Head in the Sand syndrome 

Yesterday I messaged a well known speakers company who represent a host of professionals, personalities and *shudder* celebrities. My question was a simple one:
Do you ever have any requests for speakers on sexual abuse, surviving it, the impact it has on one’s life. She came back promptly and politely, and me posting her response isn’t to name and shame or humiliate but to get your opinion on this 
“Hi Melinda. Thanks for your message. Unfortunately not, in my experience. I think our society is still severely suffering from ostrich syndrome about this issue 😢”

How? 
How in this day and age where sexual abuse is rife, with one in three women experiencing it are we able to keep our heads in the sand? How do we pretend that an issue that affects millions and millions of people doesn’t exist because we have ‘ostrich syndrome’ 

How many of you would like a safe place to tell your story, feel loved and understood with no judgement? Would you pay for a workshop or a talk where you’re able to network and find kindred souls brought together to heal and be healed?  
I am looking forward to your input and comments xxx

If I die…

Can you remember when you were younger and you would say “if I die”, as if you were immortal, untouchable. The idea of living to thirty was an achievement in itself because that seemed so old! 

And then you got older and the semantics changed. It was no longer “if I die” but rather “when I die”‘ 

It’s almost a year that my mom left me, alone and feeling lost. 

Any loss is terrible. I cannot begin to comprehend the loss of a child or a life partner but I can tell you that losing a mom has left me broken. There is no bond like a mother and a child. None. And when she left I lost a part of my identity, a sense of who I am. 

My mom knew everything about me. And even though I never thought she understood me and my complex ways she did. The hundreds and thousands of broken and damaged pieces that made me who I was. She knew all my secrets. She knew my first marriage was a mistake. She even told me so. And 4 years later when I met her for a coffee to tell her I was getting divorced there wasn’t a “I told you so!”

My mom loved me with all my perfections and flaws. She didn’t see a broken person. She saw a beautiful mosaic with all the potential in the world. And then she left. Suddenly and without a goodbye. 

And now my dad is is in hospital. He’s been there for almost 3 weeks now. And what initially looked like a quick visit to sort out some renal issues has now turned into a far worse situation. He doesn’t know I’m there half the time. He calls me Sally (my mom’s name). He sobs a lot of the time. And it’s probably for 100 things, like missing my mom, maybe been in a lot of pain, maybe for some regrets along the way, perhaps because he thinks he could have done better. 

I never felt like anything I did was good enough for him. One night, a school night I went out drinking (yes I was that teen) and when my mom fetched me from my accomplice’s house I was blotto. My mom screamed and shouted at me the entire way home, and when we stopped at robots or stop signs she would take it as an opportunity to ‘smack some sense into me’. It hurt but I didn’t kill me. 

I got home, went to my room, out of reach of my mom and my dad walked in. I was expecting a lecture and a good talking to but all he said as he pulled the blinds down and drew the curtains was “I have never been so disappointed in my life”. From that moment on my sole purpose was to win my dad’s approval  back. And I don’t think I ever did. I got divorced (a taboo), I adopted (more of a taboo) and I adopted two black babies (the tabooist of all taboos).

Life is precious. Life is fleeting and we’re all of a dieable age. And this has put so many things into perspective. When my dad dies I will be an orphan. I will truly be alone and I don’t know how I’m going to live with that. 
It’s also put other things into perspective – don’t hold onto grudges. Don’t forgive but not forget – do both. Tell someone what they mean to you. Be real at all times. Be kind to anyone, a stranger, a friend, anyone who looks like they need a bit of kindness. Be humble. Be modest. Strive for what makes you happy and love your life with purpose. 

I’ve never wanted fame but I am that point where I keep thinking this can’t be all there is to life. I need to leave a legacy behind. I need to leave a piece of me behind. I am now on a mission to figure out how what that purpose is…I hope you find yours xxx

Trust your own way with Baby Dove

*for disclosure purposes I was flown to the Baby Dove launch to be a part of the panel and was paid a small fee*

**for further disclosure I would have done it for free for two reasons. One, the first night away from home on my own in a very very long time and two, because I have only used Dove soap on Emma as she really battles with UTIs and eczema**

When the mail arrived asking if I would like to be a part of a panel of moms for the launch of Baby Dove, Unilever’s new range of skin care for babies, I was over the moon excited. Yay! People finally respected me as an ‘expert’ mom I thought to myself. 


