The Bottom of the Hill.

Hills and more hills as far as the eye can see.

On the outskirts of town, they ebb and they flow. Looking like a far off distant land you could easily explore and conquer like a Burke and Wills expedition.

Why is it you feel like screaming and crying and dying as you walk up a hill, wanting to stop every breath, every step, but as soon as you stretch your whole body and reach the top, you feel like a queen; an athlete; a champion! Adrenalin pumping through all of the pulsing, hilly veins inside. Wanting to feel this way forever. Hooked.

When my mum was my age, she had birthed and mothered four children. She was in the midst of a life running a household containing a 15-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 4-year-old.

She had at 37, already lived in a shack my parents had built with their own hands as newlyweds, on the side of a hill, in the middle of nowhere.

Their first year of marriage and they had no electricity, no indoor toilet a new baby and snakes and spiders to contend with. She was 21. On the side of a hill.

They then went on and raised the rest of their brood, on a huge, flat, dusty property with a long, long dirt driveway. She handled it all bravely. The kids, the cows, the dust, the wheat crops and dad..worrying about the rain, the drought and making ends meet. Despite the flatness there she could still look out across the plains and see hills on the horizon, warily keeping an eye on them – closer then she wanted them to be. She was focused on staying strong and keeping a household running, she had no time to enjoy ups or wallow in downs so she kept charging on and planted her life firmly where it was flat.

I have wondered lately how she coped with it all? She did not have cafe dates with girlfriends, cocktails or book clubs, hiking or wine tasting weekends…or the freedom to throw a tantrum and hurl herself under a mountain of doona to Netflix and chill.

So it is her that I think about now, on the edge of that hill of hers. Her and that incredible strong will, as I face plant my bed and give up.

As I dig my way through all of my hills and tell them to all go to hell.

I am sick of the climb, sick of hurting as I scrape my skin from my legs – only getting half way up before I slide down again in the rubble and rocks and muck, sore from straining my neck to look up and see where I long to be.

I have had enough, so today I quit. I give up, resigning myself to the fact it is too hard to reach the top.

I am sick of the injections, the nausea, the headaches, the cramps, the negatives, the scans, people mourning, dying, leaving my job and trying to stay positive; more scans, more injections, turning around and pregnant bellies and newborn babies everywhere swirling around me, not knowing who I am or where I should be; up the hill, down the hill, round the hill? I am sick of the waiting. Waiting until I am suddenly told I am over the hill and it is too late.

So today I am going to just quit and surround myself with soft hills of pillows and bedding filled with feathers. Diving into doonas, hugging hot water bottles and a call to my mum today because the hill is shitty and she will tell me what to do.

Maybe next week I will feel like I can strap my hiking boots back on ready to go forth again. Maybe I will be surprised by how light those heavy boots suddenly feel.

Maybe by then I will look out across the Autumn afternoon and feel OK when I see those hills on the horizon.

Thinking about how at least I am not on the side of one of them, doing a wee in the dark.

 

Em xoxo

Treasures.

Before there was all of this and things were hard. Before I moved through life tactically and knew about pressure.

There was a large, clunky dress-up trunk, at the back of the sun-soaked kindergarten room.

It had dents in it.

Dents made from my young teacher I now suppose.

As she pulled and pushed it to do something amazingly romantic perhaps – fleeing a Budapest bedsit in the middle of the night, where a lover slept soundly.

Catching a plane, then a train to a dusty country town for a new start. A chance to disappear into something other than herself. Resting it down gently, filled with old costumes, in the midst of my class-roomed world.

 I remember the buttery warmth across the mostly brown room, like yesterday. The trunk itself was often covered with cushions and pillows and packed up tight, which made it always seem even more of a treasure trove; a mystical box that my little hands itched to dive into at all times. When all tasks were done and colours were kept in between lines, Miss Eveleigh gave me the nod I needed.

Silent indications that it was finally time for me to carefully – almost reverently, make my way to that box before anyone else thought twice about it.

A chance to disappear into something other than me.

Children around me picked up fireman hats and stethoscopes, teachers glasses and astronaut suits.

Maybe I should have to.

Instead, I reached like always for the thick, heavy faded wedding gown and fell into it. Dancing around in complete bliss.

