When the Sun Sets on a Life

The image of his shoes by the back door as dusk settled upon the house.

The radio still playing, unaware that its tunes sang out across a backyard,
To no one.

New saplings, lined in rows, garden ready for the impending meeting of the baby grandson,

Left silent now as the wind sweeps through the trees he had known and tended to so well.

The half finished cross word sitting on the couch,

When only an hour before it had been penned.

These are the haunting images my husband and I will have of a life taken away from all he knew and loved,

Too soon.

69 years on this earth and then gone.

And the finality of it,

The feeling that there’s nothing you can do about it or do to change the outcome,

These are the tidal swells of emotion that catch you off guard and

Now,

Everywhere I look,

The once Familiar,

The routine, the habitual, the everyday,

Is now completely Foreign.

A Stranger.

And I’m finding I have to re-learn seeing life again with unscarred eyes,

Because the robbery of death,

Taints my vision with a mocking that says,

‘Life! What are you? What a vanity! What a farce!

And you ask, What’s left? and what did it all mean?’

Then you choose to snap yourself out of the pity and the grief,

And suddenly,

Everything becomes Sacred.

A smile from my child,

A safe drive to the grocery store,

Watching television,

Doing the laundry.

Because these are the privileges of the living.

These are the things we GET to do,

And we sure as hell don’t want to take it for granted,

To not notice the Sanctity and Sacredness of Life.

Just as much as I don’t want to forget the smell and the laugh and the sight of him,

Of the shoes,

That were also worn by the man who was kind and tender and who loved his grandchildren with an abandoned and delighted love,

Who sat them on his lap and cuddled and tickled as only Poppy could.

And you press the memory into yourself so that you don’t forget the value of a man’s 69 years.

A precious man,

Who has left a precious family to keep living and breathing through the pain and the grief.

And you remember the man who whistled and sang along to those tunes on that radio station,

And who delighted in his garden and who,

Though never meeting his grandson, knew him and loved him and prepared a place for him.

Gone too soon,

Ripped from us,

My husband’s daddy,

My children’s poppy.
It’s a different landscape now,

And I know death meets us all at some point in life,

But the crazy thing is,

You can never prepare for it when it does come knocking at your door.

You can only live the life you have now and soak and bask in the joy of every single moment of it,

Because one minute it’s here and the next, it’s gone forever.

Cate x

Cate is a mum, wife, singer, song writer, pastor, teacher and blogger.  She is the Founder of The Inspire Collective – a creative network for women in Perth and is one of the writers for Kinwomen and 98five Sonshine FM.

Cate singing

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When my baby laughed

I remember vividly the first time my baby boy laughed.

He was 6 months old and as I reached in to pick him up from his cot,

He made me chase him and his giggle,

This new, beautiful and rare sound,

Washed over me the coolest, most soothing water I had ever felt.

Instantly, it turned my heavy, burdened soul into a well spring of hope and joy.

The sound of his laugh broke one of the most intense seasons of grief and hopelessness I had ever experienced.

Kristian means ‘light of Christ.’

Babies are meant to be all smooth sailing and goos and gahs and dressing up nurseries and talcum powder smells….

No, it wasn’t like that for me.

I plummeted into a fairly scary bout of post natal depression straight after he was born.

He wouldn’t stop crying.

From the moment he was born,

He screamed.

And not cried, like little weak cries,

He had a cry that sounded panicked,

Tears would literally stream down his face.

And there was nothing I could do to console him.

The nurses would come in at the hospital and ask me if I’d fed him,

If I’d changed his nappy,

If there was something hurting him,

Maybe it was a nappy on too tight,

Maybe, something…

But no.

From the moment he was born his cry would pierce my day around 12 times,

For the next 6 months.

And there was nothing I could do.

I remember the car rides.

He would scream every time I put him in his car seat.

A familiar dread would come over me when I would get in the car to go anywhere.

But particularly when I had to go to church,

As it was a gruelling 45 minute drive.

I would drive myself, my 2 year old toddler and my baby,

And I still remember the surge of panic and helplessness that came when he started crying,

Because he wouldn’t stop.

He would cry and cry and scream and scream,

For almost an hour there,

And almost an hour back.

I remember getting very little sleep,

Not going anywhere,

And trying to look after my 2 year old toddler at the same time.

I had done this before,

Quite successfully I thought.

My other boy was a breeze and did all the right things.

This little light, did not.

He didn’t fit my boxes of what Babywise told me he had to fit.

He was in a category all of his own.

And for someone who liked to know what I was doing and how it was supposed to be done,

My life went into a dark, steady, downward spiral for close to a year.

I remember those days so clearly,

Lying exhausted on the rug on the floor,

Trying to catch a few moments sleep before he woke.

On edge, waiting for his frantic little cry to pierce the stillness.

