Sunday, 23 November 2014

19 Years

Nineteen years ago today Aaron and I were married.  
Oh the things I wish I could tell that 21 year old girl.  I knew that life wouldn't be easy, but I didn't expect it to be so hard.   After Noah was born, we knew how important it was to make the most of every day, but that didn't mean travelling the world or jumping out of a plane.  We just learnt to appreciate the little things in life.
We were grateful for healthy days and little smiles from Noah.  We knew it was a good day when we could all go out to do something as a family together.  The best days were when Noah was in a good mood, and looked happy and well.
When Noah passed away, the light in Aaron's eyes went away.  We were both grieving for our beautiful man and I knew we had a long road ahead of us.  We could now travel the world if we wanted, but it was the last thing we wanted to think about.  All we wanted was to have Noah back with us. 

I'm not sure whether I would like to know that I only had 111 days left with Aaron, after Noah passed away.  If I did I wonder if we would've done things differently.  I'm not sure that we would have, but I know without a doubt that I would've just held him more.  I would've told him more how much I loved him.   I would've told him more how proud I was of him.  I would've told him more what a great Dad he was.

We were blessed that Aaron was able to take some time off work after Noah passed away, and we got to spend a whole month together.   But that month was filled with a funeral, sorting out things at home, returning equipment and wondering how we were going to fill our days without caring for Noah. 
That month was filled with visiting the cemetery, and helping the boys through their own grief and trauma.

In many ways we were blessed that Aaron passsed away towards the end of summer holidays.  It wasn't the summer we planned or wanted, and it wasn't the same without Noah, but we were so blessed to spend every day together.    For the first time in over a decade, Aaron and I got to spend some time without any of the boys.  It was hard to actually be apart from them for the first time since Noah passed away, but we knew we needed some time together -  just the two of us.  I still smile when I think about how excited Aaron was to just have a couple of days together.  He cracked me up as he fist pumped as the boys drove away.   

I think that was kind of a turning point for us as we talked about how Noah would want us to be happy even though he wasn't there.   We talked about the things that we had to look forward to, that we couldn't do before.
 
Two weeks later Aaron passed away.  I was lucky to be married to my best friend for 16 years, but I just wish I had many, many more.
I received a message from an old friend this week, who said that he hoped for my happiness.  I'm doing okay and some days I feel like I'm doing well,  but I really don't feel like I'll ever feel truly happy until I'm with Aaron again.  I had 16 years with him on earth, and we've now been apart for almost 3.  I try to think every day that we are onother day closer to being together again, but I hate that we've been apart for so long, especially when it feels like it just happened yesterday.  

I am still asked a lot about getting remarried, but I have no desire to even think about another guy in that way, let alone get remarried (unless it was Hodgey! ;)  I still laugh with the boys about Aaron saying that if he ever died, that I couldn't find someone as hot as him anyway.   I still feel like we are married, and I actually still wear my wedding ring.   I actually think Aaron wouldn't mind if I got remarried, and probably would even want me to, but I still have no desire to. 

I hate being on my own, but I'd rather be on my own that be with someone who isn't Aaron.  I don't feel like a single Mum, because I'm not.  I'm now bringing up my boys on my own, but I have an amazing, funny, passionate husband who still influences us every day.   The boys talk about their Dad every day and we all try to live our lives to make Aaron and Noah proud of us.  At times we feel him around, and I wish we could feel him around more often, but I'm grateful for those moments when he lets us know that he isn't too far away. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Do You Know?

Just when I feel like I'm on top of things, and that things are starting to get easier, grief hits really hard all over again.  We have been going quite well for a couple of months now and I even stopped going to the cemetery regularly.  I don't love or hate the cemetery - it's just that sometimes I feel like I want to be there and other times I don't. 

I haven't taken the boys to the cemetery for a couple of months - probably since we went for Father's Day, and I haven't felt like going until last week.  Over the last couple of weeks I've felt like being back at the cemetery, and I have gone a couple of times on my own after work.  
I don't ever go to the cemetery to 'talk' to Aaron and Noah because I think I would feel like a total nut case if I did.  I guess I just hope that Aaron can 'hear' the things going on in my head because I like to just go and think, and hope by being there they are watching and are with us more than usual. 

The thing I miss the most is just being able to talk to Aaron every day.  Some people don't know how lucky they are to be able to sit down at night and just talk their partner about their day.   People are so lucky to have their partner walk in the door at night, or to be able to text them, ring them, message them, or Skype them.   I have so much on my mind every day, and I just want to talk to Aaron about it.  I would give anything to just be able to sit down and talk to him again. 

I want to tell him about my day at work.  I want to tell him all the funny things the kids at work have said and done.  I want to talk to him about the boys and to share how proud I am of each of them.  I want to ask him how his day was, and to hear his funny stories about the grade 8 girls.  I want him to be here to talk footy and basketball with the boys.  I want to talk to him about how I'm worried if I'll have a job next year, but if he was here then I wouldn't be need to be worried about that. 

