Let the sanest among us, cast the first stone.

I was sitting at the kitchen table the other day watching a TED video, as you do… and my mobile phone rings.  I glance at the screen and see that it’s my Mum calling.  So I answer the call, and say, “Hi Mum”, just like I always do… only to hear a male voice saying, “No, it’s Dad.”


JTFC!  This seriously and immediately did my head in, because my Dad passed away in 2007.  It was actually my father in law, who is currently visiting from Canada and staying at my Mum’s house while she is travelling… and while somewhere deep down in my logical brain I knew it couldn’t be my Dad, the distracted manner in which I answered the phone and the expectation that it would be my mother, followed by a declaration that it was my deceased father, allowed an immediate, and completely irrational, reaction that stayed with me for several hours.

It happened in just a split second – I heard the male voice and was then frantically looking around the room in confusion and my heart felt like it had leapt into my throat… I felt like I was floundering and my brain was having trouble keeping up with the enormous negative adrenaline rush that over took my body.  It was like some weird lizard brain fear/disbelief reaction that I have never experienced before.  Absolute discombobulation. Then a fleeting moment later it penetrated that the male voice had said ‘Doug’ and not ‘Dad’… and I just burst into tears.

It was a truly surreal moment.  I felt like my brain was trying to resolve some sort of unresolvable situation.  I have no way to describe it other than I ‘freaked the fuck out!’… and I am not the type of person who ‘freaks the fuck out!’ about anything.  Additionally, I most certainly do not believe in anything that would even remotely support concepts of contact and/or interactions with people who are dead.  But my brain didn’t seem to remember any of that, right there in the middle of that bizarrely intense over-emotional unreasonable moment.

I would give just about anything for a phone call with my Dad, I have so much I would want to tell him, so many things I would I want to ask him, people I would want to introduce him to.  So much has happened since he left.  You know, most days I don’t think about Dad at all, and we all just go about our lives.  But whenever I do think about him… I miss him so much it hurts.

discombobulate discombobulation

The MND/ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

As many of you know, my Dad passed away from MND (Motor Neurone Disease) which is also known in the US, as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gherig’s Disease.  He was diagnosed just before Christmas in 2003 and passed away in January 2007.  My Dad did not fight MND, he did not battle MND, he just suffered from MND and he died from MND.  Unfortunately, there is no battling or fighting involved when it comes to this insidious disease, as there is no cure, there are only limited and ineffective treatment and no one ever beats it.  Ever.

I’ve been watching the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge social media storm with mixed emotions. On one hand, it seems many of those empty ice buckets lost the whole, ‘raising awareness’ bit, and turned into people getting soaked for no reason other than a laugh… and on the other hand, some have brilliantly hijacked screen time, media time, and brought much needed donations and discussion to a largely hidden, rarely talked about disease.

Watch this video – it’s not some celebrity, it’s not some hot shirtless college guy who thinks dumping a bucket of ice water over yourself in the middle of summer is a cool trend to follow…  This is Anthony Carbajal, he is a 26 year old man who has been diagnosed with ALS and who is scared shitless of the fate he knows lays in front of him – and quite frankly, I don’t blame him one bit.

My father described it like being buried alive in your own body.  He found out he had it because he had started tripping over his feet occasionally when he walked.  Eventually he lost the use of his legs, which was about the time his hands really started to play up.  By the time he was in a wheelchair, he could still use a mouse on the computer but definitely couldn’t dress himself or comb his own hair.  Eventually his ability to use his mouse deteriorated too, about the time he needed a PIC feeding line to get enough nutrition, because he could no longer safely swallow his food because the risk he might choke was too high, as his oesophageal reflexes deteriorated.  At this stage due to being so sedentary, his resting heart rate was 130-140bpm all day, every day, as his strong (and oh so huge and generous) heart desperately worked to keep his blood flowing around his inert body.  Eventually his speech left him, and he had to resort to blinking to communicate when he was thirsty, when he was hungry, when he needed to go to the toilet… and the whole time he was in still in there, still mentally as sharp as a tack and still slowly watching his body continue to degenerate.

