A journey into openness and honesty… Distilling truths about ourselves, others and life from shared experiences… Learning to live consistently with that truth… Becoming free to be who we truly are…

Archive for the ‘Grieving well – Going on well’ Category

A Tough Gig on Mother’s Day…

It’s a tough gig to be on a panel of women at church on Mother’s Day when you are still wrestling with the grief of losing your own mum only a few years ago.
It’s even harder when it’s four services in a row in front of large numbers of people.

Along with three other women, my daughter Merryn was asked a range of questions on the topic “Women of Influence”.

Merryn’s mum, Rosie, was such a woman of influence, having significantly touched many people’s lives through her unconditional love and acceptance for people of all backgrounds and circumstances, her unfailing joy and faith amidst all life could throw at her, and the inspirational way she lived for 16 years in the face of the slow but relentless progression of breast cancer.

The questions to the panel ranged from the light-hearted to the deeply personal. Merryn was asked the toughest question of all… “What did it mean for her to have recently lost her Mum? How did she handle this?”

Church is a place I am rarely seen these days but I really wanted to hear what she had to say and be there for her, so I attended the fourth service. After three earlier services Merryn still spoke as if she was being interviewed for the first time. The question clearly still tugged at her heart and she spoke openly about the depth of pain and grief she felt. She displayed deep, authentic feelings while framing them in a very personal, safe, sacred space. Without trying to embed ‘a pastor’s message’ in her words she demonstrated a wise, practical approach to dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.

I was extremely proud of my daughter (as always!) not just because she is my daughter but because she too is already a “Woman of influence” who shares her mum’s deep compassion for others and combines it with leadership skills well beyond her age.

Go Gracie Go!

I love you heaps, Dad

ian-dingo

 

Ian James 14th May 2018

© 2017 Ian James, http://www.onlivingauthentically.com

Losing Rosie… 3 years on…

Yesterday was a tough day. For most people it was the AFL Grand Final, but for the family and I Sept 30th is Rosie’s birthday… she would have turned 61 this year.

We lost Rosie to cancer on Oct 29th 2014. Almost 3 years have passed… so much has happened and yet our feelings still run very deep on these days.

They say time heals, and yes, it does to a point. Some aspects of grief will always remain. You never stop loving someone you loved deeply for 35 years… and that’s exactly how it should be.

So what’s it like, 3 years on?

Wrapping up Rosie’s life…

For the last two years Facebook popped up reminders for Rosie’s Birthday. For many this unexpected reminder was confronting and painful. To lessen the sting of friends being caught off guard, last year I put up a post in advance.  All this year I intended to memorialize Rosie’s facebook account before her birthday. (Memorialization means we can still see her timeline, but no longer add posts or comments, and will no longer receive birthday notifications.)

But it’s not easy doing these things… after losing Rosie I’ve had to notify so many organizations… including banks, utilities and an endless number of charity groups Rosie supported at some time. I feel grief every time… not only does it remind me that I’ve lost Rosie… closing each one is bringing to an end yet another part of her life… it almost feels like I’m betraying her… there is a painful finality in doing these things.

Recently while holidaying in WA I remembered I still had not memorialized Rosie’s Facebook account, and now her birthday was rapidly approaching. When I returned home I discovered to my dismay that Facebook can take months to memorialize accounts.

One morning a few days before Rosie’s birthday  I submitted the relevant Facebook form, hoping at best that I might receive a computer-generated request confirmation in a week or so.

That night I received a response from Facebook Support. The message literally sent me into shock… what I received was a personal, compassionate message from Facebook expressing sorrow at my loss and saying Rosie’s account had been memorialized (it had taken less than 12 hours!) While I was deeply grateful Facebook had responded so rapidly and with such compassion, I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly and the pain of having ‘shut down’ a significant aspect of Rosie’s life hit me hard.

Understanding Rosie’s love for me…

Rosie spent the last 9 days of her life at Caritas Christi hospice.

