Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And then just like that, I remembered...

We were standing in the kitchen on the weekend, doing dishes, cleaning up after dinner. The LGBB was tucked up in bed reading to herself. I was feeling somewhat "normal" again after the cloud of sadness had lifted. There hadn't felt like much to laugh about in the past week.

Music was playing - an iTunes genius mix, the starting song had been a Carol King number - and we were getting about our respective chores.

Then a Carpenters song came on. One I have heard probably literally a million times in my life. My mother was an enormous Carpenters fan. She passed on the passion to me and they are always a band I have respected and admired.

But in a single statement, that song changed forever for me last Saturday night.

"Why do birds.... sudd-en-ly app-eeeear
Every time....
You are neeeeeear"
...Karen sang questioningly. She's been baffled by that riddle for nigh on forty years now, poor love.

I never heard the rest, for I had overheard Steve say next to me, playing the role of some misunderstood misfit (who I immediately pictured in my mind wandering in a wooded park somewhere) as he said, "Oh, that'd be because of my birdseed hat."

The image changed to a lone figure.... walking around with not a nacho hat but a similarly ridiculous giant  sculpted birdseed bell on his noggin. Not unlike the bells you see in bird cages, slightly more Mexican sombrero looking.

I didn't come up for air for about ten minutes. In fact, I laughed so damn hard that I began to cry from the pain of the laughs in my throat.

And then just like that, I remembered...

This is why I love him.

This is why I saw him even all the way back in 1993 as "good people", the right stuff for me, and held on.

This is why he heals me.

This is why I married him.....

He is one funny, funny understated bugger.

The Wedding Bell
(sorry, I had to... that one was for Dad)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

If it wasn't for the nights

Okay, while you read this, you've gotta do something for me. It might go against every grain of sensibility in you. But... will you make an exception? And play the following clip?

The short of it is, this is just about my most favourite ABBA song. It's one of their best. I could listen to it every day and not get sick of it. But then... I was a MASSIVE fan back in the day!

Go on... hit play... if you're not tapping some part of your body or trying to sing the chorus by the end, well.... it's lost on you (and let's never speak of my adoration of ABBA again, in that case):

The long of it is, at the moment it's kinda bloody true! See, I'm going really well - I haven't cried for Pepper in days now, it's been a week and a bit since I helped her go to sleep on our kitchen floor.

Thing is, though, even though I saw that big ol' needle going in and held her head on my hands and reassured her to her death, I have been haunted by dreams that the drug didn't work and that she is actually still alive.

Three times now I have dreamed very real dreams where I have to decide whether to call the vets and tell them it didn't work or just shrug and say, "Well... we tried, Pep, looks like you're here until you really want to go."

They are absolute torture! Last night, during the dream, I actually told myself she was really dead. The needle had actually worked. I hope it signals the end of them. I don't know what it means, I haven't analysed them and I'm not asking or expecting you to, gentle reader. But man! I am nearly at the point of putting my fists on my hips and asking the wise Universe.... What gives?!

"If It Wasn't For The Nights"

I got appointments, work I have to do
Keeping me so busy all the day through
They're the things that keep me from thinking of you
Ohhh baby, I miss you so, I know I'm never gonna make it
Oh, I'm so restless, I don't care what I say
And I lose my temper ten times a day
Still it's even worse when the night's on its way
It's bad, oh, so bad

Somehow I'd be doing alright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)
I'd have courage left to fight if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)
How I fear the time when shadows start to fall
Sitting here alone and staring at the wall
Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Somehow I'd be doing alright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)

No one to turn to, you know how it is
I was not prepared for something like this
Now I see them clearly, the things that I miss
Ohhh baby, I feel so bad, I know I'm never gonna make it
I got my business to help me through the day
People I must write to, bills I must pay
But everything's so different when night's on its way
It's bad, oh, so bad

Somehow I'd be doing alright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)
I'd have courage left to fight if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)
How I fear the time when shadows start to fall
Sitting here alone and staring at the wall
Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Guess my future would look bright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)

If it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)
if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)

Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Guess my future would look bright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)

If it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)
If it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)

Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Guess my future would look bright if it wasn't for the nights

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The honest Mother of a post

"Mum, I was looking at photos in my book last night and I decided.... I like you now."

