on the eve of his 21st birthday, our first one without him. ‘Hello from the other side’ sang out just as the clock hands ticked over for his 21st birthday. Thanks for the continuing signs JCW love mum x