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150 days – a gentle hum

 

One Hundred and Fifty days ago everything changed, my only child, my Son, died and of course part of me died too as he was a part of me. Those first days, oh my goodness, pain like you can’t imagine, not just emotional, the pain was physical too. I didn’t stop crying for days though if you had looked at me you wouldn’t always know, sometimes I would be crying on the inside, sometimes those silent tears with no noise, sometimes noisy snot filled bawling where you could hear the pain I was in. I thought I would cry forever. I had a lump in my throat that just wouldn’t subside, it was there for months disappearing so slowly I actually don’t know when it actually went I only noticed that one day it had.

My brain just wouldn’t switch of, it was exhausting, think, think, think, think, think, Could it be true? Is this a dream? Why Charlie? What do I do now? Maybe someones made a mistake? This isn’t supposed to happen, I want to talk to him, I miss him, What do I do now? Maybe it would be better if I went too, will I feel like this forever? I want him back, someone make it right so I can have him back…….. on and on, strangely though I didn’t dream, maybe my brain wouldn’t let me, it had to protect my sanity somehow, I didn’t sleep much but when I did it was like ‘black sleep’ I fell asleep and then I woke up there was nothing in between.

Slowly, slowly I started to emerge – I have gone from everyday being awful to most days being awful with the odd OK one thrown in to having more good days than bad, I was still crying everyday, still couldn’t believe he was really gone, trying to make sense of the ‘new’ me, not that it was really new just different, my spark had gone, but I had a determination,  a determination not to fall into a deep dark hole of despair and I was determined to not get angry, sadness I could deal with – anger – no, everyone said I would get angry, throw things around,”it’s just a part of grief” and I don’t doubt that for a lot of people it forms part of their journey but not for me. I still tried my best to see a little good in each day, a friend or family member checking in with me, a nice lunch with Rod, a beautiful day with a walk on the beach, an early morning cuddle with Bosun anything to confirm that the World was still beautiful, a place worth being, a reason to carry on.

I work with religious people, I have friends who have different beliefs, Christians, people who believe in reincarnation, people who believe in ghosts and spirits and people like me. I respect all of their different beliefs but I have always, well since I have been an adult, believed that when you die that’s it, you have had your life and lived it as long as fate allowed it or your body allowed it. Of course I have questioned my ‘non belief’ since I lost Charlie, I want so hard to believe I will see him again, or that he will give me a sign that he is watching over me. I am happy to hold hands while a friend prays, I don’t share his beliefs, in what he is saying, but I get comfort from the fact that he cares. Nothing has changed for me though, I am sometimes envious of the comfort some people get from their beliefs, their religion, but I still don’t believe that there is anything after we take our last breath. I hope that some day a long time from now I will be proved wrong.

Now where am I at? 150 days, sometimes it feels like 150 seconds, sometimes 150 hours, I miss Charlie, but I accept that he’s gone, that he’s not coming back and because of my beliefs (or lack of them) I don’t think I will ever see him again. Sad is still my default emotion but I can smile, I can enjoy seeing my friends, laugh at things Rod says, enjoy my pets. I still cry a lot, but that’s OK – nothing new there, my friends will tell you I am a bit of a cry baby, I think having a good cry is a release of emotion that has built up and it’s better to have a good bawl than to let it build up. I’m probably drinking a bit more than I should, I know that medicating ones self with several beers every day is not a good idea but for now it’s what I do. I don’t sleep much anything from 1 to 5 hours is my average.

My grief is a gentle hum these days, I actually get comfort from it, it’s like a movie playing in the background, Charlie when he was little, when he laughed, when he drove me nuts, his voice, his smile, his random FB posts,  I like it,  I never want to forget any of it, I wish I could remember every single second of the 24 years he was here. Now and then I get overwhelmed by those thoughts and normal everyday thoughts as they jostle for space in my mind and I cry , for people around me it must be odd as I suddenly burst into tears for no apparent reason, but I think most people understand.