The first words out of the LGBB's mouth on Friday morning as I stood in our ensuite, straightener in hand, attempting to hide my gaping mouthed surprise. I heard Steve stifle I gasp in the next room.

"Why, thank you, Miss Lolly," I said as warmly as I could. "I think."

"That's okay," she said charitably, turned on her heel and walked off to start her day.

I can only deduce that she saw the smiling photos of me looking back at her that I had subliminally placed into her album about 4 years ago. They are photos of her as a less-than-2-year-old and various members of her family, including the dogs she already loved so much.

And before I analysed too much and asked, "Where did I go wrong?! Does that mean she has not liked me for the past 5 and a half years?", I took stock of all the things I have done with and for her. Within my means and with, at times, my limited patience and energy to give her as much as I wanted (which was always more than what she needed but felt so minimal compared to what I felt she deserved).

To be completely honest here, I only felt the veil of my depression lift last year. About 5 months after the LGBB was born, it descended on me like a stifling blanket and it didn't budge. For over four years. It was a long hard trawl. And I was often almost consumed by the weight of the guilt of not "feeling satisfied" or "happy" now that we had a child.

Add to that her kinder year (last year) was only 11 hours a week with no other child care arrangement, save for sporadic day-long visits to her grandparents, and it made for very limited opportunities for me to get work done when she was not here. So I had to break my own rule sometimes and work while she was home.

Herein lies the issue that has just come to my awareness: Despite doing EVERYTHING for her still, her perception is that I worked all the time "but you don't now so I like you" (as she said in her own words, elaborating after I casually asked why she liked me "now"). It didn't matter that the previous years were all about creating nurturing and learning activities for her to ensure the best start to her life and finding out about the world around her. All she remembers is that she had a mother who worked.

Now, while I know that what has been ingrained in her has been well worth all the effort and has helped to shape who she is, she doesn't know that. I have to fight hard here to keep my own feelings of insecurity at bay and not offload them on a five year-old. I want to rave at her "After all I've done for y...." But I won't. I can't! It's what was done to me. And it conditioned me to stop expressing myself.

Heck, haven't you ever wondered why I am SO wordy now? So expressive? You can thank my mother :)

The fact is, we live in a society where you are guaranteed to not be doing the right thing at any given time. Who can keep up with all those things we are judged on? Ludicrous! Exhausting. Nobody can keep up with every single piece of advice and instruction, and nobody is that "perfect". I decided a long time ago that I was not going to bow to the pressure of what "they" say is best for her. I was going to list here in this post the sorts of things we do and also point out all the other things we don't do, but you know what? It's not necessary. This is our life. This is our groove. I busted my gut trying to do things I thought would enrich her life, not what I thought would win me any accolades.

So why am I slightly gutted (can one even be "slightly" gutted?) that this is her perception of me? That in her mind I have only ever worked and, therefore, not been someone she could like until she has started school? She thinks I don't work now. But the reality is, I just have more time to get the work done during the day so I don't have to do it when she's home from school. I can see how she has worked it out in her head. I'm so relieved that she is satisfied, for now I can be more deeply satisfied too in my work and my hours alone. I love that she is at school. For this reason alone, I have not shed one tear that my daughter is no longer home with me.

The bigger, gnawing pain for me centres around the fact that her Dad - who goes outside the home to work and has always done, it's just a given to her because it's how she has always known him - gets off pretty lightly. He is "so funny. I like Dad. And it's okay, Mum, because I like you now too. Because you don't work." I'm still the one who gets interrupted to attend to every request, demand, plea for help. I'm the Go-To parent. Not a problem, I have no issue with this.....

Until the day I discover I'm the least "liked" parent too.

Anyone got any worms I can eat?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Irony

