Wednesday, 27 November 2013

She's changed my life

It feels strange to be blogging about a dog of all things, since I was so against getting one for so long (meaning 17 years!).   We can definitely say that Milly is fitting into our family very nicely.  It's lovely having her company at night when the boys are in bed, and the boys just love her so much.
Jalen thanks me almost every day for getting her.   Every night when he goes to bed and says goodnight to Milly he says things like 'Mum you will never know how much it means for me to have Milly'.   Jay still really struggles with his grief at times, but he says having Milly helps him a lot.

At first Milly thought she could rule Kobe, but after lots of tears he is now really firm with her and Milly now knows her place and will sit whenever Kobe tells her and will wait until Kobe tells her she can do certain things.  Kobe loves hanging out with her now, after being very wary of her for a couple of weeks.
Because we had no idea about dogs we went to a six week puppy training course which was really good.  It just taught us the basics, but we learned a lot and had lots of homework to do each week.   All the hard work is paying off as Milly is getting so much better.  She is so good at waiting when she wants to come inside, even though she's so excited to see us.

Harri absolutely loves Milly, but it's a big love hate relationship between them. If Milly is going to get grumpy with anyone, it's Harri because he's always pestering her and doesn't leave her aloneHe's always picking her up to carry her around like a teddy. 
I'm not at all used to having a little dog follow me around everywhere I go.  If I'm sitting at the computer she will place herself right at my feet.

If I'm doing housework she will follow me around, unless I have the vacuum cleaner and then she will sit at the landing on the stairs and wait until I've finished.
If I'm outside she wants to be right where I am.  It's like having a toddler again.

One thing that I was worried about when deciding whether to get a dog, was that I would be stuck doing all the work.  I knew the novelty would wear off with the boys, even though they promised me they would walk it and clean up it's mess and feed it.  Of course I was right and the novelty wore off after a couple of weeks, but luckily having Milly hasn't been hard work at all. 

Milly is actually happy to just exercise by playing in the backyard which is good, but it's nice to have another excuse to go walking.  She loves to walk and gets so excited if she hears me say 'do you want to go for a walk?' and will sit down straight away as she knows when she sits I will put her on the lead.  I've found some reserves to walk through so we don't have to go along the main streets with lots of traffic.  I often take her for a walk to the cemetery and either visit Aaron and Noah's graves, or just keep walking past the outside of the cemetery, and do a huge big loop back home again.

She is such a social dog and just wants to be with us all the time.  If we are home she isn't happy to be outside at all, and will sit at the windows where she can see us and will bark until we let her in. 

She knows that when our street gets busy in the afternoon that school is almost over, and will wait at the window for the boys to get home from school. 

When I thought about getting a dog I always imagined that they would just be outside, but I'm quite happy having her inside when we are home, especially as she doesn't shed and she also sleeps inside. 

She has been pretty good and we haven't really had any trouble with her chewing things except for the boy's soft toys which she likes to sneak off with.  They have quickly learnt to keep their soft toys up high.
When we eat tea Milly sits at our feet and then every now and then her head pops up as she tries to see what we're having.

It cracks us up laughing, and it looks so funny and cute that it's hard to tell her off.   It's like when Kobe is so cheeky that he makes us laugh, but you try not to laugh because it just encourages him.
It's so cute when Kobe asks me 'how many people do we have in our family Mum!?'. I always say six and he corrects me and says 'No - we have seven with Milly!'.  Jalen keeps saying how nice it is to have Milly in our family because it feels like we have an extra member in our family now.   He often says to me 'she's changed my life'. 

I'm very glad that I decided to get a dog, and in particular that I chose Milly, being a labradoodle and an older puppy.   Now if someone could tell me how to stop her digging up my veggie garden that would be great.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to fence it off :(

Saturday, 23 November 2013

18 years and forever and ever...

18 years ago today I married my best friend. We probably weren't best friends at the time, but we loved each other and knew that we wanted to be together forever.  When I look back at photos of us from then I can't believe how young (and skinny!) we were, but we knew what we wanted, and that was to just be together. 
Our life together definitely had its ups and downs, but it made our relationship stronger, and we grew to be best friends because we had to rely on each other so much, especially after Noah was born.

