Saturday, 22 September 2012

Thoughts Three and a Half Years Later: The build up, the break and a different kind of love

On Monday the 17th September I had been widowed for exactly three years and six months. Most of the time these days I am at peace with my life but there are four times of the year I struggle with.  Jonathan’s birthday and the year anniversary are obvious ones but the other two I struggle with are Christmas and the six month points. I think it’s the point where I am moving away from one number to the next. It is now nearer four years since Jonathan died than three and it still feels wrong.

As part of an online conversation a friend of mine commented that she must have missed the news of me falling in love and my response was that I was in love with travelling. In a way I have fallen in love, not with a person but with my life. I cannot believe I am lucky enough to live this life. I work hard but the payoff is amazing. I am happy. Great you say but in a way it makes the hard days harder. How can I be so happy when he is gone? I know he would be proud of me and happy for me but there are times where I feel incredibly guilty especially on these days where I cannot help but remember that he is gone rather than remember that he was here.

I know what it is and I understand where it comes from and that it’s not useful but it is what it is. It is grief. It is survivors’ guilt. I am incredibly hard on myself at these times. I seek to find fault and punish myself for the smallest mistake. I am difficult and awkward with people in an effort to distance them from me. I know Jonathan’s death was not my fault and that it is wonderful that I am still here even if he isn’t but the very human illogical part of me needs to be punished because the guilt is there. There is no getting round it or away from it. I am here and he isn’t and it’s not fair. It’s not my fault but there it is. I am only human. So the build up goes. I get more touchy and more critical of myself and then the day comes. On the day I am sad that he is not here. I don’t take the joy I usually do in my life and even when I do something amazing it lacks something. I still think doing something amazing is better than hiding in my bed but it’s never as good as I think it would be if I did it on another day. I didn’t throw myself into whale watching trip like I usually would. I didn’t have the balance of experience and photography I have been striving for as I hid behind the safety of the camera lens. Yet by the end of the trip I was smiling. It didn’t help that it was in the morning and I had to get up for it, I really am not a morning person and it takes me hours to wake up but that was only a small part of it on this day. The first person to try and talk to me I just wanted to go away. I was annoyed as I knew it was her job to be friendly but I didn’t want friendly I just wanted a quiet place to take my photos and remember/forget but as we headed back to shore at the end of the cruise I was in a better frame of mind. The mother and calf whale we found and the sea journey itself had calmed me. I wasn’t happy but I was more at peace and managed to have a normal conversation with a few of the other passengers.

After a mid-afternoon snooze a skype chat with a good friend then another with Jonathan’s parents I was still tired and sad but in my usual way. Jonathan’s mother took her laptop out to his garden so I could see it and that helped as I could see ‘him’ and blow ‘him’ a kiss and say I love you. The storm had broken and passed and the next day in work I was a different person. I was smiling not my slightly manic I’m-alright-really-I-am smile but a genuine I’m-sad -but-I’m-ok smile. I’m back on track to remembering how fabulous my life is. Yes there is a part of me that is sad and wishes life were otherwise but it’s back where it belongs, tucked away in the what-might-have-been-but-is-impossible-now place in my heart that keeps my happy memories safe so I can enjoy the life I have now and make more different happy memories. Memories which will fill the new parts of my heart that grow every day I remember it’s good to love the life I have just as I love the life I used to have. Not as a replacement, not more, not less, just differently.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Working to Live

The season in Broome is winding down as the build up to the Wet begins but from my hours at work you’d never know it. As the other backpackers leave they are not replacing them and instead spreading the hours out amongst the remaining staff. This has been great for me for a few reasons. First and most obviously more hours equals more money. Whilst I do need to save up as much as possible with the hours I am working I am able to enjoy some of what I earn as well. The other was my own personal build up. As the three and a half year mark since Jonathans death approached I was glad that the number of hours I was working kept me busy and gave me something else to concentrate on.