On reading further my ego deflated a little like my left boob – the panel was more about how there is no such thing as ‘the perfect mom’ only ordinary moms doing their best and trusting their own way. Not so yay anymore – I’d been caught out as an imposter, as a not-so-perfect mom, and now I was being asked to talk about all my failures in front of a group of media, influencers, mom bloggers and other important people.

How wrong was I? I had the most amazing time. In fact, maybe one of my best EVER!  I met amazing moms and inspiring career women. I met a young 24 year old (who happened to be black) who works as part of the the R&D team at Unilever. She was an intergral part of this new range and when I looked at her I just saw all the possibilities that lie ahead for Emma. 
I also met one of only two paediatric dermatologists in SA, Dr. Hlela, who has more dregrees than I have issues, and again I was excited for Emma’s future while feeling a little underachieved myself. But this wasn’t about me.


The day before the actual launch we had a dry run, which turned out to be little wet, with a few tears shed as we discussed miscarriages, our (perceived) failures as moms and how it’s so easy to feel judged or be judging of each other. 

There were also loads of laughs and in the evening Mark phoned so Ben and Emma could say goodnight. I told them I was a little nervous and Ben said I should just be myself (‘because who else are you going to be’ which is what he tells me when I say the same thing to him). He also wanted to know if it was snowing and what the time difference is between Joburg and Cape Town. 

The day arrived and there I was. As a mom. On a panel with other moms. One of the questions during the discussion was “how as a mother, with all the advice from others (well meant or not) do we trust our own way?” My answer was that as a mom, who literally had a stork deliver our babies, there was no time for reading and Google. I wasn’t pregnant so no one felt inclined to rub my tummy while passing on advice like a baby/parent whisperer. 

With Emma I literally got to change her nappy once while she was still at the shelter and was given a quick run through on how to bath her. That was it. The rest was on a wing and a pile of Xanor. 

But flying home that night I sat on the plane thinking what ‘trusting your way’ really meant. And I realized it meant so much, even before becoming a mom. When I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be the mom of my own destiny I had to trust my way of becoming one through adoption. There weren’t any cheerleaders in my corner. Even my mom, hopefully her soul is resting in peace, couldn’t quite come to terms with it. When I told her I had found my baby she couldn’t hide her disappointment and asked me whether adoption didn’t feel like 2nd surprise? Other family members asked if we would consider surrogacy and IVF. Even Mark, from a much more pragmatic point of view, asked the real questions I didn’t/hadn’t/wouldn’t consider – could I love someone else’s baby? Could I really love a baby of another color? But Emma, from the moment I saw her, was mine. And there was no way of changing my mind. 

I had to trust that my way was going to lead to unhappiness within my very own family; it was going to rock boat socially and politically but I didn’t care. As a woman I had to trust that this was the only way I was ever going to have my own children. When Ben arrived there was no second guessing or doubt. Again I trusted my way and look where we are today. A funny and strange little family making our way in the world.

Thank you to Unilever and Dove for allowing me to share my story. Thank you to the other amazing women on the panel, and in the group, who opened up to a room full of strangers. As other women told their stories heads nodded in agreement, a few tears were shed where common experiences were shared and relived. We all realised we’re on this journey together and while we’re all struggling each and every day, our way, our instinct, is what gets us through. 

PS I was given the most amazing hamper of Baby Dove products to use and review but when I was checking in to fly home the lady behind the desk asks if I was expecting (I’m assuming because of the box of goodies and NOT my untoned belly). I replied that no, I wasn’t, and asked if she had little ones. “Yes, I’ve got a 3-year old and a 10 month old” and so I asked her if she would like the hamper. 

