4. Magic…a connection to country

In April, for my 47th birthday. I went to the middle of nowhere… literally. I didn’t want to be at home for this birthday. I had huge anxiety leading up to it. The unfairness, that I would now be older than Claytie could ever be, missing him more than I would have thought possible, the sheer weight of my grief… there were a lot of feelings to process. So I thought stuff it! I can sit at home by myself and cry, or I can have an adventure – and cry!

This trip has been on my bucket list since Claytie finished working in Darwin. He had been doing FIFO for 5 years, and was able to purchase one of the site cars – a Prado that he absolutely loved. I flew up to Darwin for his ‘going away’ drinks, and then he and I drove his new car home. It was without doubt one of our favourite trips.

The vastness of the countryside is breathtaking. Beyond anything you can imagine. Litchfield national park, Florence Falls, Katherine gorge and Mataranka Hot springs are all insanely beautiful. The long stretches of nothing take you back through history imagining how difficult life must have been with out the comforts of modern life that we all rely on.

We were whistle stop tourists on our way home. We only had 5 days to do it, 3436 kilometres… but I will never forget how it felt to be that tiny in such a vast space. Those feelings inspired my birthday trip to Uluru – a place Claytie and I didn’t have the chance to see together.

My plan initially was to go by myself – but with an invitation thrown out that anyone who wanted to come along should do so. My parents and one of my sisters decided that they wanted to do just that! It meant that instead of flying straight into Yulara, we went to Alice Springs and got to see the Parrtjima Festival of Lights… a fusion of modern technology and ancient stories. It was freezing cold and magical, and I am so glad we were able to see it.

Having my Dad there, also meant that we had a driver to take us from Alice to Kings Canyon via a dirt road detour that was an absolute highlight- and I think maybe his favourite part of the trip! – especially the unmarked drainage gullies across the road that he took at great speed causing those in the backseat (not me!) to be launched into the car roof! … he had to do it a couple of times just for laughs!

Kings Canyon, for me, was absolutely like stepping back in time. The place is and feels ancient… the sounds and colours, the sides of the canyon rising up around you. There is a complete feeling of magic and connection, and a weight of history. You can not help but be introspective and realise how insignificant you actually are in the universe when looking at something that is millions of years old.

It was a bit of an adjustment to get back into the car, en route to the rock, this time on sealed roads. Scanning the horizon for that much anticipated first glimpse… fooled by Mount Conner – a magnificent site, but not the one we came for! … and then, there it was. My first impression was goosebumps… that tingling on the back of your neck, hairs standing up in your arm, needing to catch your breath!

Uluru is exactly as the pictures show it, and somehow so much more. It feels bigger than you can imagine and almost alive. There is an energy that comes from it that for me, was incredibly soothing and calming. Walking along the trails at the base, and seeing Mutitjulu waterhole, and the rock art that have all existed for so long, made me feel peaceful and lighter somehow. As though the rock had taken some of my load to carry. There was a feeling of gratitude, that I could leave it there.

Kata Tjuta – the Olgas… a place that felt, initially like it was calling to me, came as a complete surprise. A contrast I wasn’t expecting. I thought I was going to love it. I absolutely didn’t! … I loved the majesty of it, the sheer size and scale. But it did not give me a sense of comfort, in fact, quite the opposite. It felt, and is, incredibly masculine. It was almost menacing, like it was tolerating my presence, but I shouldn’t stay any longer that I had to. I felt relieved to leave there and head back to the feminine comfort of Uluru.

Of course we did all of the tourist activities that we could while there. They were fabulous and I would absolutely recommend them -the helicopter ride, sunrise tour on my birthday and the sounds of silence dinner in particular! But my favourite times were at Kathleen Falls (Kings Canyon) and walking the Uluru base trail on my own.