My last two hours with Rosie as she died are among the most profoundly beautiful and painful moments of my life. Caritas Christi has been sacred ground for me ever since. I still return there on key anniversaries to quietly remember and reflect on those final hours.

Rosie loved and deeply impacted the lives of MANY people. Her love did not discriminate… it didn’t matter where people were at in their lives, she loved and accepted them for who there were. People from all walks of life received and deeply valued her love and care. Six hundred people came to her funeral… a profound testament to her huge heart for others!

As I make myself vulnerable in the following paragraphs I ask that you treat what I say with respect.

As with all relationships, despite outward appearances, Rosie’s and my marriage was far from perfect. I am not at all saying we didn’t love one another… we loved each other deeply and were totally committed to our marriage.

Nonetheless both of us suffered deep emotional damage in early childhood. This had serious consequences for our ability to fully connect in our relationship.

For decades Rosie had to suppress severe hurt as a child in order to survive emotionally as an adult. (The childhood events had absolutely nothing to do with her family).

My childhood in turn left me wrestling with deep depression and anxiety for most of our married life. Rosie spent so many hours listening to me pour out my pain but she never gave up on me. However Rosie’s own hurts limited her ability to fully grasp and empathize with my struggles… something I desperately longed for in our relationship.

Being separated from my parents for the first two years of my life left me with a deep fear of rejection. As a result I had great difficulty recognizing and accepting the profound depth of Rosie’s unconditional love for me.

Intellectually I knew Rosie adored me… she never stopped telling me her heart still leaped for joy every time I came home! But I couldn’t grasp or accept this at an emotional level.

Three years after losing her I’m still learning how much she loved me… and it grieves me deeply that I was unable to return the utterly faithful, almost childlike love and acceptance she so freely gave me.

Rosie almost never cried (another outworking of childhood hurts). On rare occasions she shed a tear or two, but in 33 years of marriage she (briefly) cried only once with me.

Many people wanted to see Rosie in the last few days of her life. One of the tough roles I had to play was “gatekeeper”. Family had unrestricted access, but I was able to only allow a few close friends into that space.

One of these friends recently shared something which ‘blew me out of the water’. The conversation went something like this…

Friend:   “Did you know, Ian, that in my final conversation with Rosie, she cried?”

Me (my interest now in overdrive):   “No… tell me more!”

F:   “Rosie said, ‘I don’t want to leave you behind.’ “

Me:   “Wow… that was a real statement of how much she loved you.”

F (looking a bit puzzled):   “Rosie was referring to YOU, not me.”

It sent an arrow straight into my heart… Rosie had cried because she didn’t want to leave ME behind! But Rosie never cried! This was an incredibly deep and precious expression of her love for me.

I so wish I could have grasped the depth of Rosie’s love for me before she died.
I used to feel terribly guilty about this… I’m slowly learning I don’t have to. Rosie and I did the best we could in our relationship. It just grieves me that she was unable to grasp the depths of pain I carried, and I was unable to grasp the depth of her love for me.

What happens to friendships…

I’m aware that some who read the following paragraphs may find them tough, or possibly even feel guilty. This is NOT remotely my intent.

Rosie assured me many times that after she died I would have an endless stream of meal invitations from our many friends. In contrast, others I spoke to said many friends simply disappeared after they lost their partners.

The others were right. To my surprise (and sadness) most people who were friends of both of us just vanished… I had very few visits, phone calls or invitations. If it hadn’t been for my family and the top-quality blokes around me, life could have been very lonely. Thankfully these friends and my family more than adequately filled the gap and I was far from being lonely or unsupported.

Nonetheless, it raised some deep questions. How could this happen? And why did it happen to others as well?

It’s taken 3 years, but I finally understand…

It’s just too painful…

Over the years before Rosie died some of her friends became close friends of mine too, most being women and couples, with Rosie being the primary connection. These ‘secondary’ relationships were no less valuable than my other friendships.

