51. Avoidance

I was asked recently, while going through my calendar for the next month or so, if all of my socialising and dating is just a way of avoiding my grief, and yes of course it is! – but I wouldn’t say it is that 100%. A lot of what I do these days involves other widowed people and that is actually incredibly therapeutic in a whole lot of ways. 

Too much time spent at home on my own is really hard. It highlights the huge chunk that is missing in my world. Trust me, I know exactly what I have lost – better than anyone! There are plenty of nights spent re-living every minute of THAT day, and feeling like I’m still there. There are more tears and hard days than I ever could have imagined having, and certainly more than I share with anyone. There is no ‘getting through’ this stuff, there is just living with it. My entire world has changed completely. Not just the immediate stuff, but the entire future that we had planned is now not what it should be. There is not a single hour in the day that goes past without some thought of Claytie. He is in everything that I do and there is no avoiding that…and honestly, I really don’t want to avoid it. I loved my life with Claytie and I love that my memories mean he is still (and always will be) with me in a way.

Going out and doing things with other widows actually takes some of the weight off. These people get it in a way that no one else can, and with them I am just Robbie. I can freely be this new, evolving me, and in that group my loss does not feel like the main focus like it does with people who knew me ‘before’. I don’t know that this is how my friends and family actually see me, but that is absolutely how I feel. I feel like people are watching me and analysing the things that I do, questioning what is ‘normal’. I’m really glad that most of the people in my world don’t know what any of this feels like because the reality is far worse that you could imagine. I know that I have people in my corner who are always there for me and I am beyond grateful to them for that, you guys mean the world to me! But it is nice knowing that in this new group of friends I have people to talk to who completely understand what an absolute shit show all of this is because they are walking a similar path. It’s nice having people who are also awake at 2am to chat with. It’s helpful being able to vent about someone with good intentions whose commentary is actually just hurtful, or to question why so many people have pulled away.

I know Clayties death left a hole in everyone who knew him, I know others are also grieving his loss, but their lives have kept going in the direction they were headed. They still have their person, they still have the lives they had planned. For them, Claytie is a passing thought or a fond memory and I guess that is how it should be, that is how it has been for me with friends that have died. But as a part of all of this for me, a whole lot of people that I thought would be there for me in person just disappeared, and my relationship with others has also changed in ways I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t only lose Claytie, I lost a bunch of other people as well and that has had a huge effect. Nothing in my life is the same. My world imploded and it’s bloody hard recognising and putting the pieces back together. 

I can’t apologise for the things that I do going through this process of finding a way to live with my loss. Sometimes it feels as though that’s the expected thing, that even though I am the one who is now different, whose life changed completely, I still have to fit in. I am supposed to be the same person that I was to make everyone else comfortable and less awkward. I’m not sure I know how to, because I do feel so very, very different now. Obviously I’m not intentionally setting out to upset or worry anyone, and I know some of what I have done has raised some eyebrows, but I have to do the things that make my life bearable. I have to figure myself out and I have to find a way to live with the new me. I don’t know how to do anything else. 

I have come from a very privileged/lucky world. I grew up in a happy united family and I married my high school sweetheart. I have lived a fairy tale and I am incredibly grateful for that. I have not had to confront anything like this before, so I feel like all I can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the things that feel manageable and good. The things that make me smile and take the load off for an hour or so. So yeah, while it looks a lot like avoidance, all of this is a kind of therapy and I find that for now, it works for me.

50. Just checking in …

So this week, given that it is Mental health awareness month, I thought that I would check in with all of you and see if YOU are OK?! I have been so amazingly lucky with the people in my world that have been there for me, and I want you to know that I am here for you too! My door is always open. I have tea, coffee and vodka ready anytime (and I can usually put together a cheese platter at short notice). I have spare beds and willing ears if you want a chat, and pretty broad shoulders if you need to cry…. I am also happy to cry with you if it helps, but lets face it, I’ll cry with you anyway because that is what I do best!

We have been having conversations at work this week about mental health and how important it is to prioritise that…. certainly something that I have learned recently. If you need a mental health day – take it! Work will still be there when you come back! My usual go to is to take myself to the beach and walk it off – often at sunrise after a night of not sleeping very well. It always makes me feel better and it absolutely clears my head! Even the rainy or windy days help me to recharge if my feet are in the sand at the edge of the water.

