A gift from above

Some time ago both my girls had a conversation that I happened to be listening to about Charlize’s life in Heaven. They tried to imagine what it was like for her up there. There was quite a bit of discussion about how she would definitely have a bike and ride it around Heaven.

The past month has opened my eyes  a little wider to the signs I get from Heaven. Around the time of Charlize’s 2nd anniversary I had a medium clairvoyant come to the house and one of the things that has never left me was Charlize telling me to slow down and I will see the signs of her all around me.

Every single morning I walk up to my vegetable garden, I have my cup of tea and I sit, I wait and I watch. I love to see the dew on the ground and the spider webs glistening in the morning sunshine. Because it’s so peaceful early in the morning I can hear the bees and then as I patiently walk around and water my beautiful plants I see the shadows above me. Sometimes they come extremely close to my face, sometimes they just do laps around the garden and hover nearby, but they always come, the butterflies.

Over the last week a series of extraordinary things have happened.

Mid last week, there were two Dunk Island butterflies, these are the gorgeous Ulysses butterflies. They flew in unison constantly and from where I was watching it looked like they were dancing. So in sync with eachother, it was total magic. Then out of nowhere a third one arrived. She didn’t dance with them but it was like they were guiding her direction towards me. I was awestruck as I watched and appreciated the magic of them. I even whispered, “Charlize, have you brought me my Granny to visit”?

A few days later my son was home with me. It was just the two of us in the lounge room. The girls were not home and my husband was down the other end of the house in the study. All of a sudden I heard a little girl talking and she dinged her bike bell. Orlando started looking all over our property and checked our neighbours driveway but couldn’t see anyone. I too ventured outside and knew no one was there. I smiled. Orlando came inside and said, “Mummy, I know this sounds strange but do you think that was Charlize? Maybe she heard the girls asking about her having a bike in Heaven”. I told him that it wasn’t strange and that’s exactly what I had thought too.

Earlier this week we visited the dentist. It just so happened that my daughter was wearing a dress covered in butterflies with butterfly clips in her hair. I thought nothing of it until the dental assistant called her butterfly girl. We were quietly sitting there when Charlize’s song came on. It’s not a current song and not even a very popular song but it was on and it played and neither one of us said a single word. It was like we both pretended we weren’t hearing it. I had to discreetly wipe my eyes though.

Later in the day I heard her tell her sister that Charlize’s song played at the dentist and they agreed she must’ve been with them today.

Today I woke up early. I watched the sun glisten on the hill outside my bedroom and I felt an overwhelming warmth around me and I looked up and noticed my Pa’s hat hanging on my wall in my bedroom. After he died, some years ago when I was still in High School, he used to come to me often. My musical clown would start playing at 3.00am. I’d wake up and know he was sitting at the end of my bed and it was always 3.00am. He stayed with me for years and then he left. He recently returned in my dreams. I have no doubt it’s because my Granny was reunited with him in November.

I miss her dearly, beyond words. I feel like Charlize and Pa have sent me all these signs so I know they’re all together and my daughter is loving the time with her great-grandparents as much as I did as a little girl.

Tonight I sat down on my bed with my cup of tea and I heard a noise like something had dropped. The strangest thing happened. Charlize’s story book that has been sitting in the same place on my shelf for quite some time, dropped off the shelf. When I noticed, I felt overwhelming love.

Some people are probably reading this thinking ‘this lady is a total nut job’ and that’s okay.

Today I was lucky enough to spend some time talking about my daughter to some of my friends. It felt right and it felt special to share her with them.

Darling Charlize,

Sometimes in life, your Mummy gets busy and I forget to slow down and see you.

Over these past few weeks I have seen you.

I have heard you.

And I have felt you.

I see the beauty all around us when you remind me to slow down.

I saw a delightful old couple walking ever so slowly and they were holding hands. It made me remember the intense and magical love my Granny and Pa had for eachother. It made me smile.