For me, in this palace, at this time, waking through the Australian landscape, seemingly unchanged for millennia – listening to the sounds of nature.. the wind, the happy chirping of great flocks of colourful birds and the chorus of insects, the incessant buzzing of flies was incredibly soothing. I can see how it has inspired poetry about the stark splendour of old man gum tree and the graceful ballet of spinnefex grass in the breeze. It demanded an apology for hundreds of years of trauma and abuse of aboriginal people at the hands of white man. It struck awe into the soul and initiated conversations with ancestors. It is the sort of magic that everyone should experience, whether your exploring the next that is now, or just because!

7. Drive away date…

One of the nicest things about being with the same person for such a long time, is that you know them and they know you …inside-out! Your likes and dislikes, the things that make you happy. It’s easy and comfortable, reassuring and lovely…. And it’s truly not until it is gone, that you realise just how perfectly fabulous your life was. Claytie and I were so very lucky to have, and love each other as much as we did. I know that not everyone has that and I am so incredibly grateful that we did.

A lot of those people who have maybe not been so lucky are the ones now on dating sites. All of these people, me included, have all sorts of baggage, and it’s up to you to work out how much you’re willing to carry when you’re trying to meet someone on line, and I guess anywhere! I find it incredibly sad when people make negative comments about an ex as part of their biography…. Saying what a mistake it was to have been married. It is meant as a joke perhaps, but falls very flat for me because it is completely the opposite to where I’m coming from. There are also plenty of people who have had some sort of ‘mid-life crisis’ … countless photos of dad bods on motorbikes or fancy cars, and there are others that just scream desperate loneliness.

It’s a very odd feeling looking at pictures and swiping through, trying to picture what a meeting with someone would look and feel like. It’s quite nerve wracking initiating a conversation, online, where tone is so easily misconstrued. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am absolutely an open book. Usually if it’s in my head, it’s out in the universe. I don’t play games and I find it impossible to be someone I’m not… but a lot of people are not like that, so I find myself second guessing everything!! It’s exhausting!

I haven’t been on an actual date since before Clayton and I got married. We would have date nights sometimes, just the two of us, but nothing too fancy, and none of the butterflies that you get with the new and exciting. So when someone I had been chatting with online, suggested actually meeting for dinner, I was nervously excited. Over the phone, he was lovely, full of stories about his kids and a granddaughter, his job, and mowing the lawn at his mum’s place – a gentleman. He ticked a lot of ‘safe’ boxes …. Everyone has all kinds of advice about safety when you’re online dating, and it can be scary. I told the boys what was happening – and we all agreed that the whole situation was a bit weird, but they were really lovely and told me to have fun.

My date and I had decided to meet at a local pub for dinner – in hindsight, mistake number 1. His suggestion was to meet out the front as he wanted to walk in together, both of us a bit nervous about seeing friends there but keen to meet….. I had been in my usual default state of tears and snot on and off all day – raging anxiety and nerves. Terrified but also excited at meeting a new friend and having a night out doing something different.

Two of my kids decided that they were going to the pub as well and got a lift over with me – mistake number 2! My date saw the kids with me while he was on the phone to me, working out where to meet, and at this point things turned to shit!! Clearly I wasn’t the only nervous one, as my date went into full panic/anxiety mode and without too much conversation, got back into his car and drove off……!!

I was left in the car park, phone in hand, head spinning and dumbfounded at what just happened….. stood up on my first date! So with hurt feelings – and the tears that go with it, I got back into my car and went home!

My boys were so incredibly lovely and supportive, saying all the right things, trying to cheer me up… the consensus being that I had clearly dodged a bullet! And thank god for girlfriends… because almost immediately a message came through to straighten my crown and get my ass back down to the pub and to forget about the dud date. A couple of drinks in, I laughingly told my story to a friend, who then offered to step in and give me a happy ending! – an offer that I very, very awkwardly declined!…. In the end, I had a great evening, and was able to have a laugh about it all! I did delete the app for a couple of days, but loneliness and not knowing how else to meet new people, meant it didn’t stay deleted for very long!