The other thing that I love and works well for me is just talking. It doesn’t even need to be a conversation about whatever it is that’s bothering me, although that will usually come up – you may have noticed that I talk about pretty much anything that is happening in my world! I find that I get my energy from the people around me, and lucky for me I have some amazing people in my world. I like to be busy. I find it hard to sit at home if I am on my own…. it makes me sad because it highlights all that is missing in my world.

Music is another thing that will always change my mood. I love my playlist, and rarely listen to anything else lately. It goes for about 9 hours and has all sorts of things on it – my favourites and a whole lot of Clayties, as well as some random Spotify suggestions. I will often put a question out into the universe and depending on what song plays next I will have an answer of sorts. It is not particularly scientific, but it makes me feel better! – I have on occasion been asked to change songs by people driving with me tho, because they are ones that we played at Clayties funeral and where for me they are comforting, for others they are sad.

So whatever it is that works for you and your own anxieties I want to make sure you are OK! I am here to support you – however that looks! Without all of you in my world, helping and looking out for me, I am not sure where I would be, so it is only right that I return the favours. As I have said to my kids in the past, there is no problem so big that it doesn’t have a solution, sometimes you just have to look in odd places to find it! I am happy to be your ODD!

And a little PS: – What ever your thoughts on the Royal Family, it is certainly the end of an era with the death of Queen Elizabeth. She absolutely held true to her promise of dedicating her life to the crown, working right up until the very end. I do have an admiration for her absolute commitment to her job, although her children may well feel quite differently about it, especially Charles who has had to wait such a long time to have his turn at it. I have to confess to some surprise at being quite shaken by the news – but as someone said to me this morning ‘Death has a different feeling in our family now’. I feel for her family, regardless of what I think of them, as they grieve the loss of their Matriarch.

49. Psychic

Have you ever seen a psychic or a medium, and did you get from them what you were hoping for? I’m a big believer in this stuff – factoring in that there are quite a lot of fakes out there. I just think there are so many things in the world that are not able to be explained any other way other than in a psychic/supernatural way.

I went to see a psychic in 2018, and at the time was in two minds about the information that she gave me. All she knew about me, was my first name and phone number – so no real way to ‘research’ who I was before I got there. She was really, really good at characterising my boys and a whole bunch of other stuff, and I left the session feeling quite upbeat, but there were also some things that just didn’t fit with us at the time. I re-listened to the recording of that session just the other day, and with hindsight, she was actually incredibly spot on with a whole bunch of her predictions as well – things that at the time seemed a bit vague actually turned out just like she said. – I am still looking for the beach front property in northern NSW that she told me I would own…. but given how accurate she was with everything else, I am very hopeful that it will happen!

I have been wanting to see another Psychic since Claytie died. I think it is a very common thing that people do after a loved one dies, and I know a lot of people who have done it. You want to know that they are still around you, that they are aware of your world without them in it. There is a longing for validation that they are ok with what you are doing, and that they are guiding you in some way. Losing someone you love, whether its a partner, child, close friend or parent is so incredibly difficult and hard to make sense of, so seeing a psychic/Medium feels like you’re doing something! That is probably also the reason that there are so many scammers in the world! It is easy to target a vulnerable person – and grieving people are certainly that!

The advice I have read is that you shouldn’t do it too soon after your person is gone as they need time to ‘adjust’ to the new situation as well. I waited two years and one month – although I booked my appointment back in March of this year! The person I wanted to see was crowned Australia’s best a number of years ago, and I have seen her before in a group setting where she was very impressive. I had pretty high hopes!

I had my appointment on my day off this week. I made sure that no one would be at home with me to create any kind of disturbance or interfere in any way. The appointment (thanks to COVID) was done via face-time, something I am not necessarily a fan of at the best of times, but you do what you have to! My call was spot on in terms of timing and we started in quite a promising way….. She was pretty good in some ways, but then way off the mark in a whole lot of others!

She started by saying the Claytie wasn’t really a believer in any of this stuff, and he absolutely wasn’t – AT ALL! He thought it was all a bit of a scam and kind of crap, but indulged my thoughts and ideas about it all anyway. She knew that he died very unexpectedly and that it was his heart that did it; she knew that it happened at home. She knew that he loved his job, but would have preferred to be at home with us – and all of these things with enough detail that she could not have got from anywhere else, so it felt OK…. and then it took a turn and she completely missed the mark trying to describe Claytie. She said that he was a small man – short to average height, and a quiet person who was not great in a big social group….. he was anything but! He was a big man with a big personality – there was absolutely nothing small about Claytie at all!

