The perfection of life is beyond the boundaries of good and bad, sad or happy.
2015. My fourth miscarriage. The loss of pregnancy at ten weeks.
The doctor looked into my soul and told me, ‘I know the obstetrician for you. Here are his details. If this was happening to my sister, I would be telling her the very same thing. Go to this man. He will treat you beautifully.’
No one would have seen it coming, least of all me. His death was inevitable: that part we all knew was coming.
But no one would have foreseen my reaction to it. Not the way it happened, not the way the emotional slideshow of me slowly played out like a blocked garden-hose building in pressure, waiting for the almighty explosion that eventually would come.
My Dad told me: ‘Aaron’s died.’ We were on our way home from our shared workplace, an hour and ten minute drive from the city to the country, where we lived. He did a good job, my Dad. Quiet. Calm. Matter of fact, but caring. My Aunty was the one that received the news. He’d been ill, which on top of the cystic fibrosis had finally proven too much for his already fragile body to handle. Someone should tell Brooke.
I’m not sure why Dad chose an hour long car ride to do it. Perhaps he and Mum felt it would allow me time to let it wash over me, I’m really not sure what they had expected. But one thing I do imagine they expected were tears.
There were none.
Not a single one.
When he’d broken up with me, I’d constructed a wall about a million miles high, and equally as wide to protect me from both the feeling of being rejected without proper means, and the feeling of loss I’d surely feel in the face of losing him. We both still cared for each other very much. Very much. Though, for family reasons that are a little too personal to share, here, he felt it best he protect his final years as best he could. By saying goodbye to me. I understood. Still, it hurt.
On New Years Eve (his very last one, as it would turn out) he called me at my Aunties house, where I’d escaped the boring walls of home for a much needed holiday. ‘Is Chookie there?’ he asked, to my Aunties amusement. I took the phone, smiled at my Aunty, and fell into our world, again. He’d missed me. I’d missed him, too. We laughed and chatted for a bit. Finally, we said goodbye.
A few months later, Aaron was gone. He was about twenty, from memory: I was eighteen. And I didn’t care at all that he was gone, and I absolutely would not be attending his funeral, so they could all just go on and forget about that, ridiculous nonsense.
The day of the funeral came. I got up, as usual, and made the long trip in with my Dad where I began my daily routine. Pick, pack, tape up the box. Pick, pack, tape up the box. I’m not sure what part of the work induced the explosion. Perhaps it was the ripping sound the tape makes when it whirls off the tape gun, or perhaps it was simply the fact that I was at work, in the first place. All anybody knew was that one moment I was fine. The next, I was wailing. Sobbing in the most out of control fashion I could muster.
My Dad took me to the train station. If I caught the early train, I should make it to the funeral on time, and so I boarded the V-Line back to the country and off I went to say my last goodbye to Aaron. Technically, not my Aaron, anymore. But, according to my heart…still very much, my Aaron, apparently.
The train ride was interesting. The poor lady across from me did her very best to pretend my dark sunglasses hid my tears (and quietened the accidental sob that sometimes escaped me. Meep.) The dusty town I arrived in was quiet, too. No one would notice as I wandered along the streets, searching for a church I’d never been to before, in a town I’d never been to before.
I wouldn’t ask for directions, either. More accurately, I couldn’t ask for directions, on account of me being that odd girl: too shy to talk to any human outside of her comfort zone. So I asked the universe for directions. My plan was (and this is no joke) to follow whichever direction my hair blew in the wind, because certainly whatever higher forces I was connected to would get me to the funeral. Bonus points if they got me there on time.
I walked. And walked. And walked.
Finally, and with no thanks at all to my hair, I found the church. A little late, but early enough. The funeral had just begun.
‘Chookie,’ Aaron’s beautiful Mum said, after the service, as she wrapped me in her arms, and thanked me for coming to say goodbye to her baby boy. She seemed happy to see me (really, really happy) and in that moment…I knew the explosion of me was meant to happen, that I was meant to be there. For Aaron, but for his beautiful family, too.
They may not have noticed my absence if I’d not gone: the church was overflowing with hundreds, all of whom, apparently, Aaron had touched with his cheekiness, joy and boundless wisdom, too.