I will be buying the new range of Dove, for all of us, especially for Emma, and I’ll definitely be buying their baby wipes, regardless of free products or not.

I’m also hoping to do a giveaway soon and go into the far more technical side of range, share the necessary links and Facebook details. It’s definitely a skincare range you want to consider for your precious bundle…

How have you, as a parent, had to trust your own way? Would love to hear from you xxx

We are all that girl 

If the number of missing women isn’t scaring the shit out of you at the moment I don’t know what will. 

I’m not sure if we’re just more aware of it or if there’s a definite increase but the statistics of women being raped and murdered has me losing much needed beauty sleep. 

What frightens me beyond belief is that you no longer have to look out for boogie men or not talk to strangers, because for me, and countless other women and girls, it wasn’t a creepy guy in a trench coat frothing at the mouth with a sign reading “predator”. My abusers were all known to me. Except for two occasions – one in a public bathroom at Eastgate shopping centre while my then boyfriend waited in the queue to buy movie tickets and another time in my house. 

I speak freely about the abuse nowadays. It was a liberating experience mentioning it to a friend the first time. And you want to know what made it easier after that? The fact that almost every girl I told had been through something similar, something far worse or not as bad (as if there’s such a thing as ‘not as bad’ abuse). 

And so I now tell my story. Openly. Freely. I’m not the one that should be ashamed and I refuse to walk with that label around my neck any longer.

A friend approached me recently and asked if I would tell her story. She liked my style of writing, my honesty and my ability to talk to people, even on a rather formal platform like a blog. 

This is her story. Names, dates and places have been altered slightly to protect her identity (for now) and I might add a little of my character to keep the story interesting, although I’m not sure it’s necessary. 

At seven or eight I remember my cousin groping me in the swimming pool while the adults sat sipping on tea and scones, a couple of feet away from us. Everytime he dived under he would grab either my breasts or my crotch area. When I mentioned it to my mom she told me that it’s harmless fun and ‘all boys do that’. I soon stopped swimming at my aunt’s house. 

During primary school I was one of the first girls to wear a bra and everyday I had boys pulling at my bra straps. In class. In line. On the playground. When I did raise it with one of the teachers I was told to cover the bra straps up by wearing a vest or a spencer because ‘boys will be boys’ . 

In standard five (or grade 7 as it’s called today) my Afrikaans teacher accused me of cheating in a test. Apparently my final mark was much higher than it should have been and the only way it could have happened was because I had crib notes with me. He made me rewrite the test during break time, in a locked classroom with him. There was no test. Instead I was fondled by this man and told how special I was. He didn’t do that kind of thing with just anyone. He then deducted 20% off my test mark and submitted it as ‘final’.

Oddly enough even with my cousin and the pool incident I was a really good swimmer and went for coaching 5 days a week. During school holidays the coach ran an academy which started at 7am in the morning and finished round about 5pm. During rest time he would kindly smother me with suntan cream, in front of the others, always pulling my costume line higher because ‘those were the areas the sun burnt when your costume crept up while you stretched your arms doing crawl or butterfly’. Strangely it was only me he was concerned about. 

By around 10 I was abused on a regular basis by an uncle. And on different occasions, his son. A friend’s dad owned a cinema complex and I was allowed to watch movies all day with my friend. As long as I was sitting next to him in the dark, so he could fiddle and fondle to his hard-on’s content. By 15 I was involved with a married man who was 35. His daughter was two years younger than me. 

In standard 7 I attended Star Schools for extra math lessons and I remember walking from the class to my mom’s car but before I got to her I heard a “psssst” behind me. I turned to look and there was a youngish guy, looking directly at me. As I made eye contact he looked down and my eyes followed his. He was masturbating and after ejaculating he picked up his pace, rushing past me and wiping his hand on my blazer. 

In standard 8 I changed schools. I was tired of the constant harassment from older boys about my ample bosom and figured an all-girls school would be better. It was. But everyday I waited at the bus stop in town with a man sititng next to me, wearing shorts with a newspaper strategically placed over his crotch. And he would be playing with himself. Everyone knew he did this but no one ever confronted him. I, along with other girls, were always told to stand away from him. It was our fault because we aroused him.