One of the highlights of the last two weeks is the fact I got paid for two and a half weeks work. At 40+ hours a week lets just say I was feeling rather well off. With the next few weeks work more or less guaranteed I decided to use my first pay to do fun things and treat myself, after all my lifestyle choice is all about working to live so I had to do some living. Also as the dry season is coming to an end I wanted to see some of the Kimberly region before it became unbearably hot and inaccessible. With this in mind I made a list of some of the tours I might like to do and went to the local visitor centre to see what would be the best order to do them in. The girl I spoke to was really helpful and lovely. She strongly recommended that I do one of the gorge tours I’d chosen sooner rather than later now we were in to the build up but was happy to chase up a photo tutorial tour first for me as I really wanted to do that first. When she phoned to say that tour wasn’t available the next week I was happy enough to follow her advice and decided I would go on a one day gorge tour the next week and also try one of the whale watching tours before all the humpback whales headed south for the summer. However I got a lovely surprise when I got to work. Instead of the Wednesday and Thursday off as expected I was given Thursday and Friday off the next week. This meant on pay day I was able to go back to the visitors centre and book a two day gorge tour with Kimberly Wild for that week and a sunset whale watching cruise for the next week instead of settling for a one day gorge tour. Though the roster is done on a weekly basis I knew I would have the Monday off as that was the three and a half year mark and I wanted to do something special to remind myself how good life is and not dwell on what could have been.

I booked my two day tour on the Tuesday before it left and did try get some new clothes in town but I felt uncomfortable in the shops and I missed having a second opinion so I settled on doing some food shopping and headed back to the hostel to get ready for work. The next morning I slept in but still had time (just!) to go to the shopping centre at the edge of the town where I went to Target to get a second pair of work trousers. Well my shopping experience couldn’t have been more different. I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new bikini and some shorts that fitted since I was there and the lady in the changing rooms was lovely. She helped me choose the right sizes and complimented me on the weight loss, not in a sales type way but genuinely. In principle I’m not a fan of Target but with customer service like that and clothes that actually fit I shall definitely be returning, in my mind the cheap prices are a bonus. Next I went to a sports shop where another helpful person sold me reef shoes for my tour and then finally to top off my spending spree I stopped to treat myself to the new Matchbox Twenty album only to find that if I also bought a Gaslight Anthem I would get them both for $40 instead of $30 each. Well who could resist such a bargain?! I made it to work that day just in time but I still had to use my break time to run to the town centre to buy a torch which had been forgotten in the excitement of buying the mornings goodies.

Before I knew it tour day arrived and it was worth waiting for. I had an early start and was the fourth person on the bus. The other three were all older but the lady on her own looked like an interesting and fit person and the other older couple looked like they could do some walking too but the two couples who got on after me........They had walking sticks!! I was hoping for some exercise to work off all the deserts I’d been eating but here were people who looked like they would struggle to walk for more than 20 minutes never mind a few hours. Now don’t get me wrong I had nothing against them at this point I was just concerned about what king of tour I had gotten myself into. The rest of the group though were younger and obviously fitter and we ended up with an eclectic mix. We spent the morning driving and made it to our campsite in time for lunch. Of course we couldn’t spend all morning on the bus, we did stop for morning tea and biscuits which I enjoyed immensely despite being unsure of how much I would be working them off over the next two days. Whilst weightwatcher has made me more aware of what I eat I am glad to report it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the finer things in life. On my first tour Last year I was amazed that everyone had slept on the bus but I must admit that after working so hard I was glad of the to spend most of our morning drive asleep. The campsite was lovely and there was a mix of actual cabin rooms, safari tents and camping on the ground. Our group was a mix of all three and I impressed out guide by asking if I needed a tent or could I just sleep in a swag under the stars. I did confess later that as well as wanting to see the stars I was also just too lazy to put up a tent! After my trip across the nullarbor last year I was more than capable but if it wasn’t necessary why waste the energy? Besides it wouldn’t have been the same without my nullarbor tent buddy.

We had a lovely salad buffet style lunch then we were back on the bus and on our way to Gekkie gorge. Here we got on a boat and took a trip down the river where I got my first real taste of the gorgeous Kimberley scenery. My camera was working overtime especially since we had been fortunate enough to get seats at the back of the boat which allowed me a clear view of the scenery behind us and enabled me to get some great shots. I also discovered that freshies ( fresh water crocodiles) are not at all scary and in fact are rather cute. We saw a number of them as we cruised up and down the gorge though none close to the boat as they are shy creatures who are easily spooked. Sadly I didn’t notice until the end of my tour that our skipper/guide with the rather nice voice also had a rather nice face. Myself and another younger girl got a little silly about it later and one of the other ladies had great fun teasing us about it which was entertained a few other as well.