While the primary relationship is in place these relationships have an environment in which to grow. However, when you lose your partner, this environment no longer exists and the relationships can change surprisingly rapidly.

We all shy away from things in life that cause us pain. Deep grief and the need to self-protect from pain cause people to act in ways they never intended. Catching up with me was simply too painful for many people who were very close to Rosie.

Seeing me was a confronting reminder of the one who they were missing deeply. Of the few who visited me at home, simply stepping into our house caused some to dissolve in tears. I had no option but to adjust to being in the house without Rosie… for others my house was a home full of reminders of her, but painfully empty of Rosie herself.

What I expected of these friends was unrealistic and unfair… it took quite a while for me to grasp this.

Some relationships are slowly returning. I will gladly accept those that do, but I will not rush them… grief can last a long time.

And it is okay if others never return. Things change and life moves on for all of us.  I no longer feel hurt, I’m just glad I now understand.

I could add so much more…

So many things have happened since losing Rosie.  Life events large and small, ups and downs, and many new insights. A few of the significant ones…

Losing Rosie, and much that followed, was deeply painful, but I can honestly say my life has never been better than it is today. I know Rosie would be overjoyed to hear this!

The deep depression that I feared for so many years could be back with force after Rosie died shows no signs of returning. Yes, I’ve been through some very difficult patches, but my mental state is better than ever.

I no longer have the endless emotional rollercoaster stress of Rosie’s 16 years with cancer, and thankfully neither does she.

I have much more time and energy to invest in people… especially my children, grandchildren and close friends.

Relationships have become an even more precious part of life… they have been integral to my survival, and allow me to receive and give so much of value.

Being single has huge benefits. For the first time in life I can do what I want when I want (within reason). This season of freedom is an incredibly precious gift.

Yes, I feel a vacuum, but it’s a very healthy one. For the moment I am discovering “the new Ian James” and (mostly) enjoying the adventure.

Looking forward…

Rosie was adamant that I should marry again. I greatly appreciated the freedom she gave me here. In typical Rosie fashion, she even wanted to give me a list of ‘recommended’ women!  I politely but firmly declined her offer… I’ll be making my own choices here!

I expect I’ll partner again, but there’s no hurry.
Part of discovering who I am is discovering what I want both myself and the other person to bring to a marriage.

It’s not simply a matter of finding ‘a woman who can satisfy my needs’.
Genuinely loving your partner means fulfilling their needs as well. And fulfilling one another is just the beginning. Actively facilitating growth in each other is an even better place to be.

A final word…

As profoundly difficult as losing a loved one is, life goes on.

When Rosie woke each morning she was always so excited to have another day. Her motto and legacy was ‘Live well and die well’.

Like Rosie, I want to live this new chapter of my life to the full.
ian-dingo

 

Ian James 1st Oct 2017

© 2017 Ian James, http://www.onlivingauthentically.com

Discovering the new Ian…

A reflection on the last 18 months since losing Rosie… prompted by events of the last 6 weeks…

Preface…

The last 6 weeks have been difficult and challenging.
Losing my step-mum Dot brought its own grief. It also caused the even deeper grief of losing Rosie to resurface, along with the pain of many other life events going right back to my childhood.

However, this time has also given me two profound gifts…

  • The opportunity to face and deal with unresolved issues in my life.
  • Something I have never experienced before… surrounding the grief and turmoil… a deep overriding sense of peace.

Losing Rosie thrust me into an unfamiliar, empty place.
I had no choice but to go there. Much of what defined ‘me’ disappeared.
Alongside grief I was faced with the need to redefine myself and my life.

This recent turmoil has also helped me see how many changes have already occurred. I’m standing on the threshold of a new life and I’m so grateful to be here.

However I dare not take it for granted and so remain vigilant. Life never stops challenging us with tough times and I have no desire to take the ‘downward’ path again. 

My life is changing…

The grief of Rosie’s death is slowly giving way.