“Oh, Pep,” I said with a sigh, placing a hand on her head. Pepper looked up at me dolefully. She was getting old, this girl of mine. I could see the greying around her eyes and down her long snout. I hadn’t looked at her closely for some months, distracted as I was. Yet here she had still been, ready and attentive and by my side at a moment’s notice. All I had to do was look at her and she knew, like an old friend, when I needed her. Pepper, our quietly unassuming one-time stray who had firmly and appreciatively asserted a place for herself in our little family, had brought me through so many times when I felt like I had no one to lean on. The love and devotion of this dog had been unwavering throughout my trials, all without uttering a word to me. If only more humans could be like dogs, I mused. All she had ever given me was loving, silent support.
I deduced that a great many overwhelming and emotional episodes of life—where people didn’t need more words or opinions or advice or any sort of support other than a simple, unassuming presence, an ear to lend and some gentle displays of affection—would be much better dealt with if our supporters embodied the devoted loyalty of dogs in those moments.
How could it be that my furry friend had given me far more than most people during these past years, while never having spoken a word? This was something that I did not allow to go unnoticed. Pepper had taught me much about being loyal to myself as well. And now, I was about to inflict a huge change on my “doggy child”, introduce someone else for her to accommodate as she naturally slipped down a rung in the hierarchy of our pack.
- An unedited extract from "Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor", by K.A. Whatman

If only more humans could be like dogs, I mused. 
All she had ever given me was loving, silent support.

This moment of the book was from 2006. It was the day I went in to hospital to have the LGBB. In fact, it was only about an hour before we left.

I realise, retrospectively, that Pepper was attached to the Me who was pre-LGBB. She was never meant to last this long. I looked out the window at her over a year ago and heard, in a flash, "She forgot to die." I hung onto the statement for it was like a bolt out of the clear blue. And it was true. I honestly believed from that day forward that this dog had sort of .... well, just simply forgotten to slip away. Her To Do list was quite short in the end. I think much of it was forgotten. But one thing she never ever forgot was, "Look for my Master."

That'd be me.

It seems to me that everything that came to pass during 2004-2006 went exactly as it should. She supported me through my greatest trial. She saw me through the next full (and to date, second only successful) pregnancy. She carried my lonely heart through three more pregnancies in between the two girls. She was by my side for every one of those pregnancies and their varying outcomes.

Sometime not too long ago, I put to rest my desire for three children. We had borne two. We now had just one with us. My desire for more had waned and given over to the acceptance that I have all I need (and am meant to have) now.

That was supposed to be it.

She wasn't supposed to stick around for anything much of the LGBB's life. I'm sure of it. She stayed for me. And she forgot to go. I had to tell her to go. I will write a post one day about that, for it is - quite simply - profound what happened last Thursday and she deserves the honour of her passing to be a separate entry.

By the time she went, she was Lolly's "favourite". She had also enabled our daughter to witness what it is to care for an ailing, aged animal. Sure, I lost my temper sometimes over it - it was very stressful managing her in the final year, especially - but ultimately, what Lolly has been gifted with is the opportunity to understand the profound importance of ALL life. Even that which is often deemed at a brief glance to be unworthy/wasted time, resources and reserves.

The irony is, Pepper was always terrible with people. Children and men, specifically. Women she was fine with. So I had to watch her like a hawk for her entire life with us. That's a long seventeen years of scrupulous herding, shielding, fencing-off, instruction, training. And tolerance.

There was no WAY, in her younger years, we could ever keep her and have a child. I've never said that in writing before. I guess I've never had to. Because it simply didn't happen. The two realities never overlapped. By the time Lolly was born, Pepper was already losing her grip. She wasn't as fast or responsive. She was dropping catches. She was easier to manage, we could slip more things past her unnoticed. And I also knew her inside and out by then.

So there it is. The dog who could've possibly been cast as the sinister villain (okay, granted, she'd never have been in one scene) in an even more awkward telemovie remake of Evil Angels was actually my saviour during the period where I was trying to bring a child into existence. And even after Lolly was born, for the first two years at least, as Steve and I see snippets of home movies this week while we catalogue them to preserve her memory and her prominent place in our lives, she remained duty-bound to me. In one scene, Steve is playing with a 12-month-old Lolly on the patio outside. I am behind the video, walking through the house to the door. And there is Pepper. Sitting guard at the door, waiting for me, minding the entrance to the house, casting an eye over the scene before her but still on duty. For me.

I knew she was loyal when she was on her game. I just forgot for such a long time because these last few years she'd been so slow. Perhaps I took her for granted.

Ah, death. The great equalizer, huh?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Click that arrow

We interrupt this mourning series of posts with a brief community service announcement....

I added a tiny, almost insignificant piece of javascript to my blog, oh, about 14 new moons ago. And then I promptly forgot to bring it to anyone's attention. I'm handy like that.