But I was there. And his family did notice.
I was grateful.
Grateful the morning had brought about the most unexpected emotional explosion, ever to have rocked my world.
Death, I suppose, does that to us. It’s one of those accidental growth inducing things that none of us actually want, but do end up getting from time to time. Lessons in perspective. Lessons in gratitude, these are just some of the positives that can come from death knocking on our doors. But today, death has broken me. And my empath metre is still reeling.
I’ve just read an article written by a Mum recounting her five-year-old sons final days. Cancer. To say I struggled to hold myself together wouldn’t be accurate. To say I fell to pieces is absolutely correct. What a devastating, devastating thing: to lose a child, and yet people do experience this sort of loss in life, and far too often for my liking.
I felt I owed it to that precious little man to reiterate the message his beautiful, heartbroken (positively grace-filled) Mum put out into the world, on behalf of her little boy. To live and love, is surely the greatest gift. To live now, to be grateful for this. What’s here. What’s out the window and how beautiful it is. To see that it’s pointless fussing over the little things, when there are even more little things to honour and cherish in this mixed bag of a life we live.
This Mum. She was given a beautiful gift, in the end, when her son’s final words were: ‘I am happy Mum.’ I am happy, Mum. It makes you think how dumb we are worrying about the extra weight we might put on over the holiday period, doesn’t it? It makes you think that, in the end, all we’re really here for is to realise nothing matters but the people we love, and love itself.
Anyhow, I should stop this because it’s going to take me down, again, but I think I’ve said it all, anyway. Most of you already know the way I view life. It is short and beautiful, and we have one chance.
I visited Nan, today. Beautiful Nan— she could light up a room just by looking at it, and all of us could feel her joy from a mile away. No wonder the cemetery she lives at feels so beautiful to me. But, do you know what? It’s not Nan being buried at the cemetery that makes it feel nice to me. It’s the general vibe of unconditional love that flows about the place; a rare feeling when you consider that, often, while we are living, unconditional love seems to be a thing only dogs know how to do.
Not at the cemetery. The love there (and I’m talking about the energetic stuff that lingers long after the visitors have gone) is pure and unconditional. I’d imagine there are many reasons for that. Firstly, the person isn’t alive, and it’s much easier to forgive and love a person unconditionally if they are no longer alive to trigger us into the negative (as perhaps at one time they may have.) Secondly, when a person dies, there is that glorious realisation that you actually kind of loved your person a whole lot more than you might have previously thought. That sort of realisation is bound to add a few extra love hearts into the mix.
I’m intrigued by the gravestones at the cemetery, too, particularly the words etched upon them. Usually, the plaque tells the story of a person who would be fondly missed by those they left behind, and I often wonder about that. What kind of a person were they when they were alive? What did they love, what were they good at? What do people miss about them now that they are gone?
As we wandered away from Nan’s grave, I asked my little boy what he thought of the place and, as any five-year-old would, his first inkling was to tell me it was a little bit sad (he’s going through a phase of questioning death at the moment, so it was an accidentally well-timed visit, actually.) But then he went on to say that he liked it there, and I knew that he genuinely meant it because I really couldn’t see why a person wouldn’t like a place filled with such beautiful love hearts.
With all that said, for any of my beautiful friends who’ve recently suffered the loss of a loved one: so many big hugs. At the moment, the cemetery may not feel like such a nice place to you. But I hope, over time, it will start to feel like the happy place I’ve described above, and when it does…I’ll bet all your beautiful love hearts will add another layer of lovely to the place. xx
I promised this virtual space of mine that I’d sprinkle some heart into it, and so grows this poem: planted from a memory, watered with love.
I felt this introduction necessary because I am well aware that grief is an almighty thing, and although this poem is—quite literally— shining with comfort and hope; it also speaks of loss. For those of you whose grief runs deep and new: I give you my blessing to stop reading here.
This poem was inspired by my beautiful Grandmother—a ray of pure sunshine in my life, and in the lives of all those who knew her. She passed away a few years ago, and this story took place on the day of her funeral.
That day, I wanted to believe that she was there with us.