I remember it was so scratchy on my skin and so billowy and so big, it was hard to walk in a straight line without stumbling over.

I always picked up a doll; my baby – and felt that was that; ambition recognised. The dress, the kid. I had it all. This was where things were going. Children around me pretending to be surgeons and pilots.

Perhaps I should have to.

Then maybe right now I would be able to breathe in. To not feel the weight of the pressure of a clock booming in my head. To not feel my next birthday approaching like a roaring jumbo jet inbound from Budapest. In the middle of the night, my body dented from pushing and pulling it all around to get where I need to be.

I am running out of time, I can feel myself drowning in layers and layers of white lace and billowy fabric, clutching on to imaginary babies for dear life.

To discover you only have a finite time to turn make-believe real; a hard punch to not fall down in a heap from. To realise it may not happen, makes me wish I never wanted it at all. In my head, I now have 2 years left. 2 years to find the treasure, the trunk and pull all I want from it.

What an unrealistic time frame I have managed to set myself.

What a time for wishing I could easily disappear into something other than this.

Why am I suddenly a 37-year-old pirate digging for treasure?

Em

xoxo

Push.

There is beauty lurking in strange places.

Between the dark cracks if you look hard like I do.

I love that feeling you get when you catch it, even more than finding beauty in something obvious.

Like a sunbeam caught in a glass jar. Snatched.

Observing something awkward, deceptively ugly. The immense beauty of the moment bubbles; surfaces and washes over. I could immerse myself in that feeling forever and a day.

I used to feel like a strange, little oddball as I secretly stole beauty and loveliness from something not so nice. Almost like a show just for me that no one else could see.

To stand on my tippy-toes and peak through the back fence when I was so small and watch out for much prettier things than the old drunk man next door, moonshine flowing whenever the moon was shining.

The dirt road and the train tracks and the cows mooing back at me. To find the little purple flowers shooting up from the gold hay. To see the crotchety drunk man’s wife patting his hand as they sat on the porch together, listening to music and remembering a time before there were broken, empty bottles at their feet.

To see a chime catching in the sunlight by a window even but for a moment, while yelling and hissing and hurting falls down around you.

A warm smile between the bleach and the tubes and machines and the dying of a cold grey hospital room.

I find it odd that I see these little tiny things, in moments when I shouldn’t. I also find myself looking around at everyone else to see if they see it too, excited by the notion that they must have caught at least a glimpse.

I can’t help but notice the way my husband’s eyes have flecks of green amidst the blue when he is exasperated by me. The way he has a teeny, tiny triangle-shaped wrinkle on his forehead when he is angry. It makes me want nothing more than to kiss it a thousand times over.

The plump, wrinkled lady with silvery hair, on a thick November day at the beach. Slipping and sliding all over a paddle-board to some may be funny; bulbous, and ugly. To me though it is pure poetry. Her sparkling eyes and her confidence as she decides to choose fun over vanity and learn a new trick. Steadying herself, soft tanned skin showing many years of salt and sand. Pulling herself through the crisp, cool water. Waves sparkling like her eyes in the glow of the sluggish, low afternoon sun. So much beauty in that laugh as she slaps down in the water. Complete delight and oblivion.

I have watched so much gorgeous, soft light cast across an autumn afternoon; Even more beautiful though as it lingers over a movie screen, whilst a frantic protagonist is in the midst of love leaving. Who fights and claws to stop it all falling to the ground. Doing and saying anything to not leave this space in time without her. Yanking and pulling at her as she stands rigid and numb and completely spent. With nothing left to give. That moment – so devastating to them; completely takes my breath away. And I don’t really understand why.

So here I find myself, sitting. Sunlight through the window; my husband’s wrinkled brow and flecks beside me, he is concentrating, I am not.

I see nothing beautiful in this moment and it is the most important moment for it to be.

I search for it, easily distracted by my hunt as I completely tune out to what the nurse is detailing in a monotone voice. Anything pretty and magical on the walls? On the desk? In the diagrams, she is flicking through? Only more monotone and grey. And fear.

I cannot muster any kind of romance or dreaminess from the blood tests and the injections and the uncertainty. I don’t even like the air in the room. It is like I am on a conveyor belt, a doll missing a part and I am being pushed along with different hands seeing if they can fix me in time before it is all too late and I get shoved onto the heap.

