Saturday, 31 December 2016

Dear Aaron 2016

Dear Aaron;
I can't help but feel sad that it's been another year without you, but am also amazed as to how much has happened since you died.  It's just 26 days until you've been gone for 5 years and I'm not even sure if that sounds like a long time or a short time anymore.  It feels like forever, yet I feel like you could just walk in the door and things would be exactly like they were five years ago.  I think because I dream about you a lot, you still feel like you are close by. 

Last year was a huge year, and I didn't think there was any way that as much would've happened this year, but I think this year has probably been as busy and as big in lots of ways.  We've had some lovely times away again this year, visiting Chrish in Sydney. 

Even though we always have a great time away, you are constantly on my mind as I feel so sad that we never got to take regular holidays together while you were here.  Both of us would never have wished that we didn't have Noah, but I can't help but feel really ripped off because we never got to spend time together after Noah passed away.  It was just too hard to do too much while he was here, and as much as we loved him and wished he was here with us on earth forever, I get very jealous when I see families together on lovely holidays, or just doing regular things together.  

Even though my mind isn't consumed with thoughts about you dying anymore, no matter what we are doing I always think about you and what you would think, say or do in certain situations.  It's nice that the boys always talk about you - even if it's 'we have to get a slurpee for Dad'.

It's hard to imagine what life would be like if you were still here, especially without Noah.  When Noah was here you were always the one who would volunteer to stay home.  Half the time I knew it was because you were happy to watch the cricket or footy on TV, and half the time I knew you were just looking forward to some quiet time with Noah. 

I wonder if you were still here if you would love being able to just go out and do things without thinking about it, as much as we do.  When you were here we always had to think about whether Noah was well or happy enough to take out, or whether we could get his wheelchair to where we wanted to go.  It still hits me how easy it is for 'regular people' to just jump in the car and go somewhere whenever they want and now it's easy for us to do the same. 

I love that we can just text friends and say 'meet you for a swim?' and then 15 minutes later we are out having a lovely swim.  But then at the same time it's not the same because we wish that you and Noah were still here, so it's very bitter sweet.
I don't think people realise how lonely I still am even five years later.  It's easier to cope with your death day to day.  I no longer think 'Aaron is dead, Noah is dead' constantly and I can get on with my day without my mind being consumed with grief, but every day I come home to an empty house (other than just the boys) and it's then that the loneliness hits me because I don't have you to talk to about my day.

I am grateful for friends who put up with me being a third wheel, because without them I would really be going crazy. 

I can't stop thinking about how tiny the boys were when you passed away and how much they've changed and grown up in the past five years.  Kobe was so excited about his birthday this year.  He said it was the 'best day ever' because he got baptised, played soccer, had a party and Hawthorn were playing!
Harri was excited to have a party with his mates again this year, but I think I had forgotten how noisy 12 year old boys are, or maybe Jay and his friends were a lot different to Harri and his friends when they were the same age?   
It was much  more civilised going out for Jay's birthday with his friends.
You would absolutely love their stages and ages right now.  Harri is sport crazy just like you.  He always says things like 'I wish Dad was here so I could talk about the NBA or soccer with him'.  Kobe started playing soccer this year, and he is absolutely hilarious to watch - half the time he's in a dream and the other half he's dancing around or dabbing when he gets a goal! I hate the cold Saturday mornings, but I love watching the boys as they love it so much.
Harri picks up most sports so easily and loves it.  This year he has been really interested in hearing more about you and how you were at sport.  I know it's because he's imagining what it would be like to play against you.   I wish you were here to go over to school with him on the weekends, to shoot the basketball with him.  
Jay still isn't into sport but it's been fun watching him get into skating more this year, and become very social. 

I'm glad that he has good friends, and can't believe that he's only got one year of college left before he has to really figure out what he wants to do with his life.   We've been so, so slack with driving practice and I actually get angry with myself about it because I don't want him to end up not having his license for ages (like you!) but it's hard to find the time and energy to go out. I just need to do it.  He's lucky that two of his friends now have their Ps and cars which means he's out a lot, but I've had to remind myself of what life was like when we were his age, and know that needs time with friends, and just hope that he makes good decisions. 
You would absolutely love hanging out with him now - he's hilarious just like you were and loves so many things that you used to love - including the same type of movies and music. 

I'm so glad that Jay finally got a casual job this year.  It's taken a while for me to convince him that the positives outweigh the negatives and he's now settled in and says he is confident doing whatever he is put on during the shift, and loves having his own money.   The boys love visiting him while he's working. I know that you would love that he's working at Maccas.
We still go to the footy for you.  I'm not sure what you would think of Harri has he's decided that Hawthorn aren't his team anymore.  I go between thinking you would be turning over in your grave in disgust, or you would be happy that he has his own strong opinions.  He's very stubborn, especially when it comes to sport. I wonder where he gets that from!?
I still stalk the Hawks for you when they're in town and always have a laugh as I think how proud you would be that I'm following footy players around.   I'm still not sure why Hodgey hasn't married me though! ;)
This year we went on our first camping trip.  Jay reminds me so much of you - all the complaining about how he didn't want to go, how he hated camping.  It was just how I imagined you if we were all going together.  Despite the thousands and thousands of wasps, we actually had a great time - Jay included and I think you would've too. It was nice to have Chrish come down from Sydney to camp with us.

It was so nice to camp at Pop's river and to tell the boys about all the amazing times that we had as kids.  Life was so much simpler back then.
We actually went camping twice this year, although the second time we went camping was a lot more glamorous than the first time, and not just because there weren't any wasps.
I thought that last year was the biggest year for exciting things to happen after being awarded Tasmanian Mother of the Year, and I knew that nothing could top that this year.   We couldn't believe that articles were still being published in the media even this year about it.