An energy I’ve never had before is creeping in.

I’m beginning to discover a new identity;
the freedom to make choices and set a new course.

I’m filtering my beliefs about life and myself…
Keeping the beliefs that are life-giving,
Discarding the beliefs that brought decades of fear and depression,
And giving myself freedom to question them all.

I’m learning what it means to love and accept myself for who I am right now.

I’m forming new relationships and deepening existing ones.

Peace is replacing anxiety,
Insecurity is giving way to quiet confidence.

For the first time ever…

I’m starting to dream of the future,
and wake most mornings with
Hope and Anticipation.

And occasionally,
I experience two strange new feelings…
Excitement and Joy!

 

 Ian JamesIan + dingo
06/07/2016

A Tough Season Ahead

Creating Memories

When holidaying or bushwalking in special places I sometimes collect a souvenir to remember that special time.

I keep two souvenirs on my key chain… a blue lego block I found on the beach below the cliffs at the Twelve Apostles on The Great Ocean Road… and a small metal washer that was part of the Pacific Dawn; I found it on the deck of the ship during Rosie’s and my final cruise.

Sometimes I gave Rosie a souvenir as a gift… like the alpine flower I found when I climbed to the summit of Victoria’s highest mountain, Mount Bogong.

The other day I picked up a shell as I was walking one of Perth’s beautiful beaches. There was nothing special about this shell; it was one of many similar shells scattered along the high water mark; but it captured my memories of the pristine white sand and crystal clear waters along the West Australian coast.

I then picked up a second shell for Rosie… even though I knew I could not give it to her, I sensed it was important for me to do this, even if I didn’t know why.

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A new season of grief

Travelling to Perth to celebrate the arrival of my second grandson was a time of joy and delight like I have rarely experienced before.

It was also a time of being exposed emotionally… alongside the joy I felt the pain of knowing Rosie was not there to celebrate this incredibly special moment with me.

The coming month is going to be tough

This Wednesday 30th September, many of us will receive a Facebook reminder that it is Rosie’s birthday. For some who were close to Rosie I know this will come unexpectedly and deep feelings of grief will resurface.

Rosie’s birthday is the beginning of a new season of grief for me too. It is the forerunner to an intense time, the first anniversary of Rosie’s death on October 29th and her funeral on November 6th. For me the awareness and pain of losing her is already intensifying and I know this will only increase as these weeks progress.

So how do I navigate this difficult time? This question has been echoing around my mind, calling out for an answer so that I don’t enter it unprepared.

The simple answer is that there are no simple answers. Grief is something you deal with by going through it; it does not readily lend itself to plans and strategies designed to manage it.

Some helpful principles…

Grief is not something to run away from, rather it is one of the dark strands of the tapestry of life that we have no choice but to weave. Going through it is not easy, especially in the first year after losing a loved one when all the ‘first anniversaries’ take place, but it is far more healthy to allow oneself to feel and experience grief when it comes than to try and suppress it.

Grief can give rise to a range of other deep emotions. For me, deep anger and frustration are also crying out to be resolved. Allowing grief and these other emotions to rise will provide me with an opportunity to work through not only the loss of Rosie, but a range of other issues that have been buried within me for decades. (Thanks heavens for grief counselling… there will be no lack of ‘grist for the mill’!)

I may not want to acknowledge it, but grief provides a unique opportunity for me to learn about life and myself, and to grow. None of us like “grasping the nettles” of painful times, but I know it can bring healing, growth, empathy for others, and equipping for the future in ways that nothing else can; grief actually has a positive side that can encourage and empower me, giving me strength to make it through.

To the extent that grief brings us pain, it also brings the choice to accept it, learn from it and find healing, or to suppress it and perpetuate it, possibly in harmful ways.

I know I am not alone

Knowing I am not walking this journey on my own is a huge blessing and comfort.