Online dating and trying to see what comes next is a funny thing… everyone you speak to will tell you how weird and awful it is… but there are so many people giving it a go! Surely we can’t all be crazy!? … having said that, if you have any other suggestions for meeting people, let me know! In the Spirit of working out the new next, I’m giving a whole lot of things a go that I’ve never done before, so maybe I’ll try your suggestion and see what happens!?

3. A new hobby…?

So for my birthday this year – the first one without Claytie since I turned 18, I did two things that have had a big impact for me….I had a party of sorts, and I went on a trip to Uluru. I will tell you about my trip another day, this story is about my new obsession!

My ‘not a party’ party was held at our local pub. It was an open invitation to anyone who wanted to come. Dinner if you were hungry or just a drink or two … and Karaoke! I LOVE IT! I have been going almost every Friday night since April – barring those weeks that were lock-down affected. I know the regulars, and they know me. We haven’t really spoken a whole lot, but we’ve bonded all the same. I know their names from their stage announcements and I know who’s got it and who just wishes they did. The boys behind the bar know how I like my steak cooked and if I’ll be having a drink or not depending on who I am with – mostly my drinks are free, and I’ve been known to help tidy up at the end of the night.

My Kids think I’m completely and totally bonkers- as do a lot of other people!… but it’s good, clean fun, and if I wasn’t doing this, I’d be on the couch at home with my two dogs for company! Music and singing changes your mood – in my case for the better, and the people watching is spectacular! I love getting out and mingling with new people, or the kids and their friends. It’s new and fun, and safe! This is all part of the next that is now… this is me, being brave and going out.

I very rarely get up on the stage, although it has happened, but getting up to dance is another story, I’m all for that!! Abba is usually my go to music of choice. I’m not what you would call a great singer – Unless it’s in the shower or the car, I’m pretty shit! … but I have the best time!! I love the sheer (drunken) joy that people feel singing their hearts out. Those that can actually sing, and those that think they can. I love the people watching…I love knowing what kind of night it will be, based on who walks in at 9pm and which DJ is in charge for the night. The whole thing makes me insanely happy.

The regulars have the system down pat. They come in and load their favourite songs… usually 3 each, and they vary wildly from Journey to Frank Sinatra, Matchbox 20 to Michael Bublè, Shannon Noll to AcDc…they have their moment in the spotlight and are generous with their praise and support (mostly!). There is a real camaraderie between them and it’s uplifting to watch.

There are the ladies that come dressed to the nines, with their ‘Farrah Fawcett’ hair, only drink water from home and knit (yes, actually!) while waiting for their songs to come on. You have those that are dedicated followers of the circuit, those that just love the limelight and others that are in it to win the $50 draw that happens twice each night. Mostly they chose the same songs from week to week, but every so often they will surprise. – usually if too many people sing along with them on their first song of choice and steal their spotlight.

In between the regulars, you have those that are celebrating birthdays, out for dinner with friends or just stopping by on their way to somewhere else… They end up on stage, mostly in groups and rarely know the words to their favourite songs. The awkward dancing is icing on the cake for me. My favourite nights are when the company owner is the DJ and the ‘cuzzy-bros’ are singing… but every Friday makes me happy!

And then there is me!…Friday night Karaoke has become something of a ritual for me, and I miss it when I don’t go. It finishes the week on a high note for me every time! Sometimes there is a whole group of us going, sometimes just one or two… and if no one is keen I’ll go on my own! It makes me happy… and that counts for so very much in this world of figuring out what comes next! If you’re looking for something fun to do – come on over and join the fun, I’ll save you a seat!! xx

5. Whale watching

I’ve always had a sense of adventure, and a love of seeing new places. Claytie and I were lucky enough to see a bunch of fabulous spots in Germany, Dubai, Japan and Australia .. but the real bucket list was only just starting. New Zealand and Tasmania were supposed to be next, but Covid happened and then Claytie died…. the possibilities should have been endless! It’s scary knowing that if I want to see new places, I’m going to have to do it in my own from now on!

