This photo was taken four days before my life changed once again.
Four days before we celebrated our twins sixth birthday.
Four days before we woke up to our sixth year without our daughter in our arms.
Four days before we sat in my childhood church and said goodbye to my Granny.
Four days before we laid her to rest in the cemetery.
Four days before a butterfly landed on us at the cemetery.
Four days before a ten tonne truck ploughed into our car and nearly killed my entire family.
Four days earlier my husband and I were enjoying a rare weekend together, child free and spontaneous. This photo was taken under the Harbour Bridge.
It was the first time as our daughters anniversary approached that I didn’t feel my heart breaking into a million pieces. I felt strong and I felt well. I had just started running again and was doing yoga at least three times a week. I loved every single element of my life.
Four days later life threw my whole being into utter chaos. I did what I always do though and I ran continuously until every little spot fire had settled.
I nurtured my three precious children back to health and made sure they were strong and emotionally able to stand up and enjoy life once again without fear.
It’s been five months since that truck ploughed into us. We have endured the chaos of a brain injury, concussions, broken bones, night terrors, anxiety and a spinal cord injury. All the while I continually gritted my teeth every morning when I woke up in pain and tried not to limp through life. All the while I learnt how to navigate life with continual migraines from the concussion and to see a little differently after experiencing damage to my eye.
Over a month ago I woke up one day with a croaky voice. My croaky voice turned into pharyngitis and for 4.5 weeks I have struggled to recover the proper sound from my throat. A few weeks after that I was told I had pneumonia and to rest. Rest I did not. How do you rest when you have three children to get to school, to appointments, to sport. When you have washing to do, study to do, animals to feed.
Last week I became very unwell. The infection has now affected my heart and lungs. I was told to immediately reduce stress and take an extended break. I laughed when two doctors said this to me but they didn’t seem to be accepting no for an answer.
My husband called me upset that I had not listened the first time. He suggested, actually no , he insisted I drop everything I’m doing and rest.
It took some time for me to accept that this is what I really needed to do.
I had been running on empty for five months. It had taken all the reserves within me and everything was starting to break down. My engine was beyond exhausted.
It was time to start filling my cup. You know what my husband suggested? Well he said this ‘Stop filling gaps in your life with stuff. Where there is nothing, enjoy it. Play in your vegetable garden, read books in the sunshine, go to yoga everyday, enjoy walks on the beach, have coffee with your friends, but just slow down and rest. We all need you’.
What husband says this? He didn’t want me to work. He didn’t want me to study. He wanted me to just be. A husband that says this is a husband who has watched his wife break.
It made me realise that I made sure that everyone was glued back together with all the love and nurture I could muster after the accident but I hadn’t done this for me.
I needed to be glued back together. I needed to be able to have a full nights sleep without waking up again after dreaming of the accident again. I needed to wake up without pain and I certainly needed to rest and I certainly needed to learn how to sit still and relax.
I decided to write this post today as I sit on my bed with the rain pouring gently from the sky. I have a cup of tea on my bedside table. I just watched yet another show on Netflix that I’m enjoying. I just downloaded three books on my kindle and the biggest decision I’m making this hour is what one will I read first.
My children emptied the dishwasher, they picked up the clothes from the bathrooms and even sorted them into whites/darks/colours/towels like I’ve been teaching them. Someone has realised one of those baskets is full because I can hear the washing machine is on. Someone fed all the animals. Someone even made me a cup of tea.
I’m writing this post so others like me can realise you must look after yourself first. Just like in a plane emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on then attend to your child on your lap. As mothers we instinctively want to look after our children first. We must remember to look after ourselves. Remove the guilt and enjoy some time without your children.
Yesterday my beautiful friend picked me up in the morning and we spent four hours together eating breakfast, drinking coffees, walking, shopping and talking continuously. At the end of it I told her I was so relaxed. It was exactly what I needed.
So, I have heard you life and although I really do enjoy you, I’m going to enjoy you even more. I’ll go to bed earlier and get more sleep, I’ll spend more time doing all those things that bring me the greatest joy and make me feel relaxed at the same time. I’ll tend to my garden, I’ll do yoga again, I’ll watch the sunrise on the beach, I’ll spend time creating and cooking in my kitchen after picking my homegrown plants from my garden. I will learn to be still. I will read all day until my bum hurts or my tummy grumbles. I will learn to breathe. I will learn to teach my mind to be still.
I will learn to fill my own cup each and every single day.