Anniversaries don’t have to be happy or sad. They can just be. Most of the time we celebrate them. Birthdays, weddings, beginnings and then there’s the endings which are a bit of an uncertain terrain to navigate. Memories of loss lead to reflection, and it’s always important to give yourself some space because the body stores memories in many of it’s beautifully crafted systems – like the nervous system. But the good news is that gratitude helps. Giving yourself time without expectation is something I’ve been honing in on too. Seems to have worked for the biggest, most apprehensive month on my calendar. This year I was more grateful than ever. Yet also prepared to not feel grateful if it didn’t work out that way.
No judgement, no expectation, self care – and maybe just a little over scheduling to keep the focus on energy producing activities, but no complaints – only achievements! Just 💛 it when the laws of attraction work without you actually thinking too hard about it.
The 17/8 is the anniversary of the car accident that changed many loved ones lives, and the shape of everything I knew and all that I didn’t yet know could change in such a split second moment. August was a month of loss of life, near loss of limbs, loss of the beach front home I shared with Adam, loss of pain free mobility and a ginormous loss of the naive innocence most of us live with until we are faced with our mortality and the most confusing choice a person ever makes. Do I want to, or more to the point do I have the will to fight to stay alive. Is the desire to end the cold, terrifying pain winning? Can I resist this relentless coaxing for me to give into my bodies losing battle with blood loss and immeasurable pain? I don’t remember beating the pain, but I do remember fighting to stay focused on each laboured breath because my inner voice was louder than the jaws of life and helicopter that got me to the life saving trauma recovery team. My inner voice just needed one breath at a time. I was not letting the breath go even if my body wanted to stop. “I’m not ready yet, breathe”. “I’ve got more to do, breathe”. I’m so grateful for my inner voice that clutched onto each extra breath. And forever in awe of the first responder that calmly coached me through it. He admitted to me months later he wasn’t as confident as I must’ve been. Another blessing out of the trauma. The calm responder shared with me months later, when I was out of hospital, that he had been saying to himself that he could no longer do his job of attending trauma if I didn’t make it. He was partly expecting it to be his last road side assistance. We both made it. He continued working with renewed hope.
Anniversaries can be strange, all different, every year something unexpected and every year I think I’m prepared but know deep down that I can’t be. This year admidst my overscheduling ‘keep doing positive work’ strategy, it was the incredibly kind and interesting participants that showed up wholeheartedly for a Mental Health First Aid course that filled my heart.
Fascinating and compassionate people. Strangers prepared to take a risk and open their minds and share stories. It is both perplexing and wonderful in the most gentle way that we can cross paths with some individuals for just a brief glimpse of what they bring to the world. Yet that glimpse brings a glow. These people were perfectly timed, thank you universe!
Love shows up where you don’t expect it. I was training these people to assist others but they assisted each other throughout the 2 days by simply being willing. Shared stories of love; for family, work, animals, plants, education, friends, peers, nature and life experiences – genuine, real life, everyday love that creates the shape of people’s lives. I got to share a brief window of life with them. I love my work!
Then there was my family. My best boy with a non teaching day, being my comforting calm through a strange countdown of time as the day progressed and he wanted to see the Embraced documentary tickets teach a tipping point for the funds to be raised for Lifeline. It rained miserable just as it did in 2001. Driving through the heavy rain, a reminder of all that was horrible about this day 16 years ago and still triggers my worst fears and anxieties, was far more manageable with my 10 year old PA for the day!
Some of our friends would have calls or messages from my young W shining through his first participation in independent community fundraising for Lifeline. Goal achieved. When I had run out of puff he took over with a competitiveness I couldn’t have mustered after facilitating a Mental Health First Aid program. I think the more W heard the words Lifeline and lifesaving conversations the more he needed it to go ahead. Never underestimate the smarts of our young people and what they learn by osmosis.
August sucks for more than one reason on my calendar of anniversaries. My Aunt and second mum lost to Cancer, dear friend from high school and beyond, lost far too young and my goofy grandpa. On the upside, to flip it somehow and reason with these losses – it turns out they’re condensed. A brutal moth yes, but the brain has to break it down somehow, well my brain dies!
So on 17/8 after a very tense drive in heavy rain (my worst anxiety trigger) I arrived home with an exhausted PA and held my smiling daughter, JP, who just knows, and oozes love through her eyes, smile and words. Simple honest words that mean the world because they are delivered with wisdom, empathy and uncapped care. Some people just have a gift of knowing (and a super sweet Dad aka my Dream Machine to give soft reminders that there can never be too many hugs on offer) 💛
The world lost a beautiful human in Adam on 17/8/2001. I lost my first real love and every part of my life as I knew it at that time. Through the losses though I have found so much love, experiencing other people’s kindness and witnessing their love for others while sitting with the natural process of heart wrenching grief. It takes a village and a family of steal. You all know who you are, you got me through, and are never far from my thoughts. Thank you! I hope I never have to but I will do the same for you, though I pray daily that I never get the call.
Moral of the story? When your heart and body breaks and everything seems lost, there’s more to come! There are so many beautiful humans in this world, and moments of natural wonder that make the heart mend and the mind mayhem vanish into insignificance.
And always remember just one more breathe. Then another. Listen for the helpers. Even if all you can do is focus on one more breath. The helpers will come. Let them help. 💛
*Heavenly cloud pic communicates in ways words can’t by the always clever Insta genius 📷@hellomissmay