I want to talk to him about Noah and his appointments and what dose his medications would be, because I would often adjust the dose and would let Aaron know, in case he was going to make them up the next day.   

I want to look forward to Christmas and summer, instead of dreading it again.  I don't want to have to pretend that I'm excited for it, so the boys don't pick up on how hard it really is.  

The other day I noticed that an older man who was often at the cemetery at the same time as us, had passed away.  He was always tending his wife's grave and he always had beautiful artificial flowers there for her.   He passed away in August and from the headstone I noticed that were only apart for four years.  I couldn't help but think how lucky he was to be with his wife again, and how hard those four years would've been for him. 

Sometimes I just want to say to people 'do you know how lucky you are!?'.  No one's life is perfect and I know that, but so many people take for granted what they have.  I know I took for granted that Aaron and I would would be together for a long time before we would have to say goodbye to each other.  I never imagined I would be sitting at his grave, wondering if he could hear all the things going on in my head. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Unplanned Halloween

We don't really celebrate Halloween in Australia (unless you organise something with family and friends) so when Kobe kept asking what we were doing for Halloween this year, I told him that we weren't doing anything.


Halloween seems to be getting bigger every year though, as you can now find a lot of things in the shops and supermarkets for Halloween, which doesn't help the situation, when I'm trying to tell Kobe we don't do Halloween in Australia.   I guess it just depends on where you are from though, because I did have a few friends on the mainland tell me that their suburbs really celebrated Halloween, and all the kids went around trick or treating.   If Kobe knew that I'm sure he would want to move to the mainland!


On the morning of the 31st of October, Kobe woke up almost sobbing saying 'it doesn't even feel like Halloweeeeeeeen!'.   All week he kept telling him how ALL of his friends at school were doing something for Halloween and he wanted to as well.    I tried to reassure him that not all of his friends were doing something, and that next year we would do something, but he still wasn't convinced.


After school our friend Alison came to visit and mentioned that her Mum was ready for trick or treaters.   I asked Kobe if he wanted to quickly get a costume on and go around there.   I was hoping that by just going to one house, he would then feel like he wasn't the only person in Australia missing out on Halloween ;)


He was very excited, and luckily we have a massive dress up bag of costumes we have collected over the years.  We dumped it out on the floor and all grabbed a quick costume to wear.   Kobe decided to be a rock star.


In the costume bag was a missionary badge  and told Alison she should be a missionary.  She doesn't go to our church, so we thought it would be so funny for her to do it, so she did!  I couldn't stop laughing. 


Kobe was happy that he got to go trick or treating, even if it was just to one house.
I'm thinking an unplanned Halloween is much better, as we didn't have to stress about our costumes for weeks.  Thanks Eleanor for making a little rock star very happy :)




Saturday, 1 November 2014

SLB

Ever since grade 7, Jalen has said that he thought he would like to be on his school's Student Leadership Board when he got to grade 10.  I was glad he wanted to go for it, especially as Aaron was always the teacher that was over the Prefects at his school, which is the same thing.   But I also knew it may be hard to get in as there's usually a lot of people who go for it. 


He came home a couple of months ago with an application form, but almost decided he didn't want to go for it anymore.  I asked him why, and he said that it would be a lot of work if he got in, and wasn't sure if he was keen on having more responsibility.  We had a talk about how some stress is 'good' stress and that if he did get in, that it would mean he would be busier, but that it could be a good thing for him.


The night before the application was due, he decided that he wanted to apply for it, so he answered all the questions and submitted his application the next day.


He then had to have an interview with a few teachers and students who are on this year's SLB.    He came home from that saying he thought he did okay, and later found out he passed the interview stage and then had to do a speech in front of the whole school (four times, to each grade separately).   After the speeches, each student and teacher had to vote for who they want on the SLB. 


The night before his speech, he still hadn't written it, so I was getting very stressed (and cranky!) with him for leaving it till the last minute again.  He kept saying 'don't worry Mum!' but it's my job to worry, and I wanted him to feel ready for it.


We threw around a few ideas, and he said he wanted to make it a little bit funny, because the funny speeches from the year before really stood out.   He came home after he gave his speech, saying he was really happy with the response he got.  He said that he got a lot of laughs, but said he also was serious in telling them why he thought he would be a good SLB leader.   When he told me what he said in his speech, he reminded me so much of Aaron with his sense of humour.


I had a lot of people tell me what a great job he did with his speech, and although we were hopeful, we were trying not to get our hopes up, as I didn't want him to be too disappointed if he didn't get in.


Yesterday he came home with a letter, saying he was successful and is going to be on the Student Leadership Board next year in the position of 'School Enhancement'!  I'm always proud of him, but am extra proud of him to know how far he's come in the last three years.    I know Aaron would be so proud of him too. 


