It’s hard to believe almost 6 months since our beautiful little guy with his big heart and killer smile flew out the door at Palm Beach on such a historical day in Australia. Our Ed always knew saying goodbye was never going to be easy and I truly believe he carefully chose his time and place with absolute care knowing we were prepared, connected and ready to begin 2018 without him. Well as ready as you’re ever going to be to say good bye to such a beautiful soul. In those few days after he left, I never imagined it possible to cry as much as as I did, not to mention how dehydrating this was. I also felt the true physiological side effects of grief as my heart literally ached and was shattered into pieces.
With his birthday last Friday, I took a Self Care Day earlier in the week (note the capitals because I think everybody needs to put a SCD in their diary soon) to stop, stretch at yoga, meditate, enjoy the winter sun and reflect on how we’re travelling as we prepared to celebrate his 8th birthday. I wanted to share some of this with you, picking up where I left from the last post.
The timing and departure of his final good bye so peacefully and in such a beautiful place allowed me to find inner strength I didn’t even know I had. Somehow the funeral plans all fell into place with great calm, ease, serenity and flow. From selecting the music and entertainment thanks to the assistance of Kym Parrish and Steph Hopkins. Help from Brian and Gai Hamer to pull a few stings in securing the Balgowlah Bowling Club for the party, and Father Paul Maloney for his guidance in arranging the funeral, especially regarding the appropriate selection of the readings. I think you will all agree the day all came together so easily, making it the amazing farewell that it was.
We were also overwhelmed and truly grateful for all of the love, support, flowers, meals, and care packages we received at this time and which have continued through the year.
And whilst we are truly grateful for all of this love and support, I think you were all trumped by our Ed’s with his dashing display of rainbows on the morning of his funeral, only to bring the sunshine for the party so the kids could play outside at the Bowling Club in the afternoon. I will never forget my arrival at the church to see his little white casket in place with a bright display of rainbow light streaming down through the stained glass windows of the church onto him.
And the very next day, as if his “find the rainbow game” wasn’t enough on the day of his funeral, there was an enormous rainbow stretching from Bear Cottage right across Manly as the Davis family participated in The Coles Classic swim raising funds in honour of our Ed’s.
For the first few weeks following the funeral I think we all felt numb as we learnt to build new life with out our Ed’s. Tom had his first day of school on the Friday prior to the funeral and I distinctly remember feeling absolutely void of any emotion as I walked away from his classroom.
Since all of us are learning to live with grief and , I’ll share with you a couple of Tom and Isabel’s. Just prior to leaving our house on the morning of the funeral I gathered the troops for a bit of a team talk, and it went something like this:
Me: “Okay gang, this is probably going to be one of the hardest days our lives and if we can get through this together, we can do anything together. We need to be kind, supportive”…..etc and on I went.
As I’m saying this I can see Isabel listening intently, processing, thinking, reflecting whilst Tom’s focus and eyes starts to wander off. I had barely finished my pep talk and he says, “Yeah okay, get it but can we have another kid?. I suggested that perhaps we could farewell our Ed’s first before we discuss this further, never mind the fact that I may be just a little too old even by Hollywood standards.
By the afternoon of the next day as we’re reflecting on the day that was, Isabel makes a suggestion that like her friend Ruby from swimming we could adopt not one child, but two. A brother and sister so they had each other and didn’t feel left out of our family. It’s a great reminder that each of us are dealing with grief in our own unique way and will continue to do so as we move to a different stage of life and learn to live with our Ed’s not with us at home but firmly placed in our hearts.
More recently, our Tom has also revealed some interesting insight into his own experience of grief and death. Whilst dining at Fingal Bay Sport and Rec Club last holidays he looked up at a framed, signed Wallabies jersey and said ,”Look, somebody died.” It took us a few moments to register what he meant but he was likening it to the Arranounbai school shirt signed by staff and students that was framed and presented to us at the funeral by the staff at Arranounbai.
More recently, over a game of “Family Feud” one of the questions was ‘name something you would look at for a long time’. The rest of the family is thinking: book; tv; beach; sunset etc. Tom says “ A dead person” referring to those days at Bear Cottage after Ed’s had passed when indeed we spent a lot of time looking at our rested soul now in peace. In another game of Family Feud we had to name ‘something that guides you.’ We’re all thinking: torch; lamp; map; light etc Tom names a few including; your heart; God: and then loudly and proudly says, “a dead person” . It’s beautiful to see our Ed’s guiding light shining in all of us.
Obviously there is an immense sense of loss and sadness but somehow his presence was and still is extremely strong and I feel his guidance in almost all aspects of my life. When Ed’s was with us, I used to say in jest that in some ways he was the easiest of my 3 children. He didn’t run away, he ate all of his dinner, didn’t talk back, had no after school activities and kept his room tidy. Now he does all of those things in addition to providing strength and guidance when we most need it. The perfect child, an absolute gift and I feel so grateful to call him my son.