It was nice to help out at the Mother of the Year ceremony in Hobart this year, but kind of felt sad to be 'handing the crown' over because it was the biggest high we've had since you died. 

So it was extra special when Barnados got in touch with me and invited me to go along to a special Mother's Day luncheon which was put on by their new sponsor - Sportscraft.  I didn't realise how fancy it would be until I got there.  It was overwhelming to be there surrounded by celebrities but it was an amazing day.  All I could think about though was that I would not have been there if you were still here.  I would trade all these amazing experiences just to have you and Noah here with us.   
The highlight of the day though was meeting Gloria who was the national Mother of the Year in 2014.  We spent the whole day just talking about you and Noah and her daughter Cassie who passed way from cancer.  It was so nice to be with someone who just gets it. 

Can you believe that you have a whole oval named after you now!?  I still can't really believe it and everyone says how much you would love that you have your own oval.  I love how Kings Meadows High School still do such lovely things to remember you.  It means so much to me and the boys to know that you aren't forgotten, and to know that we aren't the only ones who love and miss you. 

I used to feel sad whenever I would go back to your school, but it's not as hard now. 
I love being able to donate and present memorial awards for you and Noah and know that you would be proud of the students who won them this year, even though they weren't at school when you were there teaching.

Some days are still much harder than others.  We miss you and Noah every day, but hope that it's okay that we don't go to the cemetery as often. It's actually nice to be at a stage where I don't feel like I want to be at the cemetery so regularly. 
I'm grateful for good friends who still do things with us even five years later to remember both you and Noah.
I always find it easier if we escape to the beach on the harder days.  I really need to move to the beach, but then I would leave too many things that I love about living here.
It was a shock to be asked to take part in a Mental Health Week event, and to share my experiences with grief and depression. 
I never could've imagined five years ago that all of this would've happened and that I would be sharing my experience so publicly, but it's nice to know that I may be able to help others in some way. 
My mental health is so much better than it was a few years ago, but I have to continually work on it.  Every year I say I'm going to get fit and lose weight, but stress does awful things and my physical health is still a work in progress.  Hopefully I'll get on top of it in 2017. 

What I miss most about you is just talking to you about my day, and hearing about yours.  I wish so much that you were here when I get home from work.  I have so many stories to tell you about the gorgeous kids I work with and also the friends I've made at work.  I'm sure you saw how hard it was for me to move schools half way through the year.  Just as I was feeling really happy and settled, I had to move again and that really didn't help my mental health at all.  It's frustrating having anxiety at times, when I was never an anxious person five years ago. 

Saying goodbye to my beautiful Afghan students was very hard. I got so many beautiful cards, letters and drawings from them and I love it when I run into them and their families when we are out and about. 

I'm sure that you have also seen how much I have grown to love my new school, students and colleagues.  I love learning about different languages and cultures, and I feel so blessed to have a job that I love.  It makes it easy to get out of bed every day.  

It's always hard to start working somewhere new and to have to share my 'story' again.  I don't want people to feel sorry for me, but I also want them to know about you and Noah and to know that this is a part of me, so I'm grateful when I can talk about you.  There's been a few times this year when someone has said 'you look familiar' or 'oh I know about this! You're that lady!' and it's so touching when some of my colleagues have gotten tears in their eyes when they realise what we've been through.  It's lovely when I hear things like 'he was an amazing teacher'.  I hope that I can one day make a big as impact as you did on your students.
It's hard to believe that it's almost two years since Dad died, and I'm sure you're up there telling him inappropriate jokes to make him laugh.
I haven't felt Dad around at all, but am grateful that I still feel you around at times and that you come to me in dreams.

I still can't ever imagine being married again.   Most of my widow friends are now in other relationships and I'm so happy for them, but I still find it hard to imagine being with anyone else other than you, and can't get my head around what it must be like for them and their new partners. 

To be honest I don't even know how I would even meet someone even if I wanted to get remarried! That actually cracks me up as it's not like there's a lot of single men in my circles (or anywhere!) who would want to marry a middle aged, very independent widow who is still in love with her husband, and who has children.  I have enough of my own baggage to deal with, and am not keen on taking on anyone else's! I think I'm just way too used to the 'single' life now and would rather be on my own that have to deal with any drama that would come along with having another relationship.  

I am lonely and the nights are long, but my days are busy and full with work and the boys and I'm grateful for that.

It's taken me five years, but I think this year I finally got to the anger stage of grief.  I don't even know what or who I'm angry with, but I was angry that our time together was cut so short, especially so soon after Noah passed away.  I know that everyone deals with hard things, and that many people go through harder things than us (and my work reminds me of that every day) but I was angry that I'm always so physically and emotionally tired and that even though I feel happy at times, I can't ever imagine feeling true joy again.

I no longer believe that 'everything happens for a reason' or that my 'reward is going to be great in Heaven' or that it's 'God's plan'.  I actually feel angry when I hear that, because if it is God's plan then his plan is pretty crappy.   I don't think that there's anything worth taking you away from your boys and wife on earth.  I just believe that people get sick and everyone has to die at some stage.  I just know your heart was broken when Noah left.   

I'm actually doing well as I've worked through things and I know that you are around and that keeps me going.  I have no idea what 2017 will bring and it's always sad going into another year without you, but I hope that we all make you proud as we continue working out how to live without you and Noah.  We love and miss you both so much.

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