My first job I was sexually harassed by male colleagues all the time. I was promised promotions and increases if I would ‘just’ let them feel me up, or ‘just’ suck them off. Men would look at me and tell me I looked ‘filthy’ and up for a good time. 

Years later I was sexually harassed to the point where I mentioned it to a manager, almost half joking about it because at this point I figured it happened to everyone, all the time. But he took the complaint very seriously and reported it to the MD. By this time I was apologizing for causing a ruckus, for putting people in uncomfortable situations. The harasser responded as follows:

Nothing like that happened

What? She wishes. Have you seen her?

I would never do something like that unless I knew she was up for it

She came onto me. She knows I’m happily married 

And the matter was laid to rest.

I was married for a couple of years to a good man. A man too good for me. Every day thoughts of me not being good enough plagued me. Sex and love to me were two very different things but completely interchangeable. Looking for love, in all its wrong forms, I would have sex with whoever, whenever but my husband and I were hardly ever intimate. 

To sabotage it all, because why would trash like me deserve someone like him, I had affairs. Loads. All with men who treated me like an object. All with men who held me in the same regard I held myself. 

Needless to say my husband found out and he left. I knew he would. I didn’t deserve someone like that. 

I remarried. Have two perfect children but my experiences still affect me. I abuse over the counter medicines, don’t consider myself worth very much and battle with depression and thoughts of suicide. 

I am not a woman. I am a statistic. One of many whose life has, and always will be, affected by men. 

I am that girl. Too scared to walk alone. Too scared to wear clothes that are sexy or provocative. I am that girl that blames herself for acting trashy, for being too available, for being in the wrong places at the wrong times. Again and again and again. I am always aware of my surroundings, never letting my guard down.

I am that girl. The woman next to you in the mall, she’s probably that girl too. As is the lady who packs your groceries at your local store. 

But we’re the lucky ones because we’re here to tell the tale unlike those women found in ditches, burned beyond recognition, murdered in their homes, gang raped and shamed…

We all have the potential to be THAT girl. 

Why moms should run the world 

The title is misleading because while it reads ‘moms should run the world’ I believe women in all shapes, sizes or forms would do the job brilliantly but for now I feel like moms, especially me, could run an organization, or country, more effectively than any man.

Last night while we were having supper Emma accidentally bit down on a loose tooth and groaned a little as to how sore it was. A few minutes later she goes to the bathroom and Ben and I carry on eating. 

Next thing I hear “mom I’ve got the biggest surprise ever!” Dear baby Jesus and Bloody Mary don’t tell me she’s started menstruating already I think to myself! She comes running through, blood on fingers and aforementioned loose tooth in hand. “Double you, tea, eff!” I exclaim! “How did that happen? Was your tooth THAT loose?”

After much excitement and Ben telling her to pull more out so she can cash in from the tooth fairy we Skype, or as Ben calls it ‘skydive’, Mark and the topic is mainly around Emma’s tooth and that Ben really shouldn’t moon his dad, aunt, uncle and cousins whilst skyping.

And then I remembered the last R10 and R20 I had on my person was given to our gardener for transport (he usually comes in on a Thursday but thought Sunday would be as good a day as any). I also couldn’t leave the house to draw money, leaving  the kids at home alone, or them coming along and possibly one of them realizing something was up. I messaged my ‘village friend’ aka neighbour but her phone was off for the night! What to do? What to do! 

Everyone knows this in a corporate environment would be referred to as crisis management, where quick thinking and proactiveness is essential. I watched as Emma placed her tooth under her pillow, read a bedtime story and watched them fall asleep, having to shush them every so often as they discussed how and where the tooth fairy gets in the house, and if she’s so small how does she carry all that money? 

As soon as they were asleep I grabbed a pencil and paper, and some glitter because glitter makes everything better, and penned a letter to Emma which went along the lines of:

Dear Emma

Well now, isn’t this a surprise? I really wasn’t expecting your tooth to come out so soon and at the moment I’m on holiday. I checked in with the tooth mouse to see if he could help but he’s apparently also sunning it up somewhere.

