My Birthday

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I had (another) birthday! For someone who wasn’t predicted to reach 16, they are coming around in rapid succession these days! I get self-conscious and usually don’t organize anything for my birthday.  I get frightened that I wont receive a reply. I have to work on the long-held belief that people will leave me. I have set up a life of independence to make sure that I am not in that position. I feel like a child, shyly asking others to come hang out with me. Some dear ones know me (frighteningly) well, and took it out of my hands. I went to the movies with a treasured soul-sister the evening before, and we laughed hard! The local council even put on a fireworks display, and we parked and talked as we watched the champagne crackers glitter and shimmer.

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The next morning, I woke to a knock at the door, and three friends were standing there, with breakfast for us all. I was touched by their kindness and we enjoyed a feast of pastries, fruit and coffee. My birthday was to be a busy day, of doctor’s appointments and going to a friend’s for a catch-up. I was waiting on a lovely cedar dining table and chairs to be delivered before I could go out. I had purchased them from a second-hand shop-extremely cheaply-and someone else had organized delivery, then notified me. Time passed, and there was still no sign of the furniture. I messaged my friend to apologize, hoping I may get there later. I ended up having to cancel the doctor’s visit, as by mid-afternoon there was stil no sign of the table and chairs. I was on the phone to the store when a friend called in. She spilled the beans that I had missed a little surprise party in my honor! I was mortified, particularly when the store told me that they did deliveries to my area the next day! I had stayed home for nothing! It meant the world to me that these three ladies wanted to spend time with me on my birthday, and even though I didn’t get over, I will carry their thoughtfulness with me all my days.

In the evening, four friends took me out and we enjoyed a meal at a Cuban restaurant. We laughed and were silly and I felt celebrated, enough to carry me through another year.

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My little girl performed a dance and song for me, and presented me with poems, cards and clay ornaments she had made. The whole day meant so much to me, even though I missed my own surprise party! I have to overcome my fear of being rejected and left alone. I am trying to reach out more and plan fun things with others. I am not that child left looking out the door of a clinic, waiting for visitors that don’t show up. I am surrounded by good people. I have to be brave enough to let them in.

   
   

Matilda and the 9th Birthday

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My daughter and I have been unwell with a respiratory virus. It was the sort that leaves you no option but to crawl into bed. We had five days at home in isolation, which is quite uncommon for us. Of course, daughter regained her strength before me, and when I shuffled out of bed for a drink of water, I encountered a paper-art shop and the creative use of food-stuff! 11895587_1012747128759132_687415514_o

The paper shop.

A friend made cupcakes the day before her birthday, and we went to a beautiful park. The sky was clear and blue and the weather was nudging toward spring temperatures. The day of her birthday, she woke at 4am, which was the time she was born. As she snuggled in my arms, I recalled being given a tiny bundle at that same time, nine years ago. She was a miracle from the outset. I paused to remember all I know who have battled their own private hells with infertility and pregnancy loss.

We walked to a local café, which is owned by a friend. She decorated the table, and gave my child a beautiful gift. How wonderful is it when a grown-up makes a child feel special and important?

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Afterward, we hopped on a train and went on an adventure! A traveller from Manchester had found a gig at a stationary store and when he discovered it was her birthday, not only did he dance, but he made a balloon animal for her. I hope Australia decides to keep this young man!  We strolled around, meeting many characters. Time got away from us, and I hurried us to the station. We had tickets to Matilda that evening!

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As soon as we entered the Lyric Theatre, we found the atmosphere joyous in anticipation. What can I say about Matilda? It was everything you desire in a stage production. It had spunk, it was irreverent, hilarious and heartbreaking. We were in fits of laughter one moment, and the next, had tears. It is a story for every person who has ever felt unsure of their place in the world. Anyone who has ever been subject to ridicule and contempt. It is a story of a daring little girl, who has the power to change the destiny of those around her. The sets, performers, music and lyrics were simply stunning. There are surprises aplenty. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the evening of my daughter’s ninth birthday. If it is playing anywhere near you- now or in the future- go see it! 11900866_1014784201888758_431005509_o11880991_1015125175187994_469633430_n

Our children need to be exposed to realistic heroes and heroines and to my mind, Matilda is an aspiration. She inspires young and old to listen to the nuances of their heart; to keep telling their stories and sharing their truth. We bought the soundtrack, so we can listen whilst I save up so we can see it again! Happy Birthday, to my daughter. You are one of the funniest, kindest and most creative people I have ever known. May the years ahead be full of wonder. If I had the power, I would create a musical score for your life. No sadness, just high notes, accompanied by harps and flutes. I wish I had that power. I will be accompanying you on your journey, doing all I can to buffer the low times so that there are no sharp edges.

Grief and Homecoming (Part 2)

 

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A woman with auburn hair was walking in front of me. She was holding the hand of a little boy. For a moment, I thought it was you… I kept seeing you everywhere. In the shops, in the park. You can’t be gone! The horrible realization struck me afresh.

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You should be living in Balmain with your boys, your heart condition carefully monitored. I should be preparing to meet up with you, to share a meal for your birthday. The tears came as I sat in the park. Grief absolutely flattens you, like a tidal wave. It was a physical pain, so much so that I felt winded. What sets it off on any given day is a mystery.  I went from weeping to laughter  when I recalled you telling me about a party your eldest had attended. He was going to a religious preschool at five, and upon seeing the procession of fairies alighting from cars outside the venue, he hollered, “oh no! Not another #$%^&*# fairy party!” You were aghast, as all the mums heard him, though laughed uncontrollably on the retelling. Wiping my eyes, I went to get my daughter.