We are then pushed into another room. This time it is painted a depressing yellow – I never knew until now, how depressing yellow can be. Here surrounded by buttercup, more ugly information is fed to us both. My husband and his flecks nodding and asking all the right things as I dart my eyes around this new space. Nothing to savour here either. Robotic empathy and a nervous tick, is all I see.

Until we are pushed back out again and I close the car door with a thud and remember what we are doing this all for.

Until my husband’s hand takes mine. This is why we are together. Because he knows I long for beauty in between the cracks and he shows it to me. Pulling me along until I get to where I long to be.

As corny as it sounds, it always seems to work.

Em xoxo

Submerged.

bath

I have one delicious memory from my childhood.
One simple, ordinary moment in time that was savoured.
Bath time.
An evening ritual. One that made me innately aware of being planted solidly in a family unit, part of a bustling household and never more secure in that deceivingly inconsequential nightly routine.
My mother would pour my bath and take all the care in the world to ensure it was never too hot or too cold. Always warning me not to venture closer until the temperature was just right.
She would then kneel down and help me wriggle out of all my layers of clothes. I would lean in to her as she helped me balance, snuggling in to her hair and giggling, as she would use the opportunity to plant a million kisses on my flushed face.
She would then take care to, as all busy mums do; quickly make sure I was scrubbed clean and then leave me to enjoy my bath on my own for a short while so she could get 5 other things done before coming back to get me.
With three other siblings to compete with, I always felt like the most special, important person in the world whenever I got these moments alone with her, and I relished in them.
As the warm steam snaked its way off the white foamy bubbles, wisping up and around the room. I would submerge myself under the water, with only my face and toes remaining above the surface.
This warm blanket of liquid I cocooned myself under, was simply bliss.
The magic of this moment was more specifically about all the sounds I could hear under that water. My submerged ears, is where I found the greatest delight.
The happenings of the household at that time of night, muffled by a wall of water yet somehow so crystal clear. Noises that were not the same as when above.
It is this splendid, quiet moment on my own that is still so vivid to me now.
The bath was like a giant upside down glass and I listened very closely as if I was holding that glass up against the bathroom wall, magnifying the gentle hum of conversations and appliances competing with each other down the hall.
My teenage sister on the phone talking quietly to a boy, with her music gently thumping – white noise so parents couldn’t hear; my dad listening to the news propped up at the kitchen table keeping mum company while she cooked. The sturdy old electric frying pan she used sizzling and crackling our dinner as she stood over it and tiredly sipping her wine as she stirred.
Dad, always in a running conversation with the television unimpressed by whichever politician was on the screen at the time.
My parents were in catch up mode after each having a long day at work. They would debrief each other and discuss bills that had to be paid, children that were growing out of their school shoes and summer holidays to the coast that needed to be idyllically planned. They used to talk to each other like nobody else existed, all that mattered was the two of them – you would think as their offspring I would not like this so much – wanting to be a priority, but nothing could be further from the truth, I adored the love they had for each other, and their beautiful connection remains with me still.
In that bathtub, in that house. I felt a part of something, I felt safe and I felt very loved.
To my parents, I am sure this was a vexing nightly routine; possibly this same moment for them, as they sat in our little kitchen, was filled with worry, fatigue and stress of working hard and making ends meet.
If only they knew down the hall their child was listening on and falling completely in love with the sounds of their voices, and footsteps and what they thought were private moments between them.
Any time I want to remember my dad’s voice, it is this memory I go to.
As for my mother, any time I am craving to be close to her, distance keeping us apart for long periods of time; it is this memory I squeeze as tightly as I can and squish out all the loveliness. Her perfume, her smile, her warm hands as she busily get tasks done.
I would stay in that bath until my fingers and toes became prune-ish and my teeth began to chatter, then the time finally came to be scooped up by whichever parent’s turn it was, into a big fluffy towel.
It never ever escapes me, how this one single memory takes about 30 seconds of re-living in my mind. How it is light years away from where I stand today. A speck of dust in the story of me, and yet it is everything.
To me it has become clear, this is what it is all about.
The things we smile about today, the things we taste, smell and experience it is all so fleeting. Teeny tiny specks that one day you end up looking back on and become so giant in your mind – how truly sad it is if these moments get missed and not soaked up to savour later.
I am fortunate in a lot of ways the pain I have endured in my life, has taught me this lesson well. I do now hold my husband that little bit tighter. I do try not to stress over, well anything really. And I do make as much time as I can to be with my beautiful family. I also send the universe quiet tiny wishes, that my mother’s house was still filled with noise and footsteps and my father’s voice. We each try hard to fill that space for her as much as we can now.