Talking of being away, i know your dad’s in England at the moment too and I figured you would probably want to show him the tooth, especially that it’s one of your last baby teeth. So this is plan. I’m leaving your tooth with you so dad can see it when he’s back. Keep it nice and safe until then. (Oh, and I’ll be back from my vacay around the same time.)

In the meantime this letter is almost like an IOU, as in I owe you R20! Keep the letter and tooth safe and I’ll see you soon!

Yours in fairy dust 

TF

XOXOXO glitter glitter XOXOXO

Emma was thrilled with her letter. Ben didn’t question (yet) how it had arrived if the TF is supposed to be on holiday. Neither noticed (yet) that the tooth fairy’s handwriting looked remarkably like mine and they both loved how considerate she was for thinking that dad might like to have seen the tooth before it was taken away…

And this, dear reader, is why women should run the world! 

Celebrating Mother’s Day motherless 

I came across this on Facebook this morning, and it resonated with me in such a way that I felt I could finally write about celebrating Mother’s Day without my mom.

The problem I’ve been faced with, for example, is mentioning how I miss my mom on a social platform and someone responding with “what about us whose moms never loved us?” I can’t answer that but I know the relationships we have with our mothers are complicated, even when you’re close. 

You can be close to your mom but never see her. You can be close and close by. You can be close by but not close. Get what I’m saying? 

This is the post:

“With tomorrow being Mother’s Day, my heart feels especially sensitive to my friends for whom this holiday will be hard.

Friends who will be standing by gravesites. Friends whose moms haven’t been a part of their lives in many years. Those who have challenging relationships with their moms who try to navigate Mother’s Day with grace but some necessary distance.

And then there are those who are still aching to be called “Mom.” Those with arms longing to hold a little one of their own.”

I remember just after my my mom passed away I went to fetch Emma from a playdate and my daughter pulled one of her “I don’t want to go home! I want to stay!” I tried to stay composed while explaining to her that I had missed her the entire day and would love to spend some time with her and have our now customary bedtime snuggles but she wasn’t having any of it. And I just crashed and burned. 

I literally broke into a million pieces, right there, in front of this poor woman. She had no idea what to do or say but she suggested Emma stay a bit longer and then be dropped off later. A few weeks later I saw the same friend again and she mentioned that I was looking better than when she saw me last. She then went onto say she had no idea my mom’s loss had affected me as much because I never really mentioned her, I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, even though we lived close enough to. 

Even if is she was here today there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t spend the day with her. She would be with one of my two brothers, or both, with their wives, and I would be the ‘shitty’ daughter. I’m sure there’d be comments about my absence and she would sit quietly, saying nothing, maybe even agreeing in order to keep the facade. But she would know why I wasn’t there. 

We would have spoken on the phone or via WhatsApp voice notes – my mom had recently discovered them, and let me just say she loved the function – I would have wished her a happy Mother’s Day and she would have done the same. And then we’d say goodbye, tell each other they were loved and go about our day.

I loved my mom dearly and I know she loved me. But she wasn’t perfect and there were some things I wish she had done differently. There are days my entire body aches for her, just to hear her voice. Other days I am so angry with her and then feel guilty that she can probably feel the rage. 

There are moments I wish for one more conversation, so I can tell her that all is forgiven, that I understand why she did what she did and didn’t do what she should have. I would do anything to hear her say my strength matched hers and she did things the way she did because out of everyone, she knew I would cope best. 

At times I think it would have been better if she had died when I was younger, when I was going through my ’emo’ years. Maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t have missed her as much. But none of that matters. The ‘what if’, the ‘if only’, the ‘I shoulda, woulda, coulda’.

What I do know is the day she died my world came tumbling down. The moment I became motherless I truly felt alone. And lonely. It was when I had to finally become  an adult. And that hasn’t changed. I hate ‘adulting’. Regardless of our relationship, there is no replacing my mother’s love. No one can take her place. She is truly irreplaceable.