I have lost my running mojo and hope that it comes back soon, my early morning run used to set me up for the day, I used to love the feeling when you get to the end, I have always run more for my head than my body, I’m not going to beat myself up about it though, just trying to go with the flow, ride the roller-coaster and hope that with time will return. Every evening I tell myself “tomorrow I’ll go” and every morning I don’t, I annoy myself, I know it will make me feel better but I always have a conversation with myself at 5.30am and justify why I can’t go, it’s too hot, my foot hurts, it’s raining, there is ironing to do, theres something I missed on TV last night that I want to catch up on, the excuses keep coming, I always have one.

My wonderful Husband has been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I have totally no idea how I would be doing if he wasn’t here, not as well as I am doing that’s for sure. He has made me the centre of his World it makes me feel cocooned and safe, in his mind there has never been any chance of me falling apart, we were just going to do this and come out the other side, his belief in my strength has made me believe in my strength. My brother Sam and my wonderful friend Frankie came over from England and helped me through the time around Charlie’s funeral, I remember standing at the Airport late at night about a week after Charlie died, when I spotted them I knew everything was going to be OK, what wonderful people they are I love them very, very much. I went back to work quite soon as I found being distracted helped me get though every day, my Boss was awesome, he used to call my office in the morning and by my voice he could tell how I was doing, if I needed him he would just drop everything and listen to me cry, rant, talk and his gentle manner and unwavering faith that Charlie was in a better place was comforting, my workmate and friend Terri, after Rod, has been the person who has spent the most time with me, her no-nonsence straight down the line manner has been brilliant, if I am crying she doesn’t make a fuss she just lets me cry then we get on with the day, she listens to me go on, what an amazing person – she has helped Rod hold me up for five months now, when we leave Cairns I will miss her so much, more than she will ever know. In fact all of our friends have been wonderfully supportive, I am lucky to know so many awesome people.

I am learning that I AM going to come out of the other side, that the World is still beautiful, that I still want to be here, I want to live a good life, I can honour Charlie by not giving up. I am also trying to learn how to seperate the ‘normal’ stresses of life from my grief, my house is still for sale, frustrating! a couple of my family members don’t give a shit, anger!! We want to leave on our adventure, impatience! So even though it is easy to let it all get on top of me I am trying to learn to seperate my emotions out, anger, frustration, impatience all require a few moments of quiet, or a cry, a bit of a rant or maybe  a good nights sleep, sadness – that’s just going to need time. Anxiety is a problem for me, a little thing very quickly can become a big thing in my mind, I get anxious about annoying people, or I think people don’t like me and even though I tell myself “It doesn’t matter, it’s not a big deal” at that moment it is, Some days I get that horrible feeling like something terrible is going to happen, a feeling of dread, I am having grief counselling I’m not sure if its really helping me much, but it certainly isn’t doing me any harm.

I miss Charlie so much, He didn’t always have lots to say, but I knew that he was there and he knew that I was here,  I miss being a Mum.

One last little thing – I love to talk about Charlie and I won’t always fall apart at the mere mention of his name, I totally understand that people don’t know what to say, don’t know how to react if I cry but give it a try, lets talk about my lovely boy, don’t worry if I cry it will be mixed with a smile or laughter, I promise not to fall apart.

 

 

 

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Princess Chubby Maloo

Name – Maloo.

DOB – 01.08.2002.

Breed – Domestic Short Hair (Blue Cream Torti).

Place of Birth – Perth.

Favourite food – Food.

Favourite Person – She’s a cat – we are just there to serve.

Favourite thing – She refuses to answer this question, as a cat she reckons she doesn’t like anything much.

Does well – Conserves energy.

Does Badly – Exercise.

Least Favourite Thing – An empty bowl.

Our lovely Maloo, she’s the oldest of our family at 15 actual years which is the equivalent of her being 76. But she’s healthy in a chubby, lazy cat kind of a way, she’s never been sick, not ever!! Charlie, my Son chose her, she was our first pet when we emigrated from the UK in 2002, a lady had two kittens left, she was sooooooo pretty I was willing Charlie to pick her, but it was his choice so I crossed my fingers. He chose her and off we went home.