I especially make sure I take time to stop and pour myself a bubble bath.

I sometimes even sink right down until my ears go under the water, and as I listen very carefully to all the beautiful noises I hear coming down the hall as I smile.

Smiling is a new thing for me lately, after being submerged under a different kind of blanket for so long, and it feels amazing.

Dear Maggie

So I have often thought about that whole concept of writing a letter to your younger self, in hopes of warning them about what lay ahead and what not to stress about.

It always seemed a little silly to me, a pointless exercise – for what is done, is done and no amount of wishing it away shall change it so.

I guess the concept stems from some sort of regret that bubbles away underneath us all. How sad this seems to me.

It is that whole ‘youth is wasted on the young’ thing that comes to mind too, I used to be so offended by this phrase when I was younger.

It is only now I see the wisdom in these words.

Well my beautiful Maggie, I have decided instead to make it more worthwhile by writing this letter instead to you.

You and I both know, that you have been told your whole 15 years of life that you are just like your Aunty Emma.

It is true you are, very much so.

I sometimes disagree when I hear someone tell you this, but it’s a weak shake of the head because deep down I know that you are exactly like me in many ways.

At the same time I am wondering how you feel about hearing such a thing?

Is it a good thing or bad thing to be like me?

I (being me), immediately think this must be a bad thing…that’s where you and I do differ, but we will get to that.

I worry you think this then means you will look like me, think like me… fail like me.

I want you to know that although you are strong willed, stubborn, independent, fiery and quick with the jokes…you are just so very much more.

You are everything I wish I was at your age. You are everything I wish I was at my age.

You are so very strong. You have been since you could lift yourself up onto those gorgeous little chubby legs and decide to be done with crawling, it was time to explore the world by walking…you have never looked back.

You have also had to face a lot of things in your 15 years that not many of us do.

You are bright and brave and determined and funny…so funny.

The very bestest best thing though of all – You never let people make you feel small.

You stand up for yourself.

When someone pushes you down you say no, and in your own Maggie way deal with problems head on and move on for the better.

I am in constant awe of watching you handle yourself with confidence, always with confidence.

I know already you are going to move through life with such self assurance and do it spectacularly.

Unlike your Aunty Emma, you will not worry so much about pleasing everybody else around you.

Unlike your Aunty Emma, you will not feel constantly anxious and guilty all the time over everything.

Unlike me, you will not let boys and then men walk all over your heart, stripping you of your confidence.

Unlike me, you will never let people make you feel like you are not good enough. Because you are.

Unlike me you will be brave enough to go to parties and dances and experience all that a teenager can at that age and you will trust yourself and your judgement of any situation you find yourself in.

You will also, unlike me, not ever put up with the bullshit that comes with ingenuine female friendships. You will work out very quickly who is in your corner and who is not.

You will also unlike me, never let people talk down to you or tell you things about yourself you don’t agree with – you will not stay silent if this happens. You will not accept people’s cruel words, judgements or actions or let them affect you.

Oh to be you.

I hope this also extends to people with different, cruel and narrow minded belief systems to you, question them, challenge them but always speak up.

So, even though this old Aunty of yours may feel you are so much more than she ever was, I still think it never hurts to help make this rocket ride to adulthood you are currently on, a little easier.

So my little Maggie – if my former, younger self that you are, needs to hear any advice from someone who did not have it all worked out, then these really are things I would tell my 15 year old self if I ever had the chance.

While I do think you will be unlike me in so many ways, there is no denying the fact remains you do have pieces of me there, so we had better make sure you are prepared just in case.

If I start to sound like a Nike commercial I apologise, I can’t help but get a little cheesy and sentimental when it comes to you.