I got up and watched the sun rise over my favourite spot on the beach the other morning. I sat on the bench chair dedicated to a man with the butterfly sign. As the sun glistened on the water and the ocean gently rippled I was happy. I was lucky I had woken up, my heart was beating and nature was putting on such a beautiful show.

I was sitting in my garden and as your butterfly friends danced around my head, the bees started singing. They buzzed as they worked and worked as they buzzed. I was grateful.

Your little sister hears you and sees you and feels you all of the time. I am certain her personality is as big as it is for both of you. She has spirit.

Thank you for reminding our family of all the reasons to smile, to laugh, to be grateful and to love deeply.

In losing you, you have undoubtedly become the greatest joy.

Xx

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Seventeen Years and Counting.

About twenty years ago I moved out of home whilst I was doing my HSC and moved in with my Uncle Paul. My house was noisy and his house was quiet. The perfect place to study.

I finished school and scored myself a full time job at Telstra. I had only just turned 18 and one night was home alone when the phone rang. Paul’s best mate who he worked with, was calling to talk to him. His name was Saxon. I explained Paul was not home and this guy Saxon asks me if I’m Paul’s new girlfriend.

“Umm NO. I’m Paul’s niece.”

Saxon replied, “Ohhhhhh.”

From then on Saxon and I began to talk frequently and send emails. It was quite some time later before we actually met. I thought he was old and he thought I was too young.

Somehow we began dating and became inseparable. Three months after that Saxon proposed. A year after that we got married.

I was a month off turning twenty when we got married. If I had a dollar for how many people told me I was too young, I’d be rich today.

Last night we went out to dinner together. We laughed as we remembered the past seventeen years and delighted in the journey we’ve been through together and how much we have accomplished.

In our first year of marriage I got cancer. Saxon was by my side when the Professor called me to tell me this devastating news. This should be a memory of the worst day of my life, but it isn’t. It’s one of my favourite memories. He touched my arm, lifted my face and folded me into a hug. We didn’t need words. I knew he would be there, all the way, holding my hand.

Later that afternoon he told me he would go to the shops to pick something up for dinner. When he got home he went and got a sheet and laid it down on our living room floor. He then brought inside three massive blank canvases and all sorts of paints and brushes. You see, we had this wall in our new home that needed some artwork, so we created it together. We painted all afternoon, all night and for the next few days. We laughed and cried. We talked and we were silent. We loved those paintings and the memory they created.

Then there was the day I was in hospital hoping our first baby wouldn’t be born prematurely. Four days earlier I’d been admitted and they had stopped my labour. On this particular day they had stopped the medication and my labour started all over again. Except this time they weren’t stopping it. They told me to call my husband.

Me: Hi Hun, it’s me. So, I’m in labour can you please come to the hospital.

Saxon: Honey, you’ve been in labour for four days. I’m in Bunnings, do you think you could wait?

Me: Sax, leave your shit in Bunnings and come to the bloody hospital. We are having a baby today.

He finally arrives covered in paint and dust. He’s wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Schlongs Hot Dogs’ and when the porter tells him he needs to change into theatre pants, he announces he’s not wearing any underwear.

The look on his face when Orlando was delivered and placed in his arms was one of total adoration.

When I went into labour with the twins at my work, I called him on my way to the hospital. Repeatedly. I couldn’t get hold of him. You’d think he’d have learnt seeing as though this was our third time around. I finally called his Personal Assistant who finally tracked him down.

I received a call from him delighted that he was able to get out of the most boring six hour superannuation meeting. Five days later I was still in hospital hoping to keep those tiny babies baking and I was a wreck. On the Monday morning I had worked myself into a frenzy and was delighted to see him right by my side as they wheeled me in to have another ultrasound. He told me he woke up and thought he should stay home from work and make sure I was okay.

A few hours later our very premature twin daughters were delivered. I was anything but calm. Saxon was a pillar of strength.

Two days later our lives were crushed when Charlize died in our arms. There is no one in the world I would want more, to help me through those days than Saxon. He never left my side, for a whole week. He got me food, he got me tea, he got me pain relief, he brought me the children to keep me smiling, he put me in a wheelchair and took me up to the NICU and we spent hours gazing at Lucia and willing her to keep on breathing.

