Sunday, 21 July 2019


I'm always ready for school holidays after ten busy weeks at school, but at the same time I find holidays can be quite hard.  When I'm not busy or in a routine, it can be really easy to feel down and overwhelmed with grief again.  When I'm at work I'm busy all day, interacting with other adults and I feel like I have something positive to focus on.   Working has really saved me mentally the last few years, as I feel like I'm making a positive contribution, somewhere other than in my own home.  

I do enjoy school holidays and look forward to them and I also know how lucky I am to have school holidays to spend with my boys.  I enjoy sleeping in, not having to make school lunches, catching up on Netflix, and getting around to doing things in the house that I never find time to do when I'm working full time.  But the days can also be long if I don't have anything planned, or if I don't see anyone other than the boys.  Holidays can also be really lonely if I don't get out and about.  If Aaron was here at least I would have another adult around to talk to, and someone to share the load with the boys.  

Just before holidays we had a beautiful time catching up with our friends Gary and Lisa. They moved to the mainland a few years ago, and I miss them a lot.   It was like they've never been gone. 
Eden is only four months older than Kobe, but she's a giant.  Kobe wasn't keen on getting a photo together.  He hated that we teased him all weekend about how they used to be besties, and Eden used to buy him Barbie dolls for presents, and he would get so excited about it!

Over the holidays I caught up with different friends, and we had some lovely lunches together.

We have been busy having Mum's dog Josie staying with us, and Milly is loving having a friend to play with. 

It was so nice to have Jay home from Uni for 6 weeks, including the two weeks of school holidays.  He's really enjoyed Uni and has done well with the study.   We are now used to him being away, but it's always nice when the four of us are back together again.

Jay and Erin have been spending lots of time together, during the semester break.  Josie is obviously feeling very much at home!

Last week we headed to the snow.  We were so lucky and found a great spot just on the side of the road. I get too scared to drive too far into the snow, especially as our car isn't a 4WD.

There were tears!
 How lucky am I!
 We had such a fun day together.
For the rest of the holidays I spent a couple of days painting some of our ceilings (where's Aaron when I need him!?) and in between I would make sure we got out and had some fun.  I was excited to use a gift voucher that I got from a friend from work, for the Star Theatre. It was our first time there, and Kobe and I loved it.

We tried to get in lots of walks with Tim and Helene when we could.  Their daughter Ava loves walking Milly.

Kobe loved taking part of the Southern Huskies basketball clinic.  It was fun for him to participate with the players.  They played a game against them at the end, and it was hilarious seeing them against these huge guys. 
We have another Maccas worker in the family.  Harri started his training shifts over the holidays and is really enjoying it so far. 

Kobe said the second best day of the holidays was going to the snow, and the best day was when he won a competition on the radio.  They gave out clues in the morning and you had to work out where the place was, and then find the 'Optus yes woman'.  If you were the first one to find them, you won $100 cash.  For three days we tried to win it, and were lucky on the third day to be the first one to the woman. 
I actually figured out the clues, and found the woman but because Kobe was the one who really wanted to do it, I let him have the money, after he shouted us Maccas for tea, so we could see Harri on his first shift on counter :)  We celebrated by getting sushi (Kobe's favourite) before we went to pick up the cash from the radio station. 
I'm not looking forward to the early mornings and rush out the door every day, but I'm actually looking forward to getting back into a routine.  I cope a lot better emotionally when I'm busy and it's hard to keep really busy over the winter holidays.  Hopefully term 3 will go just as fast as the last one, because the weather will be a lot nicer next holidays and before we know it summer will be here.

Moving Forward

On Noah's birthday I received an email from a reporter at the Examiner newspaper. She said she had just heard of our story and believed that it would've been Noah's 18th birthday. She was the health reporter at the Examiner, and wondered if I was interested in doing a follow up story, since our family had been in the paper a lot over the years.  She said she wanted to focus on the side of grief and mental health. 

I'm always happy to talk about mental health and grief, especially if what I share helps someone else, so we organised a time to meet up to do the interview. We met later that week and a photographer came to our house and took some photos of us all together. 

In the paper that Friday was an editorial which I didn't expect, which mentioned our family.  As much as you wish things haven't happened to us, it's comforting to know that our experiences have helped other people, either by helping to know that they aren't alone with how they are feeling, or because it helps them to appreciate what they have.  