This photo was taken just under a month before Noah passed away.  I have been going through a lot of photos on my computer lately and think it is actually our last family photo that we ever had taken together.
Last year the day of our wedding anniversary was a really hard day.  It shocked me as to how hard it hit me.  It was probably because it was the first one since Aaron passed away, but I was still surprised that it was so hard.   I had been thinking about our anniversary coming up all week, but wasn't dreading it like I was last year.  I'm sad every day, but when I woke up this morning I didn't feel like it was going to be a harder day than usual which was good. 

Last night while I was out for tea with some girlfriends, Alison babysat the boys and organised for them to write in some cards for me.  When I got home Kobe thought he was being so sneaky and said 'we didn't do anything for your anniversary Mum, not anything at all!' with a big cheeky grin on  his face.

Harri wrote such a beautiful note in his card.  A couple of days ago he told me that he loves me 'more than anyone else in the world, and I'm not joking Mum! I really do!'.  His card was so cute.  Apparently he told Alison that he knew he spelt 'anniversary' wrong, but said I would be proud of him for having a go :) 
When I woke up it was a beautiful sunny morning and I knew that if I moped around too long it would probably start hitting me, so I got the boys out early into the garden with me. It was nice to get out and be busy all morning.
We then went out do a few jobs and decided to go to Maccas for lunch, which Aaron would've loved.  While we were there we ran into one of the lovely landscapers who designed and built our beautiful garden at our old house for us.   He knew we had since moved and was keen to see how we were going and where we were living now. 

While we were having lunch a McDonalds worker came over and asked the boys if they wanted a helium balloon. They all said no, but I told them to grab one as Aaron would've loved them as they had a big M on them, and said we could take them up to his grave and release them for our anniversary.
We kept laughing about how Aaron would've thought they were the best balloons we had ever released.

 Harri did the big count down. 
 This afternoon Alison popped in with a present which was such a surprise. She had arranged for her friend Sam who is a very talented illustrator to draw a picture of us together.   I love it so much and love the little details like Aaron's patch of grey hair in the front.  It came in a beautiful frame, so now I'll have to find the perfect spot for it. Thank you Alison for such a special gift.
It was nice to get through the day and not feel like the sadness was overwhelming me.  I wish Aaron was here to celebrate our anniversary with me, but I'm so glad to know that we are married forever and ever and ever and ever and ever......

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Hands on the Cup

The 2013 AFL premiership cup is doing a tour around Australia at the moment.  When Hawthorn won the grand final in 2008 we went to see the cup when it was in town then, and I remember how excited Aaron was about it.

When I heard it would be at Aurora Stadium I asked the boys if they wanted to go and see it.  Harri was so excited and said 'of course we do!!'.   The night before we got a call from a friend who invited us to go along to a special function after the public had seen the cup. It was for the Tassie Hawks Supporters Group who are the volunteers who help out on match days when the Hawks play in Tassie.  Aaron had just started to be a part of the group when he passed away and was so excited to be getting involved with Hawthorn in more of a formal way. 

Before going into the function we got our photo taken outside with the cup. 

Harri and Kobe were so excited.
Harri didn't want to put it down and kept holding it in certain ways and would say 'that's how Jordan Lewis held it on grand final day when they won!'. He kept saying he was going to take it home with him.
The boys were excited to go to the function and loved all the free food and drinks. I was happy I didn't have to cook tea :)
They thought it was so exciting to be above Aurora Stadium in the special function room.  
I couldn't resist a selfie with the cup - Aaron would've loved it :) Someone offered to take the photo for me, but I said it's not a selfie unless you take it by yourself. 
There weren't many people there and Harri just loved that you could go up and grab the cup off the table and walk around with it or get a photo with it.
It was fun to get our hands on the cup and to have an extra long time with it.   It's lovely to have such special things happen for the boys and to see smiles on their faces.  Jay was having a particularly sad day, so it was nice to finish it off in a fun way. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Grief Doubled

When Noah was nine weeks old we were told of his diagnosis and knew then that his life would be short.   When you have a child with a life threatening illness, death is always on your mind.  We chose to give Noah the best life that we could, but that didn't stop us thinking about the time when we would have to say goodbye to him. 

The weeks following Noah's death were not what I imagined them to be.  I thought that I would be constantly crying, not able to get out of bed and just overwhelmed with grief.  But it wasn't like that at all.  Instead we were just so busy making funeral arrangements, having visits from people, organising memorial services and gardens, and reading hundreds of beautiful cards and letters from so many people.  Of course there were tears, but at the same time we were so busy that we were distracted enough from feeling the full force of grief. 