If you diligently read every word of every new post when you visit my blog, firstly... thank you [sucker], and secondly... have you ever noticed that as soon as you scroll down, a little up-arrow appears in the bottom right corner of your screen? I put that there! For you! So you don't have to scroll up. I get so sick of scrolling around websites/blogs.

So there you have it. Click on that arrow and you'll get jumped straight back up to the top.

You're welcome!

(mobile users: can you tell me how it goes for you or if it even appears? Thanks ever so)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spare me

In classic Me fashion, I am going to say (rather ambiguously) that I'm sorry but... I make no apology for feeling the loss of my dear friend deeply and fully. I suppose you only get a real sense of how much this dog did for me when you read my book. I promise one day more than a handful of you will have that opportunity! *pumping fatigued unconvincing fist to the sky*

Writing my way through this is the only healthy way for me to honour the devotion she showed me. It's what I do and it's what she did. And it seems it did not go unnoticed all this time by my family. The outpouring of condolences from them, the tears, the fondness in their recollections of her as a "lovely old lady", the happy stories of being held captive to play ball with a dog who could fetch and return far longer than anyone ever wanted to play with her have helped to round out the significance Steve and I have always felt about her place in our home.

To me, my dog was always home.

We rescued her from a shelter just two years after Steve and I moved in together. I was 20, Steve was 23, the day we went and chose her out of those 35 other full cages. Steve will turn 40 in April and I will be 37 this year. At our wedding 13 years ago, Rusty (his cat) and Pepper were immortalized by the Best Man in the speeches. Everybody knew who they were. Pep got about with us like "one of the buddies" and anyone who came over had to acknowledge the dog. If I didn't mention her and they otherwise didn't take any notice of her, Pepper would make sure of it at some point.

From the moment she let go of her last breath last Thursday, my mind has been flooded with all of those wonderful, rich memories of my faithful dog.

I am keeping my head above water quite well now. The past three days have seen me break down at least every hour. Today is better. I am distracting my tired brain with some excellent comedy podcasts and also Tina Fey's "Bossypants" audio book - awesomely funny! - because every song is too sad and leaves too much room for my mind to wander back to Pepper. No, I'll do it this way. With distract and deflect tactics.

Her life was my joy. I want to be happy when I remember what she gave me.

This will not be the last post on the subject. And again, while on the one hand I'm sorry for that if you a) don't particularly care for dogs or b) am already rather tired of my bleating on the subject, on the other hand I say.... it's a big wide web out there with a zillion other blogs. I won't be offended in the slightest if you can't read mine for the time being.

But like all other times since starting this space, I turn here to express myself and connect with like souls.

I have to do this.

For now, I'll leave you with an absolutely delightful video I found on the weekend whilst cataloguing every digital photo we ever took of her. Oh yes... a slideshow is a must. And it's in the works but might be slow coming to fruition, as much as my heart and energy permits me to work on it.

What an honour it was to have her in my life.

The following footage is typical Pepper. The slight "I wanna say something but I won't" huff. The doleful expression. The paw on me in thanks for me saying "good girl".... even though I wasn't talking to her this time. We were in the part-regretful, part-trying-to-be-firm transition phase of shuffling her off her top spot - she had to make room for the LGBB. I am doing a separate post on that soon, because it is a huge thing for the loyal animals of a long-term TTC'er (TTC=Trying To Conceive) to step aside.

In this video, you can hear me (embarrassingly using baby-talk with the dog) trying to break it to Pep that I won't always be talking to her any more when there are no other adult humans around....

oh and p.s. if you were wondering, "Reenie" as in Pepperini, was her nickname - she had several, but this one stuck (even Lol called her Reenie).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shake it off with shuffling

Hey folks.

In my vain attempts to distract myself today, I took to the home video collection and found this pearler taken earlier this month of the LGBB in her new ballet get-up. Bless her cotton socks nylon ballet tights. She shows off a groovy bit of dancing complete with snarly looks - the snarly pout indicates the older/adolescent female version of herself, which she tries on whenever she wants to feel grown up (oh dear) - and is blissfully unaware I have propped up the iPhone camera whilst under the guise of cooking dinner.

Never let it be said I always have a clean house, but just a disclaimer: that dining room table always seems to have things draped on it/over it/under it whenever anything filmable happens in the kitchen! I see a discarded ball (thanks Jazz), a pet bed or two (thanks Pepper), a teddy/friend blanket made by yours truly strewn across the bench seat (thanks Lolly... or is that, thanks me?) and just no end of junk to be put away, really.