He got me through the worst two years of my life. A depression so deep with grief that I struggled to stay afloat. He was patient, he was loving, he was kind and I was none of those things. He told me repeatedly how much he missed his wife, how much he loved me and willed me to stand up and start living. I looked into his eyes that day and saw the deepest fear and sadness. I felt guilty. He had lost his daughter too. We needed eachother to get through this.

We were told a few days after Charlize’s death by the social worker, that over 70% of marriages do not survive the death of their child. We were not only going to survive, we were going to thrive. I stood up and cried into his chest for hours. I knew at that moment that we were all going to get through this.

I am forever grateful for this man. My one and only true love.

He is my happy when I am sad.

He is my stable when I am crazy.

He is my strength when I am weak.

He is my patience when I have none.

He is my biggest supporter.

He is a brilliant Dad.

He can’t say Charlize’s name without a tear escaping.

I have heard so many people say that marriage is hard. I feel like we are the lucky ones. Our marriage isn’t hard. Life’s journey has created hurdles and we have had to learn how to navigate them even when there’s nothing left to jump.

For every day that we are lucky enough to open our eyes and wake up we choose eachother. There is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’. We are one in the same. We need eachother to parent and to love.

Life is all about relationships. You need them to survive.

Sax, you make me smile. You make me laugh. You have made me love you more today than I did yesterday.

Seventeen years and counting Baby!

You’re pretty lucky to have me too!

I miss you already!

Alicia and I went to high school together. In fact, we can’t really recall how we met. We think it was year seven Maths.

We have been friends ever since. It hasn’t been a ‘normal’ friendship in our adult years because a few years after school she moved to the other side of the world. Finland. But, whenever I needed her she was there.

In 2010 she visited with her gorgeous three month old daughter. It was when a volcano erupted and we got to spend unexpected time together as their flight was delayed home for a few weeks. I was heavily pregnant with my second child and I remember those days fondly. Me with my big belly and Alicia and I playing peek a boo and admiring her baby as we drank copious amounts of tea.

Late 2011 she visited again. This time our visit was filled with tears. I had recently delivered my extremely premature twins and then we lost Charlize.

Alicia met me at the main entrance of the hospital and her husband occupied their two year old daughter so we had some time to ourselves. The relief at seeing my best friend, to hug her, to sob on her shoulder, I don’t think I have the words to really describe that moment.

I was so proud to take Alicia into the NICU and introduce her to our little Lucia. I have this beautiful photo of Alicia standing at the humidicrib with me and both of us are admiring Lucia.

At the end of that visit, which wasn’t long enough, Alicia told me she was expecting her second child. I was delighted for her.

Throughout the months that followed Lucia’s long journey home, Alicia emailed me regularly. She also posted me beautiful hand written letters and packages of beautiful clothes she had purchased for the twins.

I don’t think she realises how much those things kept me standing. I don’t think she realises how any communication with her brings me immense joy. A smile spreads over my face immediately.

That was the last time we saw each other.

Until now!

We have emailed, texted, FaceTimed, you name it we’ve done it to stay in touch as the years went on.

Last week I could hardly contain my excitement when she arrived. I am also proud to say that neither one of us cried once. We talked and laughed so much I have lost my voice.

We got the pleasure of spending a whole week with my best friend and her family. The joy at seeing our children play together, laugh together and learn each others cultures was delightful and fascinating.

We realised both our engineer husbands are as competitive as each other. Watching them play a game of Checkers was hilarious. The intensity and concentration was next level.

We all enjoyed each others company so much. One night I snuck out to have a shower and came back to find all our children in one room, tucked in next to each other and Alicia sitting on a chair reading them a bedtime story.

Another night we put the children to bed early and then stayed up late playing board games and laughing so much it hurt.

Today we had to say goodbye. I felt sad last night going to bed knowing in the morning it could be years before we see each other again.