In the Spirit of figuring that all out, and seeing how it would feel doing something new like traveling on my own, I took myself whale watching earlier this year. I have been dreaming about doing it for such a long time, we had talked about it often, and it got to the point where I thought stuff it! – it’s now or never!

Now for those of you that know me particularly well, you will know that it’s not just as simple as book it and go! I get incredibly bad motion sickness – to the point that Claytie would take it as a personal insult when I would need him to stop the car so I could spew!!! I have been sick on every possible type of moving vehicle… but particularly boats! I once spent a Christmas party evening, cruising on the Brisbane river … with my head in a bucket!

But back to the whales! I got myself all brave and ready to go, had a hotel room booked for the night as well, and then we struck a covid lock down and I had to postpone! In the process, I learned a harsh lesson about booking accomodation through a third party and getting your money back – you don’t! … Activities booked directly through the company, however do get a credit for a re-do. Three weeks later, post lock down, I was back on!

I booked a half day trip, leaving from SeaWorld. The booking was strategic,in that vomiting for 3-4 hours would be more manageable than a whole day! I spent the day before eating travel calm (motion sickness medication) every two hours on the advice of Dr Google, and had ginger tea with my dinner. Breakfast on the day, consumed at sparrow fart (somewhere between 4-5am) was half a packet of ginger nut biscuits and more travel calm. I had my motion sickness wrist bands on and two Stematil (anti vomiting) before boarding the boat, and was also wearing an adult nappy – just in case! 4 kids = unstable pelvic floor that does not take kindly to to the physical movements involved with spewing! I was prepared for all things!

The whole experience was weird, and beautiful and awesome! Sitting outside at the back of the boat, watching couples and families was hard. Claytie and I should have been doing this together! He should be in the selfie’s with me, complaining about all the photos I was subjecting him to but secretly loving it!.

The air was quite cold, but refreshingly so! The ocean was calm and the sun was shining. A perfect day to be out! The tour guides were awesome with their knowledge and interactions and told us all exactly what to look out for…. And we were looking for ages! A couple of times the boat slowed right down and we were told that a pod of whales was under the boat. There was a silence that descended over all of us, wide eyes searching all around. A little while later we would head off again, eyes peeled!…. And then there they were!

Splashes of white against the dark blue of the ocean… flukes in the air, as though waving at us. Huge backs arched, coming out of the water, diving back down with a splash. There is something truly magical about seeing and being near to an animal that’s the size of a bus, and yet so graceful and majestic.

We were really lucky to have encountered a couple of juvenile whales. Old enough to be in their own, but young and energetic enough to be playful and curious about our boat. One of them breached so close to us that it felt like there was eye contact. The whales were watching us as much as we were watching them. It was exciting, and calming, exhilarating and relaxing all at the same time. I could have spent hours more out there! I thought it was magic!!

Heading back to the marina, we all kept our eyes peeled for more. No one was ready for the trip to be over. We did spot a few more whales further out, but no other close encounters. The guides did say to us that we were very lucky to have seen as much and as close as we did.

The main thing I have learned from this trip, is that I can do it on my own, and it’s not awful! I also know that I definitely prefer to have company, especially for meals….. and if anyone need to know, I can help with all of the motion sickness advice and medication!! I also absolutely can not wait to do more whale watching – maybe even a whole day (!) Next year – a new next that I am already planning for!

2. Baby steps..

I’ve always thought of myself as a shy person. Not everyone agrees with me when I say that, because once I am comfortable I am the complete opposite. I can be loud, opinionated and stubborn. I don’t really have a filter and usually say much more than I intend to…. But it takes a while to feel comfortable, and on the inside I am shy. Clayton let me be brave. He was my buffer and made me feel safe, always. He was the one that people were drawn to and was incredibly easy with his interactions, where I have always felt awkward. He made it ok to be me – and now that he is gone I have to be me on my own…. I have to be brave.