So enjoy my mess and my daughter's dancing.

Oh, p.s. Astute watchers will note the bit-part cameos from Pepper, interjecting at two intervals with her latter-years signature bark (in time with the music, I might add). The staccato "Whaddabout me?!" bark for my attention that slowly drove me insane but that I'd give anything to hear today. Well.... maybe not. On second thoughts, it did most royally shit me and wasn't ever her most endearing feature.

Anyway! To the video!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Music and laughter through searing pain: My familiar dose of medicine

It's the song that has been playing over and over in my head. The little earworm since I called the vet this morning to call them out to see Pepper this afternoon at home. It's a song I haven't heard in I don't know how many years and bears no importance or relevance in my life.

Until now.

And I realise, with an amused smile, that this is SO Pepper. The chorus could have been written by her. If... y'know... she had opposable thumbs.

So as we sit here waiting for her time to go, she and I, please have a listen to "our song" and smile with me:

If you leave me, can I come too? 
We can always stay
But if you leave me, can I come too? 
And if you go, can I come too?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Can I go now?" Helping my old girl stand down

The day that would never come.

There's come a time when I've realised something I hadn't seen before. I always professed I wanted Pepper to end her days by herself. Naturally. My hope was for her to have a dignified end but that if pain was making living too hard, I'd cross that bridge when I came to it. 

I'm walking on the bridge now. And I have a big juicy bone enticing my old faithful girl to follow me.

I did not even see, before yesterday, that she won't go until I lead her. She is too obedient. She is too apologetic. Look at that photo up there. That is the doleful look she has always had. The grateful look. The care-taking "may I help you?" look. To this day, stumbling and disoriented as she is now, she waits to be ushered inside (or out) and never assumes to go anywhere we haven't directed her. Why would she not look for my guidance now? Jazz is another story. A different energy altogether. She barges her way past all of us, whacking Pep in the face with that kangaroo-strength tail of hers. She waits for no one and has to be reminded of the correct etiquette (she knows it, she just takes liberties all the time). 

Pepper wouldn't dare. She's not even going to die without being given permission.

Before yesterday, I thought it would be wrong somehow of me to snuff Pepper's lights out. But she seems to have reached a point where she needs me. Needs help to stand down. An insightful Facebook friend I've known for a number of years suggested the poignant timing of this turn of events for our old girl. On the back of my last post where I mused that I really felt "okay" now.... here she is, turning up beside me to hang her lead on the hook and hand in her badge collar. 

Forcing my hand.

Willing me to choose.

Now we are deciding on burial spots in the backyard and whether we'll opt for a call-out from the vet or if I will take her on one final car ride.

I have been torn by this for so long. But now it's no turning back. There will be no more false alarms for dear Pepper. Remember that rather embarrassing time two years ago when I thought her number was up but she had just gorged herself on dog food? That was an embarrassing laugh (only with hindsight, I hastily add). I don't want her to be in pain. A trip to the vet this morning confirmed she has lost most of the feeling in one back leg, the other is not too crash hot. Her front legs are barely holding her weight and she has lost so much muscle tone that her lower back is now compromised. The way she falls (hard) and the increased frequency of her slips mean that I just cannot allow her to go on any longer.

And I realised, not more than three hours ago, that it is only appropriate that it is me who has to be with her. She and I. The two of us. Alone. Together. We spent so many days this way over the past seventeen years. I would literally burst outside to find her if I had become overwhelmed by my grief during the long days when Steve was at work. I'd call Pep - she was never far away - and she would sit with me, whine alongside me as I would sob and sob and sob. She'd slip a paw up into my hand and rest her head on me. Always.
[As an aside, how the hell Steve coped going to work through that, I will never know. If anyone, wants some assistance with understanding from a male's perspective, I encourage them to seek out this excellent blog for fathers.] 

Pepper hasn't been able to do what she instinctively has always done. It's been about a year since she was able to properly balance her weight so she could give me a paw. I wanted to nurse her through her geriatric months, which have turned into years. But now I see what I didn't see before.