Back at camp we had some time to ourselves before dinner and I got to know a few of my fellow campers as we took photos of our campsite and discussed photograph before a couple of us retired to the campsite bar. For once my not drinking alcohol was easily accepted and the discussions centred on photography and our travelling experiences amongst other things. It was soon time for an amazing barbequed buffet and once again I found myself going back for seconds. As a backpacker I eat an almost vegetarian diet as it is cheaper and easier so a buffet of steak, sausages, chicken, stuffing and salad was too much temptation. Of course being female I do have that spare section of stomach so was also able to fit in some mud cake for desert. I finished my day off with my first attempt at some night photography with my new camera but with nothing to rest it on I tried using Zack as a prop only to give up and use one of my shoes. This is why our guide found me at one point lying on the ground squinting at the sky with only one shoe on. I must have made quite a picture myself at that point! I can see why the visitor centre recommended that if I were to do a day trip I do the other one as it would have been too much driving not enough content for one day. However for me it was a perfect start to my two days off after my recent hectic schedule and the next day really gave us our money’s worth content wise.

The next day we were up with the sun. I set my alarm for 5am in the hopes of catching the sunrise. The sky was already light when I woke but as I put on my glasses I saw the moon and Venus in the sky and my first thought was ‘I must get my camera’. I rushed to get dressed (I had showered the previous night) then grabbed my camera and off I went again. I stopped to roll up my swag and dump my sleeping bag on the bus before making myself some tea and muesli for breakfast only to run off halfway through to get more photos this time of the sunrise. Yes I’m a nutter but I wasn’t alone as there were two of us trying to capture the arrival of the new day. Soon we were back on the bus and this time it was all change.  Remember the two old couples from earlier? Well they were so rude! They complained about everything and were never happy and they decided they wanted to sit at the front of the bus. Now on a tour there is an unwritten rule that you keep the same seat for the whole tour so though this doesn’t sound rude it is bad form. Another lady was suffering a bit and asked to swap and the rest of us decided to make the best of it and all moved about which is how I ended up at the back of the bus with my fellow  photographer friend. Once there we discovered we now had the best views plus I am blessed and can sleep anywhere so much to everyone else amazement and amusement I drifted off and snoozed on the longer sections of road.

Our first stop of the day was Tunnel Creek and it was stunning. We had been warned to put on our bathers and reef shoes and occasionally as we walked through the massive caves we had to trek through the water. The caves were stunning and at the other end of them we were rewarded by a swim in a deserted water hole. This was why we were up at 5am and it was worth it! The water hole was beautiful and the swim a great way to start the day. We were able to mess about in the water for just over half an hour before we started back through the caves. On my way through I had my camera to hand whilst strapped securely round my neck but on the way back I left it in my bag so I could just enjoy walking through the caves. On the way back we passed a quite a few people which made us extra glad we had gotten up so early and had the place to ourselves on our initial trek through. Well most of us were glad. The old couples complained of course and even suggested they didn’t want to go through the caves. It was the highlight of the tour and they didn’t want to go! Our tour guide explain this and since he wanted them to get their money’s worth assured them he would walk them through it and that they would be ok. All the way through both ways he only left their side at the waterhole whilst we rested and as we left the caves in order to enlist the help of two of the younger guys to help the old people out the cave entrance. We stopped for an orange break and never have oranges tasted so good. It had been a long time since breakfast, the day was heating up and the orange quarters were deliciously cold and juicy, a perfect end to our morning excursion.

Next we were on to Windjana gorge where I took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. The road may have made for a bumpy ride but I had been up late then early with my camera and I had some missed shut eye to catch up on. Windjana was beautiful but I am glad I ended up taking the visitor centres advice and going sooner as I would not have enjoyed it as much if it were much hotter or more humid. Our guide walked us into the gorge and told us more about the site and the freshies of which we saw a fair few of.  He then left us to go make our lunch whilst we ventured along a path which wound in and out of the shade allowing us some amazing views interspersed with welcome cooler patches. We were given forty five minutes to ourselves in the gorge then it was lunch time. It was another salad buffet but just as tasty as the previous days. After a rest and some washing up it was back on the bus and we were on our way back to Broome. We stopped at an impressively large boab tree and a rather large termite mound, yes termite mound.  I thought they would be really spaced out but the landscape was covered in these impressive formations. We also stopped at the longest cattle trough in the southern hemisphere and the boab prison tree which sadly help up to forty aboriginal ‘prisoners’ during the white settler days. There were eighteen of us and we couldn’t imaging all of us fitting in that tree never mind twice as many. It was a sobering sight and a reminder of the more brutal aspects of this country’s history.  We were back in Broome by 7pm and despite or maybe because of all my sleeping on the bus I was too tired to go look for food and made myself a nutritious cereal dinner before going to my room to get ready for my 7am shift the next day. My ‘weekend’ was over but what a ‘weekend’ it had been!

