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Today is the 11th April.  Besides it being the 101th day of the year and also a reminder that we have passed 25% of the year already, it came as a shock for me to realise that today was the 11th. This means that somewhere, somehow along my journey I have finally become focussed on the present and my future goals and am no longer held hostage to the past of grief and sadness which has riddled our family for the past decade.  My father died on the 6th April 2006, his passing was indeed very painful but also relieving both for him and those of us left behind who knew that Dad’s time had come and it was now his turn to meet our Mum and brother who had both passed separately in the same year 4 years prior.

I have spent a lot of the last decade in grief, holding up glasses of half drunk wine at family gatherings and saying three cheers ‘to old friends‘ which was one of Dad’s favourite sayings for the three members of my family as well as Bill’s mum, who no longer shared our lives. To not recognise the 6th April this year and instead just go about my daily business thinking of our future plans which Bill and I are excitedly working though together and not wake up with that dreaded grief which washes over you all over again with every passing birthday, anniversary and milestone, only means one thing for me; and that is….. I am finally at peace.

I remember the first year it happened that one of the days passed me by without thinking about it and I felt so guilty that I did not acknowledge the sacredness of these dates, but when it happened again the following year I came to realise that my parents and brother and beautiful mother-in-law will always be with us, not just on one particular day but everyday for the rest of my life and whenever I needed to feel their presence, I now knew where to find it.

My dear mum did not live to see me buy my first house which always saddened me and neither parents on both sides are here to see us move into our last home, however I do intend for them to be with us in spirit and will symbolise their memories in the form of 4 silver birches I plan to plant in the front yard of my beach retreat. There is something mystical I have always felt when in the presence of a silver birch tree. The birch is meant to be protective and symbolises love, so it seems fitting to have them represent our loved ones.  This way whenever I pass by the gate, I can look in awe at these beautiful trees and know that ‘our friends‘ are still with us in some way.For as long as I can remember, my family spent Christmas and Easter lunches at ‘Milton Street’ – my family’s treasured home which we all grew up in.  Always a roast and always with Dad’s caramalised French onion soup, and Mum’s home-made plum pudding and custard for desert.

With three family members gone from our lives, our Christmas table was incredibly bleak for a long while, even with the best intentions and smiling faces there was such a gaping hole, and no matter how hard we tried we just couldn’t get the feeling back.  New traditions will now begin with my new life, we intend to hold Christmas lunch down at the beach retreat, and perhaps even swap the flavours and have seafood instead.  Moving from Melbourne is not just physical for me, its a real opportunity to let go of a lot of sadness and to begin afresh…

So, I am doing away with all the anniversary dates rolling around in my head.  After 11 years the time has come where they serve no purpose in my life moving on, I would rather remember my four ‘friends’ everyday for the rest of my days when I walk out my door and see my silver birches glistening in the sun and when I look at them and smile, I know that for me, its a far better way to remember & honour them for being such an important part of my life.

Our plans now are about creating our lives the way we always wanted them to be and building on from the traditions of the past to create a new future.  I don’t know what the next 10 years of my life will bring, but I do know that I am beginning it with hope and a positive demeanor. I know that this path we are on is the right one for us and that everything new from here will begin too weave a new tapestry as we create memories of our own.  Soon, we are going to be very busy… there will be renovations, new jobs, adapting to a different lifestyle as well as the emotional pull of leaving adult children behind to begin their lives without us…and as I wait in anticipation for this latest chapter of my life to begin I can see those silver birches lined up at the front of my new house stretching up towards the sun….

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