I need to relieve her of her duties to me. It's okay for her to go. I've told her many times over, at first when I didn't really even believe it. But there is a profoundness in having to do this for her as well. It is right this way, I've come to accept it quite quickly. It makes sense to me that a dog so fiercely brave and loyal will never lay down and snuff out. As it is today, she senses something is up - I have had to sit beside her and MAKE her lie down to rest. She has been trying to stand beside me since we returned from the vets.

They are no fools, these animals who sacrifice their lives for us. I'd like to think I am about to receive one hell of a guardian angel when she slips peacefully across the void. It makes it only ever so slightly less painful to hope.

And hey.... just an update - look at this: we did it, she's leaving after seventeen years - that one was a super-important post about my girl. So. I can officially say I really have lived with Pepper for as many years as I lived with my mother! I rest my case.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

8 years on and finally: I'm OK today

The floating feeling for thirty-one days between the anniversaries of her birth and her death did not happen this year. For the first time, I was healed enough. Perhaps it was just that I was distracted enough. We'll be going gently today, Steve and I. We know what happened on this day, eight years ago. We were both there, after all. The weight of that tiny body will forever be felt in our arms.

The LGBB began school a week ago. If this day had not fallen on a weekend, I wonder if I would have had any time to notice the date at all.

You are newer to my story than I. It has been seeping in to my core for eight years now. I am not new to it. You may be coping with your own recently started infant loss journey. It may seem unfathomable that today could be anything but intensely sad forever... I get that, completely. I previously couldn't have imagined the day of the anniversary of my firstborn's passing being less than horrid every year myself.

In any case, I do not wish to diminish the impact I have previously always felt on this day. But I cannot deny that there has been a lightening of my burden. I hope this is a comfort to you, rather than insulting.

I have done and written all I can, from every angle and every which way but crazy.... well, no, that's not true; I'm quite certain at a few points during the life of this blog I have written whilst under the influence of my own tormented insanity - a mother's insanity - and I make no apology for this maternal crazy-insane slant in some of my earlier posts. I am sure that Ellanor will continue to provide me exceptionally well-timed points of learning.

For today, however, I hope that each of you will take the time to welcome her fairytale life into your hearts by reading the story in the link below.

Can a baby's short life be seen as a fairytale? Can there be any meaning at all in a passing that is so tragically soon?

I think, yes. On both counts. It is truly breathtaking. The message is Universal, in a way it represents the profound meaning of all life. But if you are currently in the turmoil of this in your own life, then it must be you who decides.

Please do come back and leave a comment here if you are moved to do so.

(grab the tissues and settle in! This is a short story, beautifully told with a very important message 
- written the week Ellanor passed away, by Susannah Brindle)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Make it genuine

I was running this morning. Literally, not figuratively. The dog was keeping her working pace at my side - I always feel so much more serious when I glance down at Jazz, she really hits her stride next to me when I jog and looks like she's ... well, working so I feel obliged to put a decent effort in because she is - when I noticed an elderly woman up ahead.

She looked quite frail and was wearing sensible slacks, court shoes and a cable knit jumper that stopped at her waist. She was walking a little white dog. I've just described pretty much every elderly woman going for a walk, haven't I? But I digress.

When the woman looked up and saw us coming, she crossed the street hurriedly. I had already decided I would run down one of the driveway cross-sections and onto the street to go around her. So I felt kind of bad for being the cause of her struggling her dog across the road. As I got closer, I looked over to her where she was now pacing up the opposite footpath. The look on her face was dark. A scowl at "the youth of today" if ever I saw one. Granted, without makeup I do still look like I haven't even hit my mid-twenties or had a hard day in my life. HAR! Har-dee-har...har.... ahem. Little do they know when they see what they think is a fresh-faced girl. Sometimes, just to digress again, I honestly wish some of the experiences of my life would show up on my face. They just. Don't. You can't help genes, I guess.

Anyway, she was still looking at me and I was looking at her. I was concentrating on not tripping, not wavering and bumping the dog - we've done that before and, oh boy, it isn't pleasant for either Jazz or me (her poor toes) - so it took me a moment for the thought in my head "Smile a greeting" to reach my lips and work the muscles of my face. I'm old enough now to not take on whatever the response is going to be to my smile. Sometimes it's returned, other times it's not. That's all cool. Especially in the solitary quiet of a lovely early morning where people get out on their own and usually want to be on their own without some fitness goon grinning their chops off at them.