That’s a pretty steep learning curve at 47… because while I can pretend, on the inside I still feel like that shy person. I tend to overanalyse situations and conversations, and second guess myself often. I’m pretty lucky though, and incredibly grateful that I have some fabulous people around me that are so confident in themselves that it’s ok for me to be too. – it’s a strange feeling learning to re-like, and trust who I am at this stage in my life. A place I never imagined I would find myself!

And right now I can hear my mum’s voice telling me that I need to change the tone… this is supposed to be lighthearted, maybe even funny and definitely not crude! … I can’t promise any of those things….everyone knows I swear like a sailor, and I am in uncharted waters searching for whatever comes next, and not all of that will be PG rated! – in fact a lot of it won’t be PG… but here we go!

At the start of this year, I was able to rotate into a different position at work. It’s in an area that I am incredibly passionate about, and with a team of ladies that have been exactly what I needed around me. It has been an absolute safe space, and the conversations have been enlightening! No subject is off limits…. Nothing!! I am receiving an education that I wasn’t expecting, and I’m loving it!

I have lost/been let go by people who I thought were friends. I have joined support groups for widowed people – The Echo-chamber of Misery as my kids call us, and I have made some incredible new friends this way. I have been added to a tribe of women (and some men) who happily dive right in the deep end of the conversations and have filled a void in me. I have spent fabulous amounts of time with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have, which has been enlightened, rewarding and uplifting. The conversations are deep and varied. Often I cry, but I’m accepted as me, and now we just try to get the tears out of the way so we can go back to laughing and sorting out world issues!

It’s liberating having conversations that have always felt a bit taboo, and more appropriate over some serious drinks late at night – and even then, I never have! I love their confidence and joy and their openness, and I love being part of that and feeling it rub off onto me … as I said, it has been an education!

I was super excited not too long ago to be invited to my first Hens party, and can not wait for the wedding, that has now been postponed twice thanks to covid. I made the cake – appropriately (or not so much) decorated – I actually had to tell the kids ‘not to eat the dick in the fridge’! – a sentence I never thought would come out of my mouth! I have a charge on my credit card for ‘Hunks for hire’ reference – stripper! – He was fabulous, had every right to brag and smelled like a god!!… all new experiences for me, and each with its own delight.

Then there has been the shopping… I recently made some online purchases, supporting my favourite charity Love your Sister, with the fervent hope that the packaging would be as discreet as was advertised! – When you live with Boys who all online shop, questions get asked about parcels that arrive! It was absolutely as advertised and this one slid past as a ‘Christmas present’ and has been a gift for myself that I have enjoyed (another learning curve!) … I’m sure it won’t be my last purchase!

I am not alone in venturing into new territories. I had a conversation with a widdowed friend not so long ago about my above mentioned purchase and my worries about the packaging… She assured me that it is actually very discreet – unless damaged during transportation; and then went on to tell me about the embarrassment caused by said damage when her parcel was handed to her with a wink by the concierge at her apartment buiding! Her adventure resulted in needing to go to the local shopping centre to dispose of packaging, worrying about identifying markers, and the ownership of “Craig”…. a monster of enormous lenght and girth that could cause major damage if used as intended! – I have seen Craig, and laughed until crying at the story being told…. I’ve also seen a video, and the mind boggles!

So many new and different experiences that have come my way… I am living each day on the roller coaster, with all the ups and downs, and the occasional sharp curve that is the ride. I’m finding lots of positives to hang onto, and it’s been an education! It’s a whole new world for me, and all part of the next that is now.

6. Finding people

Something that catches you kind of by surprise – even though it shouldn’t, is just how lonely you are as a widow. It’s so obvious when you say it, of course you will be lonely, your favourite person is no longer there – but it is so all encompassing, so huge that it takes your breath away!

