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.
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 my 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.