Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Dear Aaron 2018

Dear Aaron;
It's been another year without you and although we are keeping busy and trying to make the most of  having to live as a family of four instead of six, it's still really hard.  I often think about how things could be different and you could've been the one here left with the boys on your and it scares me.  I would hate for you to have to go through what I have.

A friend asked me the other day if it's tiring having to pretend that I'm good all the time.  My reply was that I am mostly 'good' so I don't have to pretend I'm not, but feeling 'good' and feeling like the old me are two completely different things.  Before I felt complete and real joy because everything I loved was here with me. But now I try to fill my life with experiences to fill my life up, but there's always you and Noah missing so the high only lasts so long and then reality hits again.  That empty, sad feeling is always there in the background and sometimes it still overwhelms me at times.

Seven years is a very long time to be lonely and I people often ask me if I want to have another relationship or if I am seeing anyone, but that's not at all something I ever even consider happening or wanting to happen.  I am so happy for my widow friends who have gotten remarried, but it's the last thing I want.

I am grateful that I can fill my life up with my work and the boys.  I feel so lucky to be able to work in my dream job that I didn't even know existed until about five years ago.   When I decided I wanted to be a teacher as a teenager, I always imagined teaching children with special needs.  But after having Noah I knew that I needed to move on from special needs and do something different. 

Going back to teaching after 14 years of being a full time Mum and then becoming a widow was very scary.  I feel so lucky that I was able to get back into teaching by teaching English as an Additional Language, and it's not ever something I imagined teaching, but  I feel like I want to do until I retire.  It feels a lot like teaching kids with additional needs, but the rewards come so much quicker. To see a student arrive with hardly any English and then later be able to have a great conversation with them is incredibly rewarding. 

I love my students and hearing their stories, learning about their language, culture, traditions and religions.  I love working with their families, interpreters and other agencies to help them settle into life in Australia.  I haven't been able to travel like we had wanted to do together, but I feel in many ways that the world has come to me.  

This year I became a fully registered teacher and also became permanent full time.  It's such a relief to know that I'll always have full time work if I need it.  Almost every day something will happen at school that I wish I could come home and tell you about, because I know as a teacher you would appreciate the stories and funny things that happen throughout the day.  Work can be busy and stressful as you know, but we also have a lot of fun.
 I feel like my close circle of friends has become very small since you passed away.  I'm especially grateful for those friends who are still there seven years later.  I'm grateful that around them I don't have to pretend I'm anything other than who I am.  I'm grateful that they realise it's still hard even though I'm smiling and doing things that are fun. I'm grateful that they aren't sick of my grief and that they all help to brighten our lives.

I'm grateful for family and friends who are there on the really hard days.

This year it was awesome to have Alex and Nicki and the kids 'home' from the USA for the summer and also Konnie and Colin. It made our summer really fun to have them all here. 

It was so nice to have everyone in my family home earlier in the year. It was the first time for many years we had all been together, but at the same time there were three people missing as you, Noah and Dad weren't there and there was a baby to be born. 

I have loved catching up with old friends this year.  It's so nice when they're the same, even if it's been years since we've seen each other. 

I hope you can see that the boys are doing awesome.   I'm proud that they're doing so well, and I try not to let my grief and stress affect them too much. 

They've all grown up so much in different ways.  Harri is a giant and loves that he is taller than all of us. 

It's been so nice having Jay at home on a gap year this year.  Neither of us were ready for him to move away to Uni this year and I don't know if I'm ready for him to go even now, but life has to move on and so does Jay.  He's been working pretty much full time for the last six months and although it's not his dream job, he's made a lot of friends, had lots of fun at work and it has given him a lot of confidence.
We've been very slow at getting his hours done on his L2s.  I'm mostly sad that you're gone but I have to admit that there are times when I'm angry as well.  When I'm tired and stressed and have so much to do including teaching Jay to drive, I just get so angry that you're not here to help. 

He's worked so hard and saved up to buy his own car.  I'm so proud of him and excited for him to finally get his Ps so he can really be independent, but then I'm also petrified at the same time that he'll be on the roads without me next to him!

I was so proud of him earlier in the year when he won two awards for year 12.  To see how far he's come since you passed away, just makes me so happy.  For him to win an award for a 'positive attitude, resilience and independence' made me prouder than the academic award he won for his Media subject. It really showed how far he's come since grade 7 which was the hardest year of his life.

