She who fortune favours

Today I finished my last classes at TAFE for the foreseeable future.  I’ve added another couple of subjects to my list of achievements, but at the moment I am not sure that I will return to complete my diploma.  The last few months, my studies have given me everything I sought from them.  Engagement, a sense of purpose, a chance to socialise with my peers, have a laugh, keep my brain active, and probably most importantly of all, it’s kept me from staying home worrying about dying.  Now, however, something has shifted….changed.

I’ve stopped worrying about dying.

I’ve been reading back through some of my blog posts, in order to have things fresh in my mind, to take part fully in the creative process that is going into the production of my book.  I don’t need to tell you that it  has been some batshit crazy year and a half.  I realise I have spent most of it waiting for some sort of outcome, and hoping that the eventual outcome wouldn’t see me in a pine box.  There have been several major surgeries, life threatening complications, chemo warfare, radiation poisoning, 13 months of trying to get to potentially curative surgery, the introduction of the 50% factor, a massive risk I had to take with my life in order to have one of any length.  Then of course, I took that risk, only to find that my cancer was too advanced to be cured, and I had to come to terms with my terminal status.  HOW.THE.FUCK.AM.I.STILL.SANE?

The months between the failed liver resection and the results of last weeks scan have by far been the darkest.  Yep, even darker than those 50% days, would you believe.  Even when looking that horror in the face, there was the chance, small though it was, of a very good outcome.  For a while it felt like when that was gone, everything that I was, every bit of strength that I had been able to muster went with it.  Oh sure, I lived, but I lived in fear, counting down the days, watching the sand fall through the hourglass, knowing that when it was all through, I wasn’t going to be able to turn the hourglass over again – that sand was my life force.  Then of course, last week I got the news that the sand might run quite slowly, and for me, that changed everything.

I’ve re-discovered joy.  That sort where you realise you have been smiling for so long your cheeks ache, and you have to rub them.  I’ve also become acquainted with something that I realise I knew little about before – flexibility.

In the famous words of Powderfinger “Control, well it’s slipping right through my hands….these days turned out nothing like I had planned…”.  Indeed.  It’s a bit of a cancer anthem, that one.  It’s made me ponder though, why we like to have so much control over our lives as a general rule.  Why we like to plan, and have an idea of how those plans will pan out.  It only sets us up to fail, when there are so many ways life can fuck us over.

And so, I give myself over to things I can’t control.  I am in a very unique position, as I can now live my life with the fullness of someone who doesn’t know how long their life will be, and with the unique perspective of someone who also knows it’s not destined to be the three score and ten.  I’ll take every opportunity to live, laugh, love, create, turn my face to that bit of winter sun that creeps through the clouds occasionally, and I won’t look at the hourglass.  How far the sand will fall is in the lap of the gods, and I’m not going to focus on it.

I think my next blog post might be the one where I get to give you a sneaky peek at what the book will look like, and also a brand new look for Five Fairies and a Fella.  Life can still go in this astonishing and exciting new direction, when you are terminally ill and least expect to START a new path.  My mind is full of ideas, and many exciting things are around the corner.  Can’t wait to share it with you all.


How Julia got her groove back

The last few days have been filled with so much love, hope and happy.  Where to start?

Last Wednesdays news changed everything.  It’s not for a minute that I am in any denial that this cancer will take my life.  But the minute that the goal posts were moved, that the response to treatment was positive, that I went from a possible lifespan of just months to not knowing how long we can give this beautiful life a shake, I became a changed woman.   The focus is definitely on life now, not death, and what a wonderful feeling it is.

Even the hook up to the poison pump the next day felt different…better…with purpose.  Instead of torture I didn’t even know was working, it was the key to keeping me alive.  Instead of being chained to a chair with a needle in my chest for 4 hours, it was four lovely hours having chats and laughs with the nurses, and my dear friend who sits through these hours with me and keeps my spirits up.  As we were leaving, a lady in the next chair who had been on her own through her whole treatment commented how lucky I was to have someone sit with me the whole time like that.  And she was right, I am lucky.