She talked about the boys a little bit, and again got some stuff right – apprenticeships and promotions, personalities and relationships but then seemed to go to generic boy stuff that just has never been us, and did not fit at all! – She did mention the new baby and that Claytie had already met them and would always be watching and recognised the significance of the middle name, but got the gender completely wrong – unless my son and daughter in law have been telling fibs!

I did record the whole thing and once I’ve let the initial feelings settle I will go back and re-listen to it all again, but I was left feeling quite flat at the end of the appointment and kind of don’t know exactly how to process the whole thing. I am not sure if I had too many expectations going in based on what I know of this psychic or if it actually just wasn’t that great – maybe facetime distorted the energy and skewed the reading?! In any case, it has not stopped me believing, and if I can find the name of the person I saw years ago I will go back and see her again. In the meantime, if you have a great recommendation send it through and I will check them out as well! If nothing else, it is something different to do, and I am all about trying new things at the moment!

48. Lost

This week I’m feeling a little bit lost. I’ve been good and bad and ok again. I’ve been looking at some of the things I have been doing in the last little while and I don’t really recognise myself a lot of the time. There are some things that I don’t feel great about, but at the same time I don’t have any kind of regret for the experiences that I have had up until now. I do also know that I probably don’t want to keep going like I have been, it all feels a little bit out of control… so maybe it’s time to just hit pause for a minute and breathe a little bit!?

I’m tired and I’m missing Claytie… that’s absolutely a daily thing, but some days are just more! This whole week feels like more. I miss knowing who I am and where and how I fit… I don’t feel like I have that anymore, and while people in my world try to understand, most of them don’t really and they can’t. I hope that it stays that way for them too, because the reality of this is horrendous! I think there is a kind of belief in a lot of people that at two years in I should be not necessarily over my grief, but a bit more steady in my life… if only it worked like that!!

My entire world got turned on it’s head when Claytie died. It’s a pile of broken and tangled, twisted rubble. I’m trying to find pieces that I recognise and hold onto them. It’s really hard putting them back together in any kind of way that looks like me because I’m never going to be the same person that I was. I can’t be – and I absolutely feel like the new me is very different. I’m trying to get to know her, and that’s been a hard thing to wrap my head around, I feel like I should still be me!? There are parts of the new me that I am getting to like and others that will always feel strange and wrong. I feel like I’m constantly contradicting myself in so many ways. Old and new feelings and opinions clashing making my foundations incredibly rocky.

I absolutely second guess pretty much every single thing in my world, and often I seek out people that I trust to get their take on things – we don’t always agree, and that’s ok! I go round and round in circles weighing up pros and cons, often with no clear outcome! Mostly I settle into the thing that makes me feel happiest, because life is too bloody short! … And while from the outside it maybe looks like I’m doing ok, it’s all just pretending! It’s like that meme about the sock sliding off inside the shoe… untie the laces and you’ll see the chaos!

Every so often inside this mess tho, there’s been a glimmer of something that feels good and real. Those things aren’t always neat and tidy either, and they don’t always line up with the things I thought I knew about myself – more second guessing and contradicting myself right there! I do know that sometimes things aren’t going to work out the way I’d like them to… fairy tales are impossibly hard to recreate, and I have had the most amazing fairy tale! There’s a whole lot of risk taking with your heart in all of this that seems obvious, but is a surprise at the same time. I’m trying to find a new happy and it’s hard not to grab onto those glimpses of lovely things when they are there, even with all of the mess around them. Maybe the messes cancel each other out?!

47. Intimidating

I’ve been thinking this week on some feedback that’s been given to me a couple of times and in very different contexts. I have been told by several people at different times that I am quite intimidating. Each time I have been shocked by it and I find it really hard to reconcile their perception of me with how I see myself.

I have always thought of myself as a really shy person until I am comfortable to be me, and then I guess, watch out! I’ve had to be a lot braver and much quicker to make myself comfortable since Claytie died, but on the inside I’m usually an anxiety riddled mess! I have adopted the idea of ‘Fake it til you make it”, but feel like an imposter all of the time. I mean really, who am I and what do I know about anything?

Apparently at work, both past and present jobs, people have been intimidated and feel like I am not approachable to answer any questions that they might have. I have been told by friends in the past that I come across as stand off-ish and hard to crack. I have also been told that I am intimidating in the romance department – it seems that knowing what you like and speaking about it scares people. For some reason, it seems that people are put off by my pretence of being confident…. Because it absolutely feels like I am pretending… all the time… except when I’m comfortable and by then they should know me well enough that I shouldn’t be intimidating any more!