It's so lovely to have Erin around so much and they're just so lovely together.  I know that you would love her and you would show her by stirring her and teasing both of them. 
She really feels like a part of the family and even went to Sydney with us for one of our many trips there this year.

It's just so weird to think that we have a son that is old enough for Uni and for so many years I've been worried about when this time would come,  as I don't know how I'll afford it financially or emotionally but I would do anything to make sure that he gets to follow his dreams and I know you would want that too.

I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with him being away, but I'm glad that he'll still be in the same state and only a couple of hours drive away.  I know that Harri and Kobe are going to miss him terribly too.   I think I'll stress about him until I know he's settled and happy and then I'll be happy too. 

Harri has had an awesome year this year.  He's such a great kid and is the one I can rely on to help me around the house when I need it, and to ask me how I am. 
Every day he gives me hugs and tells me he loves me. Whenever I get home from a long day at work he's already gotten the clothes off the line for me, and is often doing extra jobs to help me out.
He's had the best year at school.  He's really wanted to work hard and I'm sure it has a lot to do with his teachers who he loves.  It's been so good for him to have so many great male teachers who he looks up to, and has a lot of fun with.  They treat him so well, know how to have fun with him but also know how to encourage him to work hard.  They remind me so much of you as a teacher, and I'm so glad that he has great male role models at school.

His teachers have been so lovey to him in making sure it's been extra special for him when he's played footy on your memorial oval.  They've let him be captain for the day and have also taken a team photo at your oval, which meant so much to Harri and really touched me.

He's received two academic excellence awards this year and I've been so proud of him.  Hopefully he continues to work hard in grade 9 and 10 as he doesn't know what he wants to do when he's older yet, but I keep telling him if he works hard it'll keep his options open for anything he choose to do in the future.

He was kept busy at school being Allen Vice-Junior House Captain. It's so nice that he has so many opportunities at school to be a leader. 

He's so much like you at times that he drives me nuts!  He has to go for any sporting team other than who everyone else goes for, as he wants to be different. I wonder where he gets that from!?  I've learnt just to let it be, because he loves to banter too much and it drives me crazy at times!

I feel really angry that you aren't here for Harri at the age he is right now. He would absolutely love hanging out with you, watching and talking about sports all day with you and talking about music. He asks me almost every day things about you and which sports players you liked and  if you liked certain music or songs.   He's always talking to me about the NBA and asking if I know certain players and isn't impressed when I say I've never heard of them.   He loves looking at your old basketball cards, that I used to always threaten that I would sell on eBay to get some money back on them.
He goes through your box of special things I've kept in my bedroom, and is so excited that he finally can fit into your jerseys.  He keeps claiming them as his own, but I'll have to make sure that Jay and Kobe also get their fair share.

At the end of year grade assembly Harri was awarded one of the fun awards and it was the 'James Faulkner' award for being an all rounder.  I had no idea who James Faulkner even is, but I'm sure if you were here you would totally get it.  He is such an all rounder and does so well in everything he does.  He struggled a little bit at the beginning of the basketball season this year - going up to an older age division, and being one of the younger boys, but he found his confidence again and was awarded the MVP for his team again this year. 

Kobe is passionate about anything and everything.   He seems to have a new 'best friend' every week and lots of them which is great.  He hasn't loved school this year and I'm not sure why, but I hope that he'll enjoy grade 5 a bit more because I hated hearing him say 'I hate school' and not be excited about going.  I think that he loves the social aspect of school and the fun, but just isn't keen on working hard. He's a bit like Harri was in primary school, so hopefully by high school he'll decide that school isn't so bad and will want to do well at it.

He's loved playing basketball and futsal this year. 

He became the goalie in futsal which was so nerve wracking for me, but he did really well (when he concentrated - he's such a day dreamer at times!) and his team were awesome and they were so excited to win their grand final.

Both Harri and Kobe decided not to play soccer this year which I was really happy about as the cold Saturday mornings weren't my favourite thing to do.  I do love basketball though so I'm glad that all three boys played this year. Jay played socially at the YMCA with his mates and it was fun to watch him and Harri play some games together.

