I wish to thank you all for your support over the last eleven weeks. Dealing with the sudden loss of my sister has been a struggle, not only emotionally but also physically – in closing down her beautiful gift shop, packing up stock and furniture for removal, and the general cleaning that goes with vacating premises. Closing the doors of Fiona’s shop for the last time was emotionally taxing as it meant the end of her dream. However, my family and her partner decided to retain some of her beautiful giftware and furnishings to decorate our homes as Fiona had exquisite tastes in French inspired gift ware and furniture (a comment declared by many of her lovely customers). It is our small way of keeping her dream alive. Though of course, Fiona will always be in our thoughts and hearts.
As devastating as this period of my life has been there have been many positives, including spending quality time with my 88 year old mum, getting to know my sister’s partner, and meeting some of Fiona’s beautiful customers who freely shared their lovely stories of Fiona, expressing their thoughts and love of her.
Many of these people have their own heart wrenching story – a mother of two, whose young son died during the night, about 12 months ago; a husband whose wife died three days after getting a ‘bug’, and of course he was under suspicion for some time; many customers who have lost loved ones, their homes or livestock during the fires that tore through the Yarra Valley region two years ago and were now rebuilding; women going through a divorce; a customer who had lost seven loved ones (relatives and friends) during the months of January and February this year; another customer’s mum passed away on the day my sister passed away; another lost her brother-in-law on the same day; another whose brother recently committed suicide, and many, many more who have travelled an emotional journey.
Yet, all these people came into Fiona’s shop and thus into my life and her partner’s life to show their support. No matter their loss, their hearts were open, and their smiles lifted us from our despair. And they freely shared their stories, offering hope and strength, and their prayers. And their shoulders when the levee could no longer hold back my tears. We even shared some laughs.
No matter how difficult the situation we face in life, we are not alone. This was very comforting for me, knowing that others do care (even strangers) and are there for you, even if just to sit beside you and hold you close.
Dealing with solicitors, people of all walks of life, and working in my sister’s shop and other experiences certainly pulled me out of my comfort zone. I learnt to adapt quickly to new situations, even if I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. My sister’s partner and I learnt to trust our gut instincts even in uncertain situations, and this kept us on the right path in doing what we felt Fiona would have wanted in this situation.
Tides have certainly shifted but this period has given me the opportunity to rediscover what matters most to me, and to reconnect with ‘old’ friends and family. As well as appreciate the kindness of strangers.
My emotions have had a roller coaster ride, and on occasions, they well and truly got out of whack. At times I hadn’t been sure if I would be able to get them back on track. I remember taking a walk alone after visiting the funeral celebrant with my mum and sister’s partner. I aimlessly walked around the streets and just wanted the earth to swallow me up. Then I thought ‘What if there is life after death, in some form or other?’ I was then worried that my beautiful sister wouldn’t be able to find me if I was buried; that I would be lost forever from her. I decided I didn’t want to be swallowed up after all.
But I have learnt that you can’t force things to return to normal – they’ll do so at their own pace, if at all. Some things will never be the same. Devastating circumstances certainly puts things in perspective, helping us be better people. I know I have grown as a person.
Before my sister unexpectedly passed away I probably had over committed myself, so circumstances during this devastating time did ‘force’ me to literally give up my ‘normal’ life. I have learnt what is important in my life right now.
My priority is now the health of my mum, so I will regularly be flying down to Melbourne.
Apart from this priority, my motto now is to ‘have fun’ and enjoy life more. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our goals that we cease to ‘chill’ out and when we do, we feel guilty. I know I do, or did. All my life I have been involved in learning new skills, and have always been a high achiever. It is now time for me to relax more. If I am not feeling healthy and well in myself then I can’t look after those that I love.
But with that said, I find writing therapeutic so will be back blogging as regularly as I can and will continue to interview ‘successful’ independently published Australian writers. And of course I love writing children’s stories and giggle poems, and other poetic forms and writing genres.
I know that books on writing tell us that if you want to improve in your writing you should WRITE every day. And that you should be marketing yourself and your books everyday. However, if you have a day off to spend time with a friend for coffee, or have a holiday with your family, or just want some time to do other things, don’t feel guilty. Sometimes having a break from daily activities can be a recharge in itself.
Life is too short to worry about feeling guilty. Besides, being active in life allows opportunities to meet new people and be part of new situations – experiencing life is a part of being a good writer. It gives us more substance, more experiences and more tactile and emotional experiences to draw on, and paint with words. As devastating as the last eleven weeks have been my emotional journey has already found its way in some new poems.
I would like to share something that I read recently in a horoscope reading. Yes, I read my horoscopes daily. Why, you ask? Because I enjoy doing so.
‘Don’t judge yourself by what others think you should do; instead pick your own path and follow your heart.’
I think that is something we should all do. So enjoy your writing or your creative pursuits. But don’t forget to live and love! Do what makes you happy. Be happy – happiness does come from within.