In her younger days she was very much an outdoor cat who came home when she was hungry, the 6 foot fence was no obstacle to her and hopped over it like it was nothing. But as the years have gone on she has slowed down, got lazier and chubbier, now her days are spent for the most part sleeping with a bit of eating , now and then she will venture outside, wander around the outside of the house and come back in.

We hope that Maloo will enjoy travelling, we know she’s a bit old for such a big lifestyle change, but we hope the fact that she is easy going and cruisy will see her right, we are getting her prepared, she has a harness that she doesn’t mind wearing and we have got her a little house that she will travel in, she also doesn’t mind that either.  She like’s Bosun but would never admit it, and we hope she will do just fine.

A big part of our little family, she is such a pretty cat, she’s gotten a lot more chatty recently and tells us all sorts of things she considers important, we hope that she will be with us for a long time yet and becomes a content travelling cat.

Bosun Pickles

14051639_10155166000409502_5781460578297121036_nBosun Pickles.

DOB – 29.01.2013.

Breed – English Cocker Spaniel.

Place of Birth – Brisbane.

Favourite food – Carrots.

Favourite person – Rod.

Favourite ‘thing’ – Food or Rod.

Does well – Travel.

Does Badly – Sad, just can’t do it, his tail just won’t stop wagging.

Least Favourite thing – Lettuce.

What can I say, what an awesome pup he is!!! Happy x 10, People Pleaser x 10, Spoilt x 9 1/2!!

Took me ages to convince Rod we needed a dog in our lives, I am a Beagle lover but I knew that was not going to work for Rod, stand offish, selective hearing, aloof, independent – even though I love that not Rod – he needed a dog that would outwardly display affection, and be the people pleaser happy dog that Cocker Spaniels tend to be. I had had two previously so knew what their personality traits tend to be. We have a friend who knew a woman who had a four month old pup that was the last of a litter, he had a bit of an overly droopy eye which was also not pigmented so looked not so ‘perfect’. We didn’t care and decided he would be perfect for us.

So came the day we picked him up from the Airport, he was adorable, wag, wag, wag, happy, happy, happy – we loved him straight away. We tried so hard not to spoil him, I had rules, no people food, walk properly on a lead, basic commands, no sleeping on the bed –  you know the kind of thing. We were bloody rubbish – currently Bosun comes to bed with me and sleeps on the bed for a few hours till he goes to his own bed, he gets food off our plates, he pulls Rod all over the place on his lead (though I make him wear a Halti and he walks well), it took me 4 months to teach him ‘down’ but now he’s forgotten how to do it.

He totally and utterly loves Rod, I come in a very poor second, but that’s OK I love to see their bond, I still get my time, early morning cuddles, early bed time company. He is great with other dogs, his bestie is a chocolate lab called Dakota, he loves the car, he kinda loves Maloo – the cat – as long as she keeps away from the food. He doesn’t like the Ocean, the bigger the wave the more he doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like to get his paws pet, Rod taught him that – I’m trying to unteach it.

But you know Rod & I, Bosun & Maloo we are a family, the four of us, if we didn’t have them we would be a ‘couple’ but with them we are a family.

 

 

These things take time…….apparently!

It’s hard to remember when we finally decided to ‘do it’

Maybe it has always been my destiny to live like a gypsy, but Rod hmmmm maybe not so much, but he is embracing the plan whole-heartedly and shows no signs of wanting to bump me off and carry on living in our ever so lovely house in the rainforest – (Yes the one that’s so ‘lovely’ no-one wants to buy) Anyway enough of the negativity.

It was a year or so into our relationship, April 2013, that we decided to do our first road-trip from Cairns down to Sydney and back, we took a boot full of camping gear and used it once, it rained and I got sick so that was that, we ‘forgot’ we had all the camping gear and we hopped down the coast from resort to hotel to motel. We discovered we traveled well together, fell into certain roles, I did this, he did that and we laughed – a lot!                    Rods pretty impatient and I had to try and slow him down a bit or we would have missed so much stuff. We now have a rule that if we don’t get out of the car and check in on FB we haven’t been there, we all know that it didn’t happen unless it’s on FB right? You can’t drive through a place without stopping and then claim to have been there!!