Chemo has hit me a little harder this cycle.  Last time i seemed to get away with nearly the whole thing with little more than the uber tiredness that goes with every cycle.  This time, a little more numbness and tingling in the extremeties, and nausea from hell.  We went to our usual Thursday night dinner out at the RSL with friends just a few hours after I was unhooked, and still hopped up on steroids.  Not long after we arrived, a big kiss and cuddle arrived from the side – my gorgeous friend Kylie over from Perth to surprise me!  This girl hates a flight with a passion, but drags herself onto one for hours to come and see me.  See, lucky.

Kylie came over the next day, but I was too sick to go out for lunch. Instead she prepared lunch for me and I ate it from under my blanket on the couch, and we caught up.  Friends that you don’t have to put on airs or graces for – lucky.

I booked in last week to go to a self-publishing masterclass.  My blog book has already been written, and production is underway, but if I was going to be given more precious time (at this point, I didn’t know), then I was far from ruling out giving another book a crack…I have so many crazy ideas, but I couldn’t entertain them until I knew I might be able to actually do them if you know what i mean…and I was very interested in the process that goes into producing a book.  It was a fascinating and informative day, and let’s just say the brain is in overdrive.

However, i didn’t know that my booking in for this was sending my camp into a panicked frenzy.  For six weeks  or so, my husband and Kylie had been cooking up a bit of a surprise for me (just a BIT!)  And the surprise was for the night after the masterclass.

I got home, exhausted, gave myself a bit of a shake and we headed out  for our scheduled dinner with Kylie at the hotel she is staying at.  As we walked in for our booking for 7, the staff kept on going on about these tables for 25.  I’m like, no, we are only 7, and they walked us to this massive table, where we awkwardly tucked ourselves into a corner.  I am slow as a wet week, and not for one minute was I jerrying that anything was afoot. Finally Kylie said she was going to ask the manager to move us to a smaller table – cue my surprise as she went and told everyone to come in.  I looked up and said to Gaz “Gaz, isn’t that Andy Bugg”, and THEN the penny dropped!  I got up and ran over, and they all filed in….some of the nearest and dearest members of my “Down syndrome family”, including friends that had driven down from Canberra for a whistlestop stay, lovely friends who I had not seen for years.  Exhausted, yes, but all of a sudden this girl had a second wind.  Lucky, and loved.  Here are some photos of the night:

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There is no greater gift that being loved.  To know that all that work went into surprising me.  Sorry for all the stress guys, for worrying I was burning the candle at both ends, and would be too tired to turn up for my own party :)  I had the best night ever, love you all so much.

Here is a picture I had taken yesterday morning, on the way to the masterclass, as I could see it, that I was back, the essence of me, and I wanted you to all see it too.


The first thing I need to learn is my limitations I think.  Still getting used to those.  I want to pack so much into these days, and I can also feel myself about to hit a wall.  The last week of TAFE this week, and so much work to do.  I have decided not to continue with TAFE for the second half of the year….I have a project with this book that I am really enjoying and revelling in, and I want to give it all the time it deserves…it is after all the realisation of a massive dream for me.  I also want to concentrate on having the time to put into healthy eating, and exercise, and trying to get this magnificent life to go on as long as possible.  I’ve just got to get through this uber busy week, and then it’s home and hearth and healthy meals, and snuggles with my people, and a good bit of learning to slow the hell down!

That’s it from me for today.  Content, loved, lucky.

The sun will come up, tomorrow.

Thought I better blog tonight as I know you are all waiting for news of scan results.

In short, they were bloody brilliant, and far exceeded expectations.  All my liver mets have shrunk 25%, which is absolutely fantastic considering that I have only had three cycles, and one of them didn’t include a particular drug, and all three of them have only been on a 50% dose of the most powerhouse of all the chemo drugs (and the most toxic).  My oncologist said two sentences that were music to my ears today: “you are obviously still very sensitive to first line chemo”, and “we are looking at getting a long period of control”.  I don’t know how long long is, but that will do me, thanks.  I now know, that while nothing in this shitty cancer life is guaranteed, I am a possible contender for living with this cancer for some years.  The oncologist also said “we’ve still got quite a few options up our sleeves for later”.  Did I ever tell you I bloody love that man?