I’ve been reflecting on it and have given my personality some thought. I do know I am quite black and white in lots of ways – I don’t tolerate fools easily and rules are rules; but I am also very empathetic and see all sorts of shades of grey. I often play Devil’s advocate as I can usually see both sides of a story. I think I am approachable and easy enough to talk to – I certainly like talking to most people, I don’t often get offended, I think I’m reasonably intelligent and I’m incredibly loyal to those in my friendship circle. I know that I can sometimes be quite direct when speaking – did I mention I don’t tolerate fools (?) and I make up my mind quickly most of the time, but I am open to being corrected if I am wrong and I do like to learn new things. For some reason I’m really struggling with, and don’t like being called intimidating…

I am wondering if this is something I can change or should change? How do you change how someone else sees you? Am I responsible for their reaction to me when I am just being myself? And why am I so taken aback by the word intimidating? Maybe I should, as The Captain says (I’m a fan and follower of his advice on Facebook and Insta) see it as a compliment?! – and funnily enough the below comment came up on my newsfeed while I was writing this post….. seems like a sign from the universe!

46. Melancholy

This morning I’m feeling sad… melancholy is the word that I have in mind. There is no real specific cause for me feeling like this today, its just kind of an everything thing. Sometimes that happens.

I’m sitting at the beach… it is overcast, drizzly, cold…the waves are wild and the sand is largely eroded. There are not a lot of people here this morning. The weather matches my mood perfectly or maybe my mood is matching the weather – either way it’s not a nice feeling.

I’m pondering my loneliness… I hate it! I try and fill the void as much as I can, but there is no real escape from it. I am on my own and I don’t want to be. I miss the life I should be living; and while there are some nice bits in it, I don’t much like most of my life now. Some days I don’t recognise the person looking back at me in the mirror. This is not how it was supposed to be!

Right now the grief bubble is big. Some days are like that and there is no way to predict when they will come. I have to feel it and let it engulf me for a little while, otherwise it takes over and I don’t want it to do that. I’m not sure if the full moon is playing into this mood, it’s a big one and it often does. I also have some friends who are going through hard stuff at the moment and I know that’s part of this too.

I know I’ll be fine… I usually am, but just for now, for a little while I’m letting myself wallow. I won’t stay here too long, I really don’t like it, but part of the process (I’ve been told) is to ride the big waves when they come.

This is one of those posts that feels incredibly self-indulgent… this whole blog is a whole lot of that more often than not! But I look at it as a cheap therapy. It gets the weird shit out of my head and hopefully I can let most of it go that way. It’s not meant to be a ‘poor me’ kind of thing, it’s just my reality.

Anyway, I’m heading back to the car, and back into my world. Hopefully the weather and my mood both improve a whole lot and soon! Thanks for letting me indulge with my word vomit. I’m ok, tomorrow I’ll be better x

45. Camp Widow

So last weekend I went to Camp Widow. It was something that took me way outside of my comfort zone, but like most other things that I have done that have been outside my comfort zone, I am really glad I pushed past my anxieties and went! Its a weird thing to talk about – a conference for Widowed people, and it was hard to explain what it would be like before I went. I had one person suggest it would be like some kind of orgy – It was definitely not that!

Essentially Camp Widow was a 2 1/2 day conference, held in the city, for widowed people. It is run by a support group that is based on a similar program in America. It was as you would expect, heavily female dominated – I think out of the 200 people there only about 6 were men. People came from all over including all parts of Australia, New Zealand (1), the UK (1) and the USA (4). We shared drinks, meals, classes and all sorts of conversation about all sorts of things – but predominantly death and grief, our process and our people. It was a super positive experience and I am so glad I pushed myself to go. It was insanely emotional – both my own emotions and those of the other people there, and with all that emotion came extreme exhaustion (I was in bed and asleep by 6pm Sunday night); but it really felt like I was not alone in my journey.

In my friendship groups, at least those friends from “before”, I am the first one to find myself in this situation of being Widowed (Have I mentioned how much I hate that word?! ….. I really HATE that word!) I often feel like I am being watched and judged and used like some kind of case study -I also know that some of this is me being hypersensitive; and I know that would probably do the same if it was a friend in this place. I get that people imagine what it would be like and how they would feel and process it all – I have done the same thing about/to friends going through a separation or divorce; but when it is you that everyone is watching, it can all be a bit much sometimes.