People tell you all sorts of things in the immediate days after it happens, when you are still in such a foggy, shocked state that nothing makes sense. With all good intention, they tell you that they are there for you, to call if they can do anything for you, anything you need…. And in those first few days and weeks they are; but then life gets in the way of good intentions. People are busy in their own worlds – and they absolutely should be! It’s not someone else’s job (and it would be impossible in any case) to fill the gaping void in your life that is left after death. So you improvise… it’s kind of all or nothing, curled up alone at home or you try to fill your days as much as possible if you’re a social person, a people person like I am. Realistically though, there are only so many times you can invite yourself into someone else’s world, interrupting time with their favourite people before it feels desperate, and intrusive… but doing things on your own is really hard.

There is also a real envy of their situation. I want what they still have. I want my person to be here with me! I don’t want to be the odd one out in a group, feeling awkward and not quite fitting in anymore because my person is gone. I too want to hold hands and touch, I want to share looks that speak volumes, I want lazy days and date nights… I want what I used to have!

The best person in my world is gone. I can never have him back, except in my dreams. But if I’m lucky – and I have been so incredibly lucky, maybe there is another person out there for me!? It would never be the same. It can’t and shouldn’t be – that would take away from what I had, and I don’t ever want that! But potentially I have a long time left ahead of me, and I don’t want to spend that time alone.

So what are your choices!? It’s hard meeting new people… where do you go to find them? If you’re lucky, it might be a friend of a friend, an introduction at work, joining a social group or a spark with someone you already know. But that, these days seems to be a rarity. Your other option, and something I have recently delved into, is the weird world of online dating.

The sites that I have looked at vary wildly in terms of their approach. Everyone knows that Tinder is only for hook-ups (hey let’s f@&$) – this one is not for me and was never a consideration! Bumble was slightly more friendly, with a hello offered before the hook-up invitation. The prospects on Plenty of Fish will tell you that you’re pretty and then tell you why you should join them for a good time. Hinge has involved actual conversations, and Eharmony requires cash before they will let you look.

I have found the experience to be incredibly shallow…. You are forming an opinion about a person based on a very brief look at a photo. If that appeals, then you might look at the information people give about themselves, which will determine whether you swipe left or right. Too short, too tall, fat, thin, ugly, handsome- swipe, decision made.

A left swipe – you’re not my type. But a ‘right swipe’ (fingers crossed they also chose you) will lead to conversation…. Sometimes enjoyable, but a real struggle for others! Spelling and punctuation are suggestions rather than rules, questions are fired off to get the ‘getting to know you’ stuff out of the way and then suggestions are made to continue the conversation on other messaging platforms. This comes with its own risk… names and contact information are exchanged, and then there is a freedom to be shown more – confronting if you’re not expecting it!! Conversations I have had with girlfriends indicate that one should keep a picture gallery of such treats (??) to show off to them….! Dick pics for the uninitiated are a very real thing!

The first time I joined one of the sites, I freaked out pretty quickly. It was all a bit too much, too soon – but loneliness makes you do strange things! Then there is the stuff in your head… the feelings of judgement, whether real or imagined… is it too soon to be doing this, should I wait longer, what will people think, and in my case, how will the boys cope!? People will say that everyone’s grief journey is different, and they are absolutely! There is no right or wrong, only the things that feel right for you… but I am still conscious of how that looks to other people!

I have been on and off the sites a few times, and have had all sorts of conversations with different people. I met one very nice fellow fairly early in the piece and have had some really lovely conversations with him- both in person and online, but have been told he doesn’t do proper relationships because they hurt too much, but is keen on FWB (friends with benefits) – and while I know it has a place, it’s not for me in the long run. – short term maybe !?

