Putting On A Happy Face

Pancake Edit

My anniversary breakfast from Princess Child and her friend, Cody. Happy face pancakes.

Dear Simon

I’m suffering from performance anxiety. I’ve been feeling the pressure to write something FUNNY ever since I published Then The Dance Was Over about our wedding anniversary and made all my readers cry.

By the way, thanks for remembering our anniversary by destroying the dishwasher. I think you are starting to run out of electrical appliances now (at least I’m hoping). To compensate you brought me roses the next day, they were lovely.

My hairdresser says I have to stop blaming you for everything that’s going wrong ’cause you are not here to defend yourself. I don’t see why being dead should stop it all BEING YOUR FAULT. In fact I think it contributes to it all BEING YOUR FAULT.

You know how you always said I made your hair go grey? Well you got the last laugh, I virtually went grey overnight when you died. Not that elegant, stately grey you see on some women, but wiry, coarse sticking up grey strands all over the top of my head. TWO HOURS at the hairdresser to fix the problem. The hairdresser says most women come in every SIX WEEKS to get their hair coloured. Given he only sees me every six months he reckons this is going to be a challenge for me – do I hate being grey more than I hate going to the hairdresser? On the upside, only seeing me every six months means the hairdresser “gets a great sense of satisfaction” out of doing my hair. I give him so much to work with. By the way the new haircut and colour looks smokin’.

You would be surprised at the effort I’m going to look presentable when I leave the house. I even produced mornings today with a 6.30am start and I PUT ON MAKE-UP BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE. I know I’m shocking myself too. I think feeling so crap I’m trying to “put on a happy face” and that includes putting on the warpaint to face the world.

I’m afraid your departure has turned the blog into some sort of grief journal which is scary for us all. Although people are still commenting at times that I’m giving them a laugh. So in some curious twist of fate I seem to be writer of a humorous grief blog. A unique niche all of my own.

We made your special chicken sandwiches on the weekend, the ones that all the women used to rave about at my scrapbooking workshops. We struggled to remember the ingredients, I did consider popping into the psychic to see if she could get in touch with you for the recipe. See that would be really helpful if we could just “call you up” now and then for the important stuff like what the hell did you put in those sandwiches. Hippie Child gave it a good stab, with chicken, cheese, sour cream, lemon and chives. We argued about the chives, I thought it used to be shallots but both girls said chives. Did we forget anything else?

So anyway must head off now, alarm set for 5.30am for another early morning start. I don’t think I’ve cracked the funny in a big way tonight but at least I’ve beaten the writer’s block of only thinking up only miserable things to write about. Who knew writing to your deceased husband could be cathartic and even mildly amusing?

love

Janine.

 

 

 

 

 

So There’s A Right Way To Do This?

I managed to catch a bit of Offspring last night. I know it’s a national crime but I’ve never watched the show. It appears Nina, who lost her husband at the end of the last season, is more advanced in her grieving process than I am. I tuned in just as she was having mad, passionate sex with some tall, dark handsome guy on her kitchen table. My kitchen table is covered with the remains of a TV dinner and my wedding photos, possibly a bit of a turn off if a tall, dark handsome bloke waltzes into my life. You’ve gotta give it to Nina though it appears she’s got great fashion sense, two blokes vying for her attention, a job, a baby and the whole grief thing happening. How DOES she find the ENERGY.

Here in real world grief town I’m wearing my pyjamas far too long into the day, the only bloke I see is the mailman delivering the bills, I’m still on the unemployed list and my babies are grouchy teenagers. How come nobody makes a TV series about my life?

It seems people are very invested in Nina’s situation though. When she tried to have a one-night stand six months after the husband’s death they wrote COLUMNS about it. On Mamamia and The Daily Mail people had opinions on whether it was too soon for her to move on. PEOPLE SHE’S A FICTIONAL CHARACTER!

Frankly, if she was real and she managed to sort out a babysitter and get out of the house six months after her husband’s funeral in decent underwear, with her legs shaved, contraception sorted and sexy enough to pick-up I think we should give her a standing ovation.

I find it amazing people have an opinion on how grief should be played out.

There’s no standard practice for this, every day brings up a different challenge. In our household we each approach our sadness in different ways, none of them wrong, just different.

It’s not all blackness, there’s still laughter. We know we have to continue to move forward, that we can’t come to a complete standstill, no matter how much we might like to. So we get up, put one foot in front of the other and do our best.

Everyone on the real-world grief train needs to find their own way through in whatever time frame works for them.

 

 

 

Then The Dance Was Over

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We spent some twenty-six years with our lives entwined. We were friends, a couple, formally husband and wife, then (god help us) parents.

Twenty to Forty-Six it’s a big chunk of time spent in each others company.

We were always a mismatched pair, big picture girl, detail orientated bloke. I liked things to happen, you hated change. I live in my head, you were the solid, practical guy firmly grounded in reality.

Somehow we stumbled along together, created amazing children, laughed and cried.

Today would have been our eighteenth wedding anniversary. Perhaps we would have gone to that fancy restaurant in town that we always talked about going to, but because we had to book in advance we never managed to get there. Or maybe we would have just swapped cards, or perhaps we would have been busy and not remembered until tomorrow.

Instead I took flowers to your grave, came home and had a cry with the girls.

It’s weird living in a world without you. There’s the in-jokes nobody else would understand even if I explained them, concocted from memories of shared experiences long ago. The ability to read another person’s mind with just one look. Knowing what they were going to say before they speak.

The history of our life together has reached a full stop. The dance is over.