The reporter let me know that our story would be in the paper the following Sunday, but I had no clue it was going to be on the front page! I walked through Coles to buy the paper and was so overwhelmed to see the front page.  I quickly grabbed two copies (one for Mum as she's in the USA) and quickly got out of there. 
 I'm always so anxious to see how the story turns out, as you never really know what spin they will put on things, or if they'll take certain quotes and not others.  The reporter Jessica did a lovely job on it. 

 This is the text from the story by Jessica Willard. You can also read it online here

"King, families are forever." The words sit above a mantelpiece in a Newstead living room. It's in a house filled with photographs that help tell the story of a family of six, now four, who strive to make every day count.

Lisa King and her sons Jalen, Harri and Kobe are still managing their grief. On October 8, 2011 they said goodbye to son and brother Noah. Then, just three-and-a-half months later, Lisa's husband and the boys' father, Aaron, suffered a massive heart attack.

Suddenly, Lisa was not just grieving the death of her child, but also the love of her life. She was now a widow and a single mother struggling to navigate her sons through their own grief.
At the time one of the only things she could take comfort in was a blog she had started as a way of sharing Noah's story. The Kings was a place where Lisa could share the highs and the lows of being a stay-at-home mum caring for four boys, as well as the full-time carer of a son living with complex disabilities.

It also became a form of therapy as she came to terms with her own grief and mental illness. To date The Kings has been viewed by more than five million people.
"Blogging wasn't big when I first started it," she explained. "My cousins were actually one of the first people I ever knew to have one, and I didn't even know what a blog was.
"I thought no one would be interested in reading about my life, it would just be something for my friends and family. We also knew Noah wasn't going to be with us forever and I thought it would be a nice way to start capturing family memories."

Lisa also wanted to share Noah's story to let people know about the challenges of having a child with a disability. However, she also wanted to portray the positives.
Despite being "the perfect baby", three days after he was born Noah started screaming. It wasn't until nine weeks later that the screaming stopped when tests revealed Noah had hydranencephaly, caused by a stroke in utero resulting in fluid in his brain.

Lisa and Aaron were told Noah would never walk or talk. He would never be able to go to the toilet on his own and would probably be deaf, blind and unresponsive to them. They were also told he might only live for a few years.

After 10 years and three months, Noah's body began to shut down. Describing his life as a gift, Lisa said they had been told many times the reason Noah lived for so long with his condition, was because of the love and care from his family.

In the weeks after Noah passed away, Lisa described the hole left in her family as well as the immense sense of gratitude for the time they got to have with him. Life was starting to move and the family were starting to turn a corner with their grief. Then, the unimaginable happened.

While on a family holiday at St Helens, Aaron suffered a heart attack. Lisa detailed the moments leading up to his death in her blog. After enjoying a morning of fishing, he sat down to eat before having what looked like a seizure. Moments later he was blue and not breathing. Paramedics were unable to revive him and 45 minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy revealed Aaron died from a cardiac arrhythmia. As a baby he had undergone surgery to treat a hole in heart which had resulted in scarring.
"For him to live 39 years with no symptoms that his heart still wasn't right is amazing, and I have no doubt that the stress of losing Noah put strain on his already broken heart," Lisa wrote in her blog.
Life was never the same for the Kings. For Lisa, knowing she had three boys to care for was what got her out of bed every day. However, about 18 months after Aaron's death she realised she wasn't doing as well as she thought.

"I took one of the boys to a psychologist we had been seeing and he told me I didn't look so good. He asked me to do a mental health check with him," she said.
"When he looked at all the things I had marked he told me he thought I had severe depression. I just thought everything had caught up with me and that was it."
After being advised to talk to her GP, Lisa was diagnosed with depression. However, despite knowing it was an illness, she said she still felt like she had failed herself.

"I just thought - 'this is what grief really feels like'. Because I had to just function. I had to get out of bed, I had to go to work, I had to get the boys to school. I imagined grief was lying in bed, screaming and sobbing. But it wasn't like that."
Despite being hesitant to take medication for her depression, Lisa said it ended up being the best thing she had ever done.
"It took a good month, but then I started to feel normal again. I could get out of bed and feel OK," she said.