Monday, 17 September 2012


My dearest Jonathan

You were my north, my south,
My east and west.
You were my guiding light,
And all the rest.

You taught me much, showed me more,  `
And gave to me your heart.
So though my love you left too soon,
Your heartbeat carries on.

You'll always be remembered,
Our souls for’er entwined
The echo of you heartbeat,
Forever heard in mine.

For every breath and every step,
I never take alone.
For in my heart and in my soul,
Your heartbeat carries on.

Love always, your Lynne x

Monday, 10 September 2012

Poem: I remembered

Yesterday I remembered you were gone,
The sadness squeezed such tears from me.
I cried out my hurt and fear of this life,
And I wished for you back by my side

Oh to remember the times that we had,
The years filled with laughter and joy.
The times we both cried when life let us down,
The love that we shared pulled us through.

Then there’s the smiles and love that you gave,
Spinning me round but not letting me fall,
These made me fall in the most basic way,
Your strong arms kept me close to your heart.

Today I remember how you were here,
And the memory makes me smile once again.
I wish you were here and not gone away,
But the memories you left will live on.

Thoughts on Never Ending Grief

Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that we never stop grieving and I don’t think we should. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting that all widows should hang about their houses like Miss Haversham but I think that grief can be incorporated into who I am now and into the life I now live. I believe the best tribute I can give Jonathan is too live my life as well as I can. I no longer spend every second of the day thinking of him and wishing he were still here. Most days I think of him from time to time but as the next ‘anniversary’ date approached he has obviously been in my thoughts more and no matter how much time passes he will always have been taken from us too soon and it will never be fair.

Therefore I think that it’s healthy to take time out of my life every now and then and just grieve. I feel it is right for me to occasionally dedicate time to remember how it was and be sad that it is no more. I still miss Jonathan. I still love him and I doubt I will ever stop and it hurts that he is not here to receive and return that love. I need to take the time out to acknowledge this so I can spend the rest of my time living and loving my new life as well as I can.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Work, Taking a Wrong Turn and Weight Loss

Since I last wrote I have been working A LOT. It’s great and I have had fun ‘spending’ my earnings by checking out the various tours on offer however payday is still a while away and after my hectic start to my life in Broome I decided I deserved a rest therefore my first full day off was spent in the hostel. I was determined to take it easy and do nothing. Of course I’m not actually very good at doing nothing so I had a swim in the pool in the morning followed by a day on my lap top sorting through my many photos. It wasn’t the ‘nothing’ I’d planned but it was restful. I even extended my laziness to the next day as I wasn’t working until the evening and I was glad I did as the following two days at work were pretty full on. I’m still enjoying it but that doesn’t mean a full day doesn’t tire me out especially as we were busy due to the staircase to the moon phenomenon. This occurs as the moon rises when the tide is out and the reflection on the mud flats looks like a staircase leading up to the moon. Unfortunately I was working all three nights that this occurred but I have asked for the three nights off next month to see it since I miss out this time and it’s my last chance to see it before the wet. Since I have been working hard and the season is slowing down I am hopeful of getting at least two of them off, especially as I have said I’m happy to work during the day.

My next day off was a bit more active. I’d only worked the evening before so I felt fairly well rested and I was in the mood to explore. I decided to walk up to Cable Beach again and stop there for lunch and some sunbathing.  It’s only an hour walk from the hostel and it’s not very interesting but I wanted the exercise. I thought I might get some good photos once there so I made sure to pack my camera along with plenty of water and my flip flops but not cowpanion Zack. I had meant to take him but I forgot  so I shall have to go back another day with him to get someof the silly shots I enjoy taking so much, what a shame. I had walked there once before and it’s a fairly straight road with only one turn and yup, you guessed it, I took the wrong one! I missed my turn north and ended up heading south. My one hour five kilometre walk ended up being a three hour nine kilometre walk. Why three hours? Well having realised my mistake as I passed the turn off for Gantheaume Point I wondered whether I should just carry on to Gantheaume Point or turn north to Cable Beach. In the end it was my lack of water that decided it for me. I knew that there was nothing commercial at Gantheaume Point where as I could get food and water at Cable Beach even if it was further away now.