What I have discovered, is that you have to chat with – or kiss if you so choose, a lot of toads, frogs and other reptiles to try and find a prince! …. My search continues, (and I will have more stories to share!) but let me tell you, it’s a very strange thing navigating the next that is now!

1. Chapter One….

I know this blog is called Chapter Two, but it probably helps to know what chapter one was about.

Chapter one started on the 20th of September 1991, on a bus returning from a week in the snow fields of Perisher-Smiggins.

The protagonist – yours truly – 47year old mother of 4 Fabulous Young men, sat next to the person that would change her life! Clayton Thomas James. I knew who he was – everyone at the school we both went to did! He was handsome and charming and certainly one of the most popular people there. What I didn’t know at the time was that he had been aware of me for quite some time before this encounter, and was delighted to take the opportunity presented and run with it. We spent 8 hours sitting next to each other that day/night and the next 29 years together. It was the perfect love at first sight story. Highschool sweethearts properly in love until the very end.

We married in 1995 and had our first son that same year – and in short order (every two years) we added to our family. Four amazing boys, and the absolute apple of their fathers eye. Life was the usual crazy that you would expect… loud, messy, funny, crazy shenanigans with kids sports, family holidays and all the stuff that makes family fun.

We had the normal ups and downs that people do, but nothing that ever got in the way of who and how we were with each other. When hard words were spoken, they were smoothed over quickly and always forgiven. There was always more laughter than tears. We loved each other.

We were blissful in our bubble of normal. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary promising at least another 25years together, and joking about his old man status with his upcoming birthday a month later.

On Monday the 20th of July 2020, our world was ripped to shreds with the very sudden and unexpected death of Clayton, the love of my life. I came home from work to find that he had collapsed in the bathroom. CPR commenced, Paramedics were called, family and friends came to support us, but it was too late. A massive heart attack claimed the best person I have ever known. Devastated is not a big enough word to describe what that did to us, and the ongoing fallout that we now live with.

But in the shit show that all of this has been, we have also been lucky! Clayton had been out of work, and at home since February, and spent fabulous amounts of time with me and our boys. He and I had the trip of a lifetime just the year before – a reward for doing 5 years FIFO work in and out of Darwin. We had been to see his mum recently, and he had been spending hours talking with his sisters. His Dad and step-mum would pop in anytime and we all got to be with him right at the end. His funeral fell into a window between covid lock downs and we were able to share him with all of the important people in our world.

We were able to renovate our home, so that I can stay here forever if I want… I have a dream bathroom now (and anyone who knows me will tell you how much time I spend in the bath!) .. lucky!

It’s been a little over a year now, and we are adjusting to our new normal. Big things have happened for us in this year – both good and less good, but we’ve stuck together and are working through it. I have been amazed at my boys and their strength and resilience and love. It has been so much more than I ever thought it could have been – again, truly lucky!

Death is a funny thing. You absolutely and whole heartedly miss the person that is gone, but you also miss the future you were supposed to have. Friends change. Some leave because they don’t know how to be with the new you, and others that you though were gone, come back and are perfect. New people come into your circle, and it’s an adjustment knowing that they only know the you that now exists. They know the single you, not the you that you were.

Everyday for me is now a conscious choice to be grateful, and to find happiness. It’s a tough thing to do, but I don’t want to be unhappy for the rest of what might be a long life. I miss Clayton with every single fibre of my being, but I have his voice in my ear telling me ‘it is what it is, there is nothing you can do to change things now. You have to do what you can and get through it’ … so that’s what I am doing!

I am saying yes to things I never would have before. I have joined support groups and am meeting people that are filling my world with new happy moments. I have taken trips and had experiences that I might never have had otherwise.. and recently I have thought about what comes next.

Next is a pretty scary thought, and a huge unknown! Next means letting go of some things and starting again. Next is terrifying. Next is an adventure that I dont quite know how to feel about… but next is now.

So Chapter Two is next…. It’s new, it’s complicated and it’s kind of exciting as well…