My close friends will play a key role during this time. I have the freedom to call on them anytime and know they will be there for me. Catching up with them regularly allows me to offload the emotional pressure… these friends know how to really listen, a rare skill these days.

My wider family have been supportive beyond what I thought possible over this last year, and we now share a much deeper bond as a family. I will not want to be alone for Rosie’s birthday or the anniversary of her passing. Spending time with my family on those days will be very important… I have no doubt my family will need each other too.

I may also spend time at Caritas Christi, where I can quietly reflect on being with Rosie during her final days and final moments. The hospice is my sacred place for reflection; it is here that Rosie was last alive; where she spent her final days “living well and dying well” as was her motto to the end.

A helpful metaphor

As I write this I have the two shells in my pocket… they represent Rosie and I and our relationship.

The shells are of the same type but are nonetheless unique and complete in themselves… no two shells, no matter how similar, are ever exactly the same. In a healthy relationship not only do “two become one”, they also grow as “one plus one”, complementing each other.

Together the shells represent our relationship… it took both of these shells joined together to protect the life that grew and thrived within them for over 33 years. But every living thing and every relationship one day must come to an end… this is a tough reality we all face. When that day came for Rosie and I we experienced the pain of separation and our two shells now travel their own paths through ‘the ocean of life’ here and beyond.

When I took the shells out of my pocket I found the smaller shell nestled fully within the larger one. From above, only the larger shell can be seen; turn them over and the smaller shell is revealed, hidden within the larger one. While Rosie is no longer with me physically, I will hold my memories of her deep within me for the rest of my life…

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On a practical note…

Being able to express in a practical way, our gratitude for who Rosie was to us, and the grief we feel at losing her, can be an important part of the healing process, not only for ourselves, but also for others with whom we share.

Rosie’s facebook page is still active for this purpose. If you would like to express your thoughts and feelings during the coming days and weeks, please feel free to do so.

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My Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday.

As I do most Sunday mornings I’m sitting in a cafe enjoying a cappuccino or two while thinking and writing. Today is different however… it’s my first birthday in almost 40 years without Rosie.

Lots of special events are happening at the moment… Flynn’s 3rd birthday party yesterday, my birthday and family party today, tomorrow I’m off to Mount Beauty to spend a few days with Rosie’s legendary Uncle Ron who turned 95 this week, then in 3 weeks I’m off to Perth for the arrival of Rohan and Sheralee’s first baby (due mid Sept) and grandchild number 2 for me!

Each of these occasions brings an understandable mix of emotions however… the joy and excitement of life in all its variety and the grief and sadness of knowing that Rosie is no longer here to share these celebrations.

There’s a powerful life lesson in this that has only just dawned on me this morning…

Rather than allowing sadness and grief to cancel out joy and excitement the key is to allow both sets of emotions to be fully present at the same time. Allowing both the dark and bright threads of life to be woven together in their fullness creates a far richer, more beautiful tapestry than weaving it with the grey threads of negated or suppressed emotions.

I wasn’t expecting to receive any birthday gifts until later in the day… but I think I’ve just glimpsed one that is more valuable than any gift I could have asked for.

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Winter Grief

It’s been a long time since my previous blog post… there’s a reason for this…

This winter has reflected my internal world… long, dark nights interspersed with cold, grey days occasionally broken by welcome stretches of warm, winter sun. Having a tough time was not unexpected… the only way to handle the grief process is to go through it… but that doesn’t make it easier.

Autumn finished with an exciting three week adventure in Perth and the beautiful south-west corner of Western Australia. I had a load of fun and it was great spending time with my son and pregnant daughter-in-law. But when the trip was over I arrived home to an empty house… not empty of kids and visitors, but empty of Rosie… yet full of reminders of her absence.

My mood sank immediately and for some weeks a dark cloud of depression hung over my head. Earlier in the year I had growing sense of freedom and excitement about moving into a new phase of life. It was gone. Instead I carried a deep anxiety telling me I had to find new purpose, meaning and activities in life and start living them out, instead of sitting there wasting my life. But I had no energy or motivation to get moving… just a deep weariness and confused grief.

