It’s Christmas time

I know, dear friends , it’s been a long long time since my last blog post. Of course, last time I was writing was through the scary time in London and finding strength to get through my first covid lock down and finally bring my son safely home to Australia.

And then we quarantined for 14 days at home and remained COVID free. I finally saw my younger son after six weeks apart. The longest I’ve ever gone without seeing him. And he’s wonderful and brilliant and on the spectrum and has all kinds of, let’s call them challenges so you get the gist, but most often they’re actually gifts of his brilliant way of seeing the world.

We’ve now spent most of the year together. Because we went through my second COVID lockdown in Melbourne together. 153 days. And it worked, Melbourne and most of Australia is COVID free. Except for that bit of an outbreak in NSW right now. I’ll try to be gracious and make no unkind comments about them and us because I didn’t like it. Zipping lips right now. Back to my younger son….

He hasn’t spent a great deal of time with his father as that part of the family were going through big changes too. My sons now have a baby sister because their step mum and their dad had a baby girl.

I’m grateful that my boys have so much love in their hearts and they give it beautifully. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. And it’s certainly been a challenging time for me. But I’ll save that for another day. Right now I just want to be a little bit brave and actually write something and be able to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Tomorrow, or actually later today because I’m writing this so late at night, will be another day to gather with people I love and care about so very much and they also happen to be my family. I know I’m so blessed to have them in my life. And I’m extra blessed because I really like them too. As people, they’re all pretty ace, most of the time.

Christmas Day wil be a day and sometimes I get really worked up over wanting everything to be perfect. This year, I’ve already realised it won’t be. I think I’ve overcooked the Turkey and I know I’ve forgotten to wrap some presents. But it will be as it will be and we’ll eat dried out roast turkey, with some extra cranberry sauce to make it a bit moist again. We’ll give silly presents that we don’t necessarily need but it’s still fun to open them. And we’ll probably eat too much and then the day will be over. So I’m making myself a promise to practice being mindful tomorrow. Not because that’s the groovy thing to do but because it really helps. Just pausing to notice the moment, helps amid the chaos.

I even had to zip back up to the shops just before they closed because the place where I’d bought my Turkey had forgotten to stuff it. My Nanna would have said I’m supposed to say season it…but it was an unstuffed turkey and I needed stuffing. Thankfully, the butcher I go to grabbed some and gave me a big container of it just before they closed. He even reminded me to take a deep breath and that everything was gonna be alright. It is, is will be. And in a moment as I drive away from the local shops, I let a couple cross to their car in front of me. Obviously I wasn’t going to run them over but I noticed that it felt nice to just slow down for a moment and let them go first. It felt a little bit Christmas-ish and that felt good.

I hope you get to have some moments to pause and feel Christmas-ish too.

From my brave moments to yours, keep it up. We’re doing a pretty good job.

Merry Christmas 🎄

Cheers

Sair

Stronger than you seem

I don’t think Pooh bear thinks of himself as strong and yet we all know that there’s a strength to him that defies his stuffing and his cuteness.

Finding myself confronted with my very broken son, people have asked me, “How are you?”

It’s hard to respond. I don’t quite know what to say. I didn’t fall from a wall. I don’t have fractured bones and my brain is relatively well.

“How are you going?” they’d ask kindly. Let me assure you there were times I sobbed and ached and hurt like I’ve never hurt before but for the most part, I was ok. Not ok, per se, but very aware of this deep strength within me.

Exhausted but getting up each day to go to the hospital.

Frightened but, hearing my son’s sense of humour still coming through, I could still laugh.

Strength has many expressions.

Maui from Moana comes to mind as does ‘The Rock’ the voice of Maui.

So does Mother Teresa

But I’m certainly no saint.

But there is a strength in me that rises when my children need me. A strength that emerges when dear friends are hurting. There is a strength that only those who’ve known true and deep hurt know how to rise from and then give.

It’s in the giving that the strength lies. I suspect you, who are reading this now, might know that deeper strength within you. It might not always show but it’s there. You’re being around each day clearly demonstrates it.

And some days will require more of us.

This season requires more of all of us. Covid19 is scary. Staying completely isolated requires true grit from some of us.

Being in a different country that has staggering rates of infection and death is scary.

