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Well this is definitely the time of year I feel compelled to write. It’s been two years since I lost my husband to brain cancer. Looking back on some of my previous postings, I realize I don’t come out and write these words very often. I skirt around them; I allude to them and paint a water coloured landscape where things are vague and it’s more about big-picture ideas than detailed events. This is how I have liked it up to this point.

As this anniversary approached I had a few friends ask me if it’s gotten easier now that a bit more time has passed…now that there’s been two whole years between me and that other reality I was living.

Time – that old cure-all.

The easy answer – and the one that everyone is looking for is yes… of course time has helped. I have had two years of experiencing people and places and events, between me and that other world in which my husband was battling for his life. Time helps get over any traumatic experience. It dulls the edges.

Well this is what I thought – that the edges were supposed to get duller. The sharp blade of loss wearing down slowly. Maybe I had heard it somewhere once? Maybe it just seems logical; the general consensus.  I don’t know. But after having more that a few people ask me if it’s gotten easier, I started to think about it. 

And here’s the thing – for me, time has proved invaluable in that it gives me longer stretches of relief. I think about Kevin every day and I smile. He was so f*&king funny. He just had this way about him, and he shared it with everyone. I don’t need to tell those of you who knew him. I swear he had this sort of smirk behind his eyes – like he knew something you didn’t and it was hilarious. He brought people together. A lot of the time he was just ridiculous. Most of the time, really. To me he was the best friend in the world. We were lucky like that.

So now when it hits hard, it still hits just as hard. I could use the word emptiness, and although it’s strikingly painful, it’s usually fleeting. It comes less often now, and I can pull myself out of it pretty fast. I just think about how much it would hurt him to see me like that and then I pick myself up.

If you’re reading this and you were lucky enough to know Kevin, please think of the best and most funny moment you shared with him… maybe it involved minotaurs? nerd capes? some sort of limerick?

If you didn’t know Kevin, but have had loss in your life, then remember the people you’ve loved and all of their lovable qualities. If you haven’t had loss in your lives, then hug the people around you tightly, and start laughing.

Something that makes me feel better? Realizing that Kevin did, indeed, know something we don’t. Let’s hope it’s hilarious.

Theme Song, One of Kevin’s favourites:

You know those moments when you feel like everything is as it should be? That all the good, the bad, the confusing, the funny, the in-between moments – that it’s all happened – is happening – in the just the perfect ratio? Like all the happenings have led to this point. Good and bad and neutral…it’s brought you to the exact spot you’re in, and that spot is exactly where you’re supposed to be?

I’m not talking about the physical spot either; I’m speaking more about one’s state-of-mind. I’m talking about growth and I’m talking about experience.

You know?

Some may call it wisdom – although I’m not feeling overly wise – definitely not.  But I’m feeling like I’ve come to a point where I am okay with myself and my feelings and I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on and it’s okay to be proud.

And although I’m not necessarily speaking in physical terms, the physical journey is not to be ignored. It’s been astounding! I’ve seen a whole heck of a lot of Australia and New Zealand. I’ve made my way through South East Asia and some of the South Pacific. I’ve even stopped off in Canada for a visit! This is some substantial travel. Considering my original trip was planned as six weeks in Oz and two in NZ, I think flying by the seat of my pants is an understatement. What an opportunity, and a gift.

I’ve kept my head on straight (or as straight as it’s ever been…this is all relative.. it’s a sliding scale). So many ups and downs; SO so so many decisions to make everyday. No routine means I can’t turn my brain off too much. Maybe this isn’t true, but I’m using my brain in very different ways than I did when I lived in a house, went to work everyday, and came home to a husband and cat. All these decisions I’ve been making have led to this spot. All my interactions, on the road and at home, have helped to bring me to this head space. And you know what? I can honestly say, for the first time in many, many moons, that it’s a good head space. The galaxy in my mind is good. It’s accepting and filled with positive ions. I’ve disproved dark energy…no antimatter here! (oh, oh…now I’m on an astronomy analogy tangent….this can’t be good for anyone…it could be never-ending..doppler effect…escape velocity….let’s change the subject, the trajectory, if you will).

Someone wise once said that we are never given more than we can handle (this is actually based on a passage from the bible [Corinthians 10:13] but I didn’t know that until I just looked it up). I heard this a long time ago, probably when I was a teenager, and it was one of those ideas that made sense to me at the time, but its poignancy was fleeting and quickly vanished into the aether. Well this small piece of wisdom was brought back into my life, by someone I love, when Kevin and I were battling that insidious f*#ker we call brain cancer. Kevin and I latched onto this idea; we embraced it whole-heartedly and it kept us going, especially through some of the tougher moments. I still think about it and I believe it and I hope that it brings some sort of peace to people going through something difficult. We, as humans, are tough and capable. I feel tough and capable.

I also have a headache, but I guess that’s to be expected. Gamma-ray bursts and supernovae have that effect.