I watched as Alicia cuddled and whispered beautiful words to each of my children before they headed off to school. I may have had a dripping eye at that point.

Finally the time came to say goodbye and we didn’t want to let each other go.

Until the next time, I miss you terribly already!

When my heart melts!

So, my heart melted today. Twice!

Lucia was asked to take in a treasured item to school. When Saxon and I read the note together we knew what she would take. Without hesitation she packed in her school bag her Lucia and Charlize teddy bears and her book about Charlize.

We hit the jackpot this year when Lucia started school. She has the most beautiful, caring and nurturing teacher anyone could ask for. Mrs T, is like Miss Honey from the movie in Matilda. She oozes warm and fuzzy and she enables even the over-protective Mum like me, to walk away without hesitation. She also happens to be a Mum to 27 weeker twins! See how lucky we are!

So, Lucia takes in her treasured items and I knew she was supposed to talk about them. She gets home from school and I say, ‘Chia, how did your treasured news go today? What did you talk about?’

Lucia looks at me, shrugs her shoulders, walks away and mumbles, ‘I forget.’

I was a little deflated. I suspected she knew her over-emotional mother would cry when she told me what really happened.

Mrs T told me how all the children sat around Lucia, listening to the story of how she’s an identical twin and how Charlize is around her all of the time. My heart did in fact melt when she told me this story. I’m also immensely proud. This is the first time in her life where SHE gets to tell her story. It’s not Mummy, Daddy or her siblings, it’s her.

Because Charlize is a part of our daily conversation, our daily life, she is not a cause for tears and sadness. She is a reason to smile, share her story and celebrate the strength of two little girls.

So then later this afternoon my heart melted again.

Indiana had her very first singing lesson today. She has asked for quite some time to have some lessons. Finally last week I made a call to the most patient and talented man in our town and he said yes!

She asked me to drop her off and come back at the end. The excitement she was feeling was contagious.

I considered hiding out the front and listening but I knew she would probably sense my presence.

I went to the shops and loaded my trolley with chocolate instead.

I returned five minutes before her lesson was over. Her back was to me and she was standing up, wiggling her little hips from side to side and when she was told, she lifted her voice and sang her little heart out. She sang Vance Joy’s Riptide. Her favourite. Then and there my heart melted.

I silently wished I could film her but, that image is etched into my heart and mind for all eternity. When she finished I clapped and she turned around with her eyes sparkling and her smile reached her ears.

What a perfect ending to a day.

Both my girls filled with happiness.

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers in our lives, who often underestimate the talent they have for drawing the best out of our little humans.

Purple Day

There’s a day and a ribbon for everything. I know, it’s hard to keep up.

There’s a handful that we are passionate about in our home because they affect our family.

Purple Day is Epilepsy Awareness and it affects our family.

Our darling daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy in May last year. She originally suffered from childhood absent seizures and then after our accident and due to the trauma her brain experienced she started experiencing tonic clinic seizures.

What’s the difference?

Well, everyone’s epilepsy is quite different. Every time she had an absent seizure she was silent, non responsive, her eyes were always transfixed on a spot and tears streamed down her face. There was never any sound. They could last from 20 seconds to 20 minutes.

And then we experienced a tonic clinic seizure … in the middle of the biscuit aisle in Coles. It came with little warning. She went white and said she felt a bit funny. I thought she needed some food. Then she reached out for me and said ‘Mummy ….’

I caught her as her body dropped and tensed. When I saw her face I was shocked and scared for her. I knew all I could do was wait. Thankfully it was quite short. Less than a minute but it felt like forever.

The physical recovery is at least a day. Her body was beyond exhausted and needed to sleep and sleep and sleep.

Medication helps …. when the dose is finally correct and they’ve been able to overcome the horrendous side effects to their poor little bodies. The medication continues to increase until there is no evidence of seizure activity.

FACT: 1 in 200 children with epilepsy.

Inclusion.

I had Lucia’s NDIS planning meeting today and I mostly just spoke about inclusion.