Grief for me has two key aspects
As expected I grieve losing Rosie, my faithful loving marriage partner, friend and life companion for over 33 years. Not expected has been a deep grief over issues in our relationship that despite years of hard work and counselling separately and together, were never resolved.

No marriage is perfect and ours was no exception. Many issues arise in every marriage and need to be resolved… marriage is a working partnership… but sometimes in the real world of imperfect people and imperfect relationships some issues cannot be fully resolved. The key here is being able to accept these issues for what they are and keep moving on, but this does not mean it is easy. (Note: Sometimes moving on means moving on separately.)

For Rosie and I there were significant areas in which we struggled to really connect… not unusual in a marriage but painful for us both. I won’t go into further detail now… maybe it will be appropriate at a future time. (Don’t misunderstand me however… Rosie and I were deeply committed to one another and shared genuine love and deep trust.)

My grief over these unresolved issues seemed to be blocking my grief over losing Rosie, and feeling that I was stuck in the grief process was only reinforcing the depression.

I then went on a whirlwind 4WD trip across the Simpson Desert. 5000km in 13 days! New friends, so many things to see and do… an experience of a lifetime… but also very tiring! The trip temporarily distracted me from grief and depression… but it was all waiting for me when I got home exhausted.

It dawned on me that I need some grief counseling (why hadn’t I thought of this before??) so last week I spoke to a counseling administrator to assist with choosing a suitable grief counselor. I told her that the grief counseling I needed was different from normal. I needed a counselor not only experienced with addressing ‘regular grief’ (dealing with the loss of a loved one), but also capable of addressing unresolved relationship issues.

The administrator’s reply was both insightful and encouraging… one of the most common aspects of grief counseling is helping a person dealing with unresolved relationship issues. What I am going through is very normal!

My counseling sessions begin next week… I don’t look forward to facing and dealing with tough issues within myself but I do look forward to the healing and freedom this will bring. Even though the depression has now lifted (thankfully) I believe grief counseling is essential for me to rediscover who I am now without Rosie and be free to move on into a new life.

For those who pray, I’d value your prayers. For those not into praying (and to me that’s perfectly fine) I’d value your thoughts. As always I greatly value the amazing support I receive from my family and close mates and the encouragement I receive from you, my friends.

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Six Months Today

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A café is my solace on a wintry Autumn day,
I look out through the window,
Thick clouds, grey and white, fill the sky.
The leaves are falling from the trees like tears,
I think they know my grief.
They swirl endlessly in the wind, unable to rest, not knowing where to land.
I think they know my confused thoughts, my perplexed emotions, my longing to find peace,
but finding only turmoil.

Winter will soon follow Autumn.
Will my days become even colder and darker?
My nights longer and blacker too?
Spring and Summer seem a long way off,
Across a gulf I don’t want to cross.

I look up from this page and out the window again,
Amid the thick heavy clouds is a patch of bright blue,
And a long flurry of clouds are glowing silvery white.
Signs of hope, they lift my spirit.

Grief will have its seasons,
As inevitable as the seasons of the year,
And as essential too.
Autumn and Winter bring the painful gift of discovering and accepting what is lost,
Spring is full of hope of a new life emerging in its abundance,
Summer will be rich and green again,
And the trees will have new leaves.

The years will roll on, and the seasons too.
Summer will have its storms and cloudy days,
But Winter will have days of bright, sunny skies,
As grief and healing continue hand in hand.

Next Autumn I’m sure the leaves will fall again,
Not only as tears of grief this time,
But as dancers celebrating joyful memories,
Of a loved one and our years together.

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Ian James
29th April 2015

Sometimes It’s Just Hard

A holiday exploring rugged coastline and climbing mountain peaks… spending time with family with the excitement of a new grandchild coming… freedom from the tasks and commitments of everyday life… these times are refreshing, life-giving times…  essential as I adjust to a new life.