Throughout his entire illness, his biggest concern was not for his own fate, but rather the effect it was having on us – on my Mum, on my sisters and myself.  He was mostly worried how his disease was impacting on us… and he was the one that was dying.

If you’d like to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, by all means be my guest… I have decided that while this is a somewhat disturbing and painful thing for me personally, the absurdity of this Ice Bucket Challenge, when combined with the gravity of MND/ALS has somehow gripped the attention of the entire globe – no easy task when fighting for attention with such things as Gaza/Israel, ISIS, MH17, Abbott and Co, Baby Gammy and god knows what else. So more power to it, if it’s going to continue the dialogue.

But if you do – please donate as well… even a little bit.  If you want to donate in Australia, you can go here to the MND Australia donations page.  Every little bit helps research to try and find a treatment for MND and maybe one day a reversal or a cure.



My Poppa and World War II.

Yesterday, I went to visit my 95 year old Grandfather who has found himself in respite care for the first time.  Up until about two months ago he has been living independently up at Bribie Island but apparently he has started having chest issues and subsequent breathing problems – but when I asked him how his chest was getting along, he told me the most bizarre thing… that he’d always had chest problems on his left side ever since he ‘fell down a mountain’ in WWII when serving in Papua New Guinea.   Falling down a mountain?  Huh?

My Poppa was conscripted to serve in the Australian Army during World War II, probably in 1942, (I didn’t know he was a conscript, I always assumed he had volunteered), and he found himself enlisted into the 25th Battalion, which was largely formed of men from the Qld Darling Downs region, most of whom were present at the Battle of Milne Bay and was later assigned to ANGAU, the Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit.  Anyway, he tells me while he was assigned to the 25th Battalion, at some point they were engaged with the enemy (the Japanese Army) and he was forced over a cliff and ‘fell down a mountain’.  Leaving him in the RAP with broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Like many returned veterans, my Poppa never talks about the war much and I had only a rudimentary knowledge of his service in Papua New Guinea.  Hell, he never even really spoke to my grandmother about it, from what she said.  I knew that he had served with American troops and that at some point he had received a Military Medal for bravery – he had single handedly attacked a Japanese hut and shot two enemy soldiers before killing five more with an axe/machete, leaving his platoon outside in safety – the erroneous and watered down concepts I had, of how he came to be awarded this high distinction, are recorded here.  I was not aware that he had suffered any injuries while in the Pacific theatre, but here he is, a man I have known my entire life telling me he ‘fell down a mountain’ and had residual chest issues as a result of a puncture lung and scar tissue on that lung… so I started asking him some more questions about his time in the war in the hope that he might open up a bit.

He spoke to me for the first time about his presence at Milne Bay and how the Japanese soldiers landed on the beach appeared to be expecting very little resistance, for they knew the Australian soldiers posted there were all conscripts – in the Japanese imagination, that meant they were men who didn’t want to fight, and in their arrogance they expected to walk all over them, as the Japanese had experienced no great amount of resistance and had not suffered any defeat until this point in the war.  My Poppa told me how the volunteer Aussie soldiers referred to conscripts, like himself, as Chocos (Chocolate soldiers – a derogatory term for a soldier who looks good, but melts under pressure… a term the current Australian Army relegates to their Army Reserve).  Anyway he personally thinks the Japanese felt that the Chocos wouldn’t give them any trouble, but they were wrong, really wrong.  And were defeated at Milne Bay and forced to retreat.  He spoke about how he remembers seeing about 200 dead Japanese soldiers on the beach when the Japanese pushed inland but they were eventually forced to retreat when met with unexpected veteran Australian reinforcements.

The Battle of Milne Bay, (25 August – 7 September 1942). One of the barges used by the Japanese forces in their unsuccessful incursion.

The Battle of Milne Bay, (25 August – 7 September 1942) – one of the barges used by the Japanese forces in their unsuccessful incursion.