But there is a strength in me that is stronger than it seems at first. A strength to keep going.

A strength to cry

A strength to laugh

A strength to grieve

A strength to pause

A strength to confront

A strength for the truth

A strength to hug and hold

A strength to let go

A strength to walk along side

A strength to listen

A strength to guide

A strength to hope

A strength to love

That’s quite a lot for a bear of little brain…. Pooh bear has all this.

So do I

Do do you.

Much love and strength to you

Sair

Braver than you believe…

When Christopher Robin reminded Pooh Bear that he was brave and strong and smart, I suspect he wasn’t thinking that their separation would be due to a world wide pandemic.

And when I thought about my 50th birthday. I tossed around the idea of popping over to London to spend some time with my 20 year old son. Never did I imagine I would jump on an emergency flight to go straight to hospital to find him badly injured and then stay in London for my birthday and many more days besides and yet, here I am.

When I began writing this blog, I was at a place in my life when I had to remind myself that I was still brave. Life was unsure and a bit scary but I was determined to keep living it in the bravest way I could. Never did I ever imagine I would have the courage required to sit at the hospital bedside of my son while he restlessly slept and held tight to my hand because he really didn’t know where he was or why he was there. And yet, here I am.

As I said farewell to 2019 I was hopeful for a new and exciting year ahead. There were whispers of a virus far far away but it didn’t affect us so we didn’t worry about it. My older son, enjoying his adventures in UK working in the event industry was thrilling and fun. We chatted at least once a week and I loved hearing regular updates of work and fun.

My life was getting exciting too. I had a new job. Being a host of pub trivia, a Quizmaster, was brilliant fun.

My son got a great job. It was going to see him all the way through the northern hemisphere summer on the Greek islands. Yes, we’d miss celebrating his 21st at home but I was so happy that he was spreading his wings and enjoying success on his own in the event industry.

And we heard a bit more about this virus. Cases were coming closer but surely it wasn’t going to get all the way to us and then Italy closed.

I don’t have a clear memory of the timeline of Covid19 but I know when things started to change. I know when the gigs started to get cancelled. I know when I was just starting to get good numbers at my gig and then social distancing was on the radar, so my venue cancelled my gig. How could we gather for fun and still be 1.5 metres apart.

It made sense.

And the gigs kept getting cancelled and then my son’s brilliant summer job was cancelled. Spain closed its borders and sent him back to England.

We discussed it. Everyone was closing borders. It was time for him to come home. His Dad bought a ticket and he was due to fly home on the 19th of March. Just six days before my birthday. My son was coming home from London in time for my birthday.

And then the phone call, he was missing. He’d been missing for 30 hours. And a mother’s heart almost stopped beating. This mother’s heart felt like it had frozen. There was no letting go. There was only trying to find him. Hospitals in London were called. A missing person’s case was opened with the UK metropolitan police. I called his friends via Facebook.

They had been having a fun time on the night of Saint Patrick’s Day. And the next we knew, no one had seen him since 3am 18/3/20

So we called and we waited and I cried, only a little, and I shivered because I think I was in shock. One thing of which I was certain, I felt it in my bones, deep in my heart, that my son was still alive but he had fallen and I was scared of where.

Finally at 1:30am Saturday 20/3 we were told the police had located him at Kings College Hospital. He’d had a fall from a wall and been found with many injuries including fractured vertebrae, and a head injury.

I knew that I had to get on a plane and get to my son. A mother’s instinct is a powerful force. As the government were declaring all non essential travel should not be done. This was essential and so at 10:30 pm Saturday 20/3/20 my one way flight to London took off from a runway at Tullamarine in Melbourne.

Giving life to an actual person

When I was pregnant back in the very late 90s, I was teaching, I was singing, performing, living a pretty busy life. And then on the 22nd of June 1999 you finally made your way into this world.

I did not know I would or could love anyone as fiercely as I loved you. I became the ‘earth mother’ I never knew I was and I encouraged and guided and loved and nurtured and probably stuffed up and did dumb stuff too. Coz we’re mums and we do that too.

You are talented and kind and fun, clever and compassionate.

You faced challenges that weren’t your fault. You struggled through things but today you really rose up high. You stand strong and tall and know what you’re doing.

As you grasp life with both hands, my fabulously brilliant eldest son, remember I will always be cheering you on.