I said recently in a post that I would never know what it was like to feel joy again.  I mean, how can you, when you have a death sentence hanging over your head?  But I tell you, the mood in that oncologists office today, among my sister, my friend Kez, and my (sobbing) husband was almost festive.  My oncologist was beaming, we were all having a laugh about me being an author and whether I would have time to attend my 3 weekly appointments with him anymore, and we all felt pure relief.  I walked out of that office, I hugged my people, and I felt it.  Yes, it was joy.  I’ve missed you my friend.

What lies ahead?  Three blissful months until I have to think about this crap again.  Three weekly hook ups to the poison pump, and quiet confidence that the mets will continue to shrink.  In three months if I am still responding I will be shifted onto maintenance chemo, and that is where we seek to start on this long period of control.

This news today means so many things for my life.  I looked at my children tonight and I wasn’t terrified that we’d already had our last Christmas.  I am confident that I will walk my eldest child into her first day of high school, and then I will set another goal when her sister follows her a year later.  I have enjoyed the last few months, as I refuse to waste too much time worrying about what I can’t change, but if I was to be honest, there have been moments of pure terror.  There has been no way in the last few months to know whether I would respond to chemo like I did before – sometimes the cancer gets too big for the chemo, and it just can’t overcome it.  On the way back from our weekend away, I started to have pain over my liver area (despite taking a lot of photos of the grog haul on the weekend, I didn’t actually drink very much, I know it’s not in my best interests), and over the next couple of days it got really quite severe, into my back, and up into my shoulder.  I could only think that my liver was worsening and not responding, and going into these scan results I have had to take the blue drops of calm from palliative care a couple of times to help me cope with the fear.  I really and truly thought a couple of nights ago that my demise could actually be quite close, and I was really very very scared.  This is going to be part of my life forever now, so I just have to work it in.  So, the results of today also mean that when I get pain, I don’t have to be scared.  Pain in itself I can cope with, but the psychological terror that goes with it, when you don’t know if treatment is working is diabolical.  Now I will say ah, it’s just pain, pop a pill, and chill.  Kinda…something like that!

There are things that are happening in my life at the moment that are truly extraordinary.  And I mean beyond my wildest dreams, gobsmacking.  There will be a book, as I already told you, but there are actually other things which I will be able to talk more about shortly too.  The other day I was really struggling with the positive direction my life was heading in juxtaposing with the possibility of a really quite imminent death.  Now I can really enjoy what the next few months will bring (and they will bring amazing things – can’t wait to tell you more), comfortable in the knowledge that I am not going anywhere any time soon.

Cancer, as much as I hate it, has given my courage.  And I am not talking about the courage to die, I am talking about the courage to live.  The opportunities that have come my way recently are not things I would have the confidence or self-belief to chase after even two short years ago.  Do something courageous tomorrow, in honour of my news.  Chase a little dream.  I love the thought of that, I just love its guts.

My sister and I tonight, celebrating my fabulous news.  It’s so so hard on other family members, I am so glad she came to support me, and hear first hand that things are on track.


On a devastatingly sad note, yesterday bowel and liver cancer took my beautiful friend Amelia, the second member of our close knit cancer support group that we have lost in the last few months.  Amelia was in her very very early 30’s, and she was bright and beautiful, and had her whole life in front of her.  Her heart was golden, and I know that she would have been so thrilled at my news today.  The unfairness of this, the cruelty, it’s truly breath sucking.  Much love beautiful girl, you were a shining light in our group, and we all adored you.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Beanies

First of all, I know that lots of you are awaiting my scan results.  And, would you believe, I don’t KNOW!!!  I always meet with the oncologist in my second week of treatment, so that we can tweak the chemo if need be….ALWAYS the second week.  So, when the appointment was made for this round, I didn’t even look at the card.  Wednesday my Gaz came home from work early and I was waiting at my friends place for him, as she was coming too for extra support, when I realised that I had not received the usual confirmation text message from my oncologists office…and believe me the colour drained out of my face at that point!  I looked at the card, and sure enough, the appointment is next week!  I called his office in a panic, but they could not and would not get me in to see him, and I have to wait until this coming Wednesday for the results.  I did ask for him to call me, but he did not…he won’t give results over the phone, so he avoids calling to avoid being asked for give them, I guess.

I quite simply had to move on.  It can’t be changed, it will be what it will be, and I had a weekend away to look forward to!  It wasn’t easy, but I refuse to waste any of my precious life over something that I have no control over.

