My Unscripted Life `24

MAY

Unscripted Life Part 2: The hole in my life

Five years into this journey of widowhood, and the notion of moving on seems unnatural. How could anyone expect me to simply “move on” from the love of my life? For 27 beautiful years, he and the memories we shared  were my everything.

How does one move past the flood of memories that permeate every corner of life? Memories that refuse to be tucked away, triggered by the smallest things—a familiar melody, a comforting scent, a cherished piece of clothing. They’re a constant presence, a reminder of a life once shared, and they refuse to be ignored.

That’s without considering those everyday reminders that punctuate the days, each one a reminder of what’s been lost? The songs we loved, the meals we savoured, the destinations we dreamed of exploring together. They’re not just moments; they’re threads woven into the fabric of my existence, of the life we had. 

The truth is you can’t move on. And perhaps, you shouldn’t. Instead, you carry those memories forward with you, each one a testament to the love that defined your life.

It’s been almost five years, and the void left by their absence remains gaping. It’s not just the loss of my husband; it’s the absence of a partner in every sense. The one who shared date nights, who stood side by side with me in the kitchen, who knew when to offer solace without words. The one who brewed my morning coffee without a prompt, whose presence beside me in bed brought comfort and security. He was my protector, my confidant, my fiercest champion.

Poem: I loved that…

That void will never be filled, but in carrying his memory forward, in cherishing every moment we shared, I know I can find some strength to navigate this journey called life, my ‘part 2.’

Unscripted Life Part 1: Pearl Wedding

Last year for my birthday, I got a set of pearl stud earrings. Nothing abnormal in that I hear you say. Nice gift you’re thinking. But they were more than a nice gift. They had meaning behind them. Let me tell you the story.

On the 6th of May, it will be 30 years since I stood at Langton’s Registry Office and said ‘I do’ to my late husband Mark. Thirty years! While I’ve never been a lover of pearl necklaces, I wanted to get something to mark the occasion. Pearl earrings were my choice.

Thirty years is an anniversary to be proud of. I just wish we were celebrating together.

APRIL

Unscripted Life Part 2: Life with Dad

Losing both a husband and a parent within such a short span of time is an incredibly difficult experience. It’s a journey marked by grief, pain, and the challenge of navigating life without those we hold dear. For me, the loss of Mark in 2019 and then my mother in 2021 plunged me into a world that I never could have anticipated. 

There’s no handbook for coping with such profound loss, no easy roadmap to follow. Instead, you simply find a way to keep moving forward, even as your heart feels heavy with sorrow

Moving into dad’s home and renting out my own house might seem unconventional to some, especially at the age of 52. It’s not the typical narrative we expect for someone at this stage in life. But for me, it’s been a lifeline, a source of unexpected comfort and connection. In the wake of tragedy, it brought my father and me closer together in ways I never imagined.

When you’re young and living on your own, visits to your parents often revolve around holidays and special occasions. You drop by for birthdays, share moments during Christmas, and perhaps stop in after work, conscious that you have things to do and places to be. But now, under the roof of dad’s home, I’ve been gifted something extraordinary: time.

Living with my dad has given us the chance to truly connect, to have those deep, meaningful conversations that we might have missed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s a precious gift, this one-on-one time, where we can reminisce about the past, share our hopes for the future, and simply be present with each other in the moment.

While it was tragedy that brought us together under one roof, it’s also brought us closer than ever before. In the quiet moments of shared meals and late-night conversations, I’ve come to realise that despite the pain of loss, there is still beauty to be found in the love and support of family. And for that, I consider myself truly fortunate.

Part 1: Easter: I am not religious but I will take the chocolate

So, here’s the thing. I’m not religious. There we go, I’ve said it out loud. I’ve never been the religious type, although like most babies of my generation I was christened. I think back in those days, it was just the done thing to do. Anyway, I digress.

 

You may be wondering what gave me the idea for this post. I was asked in an email recently about whether I ate Easter eggs. Not a controversial question, but as I am usually one not to go in for the commercialisation of everything it was a reasonable question from the person that asked me.  I answered the question and said, ‘yes of course I have Easter eggs, it’s chocolate. Why wouldn’t I?

Now anyone who know me or my family will be laughing, smiling, giggling (insert as appropriate) when we talk of chocolate. My mum was a chocoholic. Another of my relatives that I can think of loved chocolate. Whenever I went with her to pick up the Chinese takeaway, the owner of the shop put a chocolate bar in the bag…. but why oh why would youput chocolate in a bag of hot food. Defies logic doesn’t it. Not for this relative. She would tear off the corner before we got home and drink the liquid chocolate!!’

But there is something about Easter egg chocolate. It’s what they call ‘cheap chocolate’ compared to good old-fashioned Cadbury’s. It tastes better. Don’t ask me why, it just does.

MARCH

Part 2: Time

Do you ever think about time? Here’s what I mean. It’s Monday, the week stretches out ahead. You do everything that’s needed all week and then the weekends here. Before you know it, it’s back to Monday again. Time flies fast. Agree?