Follow your passion. Yes, yours! Don’t be afraid to pop back over to a few of mine. You really are very talented…just saying 😉

You are truly your own person. You are a beautiful man who is going to do great things with his life.

I am so proud of you. And yes, in all honesty, a wee bit jealous. But that is ok coz you are meant to be even more brave than your brave mama. And trust me Hunny, your Mum, she’s still brave !

Father’s Day

From the moment you all came to the hospital to pick me up and that photo, we still can’t find, of you holding tiny little me…

To the time you carried me into the hospital in Hawaii because my thumb was in the wrong spot when you closed the big car door.

For every song I sang you came to see. Every play I performed in, you came to watch.

For the times you knew I was nervous and coped with my irritability with patience and grace.

For the stories you read to me at night time when you tucked me in. Or the poetry we’d gleefully share around the kitchen table, not quite bothering to clear the dishes yet because we simply had to read some Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson or even C.J.Denis.

For the times we searched the shorter Oxford dictionary to find the origin of words and found that after all these years, we can still both be right.

When I found my own radical kind of faith, you embraced it and walked the path with me, finding a whole new kind of being born again. You even bought the T-shirt.

The time I took your arm and you walked me down the aisle to be married at such a young age. You gave your precious daughter away but that never meant I couldn’t run to my Dad’s arms when I needed you. And need you I did. Need you I still do.

The time we traveled the world together…. What fun we had.

This Father’s Day is a bit of a miracle.

Here you still are!!!!

And back home!!!

After more than a month away in hospital and rehab after having massive quintuple bypass surgery, you’re home and very much improved and I am here with you. How very blessed I am.

After my 49 years in your life, you needed me. That I could be there to hold your hand in the dark.

When the darkness felt like the light would never return, you let me help you.

When the sliding doors took you down a line that was utterly terrifying, you let me be there.

When the demons in your mind attacked you in that darkness, you let me be there to fight the battle alongside you and sometimes, fight for you. The honour you gave me to speak truth when you were caught in a tunnel of delirium is not lost on me. In all my years you’ve never asked for help like that. What a privilege to be asked. What grace to be able to fight the good fight with you my precious Daddy.

And we won!!!

The medicine worked. The battle was won. And, just like you’ve always led me by example, I didn’t give up on you either.

And then you let me read to you. You let me be the one to read and tuck you in. Oh my very blessed heart

Now your heart is healing. Your body getting stronger every day. Now you are back home in your house. You get to sleep in your bed. And I get the joy of spending time with you….still looking up words in the shorter Oxford Dictionary

Coz that’s just how we roll!!!!

My birth father

Birth father

Not a term we hear often but you were mine.

I don’t know your name but I share your DNA.

You don’t know I exist.

I don’t know if you’re still alive.

So although you didn’t intend to create a baby, and you were never told you had, thank you for your part in my existence.

I like to think on this Father’s Day that sometime through your life, you did get to become someone’s Dad and not just a birth father.

I am so blessed beyond measure to have the Dad I have. The Dad who’s DNA I don’t have but who’s unconditional love I do. To be his favourite daughter because I’m the only one that they adopted.

Wherever you are…. whoever you are… Whatever your life became, I wish you well and I hope it’s a good Father’s Day for you.

I nearly forgot that I’m an extrovert….oops

The best explanation, that I know of, for the difference between introverts and extroverts is, where do you find your energy most replenished?

Some find it alone. They need that restoration time of aloneness to replenish their sense of balance.

Others find it engaging with others They need that connection with others to replenish their sense of balance.

Here’s the current problem….

What happens when anxiety and depression get in the way of this natural sense of balance?

Anxiety creates a lack in the hormone levels causing excessive fear and worry that can create problems in the ability to function each day. Combine that with the depression with its lack of seratonin and add to that, a need of human interaction that you’re anxiety is telling you to avoid and all of a sudden, being an extrovert isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Let me be clear, this is not a ‘who’s better’ or a ‘who’s got it harder’ for introverts or extroverts. I love my introvert friends. In fact, I’m kinda jealous of them.

While I like to have a bit of down time, a bit of space, some me time, some chill….I know it does not do the same thing for me as they’ve told me it does for them.