My mom ‘got me’. I didn’t have to tell her when things were crap, she knew. She loved me even though I was broken beyond repair, she loved me when I was unloveable and I miss her everyday, every hour, second by second. 

Mom, here’s to your first Mother’s Day in heaven. I hope it’s everything you dreamed it would be .

I love you. I miss you. 

Death wish 

I have always lived life on the more morbid side of the fence. When all the girls around me were sprouting perky little boobs and their hair was something out of a Timotei advert, I looked liked Robert Smith with coke bloat! 

While my gorgeously gorgeous friends strutted their stuff at places like Caeasar’s Palace or Qs, I lurked in the shadows of The Doors, hoping to bump into someone accidentally so I could say I got hit on! 

Nowadays I think I’m a bit more positive and giving of my time, affections and advice, where possible. So here goes.

Make a wish list 

Tomorrow my mom celebrates her first birthday in heaven. I get to spend time thinking about her, the good, the bad, and even the ugly. The fact that she’s dead doesn’t make her a saint. She had her flaws but she was my mom. And she loved me. I think. I hope. I guess so. 

To this day I don’t know what is in my mom’s will. In fact I don’t even know if she has one. And I don’t care. No worldly goods will replace her. I know she has some extremely valuable jewelry which is at my younger brother’s house and quite frankly I don’t give a continental shit if I ever see a piece of it or not. There is no diamond or vaulable stone that’ll bring her back. 

But there is something I would have loved her to do. I would have loved for her to put her wishes on a piece of paper or in a book. 

Like what she wanted done with her ashes. At the moment, as far as I know, they’re at my older brother’s office, on his desk. I’m sure my mom’s loving it there! No one knows what to do with them. I asked for some of her ashes on various occasions and have been ignored so I’ll find another way for me to celebrate my mom’s life. After all she isn’t what’s lying in that urn!

We recently got someone in to change our wills slightly, mine and Mark’s. We’ve changed who Emma and Ben will go to if anything happens to both of us. We’ve asked that all money and valuables left to them are only given to them when they’re 25 or thereabouts – unless it’s for studying or travel. Until then there is a person who will ensure they have everything they need.

Did I mention to make a wishlist?

But more than my will is my wish list. Here it is in black and white and it’s what I want done sans the politics and bullshit that goes with death and families.  

1. I do not want to be buried. I want to be cremated. With a lot of popcorn kernels that pop furiously as my body burns. At my memorial service feel free to serve boxes of popcorn with a a tag that has something very politically incorrect on it like ‘thanks for popping by’ or ‘kernel believe she’s gone!’

But what could be fun would be to have a legit looking coffin with a mannequin inside, dressed to look like me. And somehow it topples over with me falling out!

2. I am an organ donor. Mark knows this and I have told him that every single part of me needs to be used. Those bits that aren’t usable can be turned into earrings, key rings, evil eyes, whatever, but he needs to make sure there is hardly anything left of me. Use my bones as a dinosaur hunt for the the kids at the memorial service. Who knows? My ovary could make for an interesting looking ashtray. 

3. As miserable as I am I want my death to be a celebration – whether it’s a celebration for some of you who loved me while I was alive or a celebration for some of you who might be glad I’m finally dead! Make sure there’s food and drink (gin, tonic, champagne). Bring your children, let them run and play and be who and what they are

(At my mom’s service Emma and Ben’s behavior was ‘despicable’ because they were squealing with delight, having scored a ride on a golf cart. Deep down I know my mom would have been in hysterics)

4. If by the time I’m dead and they still do things like order of services please please please ensure that it is proofread by a professional or five. I will haunt each and everyone of you who allow a grammar, typo or punctuation error

5. Invite people, like you would for a party. Even if it’s a ‘rent-a-crowd’ I want lots of people there. Not really 

6. I do not want a service inside a church. Make sure it’s outside, close to running water, so all the guests need to pee during the service. I’m also thinking a picnic type set up would be fun. With people laughing, kids screaming and yelling. Get a stand up comic if you must, there must only be love and laughter