Kobe loves his sport as well and has loved going to live Big Bash cricket matches, and knows all the players and stats. 
 You'd be proud to know that he still loves Hawthorn and loves going to watch live footy. 


At a Hawthorn family day a videographer asked if he could video him kicking for goal, and it was used in a promotional video for Hawthorn and Tasmania.  We love spotting him  on TV and on the big screen at the airport.

He was also asked to have his photo taken for The Examiner to promote the match between Hawthorn and St Kilda.  The photo was so cute and he thought he was so famous!
I feel really sad that Kobe has lived so much of his life without you, but then again all the boys have now.  But Kobe was so young when you died, that it's hard for him to really remember. He 'knows' you because we talk about you all the time, and he sees photos and videos, but he really can't remember very much and I feel so sad for him that he's had to live so long without his Dad and he's only 10.

My life is so different now to what it was seven years ago, and as much as I try to fill it with things that we enjoy it's just not the same. We miss Noah so much too but I can't imagine life with him again any longer.

My life is busy but never as busy as it was when Noah was here and I was caring for him 24/7.  The boys don't often talk about Noah, but Jay surprised me a few months ago and told me he had been missing him a lot lately.  It's crazy to think that he would've been seventeen if he were still alive. 

We still visit your Dad and Carrol.  I'll never forget the day after you died and I went to see them to talk about your funeral.  Your Dad opened the door and cried and said he had lost two children and didn't want to lose us as well.  That has stuck in my mind and we make sure we catch up with them and always have a laugh with them about how much the boys are like you in different ways.

Milly has been great for the boys.  I love her as well, but the boys always tell me how much they have helped them to feel happier.

It's been a big year for family and friends who have had babies.  I was so happy for Makayla and Gavin to finally have their little girl Nora, who they've been waiting for so long for. 
Jared and Becky had a beautiful surprise and had another girl - Bridey.  I can't believe they have 5 kids now!
Even though Chrish lives the furthest away (other than Nicki in the USA) we still see him more than anyone else in the family.  It's nice to have somewhere to stay in Sydney and we have been up there a lot this year. 
You would've loved seeing Will Smith with us this year.  When we heard he was going to be on Sunrise we couldn't resist getting up early to go and see him.
 It's nice to have Mum join us on our trips and adventures throughout the year.

The more that time goes on, the more I feel like I have to have something to look forward to keep me going because life is just so empty without you.  We've made the most of our last year of Jalen being home and have gone to some amazing concerts, and have done lots of fun things together. 

As more time goes on without you and Noah in our lives, I'm always worried that people will forget you both so it's always nice to be able to present memorial awards and to visit your old school.  It made me sad this year that there are so many new teachers who wouldn't know you.



 I was really surprised this year when I got a phone call, asking if I would share my story by being the 'local hero' at an International Women's Day lunch.  I don't feel like a hero at all and it's scary speaking in front of so many people, but I'm grateful that I can share what I've learnt over the past seven years. 

I hate hearing people say 'they're in a good place' or 'isn't it great to know that you'll see them again'  because that doesn't bring me any comfort at all right now.  But sharing our story is one thing that has helped me to feel like it hasn't been for nothing.   I think more people need to understand grief and that it's okay to feel grief and that the best thing you can do to help someone going through it, is to just acknowledge it.  When I have people message me or tell me I've helped them in some way because of something I've shared, it helps me to heal as well.

Jelena Dokic was the main speaker at the same event, and it was incredible to sit and chat with her while we ate lunch.  I often think that life is very boring, but then I have moments where I have the opportunity to meet someone or do something that gives me a boost for a little while.  She was so kind and down to earth. We talked about her writing her book and how she really had to be ready to do it, because it was very draining emotionally. I still think that one day I may want to write our story as well, but I know I have to be in the right frame of mind to be strong enough to do it and I still feel like my story hasn't ended because I still feel like I've got a lot of healing to do.

I'm nervous about what 2019 will bring because we've done so much during 2018, and I know this year will be a lot different with Jay moving away.   I miss you so much and there's not a day that I don't think about you and Noah and wish for our old life back.  I'm know how lucky we are to be able to do so much together as a family of four, but no amount of trips, concerts, sporting events or experiences will ever fill the hole that's been left in my life since you left it.

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