At the conference, I was just me. I was not anything special, just one in the crowd of many… and in so many ways it was almost a relief! My story was not the most awful – in fact I keep coming back to how lucky I’ve been. Some of the stories told were just so, so hard to hear – and while my/our story is horrible and devastating for us, there are so many things that would be so much worse to live with and harder to accept. It feels really bad to say that and I know you absolutely shouldn’t compare grief, but it is a human thing to do it and it made me feel somehow better (and I know again that is not the right word!).

In some ways I feel like I am light years ahead of some of the people there with things I have done and the emotional processes that I have gone through, and in so many others I am still right at the beginning. What I have realised – and I do try to tell myself all the time, but sometimes forget – is that it is all Ok. I can only do what feels possible and right on any given day. There is no magic potion that will make me feel better, and wake me up form this nightmare. All I can do is take one day at a time – sometimes an hour at a time, and everyone around me just has to suck that up too. There is no right or wrong, it just “is what it is”, and while I am alone on my journey, I am not alone grieving. I have a community of both old and new people around me that love and support me, and I am lucky and grateful to have you all in my world.

44. Happy Birthday!?

This week marks another birthday for Claytie that he is not here for. He would be 49 years old, and we should be joking about his age and thinking about planning his 50th! He should be unwrapping a bunch of prezzies and complaining about my money spending – but secretly loving being the centre of attention. There might even be a weekend away or certainly dinner out. Instead its kind of just another day, and I guess that is how it is now.

We have a few other important people, family members with birthdays around this one, and they are hard too. I find it really difficult to celebrate them because they fall in this space and I can’t help but feel how unfair it is that Claytie doesn’t get to have his. I feel bad that I can’t get excited for them, and I’m hoping that changes as time passes, for now tho it is still really raw and challenging. I dont begrudge them their day, I just wish Claytie was here for his!

My week has been OK – my sleep has been more messed up than usual, but that is my anxiety leading up to an important-for-me-date. I’ve been up three or four times most nights and my sleep app (Calm – their sleep stories are my go to) has been getting a work out! I suspect that’s just how those times around anniversaries will be for me from now on. Even acknowledging that, which usually helps, doesn’t seem to change it anymore.

In much happier news, We’ve had a baby update in the form of the 20 week morphology scan, which showed that baby is doing very well and all fingers, toes and other important pieces are accounted for! I’m very excited and super looking forward to being Granny, and have been showing off the scan pictures that I have to anyone who even shows the slighted bit of interest… want to see?!

I have also had a couple of lovely catch ups this week, one with a new friend for a coffee, which was really nice and the other with old friends and their new baby. It was fabulous spending the morning with them (Clayties favourite work colleagues) and remembering good times but missing Claytie. I loved getting a baby-fix… there’s nothing better, and he is gorgeous! Claytie would have loved the catch up and he would have adored the baby! He would have spent the whole time trying to make him smile. I managed to get a beach fix in that day as well and it was, as always a beautiful way to start the day!

My weekend this week will be spent at Camp Widow… a conference for 200 widowed people. We will listen to all sorts of talks and do workshops around dealing with grief. I’m not entirely sure what to expect from it, but have been told by some of last years attendees how worthwhile it was for them. I figure it can’t hurt, and I’ve certainly done worse things on a weekend – thinking of you Monty Burns! (See previous posts if you’re not sure of the reference!)

Happy Birthday Claytie! I love you xx

43. Back to normal (ish)

Well this week certainly brought me back down to earth with a bump! The holiday is over and it is back to work for me… and not to a shift that I like!

For the last 4 1/2 years I have worked an early shift which has been great! I wake up super early anyway and this way Ive been able to finish around 3-3.30 and still have plenty of time in the afternoon to do fun things! Not so anymore now that my position has rotated – my hours are now 9.30-5.30! Thanks to all the sick leave at work at the moment tho, I’ve only done one day of the new roster and have been back in my original spot for most of the week!

The new position (same team, just learning a new role) is fun and I think I’m really going to like it! I’m mixing with a whole bunch of different people – and one step closer to the gory medical stuff that I like, I just have to adjust my German OCD and roll with it! It also means I need to be a little bit more organised with household chores and dinner! There is no way I’m going to want to be washing clothes or cooking when I get home at 6-6.30 depending on traffic! So batch cooking here we come! The boys will also need to help … a learning curve for all of us! Thank goodness I still have my mid week day off as well! – what a first world problem to have! Haha… I am gainfully employed in a job that I like and I’m still whinging! Apparently that’s just me tho!