We began to talk more about selling up and living on the road but it was still just a bit of a dream, could we really do it? We decided to do a kind of trial run we would fly to Perth pick up a motor-home and drive around for a few weeks to see how we went, it was March 2015, we went from Perth down to Albany, back up to Perth then up to Shark Bay before coming back to Perth to fly home. It was awesome, we had THE BEST TIME EVER!!!!!  Except when we took a corner too tight in Fremantle Jail car park and damaged our vehicle and a parked car, oops lesson learnt “think wide” but we left a note for the owner saying sorry and giving him our number to sort out the insurance later. Oh and when the dump point was over-flowing in Denham and we had to empty our toilet cassette, that wasn’t much fun either. While we were in Perth the Caravan Show was on so we spent the day there having a first proper look at Caravans to get an idea of price etc and to see if we could live in such a small space, decided that there was pretty snazzy vans out there and we could do this!!! Though being the ‘glampers’ that we are we were going to spend rather a lot of money!!! Roughing it is seriously not the plan we have.

Once home we started researching caravans, motor-homes & buses to see what might work for us and started to formulate a short list, we ended up with about ten on the list of serious contenders -a couple of motor-homes, a fifth wheeler and the rest caravans, it was time for another road-trip woohooo!!! So in November 2015 off we went – fly to Sydney, hire a car and drive to each of the places on our short list in the vague direction of Melbourne.

It soon became apparent that we were very picky which was becoming a problem as we were striking motor-homes and caravans off our list at astonishing speed, motor-homes and the fifth wheeler became a no very quickly, really wouldn’t have worked for us, the we began picking off the caravans off one by one, too small, wrong layout, poor quality, boring, boring, boring white boxes. By the time we were in Melbourne and down to the last place to look at, I had loved the Airstreams that we had seen in Batemans Bay but Rod was a massive no on them and even though I would continue to ‘work’ on him I knew I wasn’t going to change his mind. So we rolled up to Van Cruiser Caravans in Currum Downs south of Melbourne feeling pretty disheartened I was beginning to think we were never going to find ‘the one’. But pretty much straight away we knew we were in the right place, awesome vans, awesome workmanship, awesome people hoo-bloody-ray!!!!!

They were great considering we basically knew absolutely zero about caravans and how they worked, I just wanted it to look nice, doh! So we set about getting an education on chassis, solar, grey water, tow-ball weights, 2 way fridges, diesel heaters oh my goodness the list went on and on, I’m sure Tania at Van Cruiser thought we were a right pair!! But anyway she was good fun and helped us out a lot deciding what would and wouldn’t work for us and we came home with a big decision to make.

Not long after we got back ‘The Plans’ arrived from Van Cruiser along with a contract for them to build our van, to sign or not to sign, give up on a ‘normal’ life to live in a 23ft caravan,  took us about 2 seconds to sign!!  We payed a deposit to hold the price and set about starting to get organised, Gumtree became my friend, selling off our stuff, we have had a couple of garage sales and will probably have one more big one once the house sells.

That was November 2015 and the plan was to leave in November 2016 but here we still are a personal tragedy and a slack housing market means we are still waiting, but it can’t be long now, its so close we can almost reach out and touch it. Van Cruiser have been amazing they are just waiting for us to give them the nod, and we have a deposit paid on a truck at our local Colorado dealer,  just one last piece, albeit the crucial piece, of the jigsaw to fall into place…….

“Bloody Epilepsy”

14184397_10155201251259502_3016113690683783818_nMy Son Charlie had his first fit at nursery school when he was 4 years old, the Dr thought that maybe it was connected to the fact that he may have had a fever from a cold he had had so I took him home relieved that he was OK and not expecting that day was going to become the start of a life long battle for Charlie.