I know he will have a lot more to do next year now, but he is looking forward to a great last year of High School.   I just keep thinking how handsome will he look in his blazer :)    

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

School Photos

How handsome are my boys!?  They obviously take after their Dad :)  I love their school photos this year.  I especially love Harri's sparkly eyes.  They've both come so far in the last three years. 



Friday, 24 October 2014

On the Wall of Fame

At Aurora Stadium there is a really lovely 'Tassie Hawks Wall of Fame' which is a tribute to the Tasmanians who have played or still play for Hawthorn.  We have often admired it, and read the plaques that people have put on it.   I knew that you could buy a plaque, but couldn't justify spending so much money on one, even though I really wanted to get one for Aaron and Noah.
Hawthorn have been so lovely to our family for many years, and especially since Aaron and Noah passed away.  It means so much to us, that they know how much Aaron loved Hawthorn, and how we continue his love as a family.   A little while ago I got a lovely email from someone who works at Hawthorn, offering our family a plaque free of charge.  I was so touched and knew straight away what I wanted the plaque to say.  I hope Aaron is happy with it.

Today I had to go to the Hawthorn office to pick up something, and was pleasantly surprised to see the plaque was up on the Wall of Fame already.   I thanked them so much for being so thoughtful and they said it is 'just a little thing', but to us it is a big thing to know that Aaron and Noah are not forgotten.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Running for a Wish

Today we went in the fourth annual 'Run for a Wish' event, which raises money for the Make a Wish Foundation.   Before Noah passed away we helped to promote the first run, and one of the first things we thought about when Noah passed away, was that the first run was just a couple of weeks after.  We found it hard to be there without Noah, but couldn't think of anything more we would want to do in Noah's name, so we still went in the first run and did it for Noah

It was really hard to do the run the next year without Aaron as well, but it's something that is very close to our hearts, because Make a Wish granted a wish for Noah, and we know how much a wish can help a family and child who has a life threatening condition. 

We are so grateful for friends who join us every year.  It means so much to us to know that Noah and Aaron aren't forgotten, so we look forward to any chance to do something for them.  
 Silly photos before the race. 
We love taking balloons to release at the beginning of the race.  I just hate having to tell the little kids that we don't know, who come over to ask for a balloon, that they aren't for the public, but is something that we have brought ourselves.

We wanted to get a family photo before the race, and a guy we know kept making us laugh as he kept trying to photo bomb us. 
My friend Simone cracked me up as I took this photo, as she yelled 'only photos from the top up!'.
The plan was to walk the 6.4 km with Kobe again this year, but last night he told me that he wanted to run it! I'm not a runner at all and actually hate running, so I thought I would be pretty safe with him as I knew he would get tired quickly, and we would probably be walking most of it.  

He surprised me and just kept on going.  He did complain a lot about how sore his back was, and how tired his legs were, but he's easy to encourage, so he would walk for about 50 metres and then would start running again when I would tell him how good he was going, how proud Dad and Noah would be of him and how we couldn't let the people behind us catch up.  
As we got closer to the finish line, he took off on me and sprinted towards the finish line. It was nice to see Harri and Jalen near the end, waiting for us.   They both ran so fast and did really well.
 
We are usually right at the back because we walk, so this year we were a lot faster than normal.  We only ran slowly, but I was so proud of Kobe for running so far and not giving up...other than the begging for a piggy back about half way around! 
We love Make a Wish and are so happy to be able to support them in anyway that we can.  We often have people send me lovely messages, saying that they think that our family is amazing.  It's lovely to hear that from people, but I don't think we are amazing.  I think we are just a regular family who has been through a lot, and are trying to make the best of it.  

If you really want to see an amazing family, then the Duffys are that! It was lovely to see them at the run today.  We met them after Noah passed away and have since become friends with them. Their son Jack is severely disabled, and like most families who have a child with a disability, they try to make the best of a situation they never hoped or wished for, but they do even more than that.  

They are an incredible family and don't let Jack's disabilities stop them doing anything.  They know Jack is one of the lucky ones because he has a family who is able to help him do things, and they want to do as much as they can with him while he's young, because they know it will get harder to do things as he gets older (and also heavier!).

Years ago Jack's Dad Chris, kayaked from Launceston to Hobart (600 km!) with Jack in the kayak with him, an hour a day.  All the money they raised from it was donated to St Giles, which supports children and adults with disabilities.  Since then Jack has 'run' in a couple of marathons with his Dad pushing him the whole way! 

The next thing they are going to do is walk the 65 km Overland Track with Jack in his Dad's pack and a team of people with them including police, firefighters, a paramedic, a teacher and a Parks ranger. They are hoping to raise $70,000 with all money raised going to Life Without Barriers.  
To donate to 'Overland Jack' you can click here.  You can also visit his Facebook page here.    Jack's Dad Chris is doing lots of training with Jack in the pack, to prepare to do the Overland Track early next year.  It was great to see them cross the finish line today.  They really are an amazing family!

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