"I had done all the things I thought I could to help. I was going to the gym, exercising, eating well and getting good sleep. I just felt I had let myself down. But mental illness is an like any other, it's just you have to treat your brain. You would go the doctor if you had a chest infection. Mental illness should be treated like any other illness."
Today, Lisa said the family were still moving forward with their grief. On June 26 - what would have been Noah's 18th birthday - the family visited his grave. It is something they do often for both Noah and Aaron, in an effort to remember all their happy times together.

"Every day we live our lives imaging they are watching us. We just try to make them proud of what we are doing," Lisa said.
"Jalen is at university now in Hobart doing a bachelor of media. I think that's been his dream for a while and I think Aaron probably wouldn't believe that he has a son at uni.
"Harri is really passionate about sport. Jalen loves his movies. Kobe has his sense of humour. All the boys are so much like their dad in different ways and they just remind me so much of him."
For the past four years Lisa has been finding another sense of fulfillment teaching at Mowbray Heights Primary School. But despite loving her job, she said one of the hardest things remained other people's perceptions of her grief.

"The message I think is important to share is that there is no timeline for grief," she said.
"It is not as raw now, but it is still there every day. Just because someone is looking happy and is seeming like everything is fine, it's not always fine in the background.

"It's also important for people not to be scared to talk to someone who is grieving. A lot of people tell me they don't know what to say, so they don't say anything. They might be scared they will upset you if you. But you are sad anyway and for me, I just appreciate someone mentioning their names."

Life with Boys

One thing that I've really had to take on since Aaron died is making sure that the boys still get to do all the things that they love, even though I'm not into it as much as they are.  When Aaron died I felt like I had to take on his love of footy and Hawthorn for him, and for the first time ever I found myself really interested in the footy. 

I was genuinely interested in the footy for quite a few years after Aaron died, especially as Hawthorn were doing so well, but the last couple of years I haven't really been following it as much.  Kobe and Harri love it just as much as ever, even though Harri has now switched teams and barracks for Greater Western Sydney. 

Even though I don't really follow the footy as much as I used to, I still love going to the games with the boys when Hawthorn play in Tassie.  We always go with my Mum and Aaron's Dad comes as well.  
At the beginning of the year Harri asked me if  we could go and watch GWS play, if they came to Tasmania.  I knew it would mean a game in Hobart, and told him we could go especially after he got free tickets through something that they did at school with the North Melbourne Football club. We were lucky that it was a beautiful winter's day on the day that they played.  
Harri was glad to have a chance to finally wear his GWS gear.  
Thanks goodness GWS won, because it made the trip down and back in a day, worth it.  
We went to another Hawthorn match a couple of weeks ago, and this time we just went with Aaron's dad as Mum has gone on a holiday to the USA for six weeks. 
 An old friend that I taught with in my first year out of Uni (21 years ago!) is a huge Hawks supporter, and was also on the Tassie Hawks Supporter Group committee with Aaron, just before Aaron died.  They asked Aaron if he would be a part of it by being the secretary, and taking minutes etc at their meetings.  Aaron was over the moon to be a part of it.

During the week before the last Hawks game, he rang me and said that he wanted to invite me and the boys to a Hawthorn function after the game.  He sponsors some of the players and they were having a function at the Silo Hotel afterwards, where he would be presented with a guernsey from each of the players that he sponsors, and then the players would spend time chatting.

It was so lovely of him to invite us along, and he made sure that the players all came over to meet us and got a photo with us.  I had to admit that I didn't know a lot of the new players, but Kobe kept telling me who they were.
 Harri had a chat to Tom Scully about why he left GWS to play for Hawthorn.
 I've been dying to give Kobe a haircut for weeks but he won't let me, as he says he's 'growing it like Isaac Smith'.  I told Isaac and he had a laugh and took off his beanie to show us that he just had a hair cut! I told Kobe that it must be time to get a cut then and Isaac said 'nah keep growing it' which doesn't help the situation! :)
 We were very excited to get a photo with Jeff Kennett. He was very friendly and had a chat to us before the players arrived.
 The players were really friendly and lovely to the boys and didn't mind taking the time to get photos.   I know how lucky we were to be able to go, and I really appreciate that people try to brighten our lives by inviting us to things like this.
After the Hawthorn function we raced off to go and watch the Southern Huskies play basketball.  They're a new Tasmanian team playing the New Zealand NBL.  We got free tickets to their first game and thought we'd go along to check it out. We absolutely loved it as the atmosphere is so fun, and the quality of basketball is high.  Kobe has gotten to know a lot of the players and you can meet them after the game.