Have you noticed how time flies even faster the older you get?

This is a common experience for many people. But why does it happen?

Routine and Familiarity – As we age, we often settle into routines and become familiar with surroundings and experiences. When life becomes more predictable, there are fewer new and novel events to mark the passage of time, making it seem like time is moving more quickly.

Comparison to Past Experiences – As we accumulate more life experiences, each new period of time may feel relatively shorter when compared to the entirety of our life. This is because the proportion of time represented by a year, for example, becomes smaller as we accumulates more years.

Neurological Factors – Some research suggests that our brain processes time differently as we age. The neural mechanisms responsible for time perception may change over the years, leading to the feeling that time is passing more quickly.

Busy Lives – In today’s fast-paced world, we often lead busy lives with numerous responsibilities and activities. A packed schedule can contribute to a sense of time slipping away, especially when there is a constant focus on meeting deadlines and managing obligations.

Lack of Novelty – Children often experience time more slowly because everything is new and novel to them. As we age, we become more accustomed to our surroundings, and fewer new experiences create a sense of time passing more quickly.

The perception of time is subjective, and  individuals may experience it differently. But for me, as I am getting older, the weeks are moving faster, the years come around faster and I wonder where it all went? Have the best times of life already passed us by?

Part 1: The Rugbys back!

It feels like it’s been away forever but the nrl is back. March 2 is the first official game of the season, and this year that game is being held in Las Vegas at Allegiant stadium. I know, you’re going to ask if I am going and much as I would have loved to jump on a plane to Sin City, it’s not an option.

So, I will be watching some online, and some in person. I tend to pick and choose my games to go to. I like Broncos v Storm/Cowboys/Rabbitohs…a game that you can really get your teeth into, if you know what I mean.

My seasonal NRL wardrobe is back in its rightful place ready for the get-go in March. The Bronco’s anthem is on my Spotify playlist and all I have to say is good luck boys and “Let’s go Broncos.”

FEBRUARY

Part 2 – “Valentines Day”

Valentine’s Day, a day that often seems to revel in the splendour of romantic relationships, may hold a unique place in the hearts of those navigating the waters of singledom. For many, February 14th is more than just a celebration of couples; it becomes an opportunity to redefine love, cherish individuality, and find joy in the independence that comes with being single.

 

The journey of being single on Valentine’s Day begins with a realization—a realization that being unattached does not equate to being incomplete. It is a state of mind where one recognises the beauty in solitude and the freedom to explore personal passions, goals, and aspirations without the constraints of a romantic relationship.

In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, singles may choose to reject societal expectations and redefine the narrative surrounding this celebration of love. Instead of viewing it as a day exclusively for couples, it becomes an opportunity to celebrate the diverse and multifaceted nature of love. To step away from the commercialisation of the day.

As the sun sets on Valentine’s Day, singles may find themselves with a renewed sense of appreciation for the richness of their lives. The celebration of love, untethered from the confines of a romantic relationship, becomes a journey of self-love, friendship, and personal growth. The day is not defined by the absence of a romantic partner but rather by the abundance of love that exists within and around each individual.

What if that partner absence is due to loss? What if you’re a widow?  How do you approach Valentine’s Day then? Is it looked on differently? Well, that all depends on how your Valentines was prior to your loss. My late husband was a romantic. As someone said to me once, ‘you’re a right proper team.’ The difference was he would not buy things on Valentines Day. His theory was (and he was right) that he didn’t need to be told when to say, ‘I love you’. He would tell me every day. He didn’t need to be told when to buy me flowers. He would buy me flowers when he decided to, which happened to be weekly! Any presents he ever bought were sporadic in arrival. A much better way to dictate love. Unexpected gifts and flowers. So now, Valentines Day for me means the same as when he was alive. Commercialised and money grabbing!! Harsh as that sounds! 

In embracing singledom on Valentine’s Day, however that single life has come to be, it’s time to contribute to a broader cultural shift—one that acknowledges and celebrates the diverse expressions of love. It’s a day to break free from the mould of societal expectations and redefine love as an inclusive, multifaceted experience that extends far beyond the boundaries of romantic entanglements. The single individual emerges from Valentine’s Day knowing that the commercialisation takes the charm away and that real love is spontaneous.

 

Part 1 – “Parental Loss”

Who holds the title of your closest confidante? The question may seem trivial at first, especially when delving into a topic as profound as parental loss. Yet, there’s a reason behind this seemingly casual inquiry. My mother, you see, was not just a parent; she was my female best friend. Some might dismiss this as a cliché, but the truth lies in the unique bond that evolved between us over the years.