They requested a family statement that just gives an understanding of what Lucia’s family life entails.

I talked about the fact she lives with her Mum and Dad, brother and sister, dog, cat, goat, chickens and ducks.

I wanted to ensure that it was noted that Lucia is a twin. She is a surviving identical twin and it’s part of her identity. More often than not Lucia is the one to correct me when we are asked how many siblings she has.

I drove home in the pouring rain and once at home I sat at our dining table with a cup of tea. I noticed Orlando had left a whiteboard on the table with a welcome home message and picture for Daddy.

I smiled as I looked at his stick picture drawings of us all.

I drew in a deep breath as I noticed he drew Charlize as an angel and wrote her name underneath.

Six years on and I am continually amazed at the deep connection our children have with their baby sister. She truly is never far from their thoughts and she is included ALWAYS without them thinking about it. As natural as it is for them to state their name, it’s just as natural to say her name when they list their siblings.

Our darling angel, I’m hoping Heaven is keeping you warm and dry today and that you too smiled when your big brother drew you this morning.

Did you notice that every time he visits the fridge, he touches your face on your photo that is pinned on there?

I imagine you whisper words of encouragement into their ears when they need it.

I imagine you hold their hands and lead them when they’re feeling reluctant.

I imagine you wipe away their tears when they’re upset and show them something to be delighted about.

I imagine you’re in our lives every moment of every day when we don’t even realise it.

I see you darling. I really do.

Your quiet comfort from above has kept us safe and warmed our hearts. I hope you know the enormous impact you have had on our lives.

Because of you we want to be better humans.

Because of you we want more meaningful relationships.

Because of you we will love fiercely.

Because of you, my heart skips a beat.

A friend named Jaye

My biggest worry when we decided to pack up the only life we knew in Sydney and move to this little town on the Northern Rivers, was that I would have no friends.

You may have guessed I’m an extrovert! I know you’re shocked, sometimes even I don’t believe it!

I had such a beautiful circle of friends around me in Sydney. Some I had known my entire life. How would I even try to replicate that in this little town of 5000 people.

I got involved in as many things as I could to build myself a network. Lucky for me, we have the most generous human living next door (our darling Rhonda), who introduced me to a large circle and arranged play dates and coffee dates for me to be part of.

When I opened my Family Day Care business I was lucky enough to build relationships with these families that I never thought possible.

Actually, to be honest the friendships I have built up here are the purest and most beautiful friendships. Country chicks are truly awesome.

I am, and always will be honoured to be entrusted to care for people’s children.

One day in July 2015 I interviewed a family who wanted me to care for their daughter. Lucky for me I got to spend lots of time with their beautiful daughter and she’s become like a surrogate sister to my children. Nik and Jaye have become dear friends to me.

Jaye would drop everything and come over if I needed her. Regardless of what she’s going through. She is the rarest of gems one could ask for in friendship. She is gentle, she is real, she is nurturing and she makes you feel special.

Today I was lucky enough to visit Jaye at her home. I got to sit on her lounge with a cup of tea and chat.

When I arrived she passed me a gift. Don’t tell her but I very bravely held in my sobs until I got home.

I was gifted a framed, hand painted picture of some of the most beautiful butterflies that call the Northern Rivers their home. It is one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received … and it’s not even my birthday!

I am so touched. So honoured, to call this beautiful woman and her family my friends.

I cannot wait to hang this heartfelt gift on my wall in my kitchen so I can look at it and smile everyday.

Dear Jaye, please know you will now be bombarded with photos every time I see one of these butterflies in my garden.

You my darling friend are the greatest gift any woman could ask for.

With eternal love, huge thanks and water falling from my eyes, I am lucky to have you in my life.

Tear them down or Build Them Up?

Today I happened to see something on Facebook that really upset me. I’ve put the picture below.

I totally appreciate the point this picture is trying to make about technology but, it concerned me immensely how quick people were to tear this woman down.