7. Please play a few of my favorite songs – anything by David  Essex. Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. There has to be a carpool karaoke with One Direction or with Sia. And there HAS to be a song performed by Tumi and Emma and if there’s a chance to squeeze in one other let it be  ‘you are not alone’  by the great Michael Jackson 

8. I want everyone to say something about me: good, bad, or funny. Just make sure it’s not dull.  Tell the people there that I was incredibly generous, giving my last cent to a beggar or someone needing it more than me, but also feel free to tell them I was so bad with money I never had more than a cent to give. My smarter friends can read a Walt Whitman poem or something from Sylvia Plath. Those smart friends know who they are

9. Plese allow Emma and Ben to speak at my memorial and let them say whatever they want – do not censor them 

10. When everything’s over, have my ashes there, even it’s a year’s worth of cigarette ash, but let each person take a handful to do with what they like. Except snort it. It’s not pleasant. How you remember me and the things you liked about me will give you an idea of what to do with them. If you want to be a real bitch you’ll sprinkle them on William Nicol. 

My biggest regret is not traveling enough, so if you’re an adventurer please take me with and sprinkle me around. Just not warm baths or a gym. Please!

11. Talk about me often. Think of me with love. Laugh at my irritating little habits like not putting the milk back in the fridge and if you decide to get in touch ne using a medium or physic just know there’s a good chance I’m not going to be answering her spiritual phone call. As it was on earth, so too shall it be in heaven xxx

Oh and shrink my head – could be a great Xmas decoration to  pass down the generations 

 

If I happen to change my mind along the way I’ll amend accordingly 

Gratitude – it’s a verb

Yesterday I dropped Emma off at her BFF’s house – Tyra and Emma have known each other since creche days, probably around 2 years old or so, and even though they’re at different schools now and don’t see other regularly, they’re the embodiment of what true friendships are all about.
I don’t think Tyra’s mom had mentioned Emma was coming around so when I pulled into the driveway and Emma jumped out the car, it was just too much – they give each other the biggest love, comment on how beautiful the other looks and Tyra, without pause says:
“I  am so lucky! Today my best friend’s here and my other friend is coming another day and on Sunday there’s an Easter egg hunt in the complex and next week I’m going on holiday I am SO lucky! It’s like the miracles just keep coming today!
It was at this moment I decided a new to (re)start my gratitude diaryand while most of my entries will be in a journal, today is online because I need to mention a few people in particular. If in this entry, your name doesn’t appear, it’s not because I don’t value you, but it’s more to do with what has happened in the last day or two –
 
Itumeleng Malatsi – I am grateful that you haven’t only accepted me, warts and all, as a friend, but that you have shown so much love to my Emma and Ben. So much so that in the time spent with you I think they found a new peace within themselves…
 
Kagiso Msimango – while I sometimes find your NO BS approach a little hard to take, you are also, in your own way, teaching me to take my power back, one small step at a time. Through you, I have learned that saying ‘no’ to something isn’t a personal attack nor is it going to be the death of anyone…
 
To my hairdresser, this morning, who not only gave me the biggest hug, and somehow managed to sense I’m pretty broke at the moment, didn’t charge me for my fabulous cut
 
Bumping into Claire Pacariz, by sheer chance, and having an open and honest chat about moms, death, dying and all the pain that comes with it. Thank you xxxx
 
Buying a pen from Typo, for my written journal, and having the sales lady notice my mom’s old ring I happened to be wearing. Not only did she comment on how beautiful i is, she also acknowledged, when I needed it most, that my mom will always be there
 
This is a tough one to be grateful for but in a way I am, because it has freed me from relationships that has been so toxic for too many years, but because it’s family, and blood is thicker than water, apparently. It turns out it isn’t.
Thank you for finally telling me what you think of me. Thank you for finally finding the balls to tell me how much of a disappointment I have been, for as long as you can remember. Thank you for not responding to my request for some of mom’s ashes so I can do something for her and I this week, for her birthday. In your selfishness, piousness and ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude I have come to realize that with everything I went through, with everything you put me through, I have come out the better person.
Here’s to finding gratitude in the most unlikely of places…

When the dead come calling 

The older I get the more I know that truth is stranger than fiction. 

