January: It started out with the promise of good things, a new job at work and a Masters Degree just one teeny tiny unit away, and then turned easily into the worst year of my life.
February: First was mum being diagnosed with uterine cancer. Then Dad took a really bad turn ending with the need for full time care in an aged care facility. Not a great start to the year.
March: Around this time things at work got really strange and well, some bad shit happened that wasn’t fun at all. That might not sound that shitty but trust me it was, I just can’t explain it here because it would be inappropriate. Just know that it sucked.
April: The work thing was about to find resolution when I got a call from my sister that Dad had become ‘non-responsive’ and would most likely not live much longer.
I can’t remember the exact way it transpired because everything else started to pale in comparison to this news. I realised was actually going to lose my Dad. No-one recovers from ‘non-responsive’.
I had recently visited him in Adelaide and I got to say goodbye and tell him I loved him when he looked comfortable and peaceful.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 30 2011.
That might sound cold to some, but we were long prepared for it; it still hurt and yet somehow felt okay. He was, as they say, in a better place now
In fact for the last 15 years I cannot recall just how many times I have rushed to South Australia or Tasmania on the premise that it would be his last visit to hospital. It was a poor quality of life after a long period of suffering with heart disease. I wish it wasn’t but it was and I miss him more than words can convey.
May: But the family had something else on our minds. Mum had only just recovered from an emergency trip to the Royal Adelaide Hospital after taking seriously ill from a biopsy of the cancer she had been diagnosed with. That was only six weeks before Dad passed away. She wasn’t in good health but had an appointment to have a hysterectomy which was urgently needed.
We were all worried and had just lost Dad but had no idea how serious it was about to get.
Mum was taked into the RAH three days after losing her husband for a hysterectomy and never came home.
The stuff in between I can’t write about. I can get it down, read it and delete it, do it again and just never commit to any of it. It is far too painful and way too graphic. The cancer was a very aggressive and rare type, and had spread viciously since the curate and she never recovered from the surgery.
I hope that by those simple words you can understand that her operation didn’t go well and two short weeks after losing Dad we lost our Mum on the 18th of April.
My world changed forever that day.
Mum – as the youngest of five children I often called her Mummy, it was our thing – was the one that could make anything go away, the only person who could make me feel like nothing I did, could ever be so wrong that she couldn’t forgvie me for it, was never going to come back.
A piece of me died with her and a terrible freedom replaced it – one in which nothing mattered anymore and in an experiential way I cannot explain, unless you have been through the same thing you simply can’t relate to how it feels, I was changed forever.
A whole new world, one without a narrative arc began. I was an orphan in two short weeks. People in conversation would talk about their parents in all manner of different ways and I could no longer relate to, or be a part of those conversations. I had just lost both of my parents in a two week period.
A big gaping hole was torn in me and I am quite sure it will never completely repair. I am now somebody different somehow, carrying a grief with me that I never new existed.
June: My partner, Big J, and I took off on a planned overseas holiday two weeks early. I think he knew that if he didn’t get me out of Australia and away from all the negative shit that had happened to me, that I would fall apart. I love him most for that because he was right (we often joke he always is).
The travel, distance and experience was just what I needed, shadowed by the greatest sense of loss I have ever felt, I was still able to see the world from a new perspective. One that I diarised here for you to read.
But the crappyness of 2011 wasn’t over yet.
August-September: Upon returning from the UK I was finally going to graduate from Uni after three long years of studying manically every day, night and weekend, with my Masters degree in Digital Media. We were flying to Newcastle for the ceremony. One that I had been hoping for all of those three years my Mum might be able to attend.
No-one in our family had followed an academic path and I think with the benefit of hindsight that I was probably doing it for them. That sounds ridiculous now but it was how I felt at that moment.
Anyway one week before we are bound for the airport Big J starts to have violent coughing fits and then days before we are going to leave he starts feinting while coughing. Blacking out completely. He was diagnosed with Whooping Cough and the pair of us are put on the No-Fly list. Awesome.
And so it came to be that I never even had the pleasure of graduating. I got my testamur last week, seven months after finishing and it seemed so pointless to me. I didn’t care anymore.
I had to work from home looking after Big J, making sure he didn’t turn blue on one of his blackouts – red is ok but blue and it is time to call Triple 0 Nurse-on-call told us – and manage a crazy workload.
October: This was probably the more harrowing of times because it was relentless and I feel like I haven’t slept an entire night peacefully since it started. Plagued with thoughts of ‘what if we…’ for Mum between waiting for Big J to sit bolt upright and choke after a cough, it just seemed like there was never going to be an end to it. I’d often think ‘oh, I’ll just give mum a call and ask… oh yeah, that’s right.’ and feel like just giving up completely, consumed by a big gaping black hole of melancholy.
2011 has totally sucked and I for one can’t wait until it is over, nothing but a distant and painful memory. But I have grown up incredibly through all of this and found a new meaning in the words ‘don’t waste a minute’ that help me focus on what’s important in life.
November: Some really great things happened this year too, and I am ending it with a trip to the treehouse to be with my sister in Ocean Shores for some down time. A place where I always feel comfortable and not judged for any of my misgivings. Suckily I copped a bout of food poisoning but even that still helped me get this blog out finally. And it is where I took these photo’s of flowers to brighten up this post a bit.
I got to visit the UK and met my cousin Jo whom I have never seen before and we had heaps of stuff in common. She is an awesomely intelligent, educated punk rock chic with attitude, a dichotomy of superlatives and I was blown away by being able to meet her. Millions of miles across the ocean, my Mum’s Brother’s daughter who is the same age as me and with so much in common. That was a great moment and of course we’re friends on Facebook now.
December: I also fulfilled a life long dream to own a Ducati and these two dimensional words sitting here on this page are quite cathartic for me, and probably the hardest thing I have ever needed to write.
The benefit of hindsight: So now I’ve decided the world is just one big challenge, often shitty, and it is how I chose to overcome those challenges that makes me the sum of my experience as I go on living in it. Warts and all I guess.
For now I can close this chapter and move on, hopefully blogging about amazing things and new experiences, ones filled with awesome rides on my new Ducati.
But…there is just one thing I need to get off my chest before I leave you here and it has to be said.
Fuck you 2011.