I kept my smile on. I wanted to call out to her an apology for making her cross the road. It had obviously put her out. I really hadn't wanted to disrupt her path but didn't want to go out on the road too early to round her. But because I was running I was passing her quicker than I would've been able to say the words. I thought she wouldn't respond at all.

But then, there it was. A smile. Parting the dark shadows on her face so briefly. There it was. The person behind the veil. It was a really interesting moment. One in which I realised that her closed expression was probably less about having to cross the road to avoid a jogger and their dog and more about.... well, who knows? Whatever was pressing in her life today.

I jogged on and couldn't stop thinking, rhythmically, like a mantra (jogging can have such a meditative effect on me, which is weird, considering I'm working so hard!)....

Be the first to smile. Make it genuine. 
You could change the course of someone's day.

Even a dog can smile.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A dying art. As opposed to dying for your art.

I doubt it'll ever kill me, but writing anything longer than a page by hand these days hurts!

And that hurts here *close-fisted heart tap to my homies... mummies... blogger...ies*

Eden is hosting a weekly meme - about horses who are not on the nose? - and this weekend it was about handwriting - horses that can write? I don't know, I'm very confused (just generally) - and I was very happy to see so many samples of handwriting. On Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. By the time I got around to joining in, I realised (as with so many things in my life) I was beyond fashionably late and it had closed.

Somehow, Eden saw fit to open the Linky back up. So I quickly scrawled the note below - the musings of which I shall endeavour to expand on in a post in the near future - and found myself rather happy to be writing. Actual pen-to-paper writing! I love writing. I love forming the letters, I love watching my hand as it seems to bounce and flow almost with a mind of its own as it shapes the letters. I love the pace of writing - note to self: when brain is overworking..... Stop. Write. Let it slow back down to the limited speed of hand to self-regulate.

I mean, take a look at those k's. I can make the tail of an S go from here to the kitchen. And my w's? My w's are almost out of control. I was quite tame today, really, but I do adore letting loose on a piece of foolscap with a pen. The more felt-tipped the better, for mine.

One thing I've always wanted to do is make a font out of my own writing. That would be awesome. But so lazy. In a world where the shopping list is the only thing I write with any great regularity, even this is becoming obsolete in our house - thanks a LOT, Siri.

Thanks for reopening your Linky, Mrs Land! Looks like several of us just missed out. I am impressed by how keen we are to put pen to paper. I truly hope it doesn't die out as much as "they" say it will.....

Time will tell.

Do you enjoy writing?

Friday, February 3, 2012

School's in: If there ever comes a day....

From "The House At Pooh Corner" by A.A.Milne (1928)

The kookaburras are laughing as I sit here at 9pm on the first night of our LGBB going to school. It's rare to hear them, certainly this late at night, round these parts. They're having a raucous good laugh.... at my expense, my paranoid ego wants to tell me.

See, here's the thing:  I thought I would have a cry in my heart after today. THE day. The big one that has been looming in my awareness for well over a year now. I put it off and put it off, imagining today. Kind of like anticipating something you want so much to come but you know it'll come with a cost. Come with some pain.

That is how I just naturally expected today to go. Scene:  me back in car, letting myself go into the cocoon of the vehicle cabin, possibly searching for something soppy to play on the radio as a fitting backdrop to my tears.

But no! Not a tear fell. Not even a "Oh my giddy Aunt, but they are SO gorgeous with their enormous shorts down to their shins and dresses down to their ankles, bless them all" blub of happiness (which I am oh so good at.... just ask the LGBB's kindy teacher from last year who pegged me as hopeless right from the first time - of many - that I stood and watched someone else's kid have show and tell and proceeded to cry uncontrollably just watching how proud they were with showing their favourite whatever to the captive audience).

Checking they got her name right

You see on the surface, today was surprise-free. I knew Lolly would breeze through that door, I had a feeling I'd get the briefest of hugs and then she would be on her way, back turned to me and her Dad. I expected I would feel a sense of loss (as with the closing of any long, important chapter) but I haven't. The day went off without a hitch. Lolly did give us a goodbye hug but it was a squeeze so warm and loving and bone-crushing that I knew she was ready to flap her wings and practice flying now.