A while ago, my dear friend Sandy offered the use of her gorgeous beach house on Victoria’s stunning Great Ocean Road for a girls weekend away, to cheer me up.  We decided on the weekend just gone, and we got a group of 8 together, including my sister and sister-in-law.

This sort of thing, while wonderful, always has a confronting element.  Will I be able to think of it as a wonderful weekend away, of which there will be many more, or will I stumble….worry that it will be the last time we all manage to be together like that….let this make me fall into the proverbial heap?  Triumph, or tragedy?

Let me tell you, every single minute was a triumph.  I took living in this here moment and gave it a massive shake.  We drank, we ate, we drank, we slept when we wanted, got up when we wanted…and LAUGH?  I’ve damn near broken a rib.  I was a bit concerned that if I managed to keep the sadness at bay, others would struggle, but nope, they did me proud.  It was just a normal girls weekend away, where I felt enveloped in the love of some of those dearest to me.  And will there be another one?  My word there will.

Some photo’s, starting with our view, while doing all that eatin’ and all that drinkin’ and all that laughin’:


Sam arriving with some refreshments:


With my gorgeous friend Simone:


My sister and sister-in-law:


My Kez and I hitting the sack for the night.  I wore the pug suit.  She called me Wilfred


My sister-in-law managed to whip 3 of us up beanies over the course of the weekend, and we modelled, along with a couple of ring in’s…:


And I rocked this somewhat thrown together new look:


I know, right?  My, how we laughed.  How could we not?  Life is there to be lived – live it!

That is not to say the weekend was free of emotional stumbling blocks.  They will always be there, and I just have to roll with them.  In this case, it was in a shoe shop in Lorne.  I was buying my second pair of boots for the day, and commented to the women who owned the shop that I would love to buy my little girls a pair of shoes each, but as I had four of them, and the shop was rather high end, I had to stick with spoiling my good self instead.  They told me to make sure I bring all my girls back when they are older.  I swallowed the lump in my throat and said I would.  My sister-in-law told me the next day she noticed it too, and had to swallow her own lump.  Such a simple, throwaway comment is now a minefield.

The other thing that I am struggling with is how incredibly fucking good life is.  As Kez and I were motoring back home along the Great Ocean Road earlier today, the sun was shining, the water was like diamonds, my love tank was totally filled by some wonderful women who I know love me with all their hearts.  I was going home.  To my fairies.  To my fella.  To my huge group of supportive friends and family.  To my lovely home.  To the busyness of the last couple of weeks of this semesters studies, at which time I will add another 3 passed subjects to my list of achievements.  What the blue FUCK is this dying business?  I can’t do this shit, I am too happy, just way too bloody happy for that.

I can’t buckle under the weight of this, the fear and the unfairness.  I MUST use it as the impetus that drives me on.  People sometimes search a lifetime for this sort of happiness, and many never find it.  I have, and I will hang onto it for DEAR LIFE, every single minute that I can.

This is perhaps a good time to mention that whilst I was coming home to all this happy, I was also coming home to….wait for it….throw myself into the creative process of TURNING THIS BLOG INTO A BOOK!!!  It’s a happening thing, my lovely readers!  The ultimate for any writer is their name on the cover of a book, and I can say, giddy with excitement, that it will indeed be a thing.  Thank you so much for asking for it so many, many times.  Thank you for believing in me.  I thought about it so many times, but I didn’t think I had the energy to see it through, not with the energy sapping festivities of “chemo for life”, and I was very emphatic that it would not be done posthumously.  So, how would it end?  Not with the most “natural” conclusion, as I said.  I know what the last chapter will be now, I just have to write it.  And as for the work?  A team of wonderfully creative people have got behind me, and taken all that on board.  Heading up that team – my absolute idol, which makes me trip out all the more.  How amazing, eh?  Stay tuned for more info, I don’t think it will be too long🙂

Go out there and live your best life this week.  Hug your kids, plan your own girls weekend…take the first step in a dream.  Even if you make a small inroad, one day it can yield great results.  I dreamed of one day being an author, and I am going to be one.  If my dream can come true, so can yours.