Yesterday a rather large moth landed on a cushion on our couch. Mark and Ben suggested it was either Mark’s mom or mine, popping into visit. 

My response, usually far more upbeat, was that I don’t think it’s my mom because I just don’t feel like she’s close to me at the moment. 

And then last night  a friend of mine, and my mom’s godchild, sent me a link out of the blue about the calling cards our loved ones leave when they visit. She thought it was weird that one of the examples used the name Emma and wanted to pass it onto me. 

There and then, once again, was not one sign that my mom is always close by but three. 

xxx

What grief really looks like 

Grief is a family standing in a stark hospital room trying to process that a loved one has died. It’s wanting to cry because that’s what people do but you’re in shock and the tears won’t come. 

In order to protect itself your brain goes into survival mode and you simply function on autopilot. It’s hearing your mom has died but still being able to get into your car and drive to the hospital. Alone. It’s arriving at her service and saying a few words that aren’t quite what you wanted to express. 

I still regret my eulogy not being heart wrenchingly sad. I want a do-over so I can bring everyone sitting there to tears. I want to be able to collapse in a pile and have everyone rush over and make sure I’m ok. But my brain doesn’t let me. I don’t get to rewind that day. What the guests at my mom’s memorial service remember is me being cold, distant, aloof, speaking words that would make a pastor look good, a grieving daughter not so much.

I want to redo her service. And make sure that everyone who loved and cared for my mom is there. She was incredibly loved by everyone and I know for who she was and what she did her memorial service was empty. The 40 or so people there did no justice to the lives she had touched, and although very much appreciated the guests present didn’t reflect the life my mom had led.

Grief is weeks and months (and years too, although I’m not there yet) later still wanting to phone her. It’s not deleting whatsapp messages and calling her cellphone in the hope that it’s off just to hear her voice (mail message). It’s thinking to yourself you haven’t spoken to her in ages and you really should phone her.

It’s seeing her in the shadows and feeling her just over your shoulder. It’s not about sweet dreams with a smiling image of her but rather horrid nightmares that keep you from falling asleep. 

It’s gaining weight around your belly area because your cortisol levels are abnormally high and you’re in fright or flight mode all the time. It’s being in a state of hyper-arousal, which has nothing to with my libido, but rather that the slightest noise or incident has me literally jumping out of my skin. It’s your hair falling out from stress. And from you pulling it out literally. 

It’s being so tired but not being able to fall asleep. It’s having too much energy to sit still and do something productive but being too exhausted to do it. It’s being happyandsadandangryandirritableandyelly for no reason at all. It’s snapping at our husband when he’s been the only one around and it’s shouting at your kids, who are your only real source of happiness.

Grief is achingly lonely. I’ve read how support is important when someone has just died, but that it’s even more important 6 months later, and a year down the line. I wouldn’t know. I didn’t get the support then and there’s none around now. 

I can count on one hand the friends who have said they’re sorry about my mom dying. I don’t mean on Facebook and via WhatsApp messages, I mean face-to-face. And I don’t need all five fingers to count how many have asked how I’m doing since. 

Grief is everyone moving on because “she had a good life” and “didn’t suffer”, but life standing still to the day you got the call and when you saw her lifeless body under the sterile hospital sheet. 

It’s dreading every celebration because they’re no longer that but rather a very painful reminder of what is gone, and what’s left behind. It’s hoping to speak to someone else who has lost a parent because they’re the only ones who get it. 

Grief is hanging onto every memory you can remember but looking at photos and not knowing the person looking back at you. It’s putting meaning to coincidences in the hope there is an afterlife and that she’s watching over me. It’s people who you thought were friends avoiding you. It’s late night sobbing when everyone has gone to bed because you don’t want them to see just how raw the pain is. 

Grief is who I am.