Do we actually know that she is not interested in her baby at all? No, we don’t. In fact, this woman could’ve just received a phonecall about something stressful, heartbreaking or life changing and she was processing it. Maybe her baby was sick of being held after it took her two hours on a delayed Sydney train to get to the bloody airport, squashed up under someone’s smelly armpit for the whole trip.

Can you believe she put her baby on the ground in an airport? I can actually. I’ve sat on those floors, I’ve actually gone to sleep on those floors and I’ve very likely put my baby or children down on those floors. So what.

I responded a few times to that post today and suggested people not judge a book by it’s cover. I suggested people be kinder than necessary.

Look, I’m no Saint! There’s plenty of times I’ve probably said things that should’ve stayed in my head but this week alone I’ve seen women torn down and it’s just got to me.

This gorgeous woman I used to work with many years ago has a very talented sister in fashion. She started her own fashion styling business and she was recently subjected to a group of women being rather cruel via facebook. This is not okay.

It is not okay to judge a woman because she didn’t have children or the woman who had too many children. How many is too many children anyway? My great-grandmother had something like 16 kids. As far as I’m aware no one judged her.

What about that woman who had an elective caesarean rather than a homeopathic, home, water, lotus birth and left the placenta attached for two weeks, then cooked it up and ate it for dinner.

I’m that woman who had an elective caesarean and you know what I’m bloody proud of that too. Because guess what?  My babies were all born safe and breathing, instead of getting stuck in the birth canal.

How about that woman who didn’t breastfeed her baby. I can’t believe she bottlefed. How could she deprive her baby of breastmilk? Well when her nipples were so cracked they were actually hanging off and she was so tired and depressed she had the worst post natal depression I’ve ever seen, I don’t blame her. That person is my best friend. She tried her little heart out and carried the guilt for a long time. Her baby is the best cheerleader I’ve ever seen and no one even knows she was bottlefed.

How about those women that want it all.  They want a good job, a career even, they want a big house that goes with the big mortgage and then they want kids. I bet they will get a nanny and a house cleaner and have their groceries delivered.

I was that woman too. In Sydney, you have no choice once you buy a house, you need that job and you end up with a huge mortgage that dictates you get an even better paying job which dictates it’s probably cheaper to get a nanny than pay ridiculous childcare costs, especially because you can’t keep taking time off work for sick kids, then you need a cleaner and your groceries delivered because you are travelling two hours each way to work every single day and you have no time for anything.  I doubt this is a life anyone really chooses.

How about those “Stay-At-Home-Mums”. To be honest, I take my hat off to ‘those’ Mums. I realised a long time ago that as much as I love my children, I’m a better Mum and wife when I have balance. That means I need to work or study and have time away from them because they drive me crazy at times. I am totally alright with this and you should be too because they’re not your kids.

What about that Mum who put her baby in childcare at three months old. Guilty. I was that Mum too. We had bills to pay. By the looks of him, I’m pretty sure he turned out alright.

What about that Mum who fed her baby something that wasn’t organic, homemade, kale with tofu. Yep, you guessed it, that was me. There was a time that all my kid would eat was chicken nuggets. Even the paediatrician told me to get over it. Feed the kid whatever he will eat because he’s too skinny. So I did. Today, he eats everything I put in front of him. EVERYTHING.

How about that Mum whose baby still doesn’t sleep through the night. Look how tired she is. Her baby is a toddler now, surely she should be sleeping through. I bet she hasn’t been to sleep school. I bet they rock her to sleep in their arms every night. I bet they’ve created bad habits. No wonder she looks exhausted.

My dear friend and I are those Mum’s. Her daughter is nearly three. She doesn’t sleep well. Actually, hardly at all. My friend is awesome. She’s tried everything. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with her daughter. She has a very active mind. My friend needs a hug and my friend needs your support and love. My friend needs you to tell her it’s ok because some days it’s not ok for them.

