It is hard to believe that it has been a month since my last post. My brother John has been checking in with me as to why I have not been blogging, but it was not until I ran into someone in the supermarket who asked if I was still writing that I realised how long it has been. I have been in the process of upgrading my website, which has just been completed and time has disappeared.
In the space of a month, it seems that this year has started hurtling to a close with summer, December, and Christmas just around the corner. It has been an incredibly busy month and I am not sure where November has gone. As of today, I have completed my first module of 120 hours as a Plant Lab Culinary student and I have been humbled by how much I have learned and how much I have got to learn.
Rocky, the majestic rooster, and Regina and the Dark Fairy, his feathered consorts have joined our home. I turned 46. My roses have been blooming. We got a few weeks of misty wet weather that felt like Autumn. I had my fire on in spring.
Due to a god-awful cyst, I had to have surgery on my privates. (Just imagine a great big egg made of shattered glass in your underpants.) The only reason I mention that is for my brother John who when discussing my post-surgery recovery, happened to exclaim, “Oh god Lou, I bet you are going to blog about your vagina…………. You are not going to blog about your vagina, are you?” So, because of that, I had to mention it. Just so I can imagine him squirming in horror at the things his blogging sister deigns to write about.
The whole episode made me realise how much I have grown as a person. I have always had a problem with using the correct names for our anatomy. So much so, that the kids used to have nicknames of Tinkerbell and Winky. It was only when I was advised by a teacher that that sort of terminology could lead to some confusion in the classroom, that I decided I needed to address the whole physical anatomy thing with a bit more maturity. After having my brother and my son repeatedly checking on my v-jay-jay I am now quite immune to it. I could even laugh when John suggested my gynecologist was like Doctor Livingston, going foraging in the jungle. I don’t think I will ever be able to have another examination again without putting an imaginary pith helmet and a safari suit on my doctor.
There is so much talk of Christmas now and I am a little wary. Tis the season to be jolly and all that stuff. Christmas has always been inclined to make me a little melancholy. For about a month I can’t get the words of Happy Christmas by John Lennon and Yoko Ono out of my head. “So this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another year over. And a new one begun, etc etc” Another year over and what have you done? In my head I never seem to have done enough. Or the speed at which time is flying seems to get me in the gut and makes me want to mutter sadly into my champagne.
I am attempting to avoid that this Christmas and I keep trying to drop kick that sense of melancholy as far the fuck away from me as possible. But it is hard. This year I experienced the happiest and the saddest times of my life. I can remember, sometime in our last week in Tuscany, that the kids and I had had a rainy day in Florence. I felt like a local. We splurged on a book from the English bookstore and with wet boots and jackets I treated us to a bowl of pasta in a little trattoria in the back streets of Florence. I can remember the way Archie’s glasses were fogging up and that palpable sense of joy the kids had because I had bought them a new book rather than a second hand one. That night in Uzzano, surrounded by a country that had made its way into my heart, I can remember standing at the window, looking at the view and thinking that I had never been happier. A week or so later Tiney died and my world was forever changed.
It is funny now when I run into people I have not seen since my return and they ask me about my trip. It seems so long ago now, and it is so inextricably intertwined in my head with the loss of Tiney, that I rarely mention it or think about it. I always feel like I do a double take when people ask, and I must remind myself that travelling on my own with 9-year-old twins for 9 months was a pretty amazing adventure.
I know that in a way that my life will always feel like it was interrupted and changed forever by the death of my dearest friend. Before Tiney and After Tiney. Now that the horror of those few months has dissipated I know that everything does get easier. Even on the days when it feels like I am being pulled back into a lonely abyss, I tell myself that I am doing so much better than what I was. The kids and I talk about Tiney all the time. I surround myself with photos of her and when I want to cry, I guess I just do. I don’t think the sadness will ever leave my soul, I think it is just a matter of carrying that sadness in a kinder way. So that every day you cope a little bit better, but you never forget, and you know that there is a part of you that will always ache for someone so loved but now forever gone.
Being aware of what a rollercoaster year it has been, Christmas fills me with a little angst. At some stage in those murky weeks after I had returned to Australia and we had farewelled Tiney, my family and I decided we needed to do something different for Christmas. With my older sister Nicola away, having the most amazing 3-month holiday in Europe and the UK, those of us remaining decided to go to Fiji. I still don’t know how it came about. Momma thinks I suggested it, I thought she did. Regardless, Momma, Phil, Archie, Rissie, John and I will be flying to Fiji on Christmas Eve for a Christmas I hope that is so removed from the familiar that is helps keep the melancholy at bay.
I am not so sure that Christmas is the season to be jolly. Christmas has always resonated so much more deeply with me than that. But I don’t want this Christmas to be sad either. Thankfully having two young children tends to remind you of the magic of Christmas and what it is all about. As we approach December and the inevitable ending of the year, recurring in my head are those words, ‘And so this is Christmas and what have you done?’
I have survived. I have loved. I have lost. I have cried. I have laughed. I have hoped. I have travelled far. I have returned home. I have found beautiful things. I have studied. I have dreamed. I have survived.
So as Christmas approaches I try to unravel that knot in my tummy. It might not be the season, for me to be jolly. But I know what it is the season for. It is the season to be grateful for all that I have, all that I have had and all that I dream about. It is the season to spread kindness. To live your life with hope. To remember, to always remember. And to love. I think it is the season to love.