I got an email in early 2011 from a girl called Amelia. It started much in the way that emails do that I am lucky enough to get “Well this is weird because you don’t know me….” and then, always then, the best bits. The bits where people open up and tell me their stories. And if I am even luckier the bit where they tell me that somehow, in some way, I have made a difference to their lives. And this email had the lot. A beautiful story from a beautiful woman who I could instantly tell had the biggest heart, lots of sass and spunk and that we would be friends.
And we were.
It’s a funny business this online world at times, but the very best bit about it is the friendships that are forged down a wire that can often be the most profound and dearest friendships that we get. People that really know you, get you, your tribe some may call it, all I know is that I have been REALLY lucky with the people I have met through my blog. Amelia was one of them.
We supported each other through emails or messages, a comment on a photo a joke and if we were lucky enough a squeeze in real life (although with her being in another state, that often didn’t happen enough). I felt some strange connection with her from that first email…I wanted to look out for her and somehow I knew her Mum wanted me to (woo woo I know, but there it is). While we weren’t the closest of friends by any means, she was someone I was glad was in my life, looking out for me and supporting me. A kinder, more generous person you couldn’t meet.
And yet somehow, yesterday I find out, that she’s gone. She died.
Just. Like. That.
I still can’t get my head around it. While I do not want to make her death about me and how it’s affecting me, I couldn’t not take a moment today to honour this woman. This beautiful young, young woman who has been taken from those that loved her way too soon. I can’t stop thinking about her close friends, family, and how they might be feeling today. Shit.
You might remember Amelia wrote a blog post for me at the end of 2011 (the original post can be found here) and there’s no better way I can think of, to honour her beautiful big heart than by sharing her words with the world today.
A little over a month ago, Beth asked me to share our love story. I was totally honored to share this not so average tale. It has been interesting process, reflecting on past memories, traveling back into those moments of wonder and passion. It is a little heart wrenching at times, but I would love to share this with you, it makes me the person I am and I would be humbled for you to take a few moments and have a read. This is my story and inspires me every single day.
It is 2.47am and I am camped out on the lounge room floor, i’ve set up a makeshift bed of blankets and couch cushions. Olivia has woken with a nasty cold. The flickering night light illuminates the hallway in a faint golden glow. The only sounds I hear are a ticking clock and a running tap. My husband is cradling the coughing babe in his arms, hovering over the bathroom sink, rocking her back and forth, gently hushing her back to sleep as the water trickles down the drain. The soothing sounds of the water is the only thing to settle her. As I lay here in the darkness, I could not think of a better opportunity to start writing our love story, than right now. This single moment, in a haze of sleep deprivation and sickness, I could not love my husband more.
We are your average family. Mum (that’s me, Amelia), Dad (Keith), son (Will), daughter (Olivia), the cat (Puddie), and the horse (Sammy). We live in the ‘burbs, about five kilometers from Adelaide. The horse resides in a lovely paddock up in the hills, about a half hour drive away. Life is peachy, I am fortunate enough to stay at home, full time, with the kiddos. My days are spent snapping photos, baking, crafting, gardening, finger painting, and cleaning. Keith heads off to work each day in the city as a software engineer. Our weekends are filled with relaxing fun times; trips up to the hills to visit family and friends, and the horse of course, cooking scrumptious feasts for our loved ones, lazy days in the backyard pottering in the garden, playing music and exploring the neighborhood. We are simple people, we enjoy life and what each day has to offer. We believe in love, working hard, enjoying the time that we have with family and friends and getting out in to nature. Life with the two kids is pretty cruisey, it has it’s moments of utter chaos but it is manageable, and we think we are done with the breeding side of things.
Now I am only a spring chicken but I have to grow up fast. I guess I have always looked at a bigger picture, I have always been a dreamer and planner. Now, I certainly have not lived a ‘whole’ life yet, I am only in my twenties and I still have a lot more to learn and understand about the world and how it works. One thing I do understand is the power of love, more so now than ever before. I know for sure that every human being has the capability to truly love another human being. Often it is a long and winding road to find that certain person, many ups and many downs along the way. No doubt we have all had our fair share of heartbreak, arriving at those crossroads and deciding which way to go, wondering if you’ve made the right choice. The funny thing about love is, you can always find it. It may be someone, it may be something, it is a feeling, it is a moment. You just know. This is how I felt when I first met Keith, there was no way that I believe we would end up together, married with children. NEVER EVER. But there was a definite feeling there, one that will stay with me forever.
Before I start with the actual love story, I want to share a defining moment in my life, a moment that has made me the person I am today. At that moment, I made a choice to be everything I thought I would not be – a wife and a mother. This moment made me understand that love is love, it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love, if it’s real then it’s real. From this point on I understood that I must follow my heart in order to survive.