Retrospectively looking back on it, and tucking the girl in to her bed tonight after a celebratory pizza feast, a foot massage with lavender oil and a tummy-winding exercise (that is... winding as in winding down, not anything to do with a breeze!) - which may not be to everyone's understanding or pleasure, but is our tried and true method of corterizing any remaining threads of connection to energies of the day that are not hers to to be troubled by or to own - I allowed myself to realise the profoundity of the day.

"Mum," she drearily said to me as she struggled to keep her eyes open while I rubbed her feet. "I think you should be a teacher."
"Actually, you even look like my teacher!" A compliment I will gladly take, given that her teacher is about fifteen years my junior and gorgeous to boot. I can't see it, personally, but who am I to disagree?

The Bag with its own postcode
We then had a chat about how what she really wanted was for me to work at the school so she could see me during the day sometimes.  "Well.... not all teachers work in schools, you know," I informed her. "Perhaps I could be a teacher anyway and just not work at a school." I like to get her thinking.

The conversation resolved itself when the LGBB decided she really did want to go to school but wished, at the same time, she could remain a little kid. "Forever." I told her tenderly that I remember having those exact wishes when I was not much older than her. The weight of responsibility and experience already upon my eleven year-old head felt too hard and I didn't want to grow up. It was impossible not to.

So today, I see now, while it was the beginning of the feeling of guilt-free days for the first time in five years (until school becomes a burdensome chore she drags her feet to get to each day and I somehow find a way to feel horrible and guilty about her having to be penned in by the institution while I am not), that this was a day of initiation for both of us.

As mother and daughter, our roles and expectations of each other are about to step up a notch. I hope she continues to be as patient and engaging with me as she has for her first years. Today I had to farewell the little girl, who was really not that little girl any more either but someone waiting in the wings. Waiting for the very moment Miss C opened the classroom door so that the children with the too-big uniforms could spill in to their new exciting space.

Just as the celebrant spoke of at Ellanor's memorial, this is a changing season - where we say goodbye, but also in many respects, it is a hello. A "welcome to your new world" for my Lolly. And I couldn't be more proud of how she began that new life today.

I know she won't always appreciate or even want to hear my imparting of wisdom.
I know one day she will not want me to come near her, let alone massage her, with lavender oil before bed time.
I know one day (sob) that Scrapsy will not get a guernsey as her best, best, bestest friend any more.
I know, once again, I have a daughter who is a child of the universe now. As she always was. And I am so deeply honoured. You know?

But I will always be boundary-keeping my daughter, for as long as there is a breath in me.

It's so brief. Really. She's grown me up a little more today. My little inner child is moping slightly but it won't for long. How can it (and what right does it have) when it sees this buoyant soul beaming back?

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together...
There is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is, even if we're apart...
I'll always be with you.”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Look who's going to school

Just three short years ago, our little Lollipop was pooping in her nappy at the airport as she farewelled her cousins ("Mia 'n Emmaaaaaa! Where they be?") and using Scrapsy to "make my better". You'll be relieved that smell-o-vision is not an invention - I still remember the sting of my nostrils as we walked back to the car to change her. Wafting a scent worthy of Pepe le Pew behind us.

Un smelle vous finay!

Now the LGBB is a confident, excited, enthusiastic and friendly five and a half year-old ready to blow their socks off this year in Prep.  She'll be there tomorrow, white socks neatly pulled up, plonking along in school shoes a tad too large and trying to avoid head lice (yeah, right.... wish us luck with that!). And I daresay I'll do similar to what Marg Simpson does with all the other parents as they forlornly wave off their children to camp until the kids are out of sight - then I'll do a big air-jump "WOOP!" and high-five some other parent next to me. Because let's face it: all things must end. And we have spent her entire life so far with each other. It's time to branch out, for both our sakes.

But back then, the LGBB was still crafting the natural comedic timing that has become one of her signature traits. Oh how she makes my heart soar.  Even if she still does stop me from singing in EXACTLY the same manner as she tries on in this video. This is one of my favourites. It is SO her at that age.

I am so excited for her. For me. Yet slightly worried, ready for whatever comes next.

Ahhh, boy, they were not wrong when they warned it would go faster than I could believe possible.

Enjoy your young'uns! Despite it all - everything that is hard and feels ennnnnndless... - I hope you do indeed stop. Sit back. And enjoy it. x

Archived Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails