On grief, part II

It’s been a month. A month ago, he left us. It was the virulent leukaemia after all. And me being a stem cell match didn’t help. (If none of this makes sense you’ll need to read my previous post from last July).

There’s so much I could say, so much I want to say about the process of watching him and his partner go through the various treatments that were tried, about the process of being a stem cell donor, about the hope that comes with the next treatment option, until finally there are no more options. Only palliative care.

But I can’t write about it now. My face is salty and my heart too bruised today. I’ve lived a blessed life and this is my first taste of grief so strong that you can’t take it in all at once. Grief that comes in waves and leaves you adrift in your own emotion, grief that threatens to drown you.

I feel too weak to do anything, all my strength is gone.

I’m living a double life. There’s me carrying on and doing what I need to do, attending to my family, functioning at my job. I’m currently in the UK. So I’m dealing with travel, making memories with my family, networking with fellow researchers. Then there’s the other me, grieving in the quiet moments that I have to myself. Bewildered that this has happened, shocked anew every time I remember, mourning whenever something reminds me of him. There’s a lot that reminds me of him: red hair, minis (the car, that is), the type of ambient music he had on whenever I visited, cocktails, and snazzy clothes.

I dreamt there was a cure and woke up remembering that he’s gone. Realising that this can’t be fixed.

Time is living a double life too. There’s normal time marching on, carrying me onwards. There’s eternal time where I’m stuck in a moment, where’s it’s still so fresh, so shocking, so painful. How can it be a month?

I feel like the way forward is to somehow reconcile the two mes. The me of grief and the me of the brave face. To weave the two together so that my grief comes part of me. So that I know its ok to mourn, to grieve, to adjust to this new normal. I know I will find new ways in which he remains a part of my life, in a new and a different way.

I know I will eventually get used to seeing the things that remind me of him.

But in the meantime there’s an awful lot of minis in the UK.


Hope amidst the darkness

Photo by Andrew Caird

Photo by Andrew Caird

I don’t have words to describe the horror of the weekend fires that have ravaged Victoria and taken so many lives, homes and land. My heart is heavy and goes out to the affected families. But one thing I have seen is that in the face of such tragedy Australians have reached out to help those in need. The government has pledged to pay whatever it takes to rebuild the decimated communities (contrast that to the underwhelming reaction of the US government in the face of Hurricane Katrina). But more heartening than that is the massive out pouring of charitable giving in the face of this disaster.

Public donations to Victoria bushfire disaster tops $30 million

Bushfires spur record blood donations

Fodder donations pour in for fire-hit farmers

Socceroos donate match fees from World Cup qualifier to bushfire appeal

Cricket proceeds to go to Vic bushfire victims

Cohen and Kelly pledge $200,000 for bushfire victims

This is not a comprehensive list. There are many other examples of people helping out, from finding ways to respond  locally – such as Clem Bastrow of the Dawn Chorus’ drive for toiletries, to internationally, this guy from Toronto, Canada who is auctioning his guitar to raise money for the victims of the fires and floods.

This outpouring of giving warms my heart and makes the tragedy a little easier to bear. The knowledge that many many people are responding to this by finding ways to do what they can for those that have lost so much. In this I find an Australia that I can be proud to be a part of, a humanity that I don’t despair about.

Unfortunately disaster not only brings out the best in most of us, it brings out the worst in some. This ghoul is claiming that the fires are God’s punishment upon Vic for decriminalising abortion. (This man is a Minister for Catch the Fire Ministries, he calls himself a Christian but is using human misery to peddle his beliefs). It saddens me that people are using this tragedy to point fingers, score political points and scam people.

View of Melbourne from scorched fields of Kinglake West Picture by David Geraghty via news.com.au

View of Melbourne from scorched fields of Kinglake West Picture by David Geraghty via news.com.au

If you do wish to do anything (donate money, clothes, shelter, look after animals, etc) this website is a good starting point – The Victorian Bushfires: Other ways to give