A cranky old man and a lovely old lady


Sometimes we are stopped in our tracks by a memory so present that it feels like it’s actually happening. It can cause tears to stream down your face so rapidly they pool wherever they land or it can make you laugh so hard your ribs hurt.

Grief and healing can and does this to me.

A few weeks ago it was my birthday. It was lovely, but somewhere that night I was overcome with a deep sadness. At first I couldn’t understand why and then I remembered.

It was my thirtieth birthday.

Friday the 13th.

It was supposed to be a few girls over for a quiet cheese and wine night because the real party was the following night. Instead, somehow it became the real party. I talked and laughed with my friends long into the night. Somehow that night it seems we conceived identical twins.

Grief and healing are like these two voices in your head. One is the cranky old man and the other is the lovely old lady.

Grief was reminding me that three years ago that’s when it all began. When I was still a mother who hadn’t lost a child.

Healing was telling me how lucky I was to enjoy such a wonderful night with my friends and to be blessed to carry miracle and rare babies and be a mother to four adorable little people.

This year, on my birthday I went to bed with tears streaming down my cheeks because three years had already passed and time doesn’t stop like we’d like it to. It’s made me remember lovely memories I had since forgotten.

Since we moved to the country, Grief has learnt to stay a little quieter and Healing has showed me how to laugh with my head thrown back, my eyes closed and pain in my ribs. Healing has shown me that I can laugh at Grief when I need to.

I was recently talking to a customer at work about kids saying whatever comes into their heads and it reminded me of a shopping trip to ALDI just before we left Sydney.

Every time I do the groceries the children (Lucia is the one who never forgets), like to choose a bunch of flowers for Charlize. The flowers are placed near Charlize’s photo in our home.

Choosing the flowers is always done at the cash register because ALDI keeps all their flowers at the start of the conveyor belt.

So here I am with an overflowing trolley in ALDI, in school holidays, with about a million people standing in queue and three gorgeous children ready to choose flowers. I usually always let Lucia pick them. This is how the conversation went:

Lucia: ‘I think we should get pink flowers today for Charlize’
Indiana: ‘You got pink last time, let’s get the purple ones’
Orlando: ‘Can’t I choose the flowers? I like yellow. She’s my sister too’
Indiana: ‘She’s everyone’s sister’
Lucia: ‘No she’s not – she’s just mine’
Orlando: ‘Well anyway she’s in Heaven’
Lucia: ‘Yes she is’
Indiana: ‘She’s still our sister’
Orlando: ‘But she’s dead you know. She died thats why she’s in Heaven’
Indiana: ‘I know she’s in Heaven’
Lucia: ‘She’s not dead she’s in heaven’
Orlando: ‘She has to be dead or she can’t get to heaven’
Indiana: ‘Does she have a car in heaven? I think I’ll do a picture of her with pretty wings and a car so she can go places in Heaven and visit us’
Lucia: ‘She does visit us, she’s our butterfly’
Me: ‘Okay let’s have the pink, purple and yellow flowers then shall we?’

At the time this happened I smiled and watched strangers observe my three little people discuss their dead sister. Some people looked shocked, others smiled at me. Inwardly my heart broke but I laughed at the scene in front of me. My children were being as real as it gets. Their own grief and healing comes out on a daily basis and regardless of where we are or whose listening I’m always happy for them to say their sisters name aloud and voice their feelings.

Today Healing wins.

Today Lucia insisted we walk around our country property and pick pink flowers from our country property for her sister. Today we walked slowly, hand in hand, searching for the most beautiful flowers as a butterfly trailed behind us.


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