I have that daughter too. Mine cried for 16-20 hours a day. We failed sleep school three times. In fact, we left in ambulance on one occasion. We tried melatonin, rocking her, bathing her, massaging her. I would’ve tried anything. I even let her sleep in bed with me so she had free access to my boobs. If I didn’t do that I probably wouldn’t have survived. We even saw a sleep specialist. Yes, they are a real thing. He told me I have jumped through every hoop possible, I just basically have a kid who is a shit sleeper. At 6 years old, that delightful little terror still doesn’t sleep well. That’s why, instead of telling my friend she looks tired, I invite her over so my kids can play with her daughter and she can sit on my lounge eat a tim tam and drink a hot cup of tea and feel a bit more human. If she’s lucky she may even get to go to the toilet on her own with the door closed when she’s visiting.

Judgement and tearing down eachother is not okay. It has to stop. We have to build eachother up. We have to be kinder. Our children see everything we do. That’s how they learn to be kind little humans.

It takes less effort to smile than it does to frown.

Over the past few months I’ve had a few women who I thought were my friends and have acted unkindly towards me. Originally I thought I was over-thinking the situation because, if I’m really honest with myself I’m struggling. I’m fragile and I’m barely getting through the days smiling.

What I really needed was those women to show me some kindness. To not look the other way, to not deliberately sit somewhere else, to not assume whatever it is they’re assuming about me or my life. Because unless you’re in my house every day of the week you know nothing.

I will not apologise for my personality. But, if I’ve offended you tell me, or how would I know.

I am a strong minded woman. That’s how my parents raised me to be and I’m proud of that.

Sometimes I am loud. I won’t apologise for that either. I am Maltese, a wog at heart, and in my family unless you’re yelling over someone else, you’ll never be heard.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. If you ask me how I am, I’ll tell you. If you don’t want to know, don’t ask the question.

My life seems like one long drama. I won’t apologise for that either. I haven’t chosen any of these dramatic events to happen and let’s be honest, who would. It’s shit. Sometimes even I can’t believe it, but it has made me the woman I am today. It has made me strong.

My daughter died. Her name is Charlize. I’m so sorry that you’ve heard me say that before. I’m so sorry it makes you feel uncomfortable. I will continue to tell my story and say my daughters name because if I don’t keep saying it who will?

We are on this beautiful planet only once.

Choose kindness.

Choose to make that phonecall to your long lost friend rather than texting.

Choose spontaneity.

Choose hugs and flowers and dancing and swimming in the ocean.

Choose jumping in muddy puddles and belly laughs and sliding down a grassy hill.

Choose to see the warmth of the sunshine on your face just as the sun rises or to stand in the rain as it splashes on your face.

Choose to love and to be loved and to smile. Choose to build them up, don’t tear them down.

…. and waffles with maple syrup. They make everything so much better.

What’s in a name?

I happen to be doing a subject at uni on identity and one of this weeks tasks was to write about where your own name came from.

I rolled my eyes because I knew it would be difficult to stretch this to 300 words.

So, began a series of text messages between my Mum and I.

Me: Mum, what’s the story behind you choosing my name? It’s for uni … make something up if you have to lol

Mum: Actually dad picked it because he liked it.

Dads relatives wanted to know who you were named after and what saint your name came from and we said we did t name her after anyone. Just because dad liked it. I actually had another name picked out for you but dad didn’t like it x

Me: Well how can I make that reasoning into a 300 bloody word explanation lol! Now I’ll need to make something up. Don’t we have a relative somewhere called Christine?

Mum: You can make something up if you like.

Pa wanted to call you Christina so he could shorten it I Tina but I said no.

Meaning of Christine

Feminine name of Greek or Latin origin.

It is derived from the work Christ and that is the Greek translation in the Hebrew word “messiah”.

It means follower of Christ or a female Christian. This was a very popular name in 1968.

(Thought you’d like this information – NOT)

Apparently my Dad told Mum to send the last part of the text. I could imagine them both sitting on the lounge with their cups of tea, pissing themselves laughing at my reaction.