One time I was feeling pretty blue, although blue is a nice colour and I think it gets a bad rap being associated with feeling low…I digress.

At this time I received a phone call from an old friend. Remember when phones were used for talking to each other???? I know right.

My friend was concerned with how I was going and so she called and we chatted. And chatted and talked and we gasbagged and nattered and laughed and probably cried too. What we did was connect for about two hours.

It made a difference. Such a difference. The human interaction genuinely lifted my spirits and I physically felt different.

I promised myself I would remember that this human connection thing is vital for me. That my energy is replenished by being with people. Even just their voices. I like meeting new people too. It’s not just being around people. Shopping centres may be full of people but I can feel entirely alone in a crowd if I don’t have anyone to connect with. Let me connect with one person, even at the registers, I’m uplifted.

This week I applied for a job that had an audition attached to it. A workshop audition. I was brave enough to apply but anxiety is a mean illness and can sneak up in your hidden thoughts. Depression can piggyback on anxiety and suddenly my thoughts were ganging up on me like a massive storm.

I kept wishing the company had made a mistake and they’d tell me to not bother coming to the audition. I thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t go. I was sure I was too old, too wrong, too fat, too much, not enough….I thought about doing any number of other things than going to this audition.

But I went……

I had to do some serious mindful meditation. I had to frequently use grounding techniques. I prayed often for help with said mindfulness and grounding. Mostly I prayed for the courage to just go. Do it scared…but do it! And in all my fear and anxiety, I had completely forgotten about being an extrovert.

It wasn’t til after the audition, which was wonderful fun, when I was catching up with an old friend, that I realised how invigorating and uplifting the connections to the humans I’d had in the previous two hours were. He was exhausted and needing time to come back from the intensity of it all. And yes, this friend is an introvert. I was struck by how much I enjoyed the entire process. The facilitators of the audition were brilliant at improvising and teaching how to improvise. For me, it was a homecoming of sorts. I used to teach drama and improv and performance. I enjoyed meeting all those people. I loved getting to know all their names and remembered the gesture they did to introduce themselves. My energy was restored and filled up to overflowing by those couple of hours of connection.

It reminded me that even though I struggle with mental illnesses, I’m still an extrovert at heart.

So, thanks audition.

Thanks people there.

Thanks improv peeps.

Thanks God for helping with the grounding.

Thanks mindfulness.

Thanks extrovert me who rocked the audition and had such a great time learning and trying things out and being brave.

Hah!!!! I am still brave.

No matter whether your an intro or an extro….I love all my verts💕💕💕

You’re still brave too!

Cheers

Sair

Cheeky brave selfie

And yeah, for those reading all the way to the end credits, I got a call back.

Yayyyyyyyy

It’s (was) my birthday(25th March) and I’ll cry if I want to…. am I still crying???

Today is my birthday. Hooray 🥳

But yeah, not so much for me.

The 25th of March comes with fear and hope of delight.

This year I made plans. With Max away, touring the world, I planned to meet him in London.

And yes, I should definitely fly out on my birthday.

I won’t be relying on anyone else to wish me a happy birthday. I’ll be making my own happy birthday happiness.

But life doesn’t follow the rules.

Only two weeks, scratch that, 16 days ago, my birth mother died suddenly.

18 months ago, my mum, my real mum, just died after a long and horrible decline.

My birth mother didn’t always send cards. In fact, she only ever sent me one. But that’s ok. Really really. She did send me a pm on fb for the last nine years. I didn’t know just how much I looked forward to that message.

My Mum, knew everyone’s birthday. And only once, missed saying happy birthday to me….

Today I packed my last minute things and called my Dad to check everything was good for him to drop me off to the airport.

He didn’t say it.

No Happy Birthday from Dad.

There isn’t an unkind bone in my Dad’s body and he would never never knowingly hurt me.

But when I reminded him it was my birthday, I could feel his pain. Pain that he’d forgotten.

Pain that it might hurt me.

Pain that he ‘got it wrong’. His words, not mine.

And yet, the tears came.

They usually do.

My birthday has often been a day of tears. D

Even as I write this, my eyes begin to mist over again.

I didn’t think it would be so emotional.

I miss my Mum.

And the tears flow…..

I miss the idea of my birth mother wishing me happy birthday.