Last but not least, please come and join  my new Facebook page that I have set up for this blog.  I will post all new blogs there, and it will be and easier place for you to comment and communicate with me.  I read all of your comments and appreciate them, and I am more than happy to connect with others in similar situations to me through this page.  Facebook just makes life easier, I reckon :)  Updates on the book will be posted there, too.

Much love my friends….back on Wednesday with the dreaded scan results!

That long forgotten feeling

I went for my CT scan this afternoon.  I didn’t take anyone with me, as it’s “just a scan”…results are tomorrow and Gaz will be with me, of course.  I’m always ok, I just drink the drink, hold out my arm for the cannula, look at the screen on the scanner that says “chest, abdo, pelvis”, take a deep breath…wheeee, they roll me in.

I wasn’t really ok today.  Truth is the anxiety is a bit of a killer when there is never going to be a happy ending, that the only “answers” I will get tomorrow is whether it is awful, or really really fucked up.

I always look around the waiting room, in the hour it takes between the contrast drink and the scan, and wonder what other peoples stories are.  Are they sad like me?  Dying?  Lonely?  Scared?  I always hope they are none of those things..that they just have a bit of a pain in their leg, or need surgery for gallstones, or something that can be god damned fixed.  It doesn’t help me that I am not alone, that there are probably other people in that waiting room by the law of averages that know all about the turmoil inside my head.  You just wouldn’t wish it on another living soul.

I was telling someone the other day about Gaz and my trip to Vanuatu…I think it was about 12 years ago.  After I told her, I was trying to call to mind the freedom of that time, that we just ate, drank, went to bed (and it was the “honeymoon period”, we went to bed a LOT😛 ), got up, jumped in the hire car without having to buckle anyone into a seat..only worried about applying our own sunscreen…you know, things like that.  But the thing is, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t evoke that feeling, that memory….I couldn’t remember a time when we didn’t have our children, and it was fascinating to me that they were ever not here.

Now it’s fascinating to me that cancer was ever not here.

I tried to evoke that feeling today when the pregnant woman came in.  I was sitting there trying (unsuccessfully as it turned out) to keep the iodine drink down.  She wandered up to the reception desk with her partner and the receptionist asked if she had a full bladder and she said she did and made some comment about how the baby was bouncing on her full bladder and she hoped she’d get in quick.  Then she sat down opposite me and I watched her and her partner exchange excited glances.

I smiled…I was genuinely happy for them.  I’ve had four babies, I’ve felt that  joy four times.  And I begrudge it to no one.  So, I sat there and cast my mind back to the scans with our babies.  I remembered sitting outside the room at the Mercy hospital with Gaz, as we waited to see our first baby on the screen.  We were nearly jumping out of our skin with excitement.  A baby!  A life filled with promise – hers and ours.

I wondered if it would help to think of happier times, so I tried to evoke that feeling, that pure joy that I know we felt that day.  But do you know, for the life of me, I couldn’t.  I don’t remember joy.  I don’t remember innocence.  I know I felt them once, but I don’t remember what they felt like.  And the heavy weight of knowing that I never will again is breathtaking.

I mourn joy, I grieve for it like a person I once knew, and loved, and won’t see again.  Instead of being able to enjoy the memory when the technician said “do you want to know the sex” and we said yes, and she said “it’s a little girl”, and I burst into tears, because I always wanted a little girl, all I could think of was holy fuck, what if I had known then that I would die and leave that baby girl without a mother when she was 12 (she’s not 12 until September, but I am quietly confident).  I’m glad I didn’t know.  I’m glad I got to feel, for a little while what this lady must  have felt today.  That beautiful feeling of thinking you are bringing a child into the world that you are going to see graduate from high school (hell, I’d even take seeing all of them out of primary school), and make their way into the world, have their  own babies….I hope she gets to do it, too.  It’s something that no one should have taken from them.

I was sobbing in the scanner….my whole body shaking too much for them to do the scan at first.  Finally I was able to gather myself enough for them to do it.  On the way out the nurse gave me a cuddle and more tissues and asked if  there was anything else she could do for me.  I gave her a sad smile and said “not unless  you can find  the cure for cancer”.

And that’s all I wish for everyone.  If you are reading this and you have to face life every day knowing that your babies will  soon know a world without you in it, I’m sorry.  I wish I could take it away – for all of us.