 I started to walk up the very boring road and my resolve wavered. I considered heading back to the hostel and calling it a day but since giving up isn’t really in my nature I carried on and I am so glad I did. Since the road is so boring I stopped to check out a sigh to see where I was and how far I had to go. On this sign there were some walks marked through the bush land beside the road. I was walking by myself and at first I didn’t like the idea of leaving the road. I had water and sunscreen and my hat so I was as protected as I could be from the weather but if I did fall or something at least on the road a car would pass and be able to help me but in the end my sense of adventure won out. After all she who goes half way round the world herself can’t be afraid to go off the well travelled path or what’s the point? I might’ve well have stayed at home. As well as walks north through the bush there was one marked through the dunes leading to the beach. I decided to try that one thinking the sea breeze would be a welcome relief from the heat that was starting to build up as the day wore on. I wandered off the road and through the dunes making sure to keep to the designated path and oh my was it a good idea. At first there was some bush land but soon I was amongst white sand dunes and then peeking out I saw the turquoise sea. Soon I was on a most deserted strip of beach with stunning sea views to my left and right. I saw maybe half a dozen people as I walked north stopping often to try and capture the beauty before me. I learned three things that day: 1. Always take my camera 2. Never be afraid to explore 3.Sometimes taking a wrong turn is exactly the right thing to do.

As I walked north the beach remained almost deserted until I was almost at the Cable Beach resort. All of a sudden it seem like there was a group of people ahead of me. Just before I reached them I stopped to reapply my sunscreen (for the 2nd time that day by the way) and change from my Merrells to my flip flops and making sure I looked presentable enough to be seen by other people. Within minutes it felt like I was surrounded by people. I know that the beach was actually quite quiet as the season is coming to an end but after the quiet of the last few hours there seemed to be a lot of folks. At the beach the is a rather nice looking restaurant which has a kiosk for the less well dressed beach goers so I treated myself to a can of solo and a full chicken baguette. It may not seem like much to you but to me it was heaven.  The can was cool and refreshing, the baguette freshly made and really tasty and both were full of tasty calories. This simple meal was eaten with more stunning views and I once more found myself thinking how fortunate I was. I had been working hard but day like this makes it all worthwhile and I know there are more to come. Life was quite simply, amazing.

 It was back to reality the next day with washing and shopping to do before my evening shift but even then the gorgeous weather and laid back feel of the town meant it didn’t feel like a usual ‘Monday’. Sadly even in a place close to paradise the bad days can still get you. I decided to try some ginger beer as it is the lowest alcohol content drink we have but  even a small glass of that made me feel icky the next day and I’m not sure I have enough in common with the lovely folks I work with to really socialise with them. I suspect the after work drinking experiment has reached its natural conclusion.  This didn’t bother me but not feeling 100% and having pernickety/annoying/wanna be comedian customers made for a less than great day at work. Add to this the realisation that the three and half  year anniversary of Jonathan’s death is coming up soon and really, it was never going to be a great day. For those of you who don’t know the closest description I can give to missing Jonathan is like having really bad homesickness. It’s that feeling of wanting to be in a place that is impossible to get to. In other work is plain ol’ sucks. Anyway I got through the shift, put in a request for hugs on facebook and by the time I got back to the hostel I was feeling much better due to the responses of my faithful friends.

The next day I woke up to many facebook hugs so I started the day with a smile on my face. Also a good point from the day before was finding out I have two days off next week after I get paid so I might be able to take a two day tour to the Kimberlys before the wet and I got some tips which greatly increasing my dwindling cash reserves. Therefore I was able to take a walk up to the local shopping centre to get some extra veggies and some croissants after I had done my weekly weight in that was. What should I discover but that I am at my ‘ideal’ weight! I want to lose two more kilos so I have some leeway when it comes to maintaining my weight loss but it’s a great achievement and only took me fourteen weeks. As a consequence of this I am also considering spending some of my hard earned cash on some new clothes as my shorts in particular as way too big, happy days. The sad thing is when I see myself I still think I could do with losing a more weight. Everyone says I look great and have nothing left to lose so I will make sure my weight remains above 63kg. I know that to lose more would not be good I just wish I could see it. Hopefully some new clothes will help but until then I’ll have to make sure I keep eating well and keep an eye in the scales to make sure I stay healthy. Talking of which it is time for lunch here. I did consider allowing myself some extra pasta as a congratulatory treat but I decided that was a bit tame and am going for some chocolate tart at work instead, after all a girls gotta have one vice in life!