There will be no more new memories just images of the past that keep flitting across my mind during the sleepless hours. Your carefully planned marriage proposal at the Blue Mountains (which I almost ruined with my disorganisation – life was shambolic long before it become a blog). You standing to deliver your father’s eulogy, and years later holding my hand as I had to do the same for my Dad. The look on your face when you held your newborn daughters. On the dock at Garden Island your joy as you saw your six-month old daughter for the first time in four months. You building a kite for the girls and running around the footy oval trying to get it airborne. Princess Child, all of two or three, insisting she could fly it, your mixed-emotion face as she let it go and it soared skywards out of reach for ever.

There’s a lifetime of ordinary memories, I wish we had appreciated how special they were at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to Regain A Normal

Grief is exhausting.

It takes a lot of effort to mix with other human beings when you just want to crawl into bed and avoid the world. According to the counsellor and the doctor that is not a healthy approach. They are both suggesting, god forbid, exercise. Let’s not forgot how that turned out last time I tried … remember the treadmill incident people.

So rather than exercise I developed my own grief management strategy today. Hurricane Tracey is back in town, she’s cleaned the house, including the fridge, done a few loads of washing and cooked a baked dinner yesterday so I decided to give her the night off.spanish 3We sent the kids to the movies, we went to the pub, then to the Spanish restaurant in town. We allowed the children to join us after the movie because, well sangria is nice and I needed someone to drive me home (I’m starting to see the benefit of having a teenage driver in the family).

spanish 1As per usual I failed the food blogger test by forgetting to photograph the food BEFORE we ate it. So you will just have to trust me when I say the mixed plate of tapas was very nice.

spanish 5The next round of tapas I DID manage to photograph seconds before the teenagers demolished them.

spanish 2Then we got to the paella, the waitress had made me reduce my order to the paella for one ’cause she thought I’d ordered too much food. She was right. We had to get a doggy bag for most of the paella – that’s lunch tomorrow sorted.

spanish 4By now my children were telling me off about being on Facebook and Instagram at the table. So off course I wasn’t allowed to photograph the absolutely delicious dessert.

I did try to photograph the children but one was cross at her mum and didn’t want to be photographed (hey for once it wasn’t one of mine), the flash went off when I photographed my two and the Princess Child – always cool in a crisis¬† – managed to maintain her model pose and cheery smile. Hippy Child however, crumbled into a flash avoiding, face pulling monster that left her looking … well decidedly unattractive. If she ever ends up famous the paparazzi won’t be able to make a cent from her, she can’t deal with flashes at all.

photo(50)Friends of Danni who I know read the blog – no need to tell her I put this photo up OK!!!!!!!

The evening ended with my chauffeur driven trip home.

Now I’m tucked up in bed about to watch The Newsroom DVD I bought today.

This is the Shambolic method of grief management and look – no exercise required AT ALL.

 

Reading This Week – The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

9780525478812_p0_v1_s260x420Despite our current circumstances, Princess Child and I have both just read The Fault in Our Stars, ’cause it’s important to ALWAYS keep up with popular culture.

This Young Adult Fiction novel tells a humourous, heartbreaking story of first love.  The emotions intensified by the omnipresent fear of death as the two protagonists live with cancer.

John Green delivers an authentic voice for his young characters and captures beautifully the thrilling awkwardness of teenage love.

Hazel is sixteen and has terminal thyroid cancer, a miracle drug buying her a little extra time, she moves through life with her oxygen bottle permanently attached. Augustus is seventeen he’s lost a leg to cancer. The two are older than their years, a side effect of long hospital stays and losing friends on a regular basis.

I found Hazel’s relationship with her mother particularly moving. The mum trying to create normal out of the abnormal, the daughter secretly worried about how her mother will cope with her death while avoiding new attachments because “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?”.

The dark humour of the novel was also appealing “when they tell you that you have, say a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five … so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards”.

The novel gives an insight into the emotion of trying to grow up while living with a life-threatening illness. A young boy is left blind yet it is being dumped by his girlfriend which sends him into despair. Adults disappoint and the desire to leave a mark in the world heightens with a time bomb ticking in your body.

All in all I found The Fault In Our Stars an engaging read deftly weaving the normal adolescent woes with the deeper, more challenging issues of life and death in a cancer filled world.

Living With Teens – The Rules

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  1. Once the teenager obtains her licence you will be required to submit booking requests to drive your OWN CAR.
  2. Having a licence for six days makes her an expert and enables her to give YOU DRIVING ADVICE.
  3. Dragging teenagers out of the bedrooms they have inhabited for days on end into the sunlight of an outdoor experience is a CRIMMINAL OFFENCE.
  4. They love you deeply as long as your needs don’t interfere with their sleeping, socialising or internet usage.
  5. Obviously they care if you are ill but if you’re still breathing you are going to cook dinner aren’t you?
  6. They can’t empty the dishwasher because (a) they have to study for exams (b) they have an assessment due (c) they are tired from soccer training (d) they have to take an absolutely urgent phone call from their friend.
  7. Under no circumstances is the “old person’s radio station” to be turned on in the car – it will induce a severe allergic reaction including eye-rolling, heavy sighing, head-in-hands despair.
  8. Anything that is ever lost is YOUR FAULT and you must immediately drop whatever you are doing and FIND IT.
  9. Appearances at school are strictly monitored and at no time are you to leave the vehicle if you are wearing anything daggy – which frankly is most of your wardrobe.
  10. They secretly know how to cook, clean and take care of themselves but see no point in wasting energy on that while they have you around – plenty of time for that when they escape into the real world.

Any other rules at your house?

June Achievements

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  • Learned how to make a fire.
  • Managed to do a few days at ABC radio and produced some good shows.
  • Blogged every day.
  • Garage sorted.
  • Used a chainsaw and didn’t lose a limb.
  • Paperwork all submitted for life insurance and superannuation.
  • Got out of bed almost every day.

You’ve got to celebrate the small wins.

What did you achieve last month that made you proud of yourself?