The unbearable heaviness of being


The blog posts are coming rather thick and fast at the moment, but I am heading into what is possibly the most terrifying week of my life so far, and writing is therapeutic for me, so they may get more, before they get less.

Tomorrow I get rolled into the CT scanner to see where I stand with this cancer.  Wednesday afternoon my oncologist will tell me whether this chemo is working, or I have to switch to another one.  Either way, there will be a plan, but there is so much at stake here, as I was hoping to respond well enough to this chemo to get onto maintenance (which aims to hold the cancer steady for as long as it can, with as little chemo as it can), and not look at “second line” (and effectively last line) chemo for a good long time.  Plus there is no guarantee that just because first line chemo worked really well for me for a time, that second line will do the same.  So much uncertainty and fear that I feel scattered and crazy going into this week, and literally hanging onto my sanity by a thread.

My palliative care nurse came over on Friday for her fortnightly chat.  I really like her, in fact, all the people working in palliative care are an exceptional group..they really do find the best of the best.  We talk pretty openly around matters of death and dying and legacies, and how to live well while you “wait” for the death and the dying and the legacy leaving.  She said to me that some people come into this world and go out of it and leave very little impression on it, and that basically no one was going to be able to say that about me.  That my blog alone has touched and helped so many people, and that it is a part of me that will be left behind forever, and my words here a legacy to leave my girls, to help them remember a little of not what their mother looked like, or what she did for them, but who she WAS.  The nurse wondered if it helped me to know that some people weren’t meant to live a long time, but leave a large footprint?  It’s hard to answer.  I mean, really, it does matter.  Surely everyone wants to have touched peoples lives in one way or another.  Had my life been longer, it was always going to be lived in the service of others in some way, and perhaps, with this blog, I have already done that?  But the other part of me wanted to scream NO!  Let me swap, let me burn slow and dim, let the light flicker and go out as I bounce a baby grandchild on my lap, let me experience the full circle of life.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to choose.

Yesterday was mothers day.  It was a beautiful day, but it also landed me on my arse in a couple of ways.  First of all, it was the 23rd mothers day I have spent without being able to say happy mothers day to my own mother.  Our relationship was rocky for a number of reasons, and while I loved her greatly, there has been a resentment towards her which I have carried through my whole life.  There has been a great need in me lately to put these sort of ghosts to rest.  These words were a favourite of my mums, and were always displayed in our house growing up, in a frame:


Wise words, really, for a lot of reasons.  And so, I can’t change any of the things that happened, and I can’t have it out with her about things I would still like to know…..and yet I still needed “closure”.  And so, I wrote a letter to her on the blog yesterday, forgiving her for everything, and remembering only the love.  I do feel like a weight has been lifted, and while I have no belief in god myself, perhaps if I am to meet her again soon, somewhere out there, we can start again with the slate wiped clean.

And what of mothers day for this mother?  Well, it was a ripper, but at no stage was it lost on me that I am not expected to make next May.  I had an ace morning, receiving the children’s lovingly handmade presents, along with ones selected from the mothers day stall.  Then Gaz took the four girls out to sports commitments while I went and shopped up a storm and had a nice peaceful breakfast by myself.  Then I came home and we all got dressed and headed into Big Huey’s Diner, owned by our friends, for mothers day lunch with a whole bunch of people I love waiting there to share it with me.

Honestly?  I laughed and ate and drank and chatted and kissed children, and hugged friends.  At one stage I surveyed all that was around me and realised that in the picture was pretty much everything I have ever wanted.  My four contented, BEAUTIFUL children.  Three were colouring and playing on their ipads, and my magnificent man was tickling the chin of our darling 7 year old, who has Down syndrome.  She doesn’t walk, or talk, but knows how to win a heart, and she has won that of her father.  She was so interactive with him yesterday that I was mesmerised by their bond, and at the same time had the breath knocked out of me by the staggering weight of my grief for what i am going to lose.  My family…two tables of people that weren’t even my family, but loved me enough to want to share their mothers day with me, perfect hosts and friends that fussed over me all day with drinks and spoiled the children, and just generally turned what would have been a special day for me into one of the most awesome ever.  I spend a lot of time wondering if my life being so BEAUTY  FULL will make it harder to leave this  world.  The answer varies, but yesterday, as I looked around at all that was mine, the answer was yes it fucking does.

