24 March 2016

Beautiful and Terrible

This came up on my timeline this morning. I read it and it resonated with me. It made me smile but only for a split second. 

But then I remember. Almost a year ago to the day...I woke up to run Two Oceans and Russ was supposed to run with me. Everything was good. Except he was still feeling a bit nauseous and I suggested he not run this year. He agreed and graciously made me coffee and taxi-ed myself and my friends to the start line.

He drove away with a farway look in his eyes - typical runner FOMO - pissed off that we could not do it together. 

Next year we said.

Five days later we got the diagnosis.

Five months later he was gone. 

I fight a silent battle. I have seen how quickly something amazing can fall apart. I have felt pain like I never believed possible. I have fought like a freaking beast to survive and (by the grace of God) even thrive. 

I am so afraid to be happy. I am afraid to look ahead and make plans. 

It scares the living shit out of me.

14 March 2016

Unpacking the Months : Part Three

Part One Here
Part Two Here

....So he invited me to go see Goldfish at Shimmy's with his best friends... being the closet clubber that I am I was totally up for the jol. In fact, I Could Not Wait.

Taken at Shimmy - I was still pretty shy and retiring back then.

A few things unfolded in the two weeks prior to Shimmys though...here is the short version.

1. We ended up at the Sevens final together - along with Levi, Rachel and my folks.

2. We spent time along with our kids and some other friends at the beach - the most notable being an afternoon breaking in the SUP board at Kommetjie.

3. He met some of my close friends at a sundowners evening at Noordhoek.

We spent much time talking - mostly being completely ridiculous. We did not regularly compare grief notes. Our relationship has never been based on our mutual losses at all - it is a big deal but it is NOT the pivot around which we turn.

I spent way too much time telling him  how I was completely able to take care of myself  and how I would never, EVER want to be dependent on anyone again - emotionally or otherwise. The pain of enduring loss a second time was simply too much for me to even consider.

He did not seem deterred by my hardarse attitude at all. I pushed him away but he stood firm and slowly I realised he was not going to be easily scared off by me. He made me laugh. Regularly. He also fought with me which was kind of amazing because everyone else felt sorry for me. He did not.

He seemed to be able to tolerate my erratic behaviours; to be able to tell the bullshit from the core - and he didn't judge me or try to fix me or rein me in.

Same t-shirt...same shades but all so different now.
He understood the inner madness that still sometimes drives me to the outer limits of my existence. He had the ability to take me back from the brink and remind me that life is FUN, that my kids need me and that there is still so much to do and live for.

He also regularly reminds me that gratitude is the key to recovery ... although there are/were times I wanted to slap him and just tell him to SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LET ME BE MAD.     :-)

Slowly I have begun to come back to life. I did not know when I met him that he trail runs. He only started running, for the first time, in August last year. I don't believe that is coincidence.

The irony rests in the fact that my original search was simply for a trail running partner; I gave up on that and instead I found a partner who trail runs.

I am quite possibly the most conflicted / unconflicted person you will ever meet. This weekend you see photos of me on facebook - radiant and joyful with the man I now love and yet if you had been in the mall this morning you would have found me in a complete tearful mess - mad at God for allowing the other man I love to have suffered and died such a cruel death.

Life is messed up and there is so much I cannot reconcile but God is good.

I choose to believe that.
In spite of everything that has happened.
And because of everything that is happening.

09 March 2016

Make Them Remarkable

Russell believed I was amazing. 
And he would often tell me so. 
I used to look at him in disbelief because he knew me SO well and despite 
that fact still thought I was this incredible human being. 

I remember looking him squarely in the eye and telling him :

The only reason I am who I am is because you love me unconditionally. Because we are a team.
You give me the courage and confidence to be exactly who I am at any stage of my life.

When he left this world the impact on me was so utterly devastating. It was as if someone had taken my roots and pulled them out. I felt lost, vulnerable and completely alone - like a toddler lost in a shopping mall. I was a shadow of myself. His love for me; mine for him - that was my anchor and safe place. The space from which I could safely launch myself into the world.

I will never take anyone I love for granted again. It can happen so easily, so surreptiously. 

Take stock of those around you - notice how they make you feel and make sure you sow back into that relationship and be part of making them remarkable.

08 March 2016

Simply Tuesday

Tuesday started pretty damn well.

A drive to beautiful Kommetjie first thing in the morning, 3 cups of coffee along with lots of laughs with a very special friend.

Later I arrived home to find a builder mate of mine waiting to give me some input on changes that need to be made to my home.  He offered plenty of advice for me on how to go forward with some of the plans I have in mind and we engaged in some healthy trail and boxing banter (he's a runner too).

I was feeling normal. Like myself. And quite chipper actually.

I pottered back inside, found the kids all working quietly and doing their thing.

I wandered into the kitchen and before I knew what was happening I had begun to unpack some of the storage cupboards.

One thing led to another and suddenly I was overwhelmed by piles of stuff.

His stuff.

His office space. 

This happens. I feel good and able to meander through the day. I attempt to tackle the hit-list that is my home.....and time after time I am derailed.

My home is full of 'piles'. I just cant seem to ever get through anything. It is SO debilitating. I wish I could just tell someone to come in and take it all away but that is not an option.

I have to do it.

I have to allow myself the time but God alone knows how long I am going to live in a house full of 'piles'.

The kids were deeply affected today too; they discovered some of their childhood toys which opened up memories.

And then you have to pull yourself together. Because life waits for no-one.

Levi and I had an appointment for orientation at his new school so we dried our tears, put on loud, inappropriate music and did the necessary.

He knocked their socks off.....despite the fact that his mother told the HOD that I have absolutely nothing to offer them other than the stellar opportunity to educate my son...who will, in turn, make their school look good.

At least they know not to ask me to cake sales and camp-outs.

02 March 2016

Of Grief and Raves

This weekend I went to ULTRA. I went on invitation with a group of friends and have to say I was tentatively excited. I told myself it was not a 'rave' but a music festival.....that way I did not freak myself out. :-)

It was an unforgettable 10 hour experience. I honestly have seldom felt more alive and in my own skin.

Part of me felt guilty.

Part of me felt ashamed that this is what I needed to feel like myself.

Surely I should be 'grieving more appropriately'?

As these thoughts all began crashing into my brain, threatening to suffocate me in the middle of the heaving crowd, the opening bars of  "See You Again" reverberated through the air.

In that moment every single negative emotion vanished. The clarity I experienced was incredible.

Russell knew me better than anyone. He knew my way of dealing with life was often not straight and narrow. He also knew my boundaries were rock solid and that ultimately I did what needed to be done to get through shitty times. He watched me over and over again. Quietly supporting me; never trying to confine me.

In that moment I felt him applauding my journey, smiling at the girl he knew could dance her feet off any night of the week given half the chance.

Grief is not about tears for me. It is not about looking back and wishing things could be same.

It is nothing like I thought it would be. 

Every day I grieve. Every day I grieve differently because grief is a reaction to major loss.

No two days find my reaction the same. 

The implications for me are huge as I never really know where the grief tide is taking me BUT I have finally come to a resting place in my own heart that wherever it does take me - I will be okay.