For the first 3 months of this year when people asked how we were I honestly didn’t have an answer. I didn’t really know. I knew we were going, and probably moving in the right direction. For the most part we were in the right place, at the right time, dressed, fed and moving. At this time it was a pretty good achievement as we just tried to keep it simple. Tom and Issy had settled into school really well, Pete was back at work, and I found a balance between work, study, yoga and meditation.
It was also extremely overwhelming as our world opened up to a whole new world of opportunities which were bitter sweet. . Holidays could be more than a 2 hours radius from Club WestMed, and much more could be achieved in an afternoon after school but we still miss our Ed’s and would do anything to see that smile again.
Almost 6 months on, now when people ask how we’re doing I think I can honestly say we’re doing okay. There’s no denying that time heals and we are slowly adjusting to a new life without our Ed’s. At times it doesn’t feel easier, just different and I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t think a day or few will go by when I don’t allow myself to shed a tear or two for him. It’s not major, its not that time consuming and in some ways it’s cathartic and cleansing. I guess it’s a natural feeling to such an enormous loss. It’s certainly not debilitating and in many ways its helpful to heal and transform. I learnt many things from my Ed’s and one of the really important ones was to live a true, authentic, honest life filled with love, self care, clarity, and calm. To be the best version of myself which will be my lifelong journey and promise to him.
Not surprisingly it’s been a year of firsts, and no doubt many more to come. The grief and difficulty of the big days like Mothers Day or a Birthday are what they are. You just have to relax into them and allow them to be what they will be; sad; happy; emotional….whatever, just go with it.
But sometimes grief can lurk in the small things and completely take you by surprise. It may be as small as hanging 4 towels up in the bathroom instead of 5, noticing the markedly reduced washing hanging on the clothes line or an afternoon where you can go for an ice-cream, visit a friend, do the grocery shopping and cook dinner……something we would never been able to do in our last year owith Ed.
It’s a bitter sweet because some of these things we were never able to do but really all we want to do is see that gorgeous smile again. Our first family holiday over Easter was no exception to this bitter sweet feeling as we drove out of Sydney for the first time without Ed’s. Kids stretched out in the back seat, one car seat less and an empty boot missing a wheelchair with not a piece of medical equipment in sight.
Whilst I would do anything to see that beautiful smiling face again there’s something extremely real, liberating and enlightening learning to live with such a strong emotion like grief. It keeps you real, honest and on your toes giving you strength to face all of lifes challenges head on with strength and courage.
I’ve found my happy place by going down the road to yoga each morning at 6:00am and dedicating that time to my beautiful Ed. I feel like it’s precious time with him and it gives me strength to get on with the rest day in the best way I can. His presence was noted by myself, Steph and Tash on Friday when miraculously the music player that hadn’t been working all yoga session blared out The Beatles “Let It Be” for the final resting, meditation session. Needless to say I spent those last few minutes with a smile on my face as peaceful, beautiful, cathartic tears rolled down my face. Ed’s was definitely making his presence felt here. After the class I was so ready to get through the rest of his birthday with a little spring in my step and a sense of cheer despite being such a difficult day. I think the unseasonably warm weather may have also helped so thanks Ed’s!!
I’ve also found another happy place teaching up at Arranounbai School which has been truly amazing. I’m now on a 2 day a week temporary contract until the end of the year for Thursday and Friday where I’m lucky enough to teach drama and swimming. The rest of the days are casual teaching days working across the school. The last few weeks I’ve worked 5 days whilst the university break is on. I feel so grateful to be working in such a special place surrounded by amazing and inspirational staff each day. I feel like my Ed’s is beaming down that killer smile saying “onya Mum, you’re doing me proud working there with my friends and teachers.”
As we learn to navigate our life without Ed’s, the passed 6 months have seen so many firsts with the big 8th birthday last Friday, 6th of July. I spent the day working at the school, Pete had a half day at work and we all went down to Manly in the afternoon and celebrated in true Ed’s rock star style.
On Saturday we had our usual open house birthday party and the cheerful, joyous vibe of the celebration was testament to the fact just how powerful he was in connecting us all together to give us such strength and courage as he always knew how hard it was going to be for us once we left. There’s no denying his journey enriched our lives in so many ways, not to mention that divine smile. He taught us so much about love, life, friendship, courage and the beauty in rainbows.
And so my beautiful Ed we would like to wish you a very Happy 8th Birthday and thank-you for all you have taught us over the passed 8 years. We miss you every day but know you hold a firm place in our hearts as you continue to guide and protect us.
All our love,
Mum, Dad, Isabel and Tom
Rainbows from Bondi to Manly and Allambie Heights on the day of the funeral
Rainbow in Manly the day after the funeral
Some Birthday Pics from the weekend