Thailand was a treat. Upon arrival we were greeted with fireworks, a parade, dance and light shows…it was amazing. We ate bugs – more than one – and agreed they tasted like the small crispy bits of french fries.    We wandered around in awe at the activity, picking small antennae out of our teeth, and only on our way out of the city the next day, did we find out it was Coronation Day.  One night in Bangkok …pretty great.

The majority of our taste of Thai – you know, besides the grasshoppers and such – was spend on beaches surrounded by other young westerners. It was quite a change of pace from our experience in Cambodia but it was easy and relaxing.

Our Balinese Christmas came and went and was lost in a sad and happy wave of normality I had never experienced before. It was good to take a break though…no carols, no presents, no freezing temperatures. We had a seafood dinner and I was lucky to share my token Christmas Guinness with two Irish blokes.  They kept us entertained with tales of excess and debauchery.  I reckon that Guinness pool-side is just as good as eggnog fire-side.  And tales of debauchery are a very close second to “Miracle on 34th Street”.

All in all, our last couple of weeks in Asia  were a gentle transition – relatively speaking – back into the throngs of the Western world.  Both the prices and the touristy-feel increased as we migrated south. We were blessed with exceptional scenery, culture, and religion.  This assisted in filling our hearts with a sort of pseudo holiday joy.

And so we made it back to Australia in time to celebrate the bringing-in of a new year.  This one will be pretty good I think.  A year of new beginnings… adventure, travel, friends, family, new things, new people, old things, and all things in-between.

We are alive and it’s our job to do some serious living.  Everyday will be a day of celebration even if it’s small and quiet and personal.  We will smile more. Why not? We will forgive – get over it.  We will open our hearts and be amazed when others open their hearts to us.

We will realize our faults and forgive them.  If we are able to forgive others the very least we can do is forgive ourselves.

We will get excited.  There’s a lot to do: we pay the bills and do the dishes, but everyday holds joy, and if it doesn’t then we need to make changes.  Maybe we will open up, be honest, and ask for help.
We will find love.  It’s everywhere and it comes in oh, so many forms and it starts with you. We will give love and give it freely – that means no strings– none…no exception.

One of the best things I’ve done this year is to remove myself from my comfort zone.  I’m not suggesting everyone give up everything they have to travel the world – although I support you 100% if this is the case, and I hope to meet you along the way.  The montage of destinations are simply a change of canvas that has helped in removing routine, pattern and familiarity from the equation.  The palette.

All the most memorable experiences of the past year are the ones that initially gave me pause.  The times that I had to work up the balls to get ‘er done. No shortcuts.  I’ve had to challenge myself, ask for help, take the leap.  When I have truly done this, each and every time, I have walked away a little bit proud of myself.

It’s important to know that these challenges have resulted in a magnitude of outcomes.  The whole gambit; an entire colour spectrum of emotion.  Regardless of the greys and browns and blacks, I have surfaced more complete – each experience benefiting the painting-in-progress that is my life.

May 2010 be a more-happy-than-sad year for all of us. A colourful year.

As we make our way over another border, our fellow passengers bob their heads in tandem to the swaying, bumping bus.  I pretend my head-wobbling is just the same, but really I am quietly and almost, but not quite, dancing in my too-short seat.  My knees dig into the back of the poor person ahead of me.

We roll forward past the onslaught of vehicles, the buildings, numerous electrical wires bundled, en masse, above the houses, the shacks, the people.  I nurse a headache resulting from a late night out – hours of dancing in the rain.

So much is going on outside my window.  As we travel forward, I travel backwards in time through my music.  My on-again-off-again, mostly malfunctioning iPod is a saving grace on a six hour bus ride with delays at the border.  Actually, the ride is pretty smooth and easily contrasts the horror stories we’ve been heard about local land-travel.  We may have lucked out with our particular bus.  Consistency of service ain’t much a priority ‘round here…

Shuffle: my favourite way to go.  I’m on a little musical journey.  Maybe it’s the exhaustion but I’m feeling each song – each one wraps itself up in my soul.  Every song holds my hand and walks with me through a multitude of memories.  Does everyone remember people when they listen to music?… I think they do. Maybe places, events, eras? Anyway, this is how it is for me.  A personal soundtrack, always there in the background…blaring from the sidelines of my life.

He caught me dancing.  It’s a story for another time.  A memory wrapped up in a song and an instant.  It’s whittled itself into my heart and been coaxed out by sleepiness, shuffled songs, too much time to think.

He Caught me dancing.  This was one of those pinnacle moments – never forgotten – that changed everything.  I smile and as I remember.  The moment was encased; dressed up as a laugh and a look, and it’s never been forgotten.  And although we make a thousand choices a day, this was one of those big moments disguised as a small one.  It’s a good memory.

Theme Song of the Day:

Dust Storm – Seagull

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