Don’t ever let anyone yourself tell you, that you are not good enough or talented enough, to do in life what you deep down want to do. I cannot shout it from the roof tops enough – the whole world is there for you – so grasp it firmly with two hands, and if you have the will you will find a way.

Never waste time, ever – I don’t believe in tomorrow always believe in today, right now.

Go to university, ESPECIALLY if you are unsure about what you want to do, go and have a taste of a beautiful life of discovery and meeting people from different backgrounds.. find out who it is you want to be.

Ease up on procrastinating – you can achieve so much more if you just dig in and do the hard work, get the job done. You will get addicted to feeling proud of yourself if you cotton on to this fact early.

Don’t ever make someone a priority when all you ever are to them is an option. This is a huge one.

Learn how to run (OK, this is a Nike commercial). I know you are rolling your eyes at this as I would be too, but seriously if I had my time again I would learn to love to run, it will heighten your life I know it.

Travel the world, I didn’t and I look back and I don’t even have a good reason why – that time wasting thing perhaps, or not realising I could do anything I wanted. Don’t let money deter you, because it is not a good enough reason.

Be a morning person, greet the day loud and big…don’t sleep your way through the best part of the day.

GPs aren’t always right, and medications /pills are not always the only option…food should always be your first medicine.

Health doesn’t really come into it at your age, I get it. The focus is how you look. But when you get to my age it is all about health. That body of yours is the only one you have. You need to feed it beautiful nutrients and constantly keep it moving but also balance that with rest and no stress. You want to live a long full life, you need that body to get you there.

AlWAYS. BUY. THE. SHOES. you will never ever look back with regret buying them, you will only regret the pairs you didn’t buy.

Tell your mum you love her as much as you can, you will regret all the fights you have with her when you are a bit older. I did.

Let your dad tell you all the jokes and stories he knows a million times over, because I promise you one day they will be something to think about when you miss him so much it hurts.

Don’t get a tattoo, that is one thing you will definitely regret one day if you aren’t sure. If you must get one, wait till you are heading towards 25, so you are very, very sure it is what you want to do.

Understand that only these 3 things matter, Family, Health and Happiness. If anything ever jeopardises any of these, remove them from your life.

Always, always be kind.

Oh and never ever buy a brand new car, always second hand. Depriciation, it’s a word you learn as an adult.

There are many many more little tricks I wish someone had told me about along the way, so know they are tucked away ready for a rainy day if you ever need them.

You have been such a gift to my life little Maggie, more then you will ever know. I can still think back to the moment they rolled you in your hospital crib, down the hall towards me.

I was 21 and you were simply the most perfect thing I had ever laid eyes on. By comparison, when we first met I had already made all of the above mistakes and more.

So I guess my final piece of advice is this;

Ignore everything I have just said and work it all out for yourself. Make a deliciously, beautiful full life for yourself and do it all your way, mistakes, heart aches and all.

I am sure whatever you choose to do, in what ever way you chose to do it, you will be magnificent.

And always remember if you do lose your way, I am here for you always..and I won’t tell your mum.

mags and me

Love,

Aunty Em

xoxo

Home Sweet Home.

Lately, it does not escape me, none of it does.

As I drive along the long, flat, dusty road edging closer to my childhood home and my parent’s front door, I have waves of bitter sweetness and it is hard to work out how to handle it.

I have had this feeling wash over me each time I drive home since my dad’s death, which is surprising to no one I know.

Funny thing is the 50 times prior to his death it was just a drive . A long, annoying drive.

I was so caught up in a big load of nothing important that I failed to take it all in, failed to let it move past the rear view mirror and back into my heart, my lungs. Failing to realise it all belonged to me. An inexplicable part of me, just as my arms and my fingers and my toes; the road and the hills and the sunlight across the cotton, sorghum and bright yellow canola fields.

I try but fail to explain with any real eloquence, how it feels to recognise every tree, field, hill and bend in the road. It all goes in and mixes around and fills up parts of me just as much as all the other stuff.

To only notice it now, to let it in for even just a second; a breath, brings me closer to my sweet father. His voice, his strong hands as they worked hard, his bushy eyebrows. His smile under the rays of the summer late afternoon sun.