But coming home can be tough… stepping through the doorway into a house full of memories of is not easy… each room I enter has so many reminders of Rosie… her personal belongings, decades of life lived together raising children. The lounge room and the bungalow, Rosie’s special places, especially hold deep imprints of her.

All these things remind me that she is no longer here… I feel a deep emptiness… grief.

And there are no easy answers… sometimes it’s just hard.

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Thirteen Weeks On – Returning to Caritas Christi

28th January 2015 (originally posted on Facebook)

This afternoon I’m sitting in the cafe at the Caritas Christi Hospice.

Thirteen weeks ago today at 5:15pm on Wednesday 29th Oct, Rosie unexpectedly took her last breath here. I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to be at her bedside for that moment, having just come back from having coffee and time out with two supportive mates.

I came here today to return a mattress cover loaned to Rosie by PalCare who just happen to be collocated with Caritas and realised that I wanted to stay and spend one last time here to reflect on the events of that day.I knew that it was important to come back one day and sit here knowing that this is a sacred place of peace and release for both Rosie and I.

In a little while I’ll move from the cafe and go and sit in the chairs in the little foyer outside the room Rosie was in. This was the place where the family gathered in grief with me after she had gone, each of us going to and from her room to say the final words that we wanted to say.

And then, just as we did on that night, the appropriate moment will come today when it’s right to leave Rosie here and return home to begin a new phase of life.

Not that Rosie is really here; I knew in my heart the moment she died that she had left this place. Nonetheless it was in this sacred space that she spent her last moments on earth and it was at that moment a new journey began for her and all of us who loved her.

Goodbye my dearest Rosie.

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Too close for comfort – A tough encounter

I’m currently exploring the south-west of Western Australia. I enjoy staying in Youth Hostels because they provide everything I need, are inexpensive, but comfortable. They allow me to be alone when I want to be alone, or engage with interesting travelers when I feel like company.

I got talking to a lady who’s currently travelling around Australia on her own. She’s a grandmother, a little further down life’s track than me, but very much full of life and energy. We talked about about our travels, some life experiences, our families, and inevitably the subject of losing Rosie came up. She in turn indicated that she was divorced after a long relationship.

So far so good… another interesting conversation to add to the many I’ve had in hostels before. It was getting late so I headed off to bed.

I was about to enter my room when I heard her call out to me. She’d just seen an advertisement on the noticeboard for a Twilight Cruise around Albany’s beautiful waterways. In an excited voice she told me she could extend her stay an extra night to include the cruise and asked if I’d like to come with her? $30 for a 2 hour cruise, some free drinks and food, an opportunity to enjoy a fun event with a fellow traveler.

A big ‘No!’ immediately resounded in my spirit.

But how was I going to handle it??

Not wanting to offend her I hesitated. I considered saying yes to avoid an awkward situation but knew I would regret betraying my very clear internal guide.

After a moment I said, “Thanks for the offer but I think I’ll say ‘no’.”

An awkward pause… what do I say next? How could I frame what my spirit was saying? Beyond the clear “No!” my rational thoughts were all over the place.

The best I could manage was, “At this stage I really need to have space.”

She responded with a questioning look, “I just thought it could be a fun thing to do. It has nothing to do with you and me.”

I thanked her for her offer and beat a hasty retreat into my room, relieved to have the door closed behind me.

As I lay there in the dark my brain was racing. To be fair she may well have had had nothing more in mind than sharing a fun event with a fellow traveler before moving on. Nonetheless I felt a sense of shock. I was shaking on the inside; it was an encounter way to close for comfort at this stage of my journey.

It was especially tough because Rosie loved cruising. Rosie loved water in all its forms and especially loved travelling on it, whether it be in a small, open-top boat or a huge cruise ship.

I missed Rosie’s love of cruising.

And in that moment I really missed her… more than any time since she left my side last year.

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