As those of you, dear friends and readers know, the idea, the wishes and dreams were all I really had. Hence, I miss the idea. Knowing now that I won’t receive another message from her on fb…. hurts…maybe more than it should. But who decides on the ‘shoulds’.

I miss that I won’t ever get another card from Mum that said almost the same words every year

To our Dear daughter.

We are very proud of you.

Happy Birthday

Love from Mum and Dad

Did you know Mum’s writing?

The D in that Victorian Cursive style. I can see it so clearly. I could forge her writing almost perfectly.

(A useful skill in year 8 when record books had to be signed or detentions were handed out)

I miss Mum’s writing.

I can’t picture my birth mother’s writing. I guess I have that card somewhere.

I hope I have it somewhere.

I wish I have it somewhere.

Hopes and wishes…. but real tears.

Months have passed by since I drafted this and I feel it’s time to revisit and continue….

She is not feeling very brave again…. oh dear. Perhaps I was being ironic when I named my page rather than hopeful. Either way, the feelings are true.

And part of the plan of writing was to simply have a place to honour the truth of the feelings.

My eldest son turned 20 last weekend.

He spent time with me. What a joy and privilege it is to enjoy his company. For him to even ask my advice, just a couple of days afterwards.

And now it’s the second half of the year is coming and it’s going to be Mum’s birthday soon. The second one she’s spent in heaven or glory or elsewhere….she’s not here to make a fuss of or to tell us how much she definitely doesn’t want a fuss made of her, while thoroughly enjoying said fuss being made of her. I miss her

My dad misses her more. They were a double act. Jenn & Trev or Trev & Jenn. It didn’t matter. It would have been their 60th wedding anniversary this year. They made it to 58.

So as we face the pain of losses and gear up to do our best to be brave through each of the moments, know that you’re not alone, my friend. As reading and writing help me make sense of the words jumbled in my head, I hope they bring a little peace and maybe a dash of clarity to you too.

Much love,

Sair

You are worthy

You are here and you are worthy of love.

Nothing is required and you are worthy of love.

You may be reading these words and you are worthy of love.

You are writing these words and you are worthy of love.

In the quiet, post midnight hours of awake and not sleep, still you are worthy.

In the tumbling thoughts of ‘what if?’ and ‘could I? or even ‘should I?’ yes, you are worthy of love.

In the moments when it hurts to hold your arms wide open, in the effort of embracing life, even then you are so worthy of love.

There is an abundance of love, kindness, peace, goodness, compassion, faithfulness, gentleness, strength, courage to be found and you dear heart are worthy of it all. You are here and you are worthy.

When you reach out to your child to share their pain as they cry, you are worthy of love. And in turn, you beautifully teach them that they are too.

When you laugh at the silly known jokes and words of family you are so very worthy of love.

And you, my dear brave one, are worthy. So very worthy of it all. Simply because you are here. And here is all it takes.

Be present.

Be aware.

You are loved.

You are worthy.

I am here.

You carried me to my birth

Reluctantly, not just at first

Hidden and denied

At least you kept me alive.

The option to abort me

Was given by a doctor

Even through it was illegal

That was one step you wouldn’t abide.

And so you were hidden

Lies to the family were told.

You’d gone up to Qld to be a nanny

But really you were just down the road.

You named me Terry.

In 1970 that was a boys’ and girls’ name.

You didn’t want to know which.

Though you birthed me, you never held me.

Though you carried me those 40 weeks, you never touched me once.

I’m grateful that my life began.

The nurses cuddled me.

They named me Simone.

Ten days later I became Sarah with a mum and dad and two brothers. A ready made family.

But….you were my mother.

Yet you signed me away and left the hospital, not looking in my eyes. Not even once.

Little did I know just how hard it was for you.

You told me the words that sealed me away forever, when your mother took you home again.

‘Well you’ve had this baby and that is the last we’ll hear of it!’ These are the words of a frightened mother of a teenager in March 1970, a grandmother that she couldn’t acknowledge being.

Oh the vicious pain that’s caused by pride and fear. Your poor 18 year old broken heart froze over that day.

When I finally found you

After 18 years of wishing and dreaming.

You were on the other side of the world.

And so I wrote

Pages and pages, pouring out my own heart, the heart of a daughter, to the mother I wished you’d been.

After years and no reply,

my heart grew heavy again.