Having lived here his whole life and working for a lot of it on the land too, it is hard not to see him in everything as I drive closer.

I guess that is why I love travelling home so much now and quietly dread it all at the same, confusing time.

It’s easy to keep busy in my own little life, as soon as the sadness and burning in the back of my throat comes swiftly and from nowhere, I can distract myself and it soon subsides.

But here I could wallow easily, allowing myself to dive head first into the pain of the enormous and gaping loss.

When we first came home from the hospital, well it was something else.

His shoes at the door like he took them off moments ago, his trousers over the back of a chair ironed ready for a new day that never came. His paint pots and brushes left like he was off making a cup of coffee.

Walking through his garage filled with golf clubs and fishing rods and a lifetime of tools made me want to hug and kiss it all while at the same time wanting to burn the whole shed down.

It was hard for me to leave this space the first time I had to, I could swim around in all of this for much longer, pretending he had just slipped off to town and would be home before we noticed.

Why didn’t I come home more often before it all went wrong?

I am angry with myself that I did not stop and take it all in sooner and appreciate the loveliness of what I was lucky enough to feel, connected to a place. I see now what my parents so wisely always knew and tried to pass on.

I realise now, as I drive into my hometown that I had not ever noticed before the spot where he first taught me to ride my bike and I fell scraping both knees, or where I first bunny hopped our car all the way down the road with him not knowing whether to laugh or shout. The track I used to walk every day to catch the school bus, taking a shortcut through the yard of old Mr Jones with the 78 cats. The pretty little bell like purple flowers that grew in clumps every spring along the dirt road to our driveway. The old weathered pub where Dad would inevitably stroll home from at 6pm on the dot, to enjoy mum’s cooking with a sparkle in his eye.

I am sitting in my old bedroom right now, as cliched as it sounds. I am gazing at the bazillion stars laid out before me with the crickets chirping and that certain country, crispy spring scent in the air. I have never felt safer.

During a time home, sorting through Dad’s belongings that came home from the hospital, we discovered a little notepad Dad had kept and written in from time to time – an exercise the counsellor had recommended. We found one entry, a tiny sentence in a sea of blank pages.

He had written during his final days, that his only wish was ‘to go home and sit in the garden and listen to the birds’.

I cannot express the impact this innocuous sentence has now had on my life.

I will forever soak up every bit of sweetness the trip home provides me and when I get there I will always make a cuppa with mum and sit in the garden and watch the birds now with her.

I will always lift my face to the sun and breathe in the beautiful crisp air on a summer’s day.

For it does not escape me, none of it does.

Em xoxo

The Jacaranda Tree.

I was asked today by a friend if I would be doing anything on Father’s Day to honor my dad, and I said no. I now sit here and type knowing he deserves more than a no, and so his story I have decided to share.

for Dad.

I had a strange moment a few days ago in the middle of Coles. I was in there rushing around trying to find some ingredient to a recipe and wanting to get out of there as quickly as possible to avoid the after school onslaught.

I was whizzing past the giant display of Father’s Day cards, and was suddenly stopped in my tracks. A feeling of absolute dread hit me and it had me standing in front of the colorful cards, quickly doing the math, working out how many days I had left to send a card before Father’s Day. Then a second wave of dread hit me and I kept walking..this was not something I needed to ever worry about again…I was too late.

I often have these bittersweet moments that come and go. They set upon me so unsuspectingly until reality instantly follows a nanosecond later. In the beginning I would have these moments often in first light as I opened my eyes, you simply forget and then just like that in the next breath in, you remember and the aching returns.

It is a very different Father’s Day to last year, in just 12 short months the difference leaves me feeling numb and disbelieving still.

My family and I all visited my father at his rehabilitation centre. I was thinking at the time what a difference it was to the Father’s Day before it, here my father sat in a wheelchair, life hanging precariously in the balance, so sick from the chemotherapy treatment, scared shitless he would never walk again, so frail and aged and weary…a year before that, a strong, indestructible giant stood handing out affection and torment and cheek and love by the bucket loads.