After their last game they gave out their cards to the kids.  Kobe had a great time running around, trying to get all of them. 
I know that Aaron would love that the boys are still very passionate about footy and basketball even though he's not here to be a part of it with them.

June Birthdays

In our family all our birthdays are either in June or September, except for Aaron who had to be different and had his birthday two days before Christmas. I don't look forward to birthdays at all now that Aaron is gone (and I'm old so birthdays just aren't exciting anymore) but Kobe has enough enthusiasm and excitement to make up for my lack of. 

He was counting down to his 11th birthday for months, and begged for a birthday party this year.  Because I dread birthdays, its extra hard having a party especially when I have to plan and run it all on my own.  I just wasn't up to it this year, but I compromised with him and we planned a fun day with his best friend Kobe (even spelled the same way and they're in the same class and basketball team!) on the weekend before his birthday.  We went to the movies and saw Pokemon and then got Maccas for lunch. 
He kept asking me if he could stay home from school on his birthday, but he doesn't have a choice when I work full time.  He woke up early to open up his presents. 
The boys always get to choose what they want for tea on their birthday and he chose Kosaten which is his favourite Japanese restaurant.   
Jay was away at Uni, so it was just the three of us for tea.  He loves being able to order on the iPad and have the food come out on the train, but he also loves the food. 

He always orders the same food - Japanese fried chicken, salmon nigiri and chicken teriyaki rolls. 
Kobe is my foodie.  He loves his food and is always asking for it! If we are out you can guarantee that he's going to be 'hungry' and just desperately needs me to buy him something to eat.  So he was extra excited that I let him choose to go somewhere for dessert on his birthday.  He chose to go to Charlies and Tim, Helene and Ava joined us. It was lovely having them join us because really I felt a bit sad all day, that Jay was away and it was just the three of us. 
They gave Kobe some footy cards as a part of his birthday present, and Haz and Tim had fun sorting them out. 
 Best day ever!
We didn't feel like cake after all that delicious food, but had to light the candles (or sparkler) and sing and ate the cake later in the week. 
My birthday was in the middle of the month and I've now officially hit middle age as I'm 45.  It's always weird to think that I'm getting older and Aaron is always going to be 39.  I was really spoilt and got some lovely gifts from friends and my students made me gorgeous cards. 

My friend Simone is always so thoughtful and made sure that I was doing something for my birthday.  I had already planned on going out for tea to make the day easier, and Tim and Helene and their kids and Simone and Flynn joined us.  It was lovely because Jay was home from Uni for it as well. 
I feel like my group of friends is a lot smaller than it used to be for different reasons, and I often feel really sad about it, so I'm really grateful for these guys who are always there no matter what.
Noah's birthday was later in the month and he would've been turning 18.  It's really hard to imagine him being that old.   I have such mixed feelings about wishing he were still with us, but also knowing how selfish that is because it wouldn't be fair for him to be here in his sick, disabled body.  His last year with us was so hard and although I would love to kiss his chubby cheeks again and to see him smile when I squeezed his leg, he was just so tired in the end and only holding on for us.

Because I had a staff meeting and didn't get home till later, we raced to the cemetery with some balloons and it was actually a really lovely time because the sun was just setting.
Unfortunately the sign at the entrance of the cemetery says that the gates shut at 5pm. We arrived just before 5 and I was worried we would get locked in, so it was hard to relax and spend much time there.  They never actually lock the gates when they say, but knowing our luck we would risk staying too late one night, and we would have to leave our car and walk home. 
 I actually coped okay on Noah's birthday this year.  I think Kobe's birthday was probably harder, because I just wish Aaron was here to watch his boys get older and be a part of their lives.  As much as I wish Noah was still here with us, I wouldn't wish for him to be back in his tired, disabled body.  It's so strange to have such mixed emotions about it.  On the other hand I don't see any good out of Aaron passing away, and think things should be so different.
I hope they were partying hard together with my Dad as it was also his birthday on the same day as Noah's.
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