During formative years, a parent is often perceived simply as that – a caregiver. However, as the sands of time shifted, so did the dynamics of our relationship. My mother became more than just a maternal figure; she morphed into my closest companion. We ventured out for shopping excursions, shared leisurely lunches, and, remarkably, she even embraced my interest in rugby league. A true testament to our bond, she willingly embraced my passions. Whether seeking advice or engaging in casual conversation, her voice at the other end of the phone brought comfort and solace. We reveled in laughter, savoured shared moments with ice cream on lazy afternoons, and reveled in the simple joys of life. Yet, she’s no longer with me. Come February 24, it will mark three years since her departure.

Having witnessed my parents cope with their own experiences of parental loss – my mother losing both of her parents within a mere six weeks – I thought I was prepared for the inevitable. I was aware of her illness, cognisant of the looming reality, but nothing, absolutely nothing, readied me for the void left by her absence. Losing my female best friend was an indescribable loss that reshaped my world in ways I never fathomed.

The void created by parental loss is unparalleled, defying attempts to be filled by any means. Even the presence of the surviving parent falls short in bridging this chasm, not by any fault of their own but by the fact that the gap left behind is uniquely irreplaceable.

My mum was certainly unique. She was funny. She was an extrovert. She knew what she wanted from life. She had an amazing memory. She loved her family unconditionally. She had time for everyone. Do I miss her? Absolutely. More than words can convey. What can I offer to end this piece?

Just these six words.

‘I hope I made her proud’.

JANUARY

Part Two – “Plans for 2024”

In the unfolding narrative of 2024, I’ve decided to let the script of my life remain unscripted—though, I admit, there’s a touch of irony in that declaration. While I jest about the lack of a concrete plan, a few intriguing ideas have taken root in my mind, providing a loose framework for the coming months.

February, I’ll be delving into the realm of Valentine’s Day, navigating the nuances as a single woman. No Mark to share the day with, no bouquet of flowers to decipher—it’s a fresh perspective on a day so often associated with romantic entanglements.

March heralds the return of rugby, and I’m ready to dive into the excitement of the sport that never fails to captivate. The thrill of the game, the camaraderie of fans, and the unexpected twists on the field will undoubtedly be fodder for spirited discussions.

As we see May unfurl, I’ll be reflecting on what would have marked the 30th year of marriage, our pearl anniversary —a poignant journey that deserves its moment of contemplation. The highs, the lows, and the myriad of experiences that come with such a significant milestone will find expression in my musings.

June brings a unique celebration, tinged with humour and warmth, as I commemorate what would have been my late husband’s 60th birthday. A lighthearted flashback of his quirks and endearing traits promises to paint a vivid memory of the man who brought laughter and love to our family.

In the heart of winter, August becomes a canvas for conversations about my dad and the annual acknowledgment of his birthday. It’s a big birthday for him, a ‘diamond jubilee (75) birthday’. It’s also an opportunity to delve into the complexities of navigating life as parents age—a universal experience that carries both poignant moments and unexpected joys.

Of course, these are just glimpses into the mosaic of my unscripted year. There are surprises and uncharted territories that I’m keeping close to the chest, adding an element of spontaneity to the unfolding narrative. After all, life’s most enchanting moments often emerge when we least expect them. So, here’s to embracing the unscripted journey of 2024, with its twists, turns, and the delightful surprises that lie ahead—some of which are reserved just for you.

Part One – “Ringing in the New Year”

The allure of New Year’s Eve has always managed to elude me. As the clock strikes midnight, signalling the transition into a new chapter, I find myself among the minority who prefer the embrace of a cozy night in, rather than braving the crowds and confetti. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve willingly stayed up to witness the turning of the calendar, and truth be told, I’m perfectly content with my decision.

For me, the true magic of the New Year unfolds the morning after, when the world is hushed, and the remnants of celebration linger in the air. While most are recovering from the revelry, I find solace in the simplicity of watching the fireworks on repeat, savouring the spectacle without the pressure of the ticking clock. The warmth of a morning coffee and the indulgence of an egg and bacon roll in hand create a comforting ritual, far removed from the frenzy of the previous night.

Now, as for resolutions, I’ve adopted a refreshingly straightforward approach – a resounding “nope.” There’s no well-worn notebook beside my bed filled with earnest promises and ambitious plans for the year ahead. It’s not that I lack aspirations, but rather, I’ve observed the ephemeral nature of resolutions for many. How often do those well-intentioned pledges made in the throes of New Year’s optimism withstand the test of time? It seems the allure of change is often eclipsed by the familiarity of routine.

In a world where resolutions are as transient as the fireworks that painted the sky the night before, I’ve chosen a different path. Instead of setting myself up for potential disappointment, I prefer to navigate the course of the year with a flexible mindset, open to the unexpected opportunities and challenges that may arise. After all, life’s journey is more like a winding road than a linear path, and I’d rather savour the twists and turns than adhere to a rigid set of resolutions.

So, while the world embraces the tradition of bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new with resolutions in tow, I find joy in the quiet moments of reflection, the simplicity of morning rituals, and the acceptance that growth and change are not confined to a single night but unfold organically throughout the year. Cheers to a year of spontaneity, resilience, and the courage to embrace the unknown.