Throughout our visit yesterday, he said several times that the ‘Japanese soldiers did horrible, terrifying things that I just can’t tell you about’, it was obviously a coping mechanism developed over the last 70 years, maybe even necessary for his own mental preservation, to justify the things he did in the Pacific.  Even though I reassured him I had read several books detailing the war atrocities that the Japanese had committed against enemy troops in the Pacific, he was still reluctant to share details of the things he had seen.  The only specific example he was prepared to share personally, was that on one occasion they had found some of their own Signals guys wrapped up to palm trees with comms wire, and it was obviously that the Japanese soldiers had used them for live bayonet practice.  But other than this, Poppa would only say that the Japanese soldiers were very free and creative with torture – ‘it was just the way they were trained’ – and that these practices among others, would eventually be labelled as Japanese war crimes.


The AHS Centaur with prominent red crosses on her bow and funnels.

In May of 1943, a hospital ship, the AHS Centaur, was sunk by the Japanese off the coast of Australia somewhere near Caloundra in Queensland.  The sinking of the Centaur made headlines around the world and confirmed in the minds of the allied countries, the barbarity and savagery that the Japanese were capable of – as this attack on a hosptial ship was irrefutably a crime, being an act in serious breech of the 1907 Hague Convention.  The public was outraged that a hospital ship was targeted and sunk.  Poppa said the sinking of the Centaur steeled the resolve of the soldiers he served with, and their hatred of the Japanese was solidified after that.  For Poppa personally, the sinking of the Centaur was deeply painful and personal – you see, his elder brother Harry was on the Centaur and died on May 14th, 1943 when it was sunk.  By the sounds of it, this event had an enormous impact on my Grandfather and his anger and desire for revenge on the Japanese became somewhat consuming.

canberra times centaur

work save fight avenge the nurses

When working with ANGAU, one of his primary responsibilities was reconnaissance and eradicating Japanese soldiers that were embedded throughout the mountainous jungle terrain.  He was a Sergeant by then, and had a platoon consisting of American, Australian and some Papua New Guinea natives.  I had heard the story of how he was awarded the Military Medal for attacking a hut with no regard for his life, and was told (when I was a kid) that he had malaria and thought he was dying, so he left his unit outside and attacked the hut alone.  That was not true… it was a watered down version of his actual actions while serving in this unit.  Yesterday, Poppa told me that he was so incensed by his brother’s unjust death, that he wanted to make the Japanese pay.  So he started to habitually ingress into these Japanese huts on his own.  He estimates there was at least a dozen or so huts that he attacked and usually they had only one or two occupants.  However one day he burst into a hut only to find seven men in that hut, two of which he shot and the other five he killed with a tomahawk sized axe.

I was a little shocked and struggling with incredulity.  Not to mention completely amazed he made it through the war alive at all, especially given he had acted with such a blatant disregard for his own life on not one, but on so many occasions.  I also found it incongruous with the figure of my grandfather – he was maybe 5’6″ at his prime (now barely 5’1″) and only ever maybe 60kgs dripping wet, and yet during this horrific period of his life when he was at war, here he is quietly telling me fought like some sort of viking beserker, obsessed by the idea of avenging his brother.  Soldierly bravado being what it was, his platoon eventually sought to send him to the back of their column, so that they could ‘get in on the action’.  They were especially keen to push him to the background once my Poppa was told by his American CO, that he was being commended for an American Silver Star, and an Australian Victoria Cross.  With a melancholy and yet slightly wry smile, he tells me the first time they went on patrol after he was relegated to the back of the pack, their unit was attacked that very day from the rear by Japanese soldiers, and he once more found himself in the thick of the attack.  His fellow soldiers were not too happy about that either apparently.

On another such occasion when they were moving through jungle terrain with my Poppa once more relegated to the rear of the patrol, he caught view of a Japanese soldier out of the corner of his eye appearing to be flailing his arms.  Acting on instinct and thinking a grenade had just been thrown, Poppa shot him dead, though he later reflected that he might have been trying to surrender.  He said ‘it wouldn’t matter if he was [trying to surrender], they would have shot him anyway, we weren’t taking any prisoners’ (this policy evolved due to Japanese POWs managing to kill numerous allied forces once in custody, including incidents of POWs grabbing scalpels and stabbing doctors attempting to save their lives).  Poppa told me that he checked the soldier’s pockets for intel (common practice) and found a photograph of the man’s wife and two small sons.  Having a wife and one small son at home himself, it was after this incident that Poppa decided war was ‘complete rubbish’ and he decided he wanted little more to do with fighting.  The photograph seemed to bring back some humanity and perspective, that he seemed to have lost along with his brother, Harry, when the Centaur went down.

He also told me, that after that incident, he had decided that there was no God… because surely if there was a God, he would stop them all from killing each other.  I never knew my Poppa has been an atheist most of his adult life, he kept his beliefs to himself while my grandmother oversaw us all being raised as Catholic.  The conversation transitioned fairly quickly from him sharing some of his memories to taking an unexpected philosophical bent, so I queried his logic: “Poppa, what if there is a God… but he’s just an arsehole?”  Poor Poppa.  Not used to hearing his granddaughter using such language; and through the laughing/coughing fit my question caused, he looked at me and said, ‘You know, I never thought of that.’

Anyway, having lost much of his thirst for war after the incident with the Japanese soldier and his family photograph, Poppa managed to get himself transferred to working from Port Moresby and spent the remainder of the war working to get supplies out to troops and thankfully didn’t see any more forward action.  At some point, he was summoned to meet with the US General who had command of the ANGAU troops – he thinks his name was General Close or Closte, but is unsure – ostensibly to be congratulated for his brave and heroic efforts, and to be given a pat on the back for the commendations that were being submitted for his awards.  Poppa started to laugh a little as he recounted what occurred at that meeting.  It seems that he may have inadvertently become a victim of that famous and typical, laconic Australian sense of humour – one that is still not very well understood by many Americans, and one which most definitely was not understood (or appreciated) by an uptight American Army Commanding Officers in 1943 war time Papua New Guinea.  When asked how he got along with his American troops, my grandfather jokingly told the general that ‘they’re alright blokes, but nowhere near as good as our Aussie Diggers’.  On top of that Poppa made another social faux pas and declined to stay and regale the General with tales of his exploits, he is definitely NOT the braggart type, and told the General that he had to return to his men.

Not long afterwards, my grandfather discovered his Victoria Cross commendation was downgraded (for lack of a better term) to a Military Medal commendation, and his American Silver Star commendation disappeared into the ether all together.  So it appears that the US General really did not appreciate my grandfather’s sense of humour at all!  Not that he seems to mind… in fact he seems to find it rather amusing that he had been getting plenty of ribbing from his comrades who were oddly jealous of the commendations, but then he accidentally insults their General, and then doesn’t get the awards anyway!

We spoke for several hours.  He told me of the night where he watched from the tree line of the beaches near the cargo jetty at Port Moresby as the Japanese bombed, and half sank, the MV Anshun and how they all expected the Japanese to target the nearby Hospital Ship, the TSMV Manunda, as well, such was the reputation of the Japanese Army after the sinking of the Centaur.  He related how there were sailors swimming to shore from various vessels that had been bombed, many of them yelling in Filipino, and how the Australian soldiers tried to get them to shut up, before they were shot by Americans mistaking them for Japanese.  He also mentioned that on returning to his tent that night, he found a large piece of shrapnel from the Anshun had ripped through his tent and embedded in his bunk – good thing he wasn’t in it at the time.

He spoke to me of being assigned to a machine gun patrol at some point with an American named Tom Henderson (he thinks), and how Tom would plant down his machine gun and saw through the tops of the coconut trees where the Japanese would hide… and ‘every now and then they would see one go *plop* and fall from the trees’.  Eventually Tom was shooting at some coconut trees one day and got hit by a Japanese sniper, before he could start shooting at them.

He told me of an occasion where they were moving through some jungle terrain and the guy walking right beside him was shot in the head.  It could just as easily have been him, and he often wondered why it wasn’t, especially considering that he was wearing a very noticeable slouch hat and had rank on his sleeves compared to the other guy.  Another incident that convinced him that there is no God and life is just random.

All up, I learned more about my grandfather in one day than I had in the preceding 30 years.  His experiences touched me profoundly, but not as much as the trust he showed in allowing me to be the first person he has spoken to about these things in over 70 years.

Why can’t I let go?

I’ve written many times about my IVF experiences and my feelings around having more children and my complete inability to let it go and accept my life the way it is.  I’ve also written many times about my car accidents and my chronic pain and how I feel out of control and powerless, angry, resentful and often just plain useless.  I’ve written about my deep rooted hatred for my own ‘traitorous’ body, which I feel has been stopping me from getting what I want and doing what I want, since the moment I hit adulthood.  Most people only get a glimpse of the all encompassing sense of loss that I carry around with me all day every day, because while I know I could be a a cranky, short tempered bitch ALL THE TIME, I work really hard to keep most of my crap to myself.

I went to a personal development seminar this weekend… I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of it, I only knew that having been out of the workplace for over ten years meant I hadn’t had any formal development, professional or personal, for a very long time.  Sure I’ve been psychobabbled from here to eternity and back by a plethora or counsellors and psychologists and psychiatrists, and I know how to talk the talk and walk the walk in the consulting room.  But none of them have ever been able to help me… they sit and talked me in circles, gave me drugs, gave me mindfulness exercises, attempted to recondition or hypnotise me or fuck knows what else.  None of them have been able to fix my back pain. None of them have been able to fix my infertility.  And none of them have been able to make me feel happy about being stuck in this shitty body and I don’t know why.  This weekend I learned that I don’t let go of ‘stuff’.

I’m not talking about grudges against others here – people piss me off, or disrespect me or the people I love?  I just cut them out of my life end of story.  I don’t need any more negativity in my life – I’m pretty good at generating plenty of negativity of my own without accepting it from other people, thank you very much.  And I don’t have the time, inclination or energy to waste on hating people or holding grudges (if it’s a grudge holding that can occur without the requirement to invest energy or time… that might be a different matter!  😉 ).  So no, it’s not others that I’m talking about here – it’s ME.  Why can’t I let go and learn to accept my limitations, accept my life, and accept my situation, and count my goddamn fucking blessings for a change instead of constantly wanting things to be different, or other than they are.  Why can’t I just cherish my little family without looking at us and thinking ‘I want more’?.

I usually think of ‘personal development’ as being a bit too new agey, or a bit too touchy feely or a bit too self indulgent – so I’m not normally one to navel gaze or drink the KoolAid and get sucked into these things.  I’ve been told in the past that I don’t have a ‘suggestive personality’ which I understand means I’m not easily led, not easily hypnotized, not readily reconditioned… alternately, you could just call it bloody stubborn.  So I tried to go into this thing with an open mind.  I reckon we were barely an hour in when the presenter, Nicky, started talking about Health and how it affects your entire life and if you have your health then you’re already well on your way to personal happiness.  I’m sure without even really thinking about it, she trotted out a we need to look after our bodies, because ‘your body is a temple’ as cliched as it sounds, it is what will stick in people’s heads.  At which point I interrupted asking ‘What if your temple is broken?’

Which started a discussion on how the body repairs itself and you can heal.  I come back with ‘there are some things the body can’t or won’t recover from’… which led into her dragging my chronic back pain and IVF story out of me in front of 40 odd (and fuck me, but some of them were really odd!) strangers.  Nicky suggests we have a chat during the break… So we do.  And I got slapped upside the head like no damn psych has ever done to me before.  She asked me questions that I couldn’t answer:

Who would you be if you weren’t this person in pain?
Why can’t you be happy with your family as it is?
What’s so bad with having an only child?  He doesn’t know any different.
What belief systems am you hanging on to?

She flat out told me I have suffered an awful lot of loss in my life (Yes, yes I have heard this from soooo many therapists in the past so I thought I knew what was coming) – loss of physical strength, loss of control over my body, loss of freedom, loss of social identity, loss of career and work opportunities, loss children, loss of my identity as a woman, loss of my dreams… so much loss, oh you poor kitten.  And here is where she smacked me –  there’s been a metric fuckton of loss, but no actual grief.  She looked at me and cut me to the quick… ‘You have never allowed yourself to really FEEL what has happened to you.  You’ve spent years being ‘strong’ and sucking it up and soldiering on, and you’re still doing it.  As a result, you’ve never really ALLOWED yourself to grieve any of these losses.  And if you don’t grieve your losses, how can you move on? You’re stuck in your anger and resentment and frustration at this enormous amount of loss in your life and you’ve never let yourself really feel it.’

I have often jokingly said that I don’t know how to have the nervous breakdown I feel I so richly deserve!  Turns out I might be right.  I don’t know how to let myself just feel all the shit that has happened.  I never really grieved my physical incapacities, I have just spent two decades gritting my teeth and fighting them.  I never really grieved any of my five miscarriages, I barely acknowledged they happened and moved on – I certainly never allowed myself to think of them as five little babies that didn’t survive (in fact, I remember seeing a woman once with some three little children charms hanging around her neck and commented on them – she said they were her ‘angels’, her three little babies that didn’t make it, which at the time I thought was a fucking creepy thing to be carrying around with your everyday, but maybe it’s healthy?).  I never even allowed myself to grieve my disappointments with each failed IVF cycle… the longer we were at it, the less and less my expressions of disappointment would be.  It got to the point where I’d have another failed cycle and wouldn’t even tell Mr K about it in person, I’d just leave the (-)ve stick in the bathroom for him to see when he got up and go about my day.  He’d give me a cuddle in the kitchen and say ‘I’m sorry.’ and we’d keep on going… with over forty failed cycles that were sending us broke, who has the fucking energy to grieve every one of them?  Truth be told, I don’t think I grieved for any of them – I didn’t allow myself to think of them as little babies that didn’t make it, it was just another failed treatment.

I walked away from the deeply upset.  I had reluctantly acknowledged an awful truth.  That without my painful persona that I have obviously been living for decades, I am nothing – I have built no other identity for myself.  I don’t know who I am, or who I would be if I wasn’t in pain all day.  I have made my pain and infertility my entire life story.  It’s who I am – an infertile, chronic pain sufferer.  And I haven’t been able to move past it to define myself any further.  It’s not like I have chosen to wallow in in, in fact it’s the complete opposite.  I spend most of my energy trying to ignore it… and trying not to acknowledge it, trying not to let people in – because being in here sucks arse!  I don’t want people to know how fucking horrible and hollow I feel deep down inside.  I am just one tightly wound, short blonde bundle of anger, resentment, frustration and jealousy… and that’s all there is in here!  I don’t love myself or my body.  I don’t love my life or my situation – which is completely shit because I have so much to be grateful for.  I have spent my life being angry and focused on all the negative shit surrounding me, and it has very likely hindered me from truly enjoying the good and positive things in my life.

I came home after the seminar and spent the night trying to figure out WHY?  Why can’t I fully acknowledge and grieve the losses in my life?  How come I don’t know HOW to grieve?  So other more recognizable and common senses of loss came to the fore:  My father’s death.  I didn’t really grieve that loss either – I went off to training for a new job the very day after he passed away convinced that is what he would want me to do.  My grandmother’s death.  Went to the funeral, I got a speeding ticket while playing loud music and not paying attention to the road conditions on the way home – nope, no real grief there.  The death of three of my cousins on Anzac Day in 1988 – still makes me sad, but did I actually grieve for them when they drowned?  Not really.  But then I poked around in that for a bit…

I didn’t grieve for the loss of my three cousins as an impressionable young teenager because I wasn’t ALLOWED to.  If you read the link above about how they died, you’ll see I gloss over some very important facts.  Yes, I mentioned that on Anzac Day in 1988 that my cousins had drowned as a result of the huge floods that were sweeping western Queensland at the time and the poor little kids didn’t know how to swim.  I mentioned that the whole thing didn’t seem ‘real’ to me until I saw it in the newspaper the following day at the school library.  What I don’t mention is that I became really emotionally upset by the death of these beautiful little children… the Librarian called for the Principal and that school sent me home for the day.  So what?

Well, later that evening I got in trouble.  My father sat me down and told me that I hardly ever saw these kids but a few times each year, that I barely even knew these kids because they were so young and had no cause to be feeling all upset at their death and that there definitely wasn’t any cause for missing school for the day.   So my father, whose good opinion I respected and actively courted my entire life, taught me that when bad things happen we don’t feel them, we suck them up, keep working and move on.  I always thought he was just very practical and pragmatic and not very demonstrative and that wasn’t a bad way to be.  But now I think he taught me that grieving loss, any loss, is unacceptable.  I’m sure that isn’t what he wanted to teach me – to bottle up my emotions and never allow myself to ‘feel’ anything… but I am starting to think that is the lesson that I came away with it from.  I have never really grieved anything since.  Not the my miscarriages, not the death of my gorgeous little dog companion Caesar who was my constant friend for nearly 15 years, not even my own father’s death!  I don’t know how to grieve.  He taught me it was self indulgent to do so and now I seriously don’t know how to.

So now I feel like I’m blocked, or bogged down or drowning in my inability to let myself feel things.  Like I need to somehow truly grieve the losses in my past in some tangible, physical or cathartic way, that allows me to actually ‘feel’ the horrible things that have happened and hopefully allows me to finally let go of some or all of the emotional baggage, rather than bottling it all up and carrying it around with me everyday.

Only problem is… I have no idea how that is accomplished.

stages of grief inability to grieve


Ha! Ha! You’re dead!

Once upon a summers eve many moons ago, I told my Dear Old Dad that I wanted to go skydiving.  He said "Great! I want to do that too!’  Enquiries were made and alas we hit a road block… one had to be 16 years of age to legally go jump out of a perfectly good aircraft.  "That’s okay," Dear Old Dad said in a placating tone "We can wait until next summer and go jump for your birthday."  Dear Old Dad could be pretty cool from time to time.   🙂

An unremarkable year passes and summer starts to roll around bringing closer the sixteenth birthday in question – "Hey Dad!  Still want to go skydiving with me?"  Without hesitation, Dear Old Dad says "Sure thing!  We should start looking around to find out where they jump from and how much it’s going to cost."  Enquires were made and a company and jump plan decided upon… now just to wait out the few weeks until My Sweet Sixteen.  Yay!

It was during those few weeks that not one, not two but three separate incidents sparked headlines across the BrisVegas newpapers all sprouting headlines of dead, or damn near dead, parachuters… investigations into preparedness, failing equipment and general safety procedures ensued.

Happy Birthday to me!   Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday dear Borys!   Happy Birthday to me!

To Dear Old Dad the week of my sixteenth birthday – "Hey, I’m sixteen and all ready to go jump!"….. "Weeell," said Dear Old Dad, "I’m not so sure this is such a good idea after all…."  Enthusiasm dampened somewhat by the recent headlines, the planned Daddy/Daughter Sky Diving Extravaganza got ‘postponed’… indefinitely.  Bummer.

It has happened to me a few times actually that whenever I’ve considered engaging in any unusually risky sporting or recreational activity that it seems suddenly there will be a spate of news items relating to accidents or deaths associated with the particular endeavour du jour which has resulted in a few slight changes in plans abandoning potentially reckless but crazy fun stuff…. bungee jumping and black water rafting come to mind.

Feels like it’s happening again… only this time it’s getting a motorbike license…  I’ve always wanted to get a bike for some reason ever since I was about 18 or so – not sure why… pretty sure it’s irrelevant.  Anyway… I don’t know if I’m physically strong enough to handle a bike atm but I realized I’ve been putting it off ever since I was about 20 because of ‘my bad back’ and well I’m not getting any younger or stronger and I kinda feel like I’ve gotta give it a go you know?   So a couple of weeks ago I think "Yep, I’m going to go down to the nasty Qld Transport office and get me a motorbike learners even if it means I do have to temporarily hang out with the hairy unwashed miscreants that work there!!"… But then a few days after that sound decision making process played out – some idiot motorcyclist goes careering into a footpath right behind me and today poor yale had a traffic incident involving a rather unfortunate and possibly suicidal dog while on his bike…

and now I can hear Dear Old Dad’s wise words ""Weeell… I’m not so sure this is such a good idea after all."