We had spent Father’s Day last year in the gardens of the rehabilitation centre, his grandchildren running around playing, not really understanding the somberness all the adults were silently feeling. We sat all day in the sun talking to dad, reading the paper with him, opening his presents. My sister bought him a hamburger from the take away shop as he had been craving steak for a long time after months of hospital food..and that was the best we could find for him. As each one of us arrived that day he would burst into tears, (a chemo side effect – making cancer patients become overly emotional on top of everything else they have to endure). He told us over and over and over again how much he loved us.

That, we have. Always.

I have all his gifts I gave him on that day, a book he never got the chance to read, moisturiser he would not get to use, to soften his skin..so sore from all of the drugs he was taking.

A month later, he was just out of intensive care after being on life support and we were told it was time to have the conversation about saying goodbye and giving up our solid fight…funny we were so terrified of the word palliative, and suddenly here we were..it dawning on us we would give anything to hear one of his doctor’s say that word now, because somehow we skipped that bit and it was all too late..so quickly.

IMG_20130912_223433

As Father’s Day approaches, it’s these final days with my dad that I am thinking of. Trying to take in his eyes, his smile, his voice.

I can definitely remember the hospital room where we spent his final days with him. My sisters and my mother all by his side still not really understanding at the time, that all hope was lost and we were really losing him.

I remember the room, the light, the smells like it was yesterday. I remember feeling like I wasn’t as strong as my mother and sisters. I was flapping around the room like a trapped bird trying to escape..not able to handle being a witness to what was about to happen. I was his baby girl and I suddenly took on my role as the youngest..wanting to run and hide, wanting my sisters and mum to make it all better. I wanted those cold polished floors to swallow me up, I felt suffocated by the feeling that this was all out of our control, that it wasn’t fair and that he should fight harder and breathe stronger..

I also remember how it was dusk, the smell of bush fires all around us, and me needing air and looking across at the old washed out rickety glass doors he had in his private room….we thought private to give him time to rest and heal, they thought private to let him slip away in peace and with dignity…how foolish and naive we all must have seemed to them. The glass doors opened onto a balcony and we all worked hard to jimmy them open, they didn’t look like they had been open for 20 years or more. Finally air hitting my face and lungs, looking back into the room feeling disappointed that despite the cool air I was still with the lump in my throat and knot in my stomach unable to stop what was happening in front of me. Beyond the balcony my sister and I finally took in the beautiful bloomed Jacaranda tree in the courtyard.

We had all individually noticed it as we first entered his room, we commented to him, what a beautiful tree, and what a gorgeous view..all the while thinking in our minds, please don’t let be the last thing he sees…it was so perfect and lavender ..different sunlight flickering through it’s purple hues…heavenly almost..please don’t be a sign.

I was asked today by a friend if I would be doing anything on Father’s Day to honor my dad, and I said no. I now sit here and type knowing he deserves more than a no, and so his story I have decided to share.

On this Father’s Day whilst the pain and the memories of his illness are brought bubbling to the surface, I also want to in some small way put out into the world what a great dad he was.

He was everything a great dad is, and that’s all any kid could ask for.

He taught me to ride my bike and tie my shoelaces. He read stories to me, played board games and tickled me until I couldn’t breathe from laughing. He flipped me into the air so high and always caught me. He carried me to bed of a night, when I had fallen in heap in his arms after a day of play. He scolded me when I put myself in danger, and when I was a teenager he told me I could come to him and talk to him about anything and he would listen and love only.

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It hurts more then I can bear he is no longer tangible, and time seems to be moving me further and further away from him.

It is a hurt I have never felt before and that I cannot share this Father’s Day with him in a garden somewhere is so very unfair, but it being a day to celebrate our dads, I feel I have done that now in a different way. I hope he would have approved. He loved being the centre of attention and an active part of any conversation…loved being right in the thick of things, so I like to think he would be pretty chuffed he was the star of this post.

I truly hope everyone who can celebrate with their dads on Sunday, enjoy a beautiful and special day and cherish those moments knowing how lucky they are.

Our family now needs to enjoy every precious moment this life brings. I constantly keep reminding myself when life’s teeny annoyances gain my attention, that I need to keep on breathing for dad, live my life for him and not let a moment be wasted.

Happy Father’s Day Dad, I hope you are spending it where you said you wanted to be, picking out the perfect fishing spot for you and mum to enjoy together one day.

Em xoxo

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