When I was born, I was the first grandchild on both sides, to a family with a very strong Catholic connection. I was baptised and went through all my sacraments in the Catholic Church. Then life changed for me and I made a decision to leave the church and my belief. I often feel guilty because my grandparents have always held their faith so strongly. Some of my fondest memories are of being in Church with my Pa or Nanna and having lunch or dinner with our Priest.

So, the day I was born my Granny and Pa were in Rome, in St Peters Square when the Pope got shot. What a day to arrive with a name with such a deep connection to Christ.

Clearly, this definition of my name was not what I was after so I did some googling and found the perfect definition of who I think I am.

Alas, when you read it you’ll think that I have tickets on myself! I really do!!! Not! But I felt this fitted my personality a little better.

So, you’ll all sleep better tonight knowing that I managed to write 500 words on my name. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

I’ll finish with the best quote I’ve ever read;

‘If I only had Christine, I could do anything.’

Be kinder than necessary.

Since I read that amazing book “Wonder”, I have continually prompted my children to be kinder than necessary.

On Friday, I experienced such overwhelming kindness that it brought me to my knees.

I have a wonderful friend who as she puts it, “is carrying a bit of extra baggage at the moment”. She seriously is amazing and I thought I’d drop around to her house this particular morning very briefly and give her some flowers because they always make me smile.

I drove myself to the wonderful Alstonville Florist and ordered a posy of yellow flowers. Yellow always makes me think of the sun and for me symbolises happiness. Kerry, the owner happened to be sitting at the front desk and we embraced as it had been quite a while since I’d seen her. She asked me how things were and I realised she didn’t know about the accident.  For some reason I poured my heart out to her.

Kerry was beautiful as always, and we talked for quite some time. The posy of flowers were completed and beautiful but she refused to let me pay. I told her they weren’t actually for me but my friend and I insisted. She wouldn’t hear of it.

I noticed that I had a lump in my throat and as quickly as I noticed that, I promptly burst into tears. I was so overwhelmed by her kindness and the kindness of the lovely staff who listened to me pour my heart out. I could not thank her enough.

I got in the car and cried all the way to my friends house. When I realised she wasn’t home I left them at her door. I got back in my car and cried all the way home.

I made myself a cup of tea and tried to pull myself together. I later realised that it was the first time I had actually verbalised the true realities of my daughters injuries. I had heard the words from the doctors and I parked them in a place in my brain where I could bring them out for medical appointments and put them away again after that. I didn’t need to truly acknowledge them yet as hopefully they wouldn’t fully show their true identities. Alas, they have started to show their true colours to us and the realities of what that means is truly heartbreaking. A heartbreak I’m not yet ready to put into typed words.

This experience also showed me how much I need to grieve the 15th November. To sit and process the enormity of the shock of what happened that day. To grieve the death of my Granny and acknowledge that she is no longer here. Although I know it, so many parts of that day don’t feel real. I was surprised on Friday as I was driving home from the florist how hurt I felt that the family members that organised the funeral didn’t care that it was Charlize’s anniversary. For them I guess, she is a great-niece that they never met. A baby that doesn’t have a face or a place in their heart. They didn’t consider how their own niece, me, actually felt by that decision. If she was anyone else but my Granny I would never have attended her funeral. I hope they may read this and realise the enormity of that decision and they affect it had on my family. Kindness is the simplest of gestures that can be life changing.

To Kerry, that one amazing, kind gesture has touched me and I am truly thankful. I will pay it forward this week and hope to bring a smile to someone else this week. Your flowers made me smile. Thank you.

To all my devoted followers who have kindly started following my blog via Facebook, THANK YOU!

So many of you have recently sent me messages of support and encouragement and love. Keep sending them because it makes me feel as though my writing does actually have purpose when sometimes it truly doesn’t feel like it when it’s in my head.

For those of you that often say that I should write a book, I actually am. I actually have been for too many years. It’s basically my life story. I am kind of close to the end but I get distracted and then when I come back and look at it I worry it’s not that great. I may share parts of it with you soon and get your opinion.

This week, be kinder than necessary and bring joy to someone’s day.