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I was bemused to receive her worksheets. She had felt sorry for Dr Karl, as he didn’t have much hair, so she thought she would style him. She asked a lot of questions about guinea pigs  which he answered concisely. When I asked why she had focused on guinea’s, she replied huffily, “they are a biology topic!”  I took her for lemon gelato, and then she climbed trees in the main street.

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We went home, and I received a message from Serena’s mum. She had sourced a Japanese Cherry tree. It became extinct in Japan and one specimen was found in an English garden in West Sussex. It was propagated from that tree (many more are now back in Japan due to this one specimen). Serena’s family were going to plant it tonight, and scatter her ashes around it. Serena was a world citizen and ardent traveller. She would have loved this. I looked through old photos, and lit a candle for my friend.
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You said in your school yearbook that you wanted to be remembered for as long as possible. Oh darling, you shall be. Until we meet again, happy birthday Serena. I hope you can hear me sing to you.

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Summer didn’t want to let go.

These two became mums!
These two became mums!

After a particular mum (not mentioning any names), mistook boy guinea pigs for girls, two ladies became mums!  My daughter is an adoring aunt, whereas I am apparently a grandma! Nine little ones in all.
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Homeschooling is amazing! Munchkin is progressing extremely well, and has a passion for learning that is an honour to witness.
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We went to the library the other day, and she read a chapter of her book all by herself. She was excited, and I was overjoyed. This particular book is from her I Can Read program, and has codes at the top of each sentence, so she can easily decipher the words. Afterward, we went past a factory seconds store, and found a beautiful guitar. It is the right length for a child, and in her favourite colour! It was cheap, and the fellow said he could re-string it for my left-hander. I felt privileged to witness her excitement. She is learning guitar, and has often said that she didn’t mind not having her own. She rarely asks for anything, so this guitar shall be valued.

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Saturday night, went to The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long at the State Theatre in Sydney. It was particularly special as it is the 50th anniversary of the movie this year, and I got to dress up as a nun! We happened to bump into a teacher from my daughter’s former school. This lady has inspired my child in so many ways, instilling  a belief in herself and to think outside the box. For that, I shall love her forever. We became friends on the playground, and I am sure Mrs Z shall always be in our lives. You never forget the teacher that goes above and beyond. I find it quite moving, especially as Lizzie was never in her class.

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Sunday, I went to Catalina for a friend’s birthday. This lady doesn’t usually celebrate her birthday, so this was special. It was a lesson to me that you are worth celebrating, and that life is far too precious and short not to gather friends. 10985543_924478147586031_8814010349597699618_nIt was the first day of Autumn in Sydney, but the sun beat down mercilessly, pushing the temp up to the high 30’s. Summer stubbornly refused to release its grip. My daughter found these gorgeous floral displays abandoned around the side of the restaurant, and after gathering a few blooms for herself, we delighted in watching parents pick their children a flower or two.

IMG_6155As we left the city, the storm clouds gathered, and  a torrent of raindrops thumped to the ground.  The last grand summer storm before autumn colours  the landscape in crimson and rusty hues. There are challenges, for myself and my loved ones, but when isn’t there? All we can do is stick together, embrace and love, and eat good food and ride it out. Winter is coming, but then, so is spring.

Gnome Conventions and Life.

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Can you believe that we are in February? January leans in, digging its elbow into the tender parts of our psyche. People struggle with big issues. Finances are depleted after Christmas, relationships are in turmoil, people you love are in pain. At the same time, you are attempting to plot the year ahead, and work ramps up for another year. January can be pressurised. What do you do to escape? We went to Casula Powerhouse to see the Mind the Gap exhibition.

Mind the Gap
Mind the Gap

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A wondrous affair, resplendent with model trains grafted into sculpture.
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I felt my hair, barreling down my shoulders, tired and splintered. I sought reparation. I usually do a haphazard job of trimming it myself, but as I had pledged to take better care of myself this year, I had it done at an actual hairdresser.

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I had a fortnight of no sleep, due to my bulging spinal discs. I lay awake with a pillow between my legs, my hands attempting to force the discs back into place. I tried to rest, my back brace tightly bound around my spine. It was hard, particularly when life demanded that I partake during the daytime. On Australia Day, I went to the annual Gnome Convention at Glenbrook. I had to go. If one can’t find escape from one’s pain at such a do, then I don’t know where one can!
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Feeling entirely restored, I celebrated my birthday. Now birthdays have always been a weird dark night of the soul for me. Melancholy, renewal, taking stock and everything in between. I ran away to Sydney with my daughter. We looked around, rode on public transport, and came home to a glorious delivery of flowers.

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Friends took me out for lunch in the coming days, and I was humbled by their thoughtfulness. I was driven to a birthday dinner last weekend and had a lovely time. It was an occasion where you imbibe with good wine and company, and can be silly and free.

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Another friend had a party, Superhero themed. I adore this lady. So far, we have celebrated space, feet, the first letter of our name, and now heroes. I was the Queen of the Rainbow.

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I also confronted a park containing many memories of Serena. The number of times we have sat at the seats below, watching the children play and drinking coffee… I expected her to come along at any moment. There were tears, and my little girl hugged me. She knew. She felt it too. After the sorrow, we smiled, recollecting the parties, festivals and many joyous times we had experienced there. At the end that is what remained. Above all the strife in January, that is what we shall hold onto.
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