How many times would I feel it

This repeated pain of rejection.

Bravely, I tried again.

Fearfully, I spoke to your mother on the phone.

I don’t know if she knew that it was me but I knew I had to hide myself.

How sad and strange that it was 21 years after my birth the need to hide remained. To stay being the secret.

And I rewrote the letter

I added the latest news

I’d even been married, yes, very young

But that desperate desire to be loved starts so early when rejection is the oldest story.

Two days later, you rang me.

I knew the second I heard your voice. It was you. The one I’d dreamed of, wished for, fantasised about the life we might have had.

And so we made plans for meeting.

Lunch at yours tomorrow.

I can barely breathe.

It’s happening.

The fantasy of meeting my ‘real mother’.

I see you,

Bringing in the washing

But your shoes are open-toed. My feet can’t do that.

But then you’re tall. I am not.

It’s surreal

I don’t see myself in you.

You tell me I have your thighs.

And yes, I do see that. Odd that you say thighs and not eyes.

We seem to find more differences than similarities. I guess that’s what you need to do.

Proudly you show me your two daughters.

Your eldest, and you catch yourself saying it. For a moment the truth that I am actually your eldest pops into your mind.

I offer grace to you.

I offer understanding.

But how does one manage to forget your first born child.

I have a feeling I know

When the pain is so bad Sometimes they use a freezing technique to stop the pain. Freezing it stops it hurting.

Freezing stops all the feelings

Freezing makes it possible to forget.

To meet the one who could melt your protective shell

So important to keep the icy breeze blowing all the time.

And so we did. Oh so politely. But my heart ached to see if any of the shoulds might be real. But it wasn’t there.

Are you my mother? Like the baby bird trying to find his mother, so was I. Where was the connection. Where was that moment where you took me in your arms and held me for the very first time? I’d wished it so long. I’d dreamed it so long and yet…. Are you my mother?

The years go by

The silence emerges.

After a card or two and long before social media exists, we lose track.

And then social media, friends of friends, six degrees….

No, only two.

Add friend

Are you my mother?

You’re my Facebook friend.

And then your two daughters. For two is all you’ve had. I am an un-daughter, a non-child, a memory from the past. And in them I see my eyes. In them I see your eyes. We are so similar.

My family. My real family. My family who named me, raised me, loved me, taught me, blessed me, fought with me, cried with me, laughed and sang with me ,we are not similar in looks. I’ve never looked like them.

But I look like you two and you look like me. It’s surreal.

And so we message and we meet. You are both tall. You are both lovely. I see the similarities. But are we sisters? You are sisters. I am a strange frozen person that it’s interesting to meet.

And then the fear is passed on again. You tell me that your mother said,

“If you want to meet her that’s fine but I don’t want to have anything to do with her. ” The fear of knowing me is past from generation to generation.

I am a person. I am not your family.

I am a painful part of your mother’s past. I remain frozen there. I want to find a way to defrost this. But it’s too frozen for you to be allowed to care.

The years pass by again. We click on like and ❤️ and comment here and there.

An occasional birthday message and a wish for Happy New Year.

We are not in touch.

We do not see each other.

Except on the pages of social media.

There are so many more questions to ask. So many connections I long to make. But I am patient. To know you from a distance is better than not knowing you at all. And so I watch and I wait and like and comment.

It’s polite.

It’s safe

It’s distant.

And then, thanks to social media I find out that you’re gone.

Suddenly, you have died.

Are you my mother? I can’t ever ask you now.

I am not a member of your family. Family draws close around times of grief. Family says goodbye when death is imminent.

But how can you connect to a frozen piece of the past. Why would you?

So as my heart breaks over again for the final piece of rejection. From my birth to your death.

But I am not like you.

I face my past.

I do not freeze out the feelings

I walk into the hot, uncomfortable truth.

I embrace the frailties of life. I stand with arms wide open. I offer love. I stand in grace. I bask in the warmth of forgiveness.

Are you my birth mother? Yes

Are you my half sisters? Yes

Are we family?

Just as soon as you would like to be.

I won’t turn away.

I won’t hide

I am not the secret.

I’m a not frozen in the past. I am here. I am lovely. We have the same smile. We have the same eyes. So do my sons.

I am your sister.

I am here.