When Aaron passed away it was the same.    I didn't know he was going to pass away, and we were in so much shock.  I was so busy just getting through every day.  Of course I cried, but I tried to hold it together as much as possible because I was too scared that if I broke down then I wouldn't stop.  I also knew I just had to hold it together for the boys.   They were so scared and traumatised by what they had been through over the past three months, and I just had to get them through it, so I felt like I had to put my grief on hold for them. 

I now think that the full force of my own grief hasn't been put on hold, but more like it was set to slow motion for the past two years. I was just so busy trying to hold things together that I couldn't let it overwhelm me.  I kept busy by going back to work for the first time in fourteen years.  I made huge decisions like selling our house.  I planned trips and special things for us to look forward to as a family and it all helped.  It got me through a very hard couple of years.  

But then it all caught up with me.  Looking back I can now see when anxiety and grief turned into depression.  I wasn't aware of it at the time because I thought it was just grief, but I now know the difference between grief and severe depression. 

Right now I'm feeling 'okay'.  I'm not suffering from the severe depression that I was, but I'm just so, so sad.  Things are easier in so many ways, but how I feel now is how I imagined it would be after Noah passed away.  For the first time in two years I feel like I can really cry, without being scared that I won't ever be able to stop. 

I have cried more in the past two months than I have in the past two years, and I think it's a good thing.  I feel like my grief wasn't totally put on hold, but just came upon me as much as I could deal with at the time.  I didn't feel like I could really cry for a very long time, but now that has changed. 

I now cry whenever I hear a song that makes me think of Aaron or Noah (almost every day!).  I cry when I see photos on Facebook of smiling families with Mums and Dads together.  I cry as I'm walking Milly and feel like a crazy woman as I'm wiping away the tears, so that people driving past can't see. I cry when I see certain ads on TV.  I cry when I leave Aaron's school, because I'm wishing he was on the microphone at his school's athletic carnival.    I cry when I read about children getting wishes granted through Make a Wish.  I cry when I get home from work because I just want Aaron to also walk in the door after work, and to tell me about his day.  I cry because I want to tell Aaron about the things that have happened at school.  I cry because I want to talk to him about the boys.

The boys don't like seeing me cry, but they don't get as anxious about it now.   The other day I was very teary and Kobe asked me what was wrong. I told him I just felt really sad and he put his face right in my face and gave me the cheekiest smile ever, trying to get me to smile back at him.  I smiled back and he said 'I 'wuv' you Mum' as he knew that would also make me feel happy and he just wanted me to stop crying. 

Sometimes I feel frustrated because it's been two years since Noah passed and I feel like I should be feeling so much better.  I have heard many times 'there's no timeline for grief' but when you're in the middle of it, you just wonder when it's ever going to get easier. I have wondered if having Noah and Aaron pass away so close together has doubled my grief or whether it will take double the amount of time to feel like I'm getting on top of my grief.  Now I believe that it's just going to take a lot longer than it normally would to feel on top of it, but then I've never experienced grief just for one person at a time (that I can remember, as I was only six when my brother Daniel passed away).  Maybe grief is the same no matter how many people you are grieving for at the same time? 

For the first time in two years I feel like I can actually separate my grief for Noah and Aaron a little bit.  When Aaron passed away that just took over all my thoughts for so long.  I have found myself thinking about Noah more and more over the past few months and although it makes me so sad because I just miss him so much, it's nice to not have thoughts of Aaron taking over all the time. 

I always wonder if people are getting sick of hearing about how hard it is without Noah and Aaron, but then remind myself that it's just how it is and writing is my therapy in a lot of ways.  I wish I could just blog about happy things and we do have a lot of happy things happen, but there are also many sad times and other things which I don't share because there's a lot that I want to keep private for my boys.  But hopefully by keeping it real I'm not only recording family memories, but helping someone else somehow. 

I look forward to getting out of bed and going to work, and catching up with family and friends and doing things with the boys, but it's so hard to shake the sadness and loneliness that overwhelms me right now.   People always tell me that I'm strong, and I do feel strong considering what we've been through, but grief always catches up with you, especially when it's doubled. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Spunky, silly boys

A few weeks ago Harri was looking particularly spunky at church.  He had been begging me to get him a suit jacket to wear for ages, but found a vest in his cupboard and was so excited to wear it. 
I kept telling him how handsome he looked and said we should get a photo together because he looked so good (don't mind the untucked shirt - that's usual for my scruffy boys!:)
Kobe decided that he didn't want to miss out and wanted to join us for a photo.

Jay cracked me up as he said 'that would be right! Leave your least favourite son out of the photo!'.  He decided he didn't want to miss out on being in a family photo and someone else offered to take one for us, but Jay decided to go one better.  I actually love this photo a lot.  

Friday, 8 November 2013

You Have To Be Happy, Not Sad

I've been going through all our old photos on my computer because I want to make the boys some photo books for Christmas.  It's been sad but fun at the same time to see all the old photos and remember the 'good old days'. 

Kobe is very put out when he sees me looking at photos from before he was born. He keeps asking 'was I born then!?' and when I say no, he argues with me and says 'yes I was!'.  He looks at photos of Harri and thinks it's him.  He hates that he has missed out on so much because he is the youngest, and it makes me really sad that he only had a few years with Noah and Aaron.   I'm so grateful that I did take a lot of photos and videos.

I found this video which I recorded in September 2006.  Jay made up a song which went 'you have to be happy not sad' and he and Harri used to sing it all the time.  I think I was meant to see this video right now because I'm just feeling a whole lot of sad at the moment.

How cute were they! 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Nobody Tells You

When you're pregnant with your first child, nobody really tells you the truth about how hard it is to have a newborn.  You hear the stories about sleepless nights, colic, sore boobs and the baby blues but none of it really means anything until you are there yourself.  It's only then that you realise that although you love this baby more than anything else in the world it's hard, hard work.

It's so hard that at times you forget that you were ever excited about having a baby.  It's so hard that you question what you've done and wonder if you've made a huge mistake in having a child.  It's so hard that you wonder if you will ever feel like yourself again.  It's so hard and no one tells you that you can be so tired that you feel physically sick.  It's so hard and you wonder if you and your husband will ever have the same relationship ever again.

But then your baby starts smiling, and the colic starts getting better, and they may have a good night where they only wake up once for a feed and you think that having four hours sleep in a row is the best thing ever!  Then suddenly you realise you are getting more done during the day without having to carry the baby everywhere you go, and you start forgetting what it was like when you couldn't move off the couch all day, and you had cracked nipples, and you couldn't even go to the toilet, have a shower or get a drink.

Your baby then starts doing exciting things reaching, rolling, sitting up, sleeping through the night, crawling, walking and talking.  And it's still hard work, and always will be (even when your newborn is 14!) but it's then that you remember why you wanted to have a baby, and you look at your husband and you realise that  relationship is even better now, than before you had kids.

It's the same with grief. Nobody really tells you how hard it is.  Or if they do, you don't get it, and none of it really means anything until you are there yourself. 

But you don't have another stage to look forward to. There's never going to be a time when there is smiling, or crawling, or walking or talking.   There's never going to be a stage where you think 'this is why I wanted to go through grief'.

Of course there are stages, but a different stage doesn't mean it's easier. It's just different.  The shock has gone, but the sadness is greater than ever.  
You can cope better with the day to day things, but your heart is so empty that you wonder why it hasn't broken and stopped.
There is nothing to look forward to at the end.   I of course believe there is an 'end' in that I will be with Noah and Aaron again, but that doesn't take away the pain you feel every day because you just want to feel them, and hold them, and smell them, and hear their voices.
I don't want to be visiting their graves.  I don't want to be talking to them in my head, wondering if they're listening.  I just want them.  You don't want people to tell you it's time to move on. 
Nobody tells you how to grieve while you are trying to be strong for your children who are grieving at the same time. 

I hear many times 'thank goodness we know families are forever' and yes that's true.  But it doesn't make it any easier when I know I can have up to fifty to sixty years to wait for that time when we will be together again...and nothing and no one is going to replace them.   And it's hard not to get angry at times because you feel like you have to be strong because of what you believe and know.  Sometimes you just want to say it's not fair.  Because it's not.  
You hear that the second year after someone passes away is harder than the first, but you don't understand that until you're there.  And it's so hard for other people to know because you look 'fine' or even 'good' but it's when the shock has gone and the reality has set in. 
The second year is when you really get scared that people are going to forget these two amazing people who were once here, and will forget how much it hurts to not have them with us.  And you want to keep talking about them because you don't want anyone to ever forget them - ever! 
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