Fits came reasonably regularly from then on but I never saw him have a fit for a long time as he always had fits when he was at school, school used to call an ambulance and call me at work and I would go to the hospital. He was put on Epilim and once we had the dosage sorted things settled down.

As the years went by he would have the odd fit but basically his fits were well controlled with a reasonably small dose of medication, the Dr’s were confident that if we could keep him fit free for two years there was a reasonable chance he would ‘grow out’ of his epilepsy, I hoped so, having epilepsy as a child is one thing but having it as an adult is a whole other ball game there could be implications for him when it came to driving, what jobs he would be able to do, his mental health, it was scary.

I tried to not let his epilepsy define him, I wanted to see the lovely blonde haired quiet boy first and not the epilepsy,  I sometimes wonder now if maybe I did the wrong thing, maybe because we didn’t make a big deal out of it when Charlie became responsible for his own medication when he got older he didn’t treat it maybe as he should.

We managed to keep him fit free for two years just at the right time so when he was eligible to apply for a learners drivers licence the Dr signed him off and allowed him to do so but sadly some time later he had a massive fit and the Dr revoked his right to drive, we were so disappointed, poor Charlie I think this was the start of him beginning to hate his condition, when it started to effect what he wanted to do, he tried to get a part time job but of course had to divulge his condition to potential employers and as soon as they saw that he had epilepsy they would give the job to the next young person who didn’t.

I used to drive him around from from place to place while he handed out his resume to dozens of workplaces but no-one would give him a go, he began to spend more and more time in front of his computer and less and less time out with friends.

School finished and he went to TAFE to study computers but I think he was already kind of lost, given up on any aspiration he may have had, in his mind if he couldn’t even get a job in Macca’s whats the point? He went through the motions for two years but he didn’t apply himself and didn’t really enjoy the course’s he did. I tried to figure out what how to motivate him, what we could do to get him to feel more motivated but he was a quiet kid, it was hard to get him to open up. So he fell into the stay up half the night on the computer, sleep all day cycle. By this time he was 19 – Centrelink wouldn’t give him any payments because he was still living at home, it wasn’t so much that I wanted Centrelink to give him money, I just thought that if he getting a government payment it would open up extra support for him as a young person with a disability to help him get a job.

By now he was still having the occasional fit, mostly due to him not taking his medication – while he was still living at home I was no longer responsible for actually putting his meds in his hand twice a day, all I could do was ask the question, “have you taken your meds?” to which I would get the automatic “yes” response. I didn’t know what to do, he was well and truely in a rut, I used to ask him nicely to take a look at his life, I used to yell at him to take a look at his life, I used to cry at him to take a look at his life but it didn’t make any difference he had given up.

My Husband & I separated and Charlie moved out to live in a share house with friends, I think he really loved it, he was finally able to get a payment and part pension from Centrelink and even though it wasn’t much he was able to live independently, I worried about him, I knew he wasn’t taking his medication properly but what could I do?  There had to be a point when he became responsible for his own health, of course I worried about him all the time, I knew he was still having fits but a lot of the time he wouldn’t tell me, one time he ended up with stitches in his head after falling while having a fit and hitting his head on the corner of his desk, luckily a friend who he was taking to on the computer at the time called an ambulance and he was taken to hospital.

At 22 Charlie decided to move to Melbourne – a fresh start with more employment opportunities, I was so happy for him, he seemed excited about the future for the first time, he had some friends in Melbourne and found a place to live sharing with some other people, I cried, and cried and cried at the Airport and he had a little wobble and nearly didn’t get on the plane but he pulled it together and off he went, I was so proud of him that day and was so excited that this would be the time for him to shine.

He loved Melbourne but sadly that elusive job didn’t materialise and he fell back into the online gaming staying up half the night, sleep all day cycle, but he enjoyed Melbourne and loved his friends there, I’m pretty sure he was having reasonably regular fits but didn’t always tell me when he did, The people he was living with were moving and he had to find somewhere else to live and so he decided to come back to Cairns.