Something I was looking forward to and excited about this week was the advertised return to Karaoke at my local pub. They have been closed for the last month and a half or so to complete a renovation. I’ve missed going and seeing ‘my people’, but have found an alternative not too far away. It’s a very, very different set up and clientele – a much older and less affluent demographic, and while it’s been fun and they were very welcoming, I like my crew better! It’s seems tho that we’re still another week off which is a huge shame! A small group of us did end up at another venue on Saturday night tho – just to get a fix!

The other thing that I have done this week, and very much a first for me, is to sell a car – I still have one to go, but the first one is done! Since Claytie died, three of my boys have bought new cars, and we did a bit of a shuffle around. We still have Clayties car as well – currently being driven by the one son who has not bought a new car; and the deal is that if we can sell the two ‘spare’ cars, we keep Clayties car which has kind of been a big thing for the boys. Anyway, the car in question was listed on Facebook one day, and sold without any kind of hassle the next! Hopefully it is all been done the right way and I have one less thing to worry about!

Next week is another big week for us – it is Clayties birthday. I have another couple of days off work- it’s hard being around people on these big dates, not knowing how I am going to feel. I have got some stuff planned – Camp Widow is being run in Brisbane, and I heard a lot of good things about last years camp and thought I would go and see what it’s like. It is meant to be kind of a networking thing and they have a lot of guest speakers who are also all widowed. There will be a bunch of talks and some hands on workshops which will be interesting. I am also very much looking forward to catching up (hopefully) with a couple of Clayties very favourite work friends and meeting their new baby!

It’s a weird feeling planning stuff and looking forward to things knowing Claytie isn’t here. I know thats life and ‘it is what it is’, but every so often it really hits you just how wrong it feels! There isn’t anything to do but acknowledge those feelings when they come and then keep going, but so far that has not become easier at all. I guess it’s all just part of my process, so on with the big girl pants and keep marching x

42. 2 Years

Clayton Thomas James

This week – today the 20th July 2022 marks 2 years without my Bubby, my Claytie! It has passed in the blink of an eye and it has been an eternity with each minute feeling like needles under my skin. There wouldn’t be an hour that goes past that I don’t think of him, speak to him or of him, or remember our life together. Every thing that I do has him at the centre of it. The single hardest thing in my life now, is waking up each morning and getting out of bed facing the world knowing he’s gone. But I do it, and I do it for him… I do it for both of us and for our Boys.

Claytie was absolutely and without a doubt for me, the very best person I have ever known, and I knew it from the day we met. He was funny and generous, silly, sarcastic, kind , intelligent, cynical, loving and so much more. I never had to second guess the solidity of our relationship and what we meant to each other. I am so very grateful to have had nearly 30 amazing years with him and that our boys share so many of his characteristics.

I think almost the day that Claytie died- certainly not long after, I knew that I needed to make a choice about what my life would look like without him here. I could chose to wallow and be miserable and sad – and trust me, I have plenty of those days! Or I could chose to find happiness and do that for both of us. Each day I get out of bed and I say to myself that I need to find something to make me smile, laugh and be grateful about… that’s often a whole lot easier said than done, but it’s important for me to do. It’s my way of honouring Claytie, of keeping him close.

Tonight the Boys and I are having Family Dinner. We will be having his favourite and incredibly passive aggressive thing to cook – Tuna Mornay, or as I call it Catfood Casserole (he used to cook it when he had the shits with me because I hate it, but I would be an idiot to say no to him cooking dinner) along with Iced Coffee – his favourite drink and Pavlova for dessert. It is now a meal we have once a year to remember the day our world changed forever.

I know and often talk about how lucky and privileged we have been, even in this shit show we didn’t ask for, and I really don’t take any of that for granted anymore. We have some really amazing people in our lives that we wouldn’t have if not for Claytie, both before and after he died. They have made our world a much better place. I couldn’t do all of this without them, and thank you doesn’t feel like a big enough word for what they bring into our life.

So today spend a minute thinking about Claytie if you knew him – feel free to share your memories. Think about the important people in your world. Love and let yourself be loved. Do a good deed, take a ton of photos, be kind, smile and make new happy memories Life is incredibly short – live it fully!