I am an only child, zero siblings, just me. I grew up in a loving family, slightly dysfunctional but loving none the less. I was always very close with my parents, able to talk about anything and everything. My Mum and I were super close, I totally respected her and everything she did. A gorgeous creature, with long black hair, mum was a firey and independent woman, she was outspoken and a little wild. At twenty eight she would ride her motorbike to work, running one of the biggest emergency departments in the country. At thirty five she was a mother and a wife, by the time she was forty she was a full time hospital coordinator. Mum inspired me to be the best that I could be. She may not have been the typical mother, cooking dinners, baking birthday cakes, she was not into that sort of thing. She loved with all of her heart and soul and she worked hard to support our little family. The fourteenth of September, two thousand and five will forever be the moment that I became and adult, the moment I realized that life was precious, the moment I realized you need to follow your own path to happiness.
I was at work for the day when I had received a phone call. It was Mum, she had just finished her week of night duty and wanted to see if I could wake her up when I got home, usually around six thirty in the evening. She mentioned going to visit my grandmother later on that night and suggested that we have a simple dinner of take away pizza.
“Sure ma, no worries. I have to go, it’s super busy here”
“Love you darling”
“Love you Mummy”
I carried on with my busy day, serving coffees and making food. I finished up for the evening, and headed home. I don’t know if it was a sixth sense, or and inkling, but I knew that something was not right. I had that uneasy feeling in my stomach. Mum’s light was on so I thought she had woken early.However, I soon realized that she had not woken at all, I knew as soon as I walked in to the room, she was gone. I ran, I ran so fast and so hard. I wanted to be sick, my body was shaking uncontrollably. I called the ambulance, I don’t know why but I guess it was the right thing to do. I was totally alone, Dad was on a business trip. I had no one. I laid in my bed clutching a photo of the two of us. I knew, but I still hoped for a miracle. She was 54, a mother, a wife, sister, daughter, best friend. I had to make those calls. Dad, my grandmother Bunga, Nana and Pop. Poor Dad had a work colleague drive him the five hour journey from Mt. Gambier to Carey Gully that night. My best mate and her mum arrived. They helped me with all of the formalities. They comforted me and wiped away my tears, her mum reminded me about the significance of this moment, Mum gave me life, now I was here to be there for her, in her death.
From that point on, my life was different. Every belief, outlook, idea, and feeling was completely new and uncertain. I was an adult, I had to fight to live, I was totally responsible for myself and my actions. I was no longer that immature girl, the one who didn’t stand up for herself, the one who was a follower not a leader. I made a choice, right then and there, I was going to live my life the way that I wanted to live it. I was going to put my happiness before everything else. I had been seeing a guy for the past year, it was not a healthy relationship, I was sick and tired of playing the emotional desperate girl. I ended things and decided that relationships weren’t for me. I did not have the inner strength to deal with someone elses’ complications, my life was hard enough. I had reached a point where I felt the need to try and grasp an understanding of myself and where I wanted to go in my life.
When I look back at those months after mum died, it is obvious that I was lost. I knew what I wanted, I wanted an uncomplicated life, I wanted to love and be loved, I wanted stability and children. I wanted to be happy. I had no idea how to go about finding this happiness. Slowly but surely life became a little easier, things had changed, the grief process had worked its way through my body and what felt like overnight, I had become that adult, I was ready for a new life. I don’t really understand how Keith and I came to be together. We still look at each other with wonder and amazement every single day. I swear there must have been another force at work, surely we would be the last two people in the world who would fall in love and live happily ever after.
Keith is indeed the man I always dreamed of. He is the sort of bloke that likes to keep things simple, a very down to earth man who can have a conversation with anyone. He is incredibly humble, previous achievements go unmentioned, he does not like to brag about his past or the things he has done. He is so very encouraging, he believes in me even at times when I do not, he believes I can achieve anything. He can often see the bigger picture when I become too focused on the minor detail. A sensitive soul who is easily affected by others around him, I love him more and more, each and every day. You see one thing that is different about Keith, is that he has had a full life before I was ever in the picture, before I was even born.
I remember the very early days, I was hesitant to share my joy, I was in love. I must admit it was lovely to keep the secret to ourselves, it was special and I believe it truly laid the foundation in the end. It helped us understand what it was that we were feeling, if it was a fairytale or not. Believe me it would have been a lot easier for us to forget about it and go our separate ways; I was not looking for love or a relationship, at all, and Keith was in the same boat, he is not a man who needs a woman in his life. In fact he had been single for years before I had come on the scene. I think he believed that his opportunity to love someone had been and gone, he had accepted a life with his dog, horses and guitar and I think he was pretty darn happy about that. Combine all of this with the two thousand two hundred and ninety two kilometers between us, it appeared that this relationship would not workout.
I was wrong, and soon enough I found myself explaining my feelings to my dad, he was pretty darn shocked but he already knew, he said he could see it in my eyes. It was the hours and hours I would spend on the phone each night to Keith that gave it away. He understood exactly how I felt and encouraged me to go and be happy. He said ‘love is the single most important thing in your life, you need love to survive’ this coming from a man who had lost his wife of twenty two years only eighteen months earlier. My grandmother, Bunga felt the same way, she has known Keith since he was a teenager, she loves him like he was her own. