With your sentinel tree.
In summer sun
From the symbols
10 August 2015… an anniversary…..
An anniversary is a Day that commemorates or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same date of the year as the initial event.
This one marks 25 years in my chosen career as a firefighter. 25 years… where did it go?
It is such a significant length of time. So much has happened across that 25 years, and it is with a heavy heart that I can reflect that 25 years represents almost two and a half lifetimes for the one hero in my life… Samuel..my little man, who will forever be 10… and how nothing can ever prepare you for such a loss.
It is also 25 years that has given my family and I a lot… friends, education, stability and a lot lot more.
At the 21 year mark I reflected on some of the lessons learned to that point, and they still hold, so I’ll repeat a few of them with some extras.
I have learned how fragile human life is.
I have learned how strong and resilient the human body can be, despite what people and circumstances can do to it.
I have learned how indestructible the human spirit can be. (and sadly learned how the seemingly indestructible spirits of some of the greatest people you meet can be broken).
I have learned that there is always someone willing to help (including when you find it hard to ask for help), and some one willing to watch your back, and how to reciprocate such loyalty and friendship.
I have learned that there is strength in unity.
I have learned that life and death is a matter of millimeters and moments… where each 1 millimeter or moment in one direction can save a live, and in the other cost a life.
I have learned….. that I have never finished learning…..and never want to.
In another 25 years it will not be a post about still working…. none of us know how long we have, in our jobs or in our lives. Very few people get to have careers like this…. but I am sure the next 25 years will have plenty of lessons in it as well.
There is not a single day that passes by that I am not missing my little man, or that there are not small reminders that hurt and bring to mind Samuel’s absence. I am continuing to learn many things about the “process” of grieving, and small signs that remind me that there are things bigger and more mysterious than this life to connect us to our loved ones.
Whilst on a break of a couple of days, I took the photo above of the clouds at sunset over the ocean, and while watching this scene I was thinking about the ocean and the clouds and their constant movement, their power to heal when they are a source of reflection or the power to harm when they rage together.
It was not until looking at the photo that I picked up what to me looks like hands joined together making the shape of heart, and giving my heart a twinge, and the words of this poem came to me……
The restrictions wrought
by the confines of care,
were recognised as the reward
for the purity of our love.
The freedoms gained
are forever tainted
by the spectre of your absence.
Two years ago at xmas time I exposed my grinchiness in my xmas post (although it was no surprise to those that know me well 🙂 ) and challenged those for whom the year had been lucky to think about a way to ease the burden of those less fortunate.
Last year I wrote So this is xmas…. but, as we celebrated xmas with both a sense of fear and anxiety about Samuel’s declining health, and I quoted a verse from the song “so this is xmas”….
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
Now I am thinking so it’s xmas time….. again… and just how wrong the world has felt this year after conducting the saddest duty of life, getting too well acquainted with the grief of losing a child, figuring out that one really isn’t the loneliest number, revealing the truth of depression hiding behind the mask and looking for little signs and dealing with different reminders.
That is not to say that it has been a completely bad year as there have been a few bright spots, like the sibling carer awards for Taylor, a win on behalf of the Samuel Morris Foundation in the Local Business Awards, and a 21st Wedding anniversary with a beautiful, strong and determined woman, delivering a couple of conference key note addresses and taking a nice holiday.
So while the year has felt wrong in so many ways…. it is a year that has also taught me a hell of a lot, and made me think longer and harder about quite a few different aspects of life, love and work.
So this years challenge from me to you, comes via some insightful words I am borrowing from Timber Hawkeye, who runs the Buddhist Bootcamp, so I challenge you to give the following gifts this xmas and into the new year…..
To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, an example, and to yourself, respect.
So from this grinch, to you and your family… Merry Xmas… be kind to yourself, and those you love and go give those gifts highlighted in the passage above!
There are so many small reminders that Samuel is gone. They sneak up on you and surprise you with how powerfully they strike.
A mundane thing like receiving our new Medicare cards. Normally you would just open the envelope, have a brief look, take the old one out of your wallet and put in the new one… but not today…..
Today that quick look meant to be confronted with the fact that Samuel’s name will no longer appear on our Medicare cards listed under ours, like it has for so long….. another reminder.
Tanja’s name disappeared, but in the way we expected, the same way Taylor’s name will eventually disappear from our cards, she grew up and became responsible for her own, a chance Samuel will never have.
There are so many rituals and processes to work our way through that will be reminders that our little boy is not here. Always reminders that We are missing our little man.