Some photos from my day:

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Hold the space for me over the next few days, won’t you?  It’s going to be a killer.

Dear Mum

Your mother…well, she is everything isn’t she?  The only person whose heart you heard beat from the inside, beside your very own.  The person who will, without question, love you more than anyone will in your whole life.  The person that you will miss, beyond comprehension, every single day that she is gone from your life.  Today, on this 23rd mothers day I will spend without you, I want you to know that you were everything to me.

You went back to work when I was very young.  I will always remember the story that Auntie Thel told me about how you would rush to her house every day at lunchtime, on the bus, so you could breastfeed me and cuddle me – you never had time for lunch yourself.  I remember how you risked so much so you could have me, 43 years old, and 19 years since you had a baby.   I remember the story of finding out your were pregnant with me…”The doctor said that if I was pregnant, the slide would go furry.  Furry!   It was like a bloody angora rabbit!”  You were so funny mum.  I remember you insisting that you would not terminate your pregnancy with me, and convincing the doctor to perform an operation on you when  you were 5 months pregnant with me…”the surgeon said he could see you in the womb, and that you wouldn’t last the night”.  I did, of course.  Thank you for my life, mum.

Down the track, things got a little darker.  Parenting and depression are a hard combination, and there were times it seemed to get too big for you.  There were many times that you seemed absent from my life, even though you were there.  I focused a lot on those dark times, on the things that you didn’t do for me, on the times that I felt you could have been present, but weren’t, and especially on the time that you didn’t offer me the ultimate protection from an events that shaped the course of my whole life.  I’ve written before about how hard it has been to forgive you for  these things, and I am not going to write about it again here.

I understand how hard it must have been to love your family, your own children, when you never knew what it was to be loved yourself.  I remember the times you took to your bed and cried, sometimes for days…”nobody loves me, nobody ever has..”  Dad and I would look at each other in despair, as we did love you,, so much, and we didn’t understand how  you couldn’t see what you had never felt.

Today I remember all the beautiful things about you…there were so many.  The way you cared for people less fortunate (I think she is where I get the desire to do the same).  Dad and I sometimes got frustrated that there always seemed to be someone down on their luck inside our home.  Thank you mum, because you taught me compassion.

I remember the time that I got called in front  of the principal at school, and you were called into a meeting with him.  He spent 15 minutes extolling all the bad things about my character, and  you listened intently the whole time.  I thought I was toast, until you called him an idiot, grabbed me by the arm and said “come on love, you don’t want to go to this school anyway!”  Thank you mum, for believing in me – always, even when it seemed like no one else did.

I remember getting off the plane after 18 months in England and seeing you waiting for me at the airport.  We both ran sobbing into each others arms.  Now that I am a mum myself I realise how hard it must have been to unselfishly let me go and live in another country, half a world away  from you ” you go love, live your life, don’t worry about me”.  Thank you mum, for giving me wings.

I’ve often talked of breaking the cycle of the way I was parented, in my own parenting.  But lately, I have come to realise that you were already breaking it.  No one is perfect in this  world, and to  come from where you did and be able to show compassion, and kindness, and tolerance for everyone no matter how different they were from yourself, and most strikingly, to  show your children how it felt to be loved, is the ultimate breaking of the cycle.  And for all the bad things that I have held onto all these years, I have never once been able to say I never felt loved.

I forgive you mummy.  None of those things matter any more, and never will again.  I forgive you for all the things that I know you were never able to forgive yourself for.

I’ve been talking to you in my head lately, of all the things that I am scared of.  I’m so scared mum.  I think about you taking your last breath while your beloved child was another world away, and how gut wrenching that must have  been.  I wish I had been there mum.

Today, as I face what may be my last mothers day with my own children, it comforts me to  know that you might be there, somewhere, when I take mine.   Wherever you are, I imagine you patting the chair  next to you, opening up a fosters and lighting a fag, and saying “come on love, sit down, let’s have a drink and a yarn”.  And somehow, it makes all of this a little better.

I love you mum.

Your Jules xxxx