I think pretty much as soon as he came back he regretted it, nothing in Cairns had changed, his mental health was taking a dive but getting him to talk to me was nearly impossible, all I could do was offer him my support and try to keep an eye on him as best I could. He started to open up a bit more admitting that he was depressed and had anxiety and he decided to go and see my Dr. Dr Andrew, what a wonderful young Dr!!! He listened to Charlie, took him seriously and took it upon himself to get Charlie back on track, Charlie had blood tests to check his medication levels, got him on some meds to help with his depression and referred him to see a therapist.

It was a bit tough in the beginning, but he soon began to feel the improvement in his health – both physical and mental, and while Dr Andrew was doing a great job looking after his physical health  Liz was doing a great job helping him with his struggles with his mental health. I was so relieved – he was opening up more, he was feeling better, making decisions about his future, making a plan. He was seeing them both regularly and had started a work for the dole programme at the Salvos, so for the first time in years he had some real structure in his life, he had to go to work every day, he like the people he worked with and they liked him, he carried on seeing Andrew and Liz and I was so hopeful that he was turning his life around, doing it himself, not waiting for someone to do it for him.

Then came the day I couldn’t get hold of him either on Facebook or on the phone, call it Mother’s intuition if you like, but I felt there was something wrong so I decided to jump in the car and drive over to check on him, when I got there his housemate answered the door and said she didn’t know if he was home as she had not long got in from work so i went and knocked on his bedroom door, no answer, so I opened it and he was in bed with his back to me and he just looked asleep so i went to shake him to wake him. He was cold, too cold and that very second my world stopped turning and my life changed forever.

We are still waiting for the final report from the Coroner, but the paramedics and the Police who came seem reasonably sure that he had a fit in his sleep, but we have to wait and see I suppose, there is a chance it was SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy) but we may not know for a while yet, it can take up to twelve months to get a cause of death.

I wish I had decided to make a bigger deal of his epilepsy as a kid if I had maybe he would have taken it more seriously as an adult but I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to not make a big deal out of it but what it seems I managed to do was make Charlie think he didn’t have to take his meds and look after his health, but hind sight is 20/20 isn’t it. I think that if he had found an employer to give him a go when he was a teenager would have made a huge difference too.

I miss Charlie so much, his quiet dry humour, the way he called me ‘Ma’ and not Mum, his funny Facebook posts. I miss being a Mum.

 

It’s Saturday, get out the mop!

It’s Saturday and that can only mean one thing, it’s home open day, yey!!!! An unusual house in a little known Cairns suburb in a flat housing market have all conspired to our house still being on the market when we had hoped it would have sold months ago.I have my cleaning routine and never waiver, luckily we are pretty OCD most of the time anyway but we crank it up on a Saturday, Rod is in charge of outside and I do inside – our agent loves us – the place looks like a show home, complete with smelly candles.

Truthfully though I am sooooooo over it, we are ready to hit the road, deposits on the truck, caravans on order, the garage is full of ‘stuff’ we think we will need. Yet here we are still rattling round a house that is starting to feel a little bit like a prison, we are turning into caged animals who polish their prison cell every week in the hope that this is going to be the day we are set free.

I swing between despair and positivity, theres always a reason why this is going to be ‘the week’, we have an ad in the paper, the house up the road sold, it’s the school holidays, it’s not raining, Christmas is out of the way, we had an internet inquiry, and every week we get disappointed all over again. Maybe next week……..

My feet are so itchy.

First blog post

So here I go – my first blog post, I’m sure it’s going to get easier to find my flow, write from my heart about whatever is on my mind,  in the meantime I will do my best.

I plan to blog about lots of things that play a part in my life while focusing on our journey, our journey both physically -moving from town to town, coast to outback; and my emotional journey – finding a way through my sadness, I will talk about my wonderful Husband, my beautiful Son – my grief surrounding his loss, epilepsy, depression, my family, my friends, my dog and my cat & my love of photography.

I will post about the places we visit, the things we see, the fun bits, the people we meet, our pets antics, the not so fun bits, good food, good pubs, good beaches, animal encounters and everything in between.

So I hope that you will find my blog interesting, I think I’m going to enjoy this…………..