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An Alone Soul

I suppose
I must be
An alone soul.

I’m happy to spend time
On my own

I guess that’s why
The Boy and I
Were drawn to each other.

Two
Alone souls

He now sits
In a space of aloneness.
In that noisy, lonely place.

I am not alone,
Nor is he.

Wish we could be
Alone, together.

Swimming

I love the ocean.
I go to the beach, to think and to find comfort, and to be reminded that I’m such a small piece of this beautiful planet.
Those waves roll in no matter what is happening in the human world, and the sound of their crashing gives me peace.

John lived in the ocean.
He was a master scuba instructor and was more at home in the sea than on the land.
We were at the beach and swimming or walking every week without fail.
The wilder the weather, the better.

I still often go to the beach, but not as often as I used.
And I have not dipped a toe into the ocean since his stroke, in February, 2008.

I just look, and wish.

This weekend, my seventh birthday without his knowing, I will go back to the ocean.

Waves, over my head.

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Spring Weekend

He’d be asleep now,
It’s 7:43pm and it’s dark.

Spring.

I have flowers in the house,
Picked from the garden this evening.

All around I can hear neighbours
With friends over,
Smell their barbeques
And listen to their joy.

That used to be us,
Boy at the barbie,
Me inside,
Organising the salads.

Spring.
So many flowers.
So much love,
And
Joy.

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It was the closing night of the Sydney Olympics. Our young Labrador Charlie was safe in our back yard and we headed up to Beacon Hill to watch the panorama of the fireworks across Sydney and up the Parramatta River. Yes, you can see the Parramatta River from the northern beaches.
Sadly, a friend who was volunteering came to pick up her car from our house (close to the Olympic bus stop) and left the gate open. Charlie got out and was run over and killed. We were all devastated, he was the first pet we’d had as a family.
About a month later, with my husband and children still grieving for Charlie, I dragged them to the North Sydney grower’s market where i knew a breeder of Labradors from Adelong sold her apples.
We convinced her that her last two from the current litter should be ours. And so we welcomed Max and Oscar to our family.
They became the delight of our lives. Friends asked: “How are The Boys?” in the same breath that they asked about us.
John adored them and they became the best-trained Labradors you’d ever meet. Always motivated by food of course, but never jumped up, always did as they were told. Oscar (the black one) guarded the house at night, Max (the yellow one) was in charge during the day.
We weren’t a family of four, we were a family of six.

Life went on and The Boys were a huge part of it. They shared their birthday with my husband, which made all of us laugh when we realised it was just like Homer Simpson and Santa’s Little Helper.

Oscar was a typical black Lab, a bit more uptight than a yellow Lab, always worrying that everyone was okay, Max was the “people dog”, the one everyone loved. We loved them both.

They both worshipped John, the leader of the pack.

Life went on in our blessed northern beaches life until October 2007. I was in New Zealand, visiting a dear friend, when I got the call that Max had fallen very ill and was not expected to live. He’d eaten something (typical Lab!) and was in doggy intensive care, in an induced coma to stop the fitting. Somehow he survived, thanks largely to the fact that he’d been kept slim and fit all his life. We were told that he he wouldn’t have as long a life as your usual Lab.

It was the first time the boys had been separated and Oscar’s face turned grey overnight.

Then four months later in February 2008 was John’s stroke.

Life turned upside down.

The boys looked for John, as we all did. They were allowed inside, even at night. We needed them. When all seemed lost those boys made us smile. They were a reason to keep functioning, they needed to be fed, walked.

John went to the nursing home, the house was sold. We didn’t know where we’d be living and we didn’t know what to do with the boys. A friend took them to live with him for six months. Driving them to his house near Liverpool was very difficult but he took such wonderful care of them and they came back eventually.

After some time they went to live with my daughter at her share house in Mona Vale. If they were missing, the housemates all knew to go looking in the industrial area where they’d be sure to be found, sharing lunch with the workers. They’d wander home afterwards if no one had come looking.

In June 2011 while I was away for the weekend I got a call from one of the housemates. My daughter was working and Oscar wasn’t well. He was taken to the vet and the news was cancer of the spleen and he was bleeding internally. It’s a common cancer in Labradors. I came home, rounded up the kids, and we said our final goodbye to Oscar. One of the links to our old, happy life was broken. Oscar was gone.

We worried about Max. How would he cope without his brother? Max struggled but adapted. The dog who was supposed to die early kept on and on.

He saw us through so many house moves (I’ve lost count), so many times when we wondered how we’d go on.

Always we’d be greeted with the wagging tail, didn’t matter how bad things were, he always made us smile.

For the last three months, Max did it tough but never changed his attitude. The tail still wagged.

He’s put up with the puppy and taught him a few life lessons. The puppy repaid him by encouraging him to eat when he had no appetite.

Finally, last Thursday, at 5:30am, he stopped breathing.

Our last link to our old, happy life was gone.

Max has been more than the family pet. He’s been one of us.

We have lost one of our own.

Rest in peace Max, you grand old boy, be happy with your brother in that big, sandy park next to the sea.

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It was six years yesterday.
A time to think about all that has happened in all our lives in that time.

This time of year is very, very difficult.
It begins with my mum’s birthday on Feb 13 and ends with our wedding anniversary on Mar 13.

In between is Valentine’s Day (our last weekend together) and the anniversary of the stroke.

Six years ago I was full of optimism and absolutely sure that John would come home, no matter what. I thought that that all mountains were surmountable.
I thought I could anticipate any obstacle.

Since then the unanticipated obstacles have appeared.

I’m proud of the way my little family has climbed over them but I worry about our ability to continue to climb over and keep going.

Life is becoming more and more frenetic. The old life appears from this distance to be so serene, yet I know that it wasn’t.

I don’t visit as often as I once did, and this is a source of anxiety and guilt.

We have a wonderful friend in Sandra, who visits so often and makes John’s life as good as it can be. We are both so lucky to have her. She has picked up where I leave off.

Beauty keeps me going, and I hope it keeps our children going too.

The beauty of an evening sky, the rain today, my little puppy Piño and our old dog Max. I try to pass the joy of this beauty on to our darling children.

And beauty reminds me of love.

The love John has for us,
The love we have for him.
The love of all of our friends.

Love and Beauty.

Unending Love

I heard this poem today, Valentine’s Day. Sort of sums it all up for me.

If you wish to see Gregory Peck read it, dedicated to Audrey Hepburn, here’s the link:

Unending Love

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age-old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.
Rabindranath Tagore

Summer Night

Mr heart creaks,
And cracks.
I walk outside
And see the stars shining, and
A tiny wisp of breeze
Stirs the leaves.

And I think of those
Who sleep
(I hope)
And those
Who cannot
Sleep.

The Top of The Hill

You’re at the top of the hill
And I’m down here.

We’re in bed
In the same postcode

And an ocean apart.

You’re sound asleep, no doubt
In your sterile world
Loved by those who care for you
In their professional way.

Did you have a nice dinner?

Are you comfortable?

Is the sound of the rain soothing you,
As it does me?

The Hard Words

I am
Always scared
Of
Saying the hard words.

You may not
Love me
Any more?

The words
Cannot
Go
Unspoken

Or we may
Never speak again.

Photograph

I came across a photograph
While fossicking through a drawer.

It’s just a licence photo,
One of those ones
We all love to hate.

You look like a tough guy,
But I know you’re not.

You never were.

I realise
That the memories are slipping,
Sliding,
Disappearing with the ocean’s breeze.

And I need
These little discoveries

To remember you

As you were.

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