Well meaning friends would come and try to find out what I was doing wrong,

Offering me their sympathies,

I remember those looks of pity…

But sometimes you aren’t doing anything wrong.

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you want them to,

And it’s painful and isolating and dark.

What do you do in your darkness?

Very often we just survive the dark,

Waiting for the light to break.

My little light.

Kristian.

What did I learn?

I learned not to judge.

You don’t get to be the person who has opinions to offer anyone when they are in their darkness.

You get to be the listener and the quiet strength, but never the judge.

I learned that sometimes there are patches in life where you simply need to tread water.

You’re not going to get your head above the waves until the time is up.

So whilst there,

You do your best to keep swimming,

Against the tide,

Against the relentless smash of the waves over your head.

You do your best to keep going.

Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Just survive.

Take the short naps on the rug on the floor.

Take the car rides whilst holding your breath and then congratulate yourself that you got to the other side without having an accident.

You don’t have to be strong for anyone else but yourself in those times.

I learned to be kind,

To myself and to others.

I became aware of how easy it is to reach a depth you never knew you were capable of,

And this holds me in good stead today.

I never judge anyone else in their darkness,

Because I know how easy it is to get there.

That was 9 years ago now.

Today, I have one of the most beautiful boys I believe to be alive.

His laugh broke my desperation and caused hope to come alive in me.

In an instant, I went from a depressed, hopeless woman,

Desperate, alone and grieving,

To a young mother, in love with her gift,

Thriving in my environment with a renewed sense of calm and peace.

Versed in the depths that depression can wreak,

Never a judge because of the compassion I learned,

Aware of my own frailty as a human, mother and woman,

And having learned that I am utterly dependent on the grace of God in every waking moment.

 

Cate x

Cate is a mum, wife, singer, song writer, pastor, teacher and blogger.  She is the Founder of The Inspire Collective – a creative network for women in Perth and is one of the writers for Kinwomen and 98five Sonshine FM.

Cate singing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowhere in my story will it ever read, ‘I gave up.’

Not Giving In

It’s mental health week this week.

So it wasn’t a surprise that as I turned the TV on last night,

I saw an interview with NRL player turned boxer Joe Williams,

Who was talking about how he’d written a letter to his children,

Apologising that he wasn’t going to be around anymore.

How he was sorry he wasn’t going to be able to walk his daughter down the isle.

How he wasn’t going to be able to see them grow up.

He was going to end his life.

He was going to give up.

It was the only way he could ‘stop the noise’ he said.

To silence the voices, the expectations, the pressure…

He tried, but woke up the next morning still alive by some miracle.

From that point on he decided he was going to make a difference and use his influence to help others.

It’s a common story.

I hear almost weekly of people wanting to take their own lives.

It no longer comes as a shock, or a surprise.

It’s just something that I’m used to hearing,

From what many would consider the most unlikely sources.

Wanting to opt out has become more common than many would like to admit.

Wanting to escape the too much,

The too hard,

The pain,

The confusion,

The hopelessness.

People everywhere are wanting it all to go away.

The noise has begun to drown out their hope,

Or any vision for their future.

There are so many factors at play as to why the noise becomes too much.

Some are struggling with unmet expectations,

Some with resentment,

Unforgiveness,

Shame,

Regret,

Failure,

Fear,

Grief.

The list most definitely goes on.

But there are a few things I have found that help remedy these kinds of powerful, noisy emotions.

Emotions like these thrive in silence.

So talk.

My grandma used to say ‘A problem shared is a problem halved.’

Find someone you implicitly trust with your life and tell them what you’re going through.

Trust is the key word here.

Talking to someone who can just listen without judgement is what you need.

Someone who will empathise with what you have been feeling.

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

It strips off the unspokenness of the problem and exposes it to the light so that darkness can’t penetrate anymore.

Next, be kind to yourself.

No one has it all together all of the time.

For perfectionists, lowering your expectations is sometimes key to being kind to yourself.

Own your not good enough,

Your failure,

Your suicidal thoughts.

Struggling with deep emotions like shame and despair and anxiety is more common than you think.

Own your story and start to confront it.

Only when we come face to face with what it is that we are most fearful of,

Can we then work through it and overcome it.

This takes an incredible amount of courage

And often when you’re in spaces like this,

Courage is the thing found in least supply.

But I want to encourage you.

Be kind to yourself.

Find someone you trust who will listen to your grimy mess and still accept you.

Heck, will even love you more because of it.

I’ve found that the people who reach out to me are the ones I am building greater and greater respect for,

Because they have owned their struggle.

They have had the courage to own their story,

Not make excuses for it,

But have put on the bravery needed to face it and try to climb that seemingly insurmountable mountain once again,

Even if its only one step at a time.

I applaud them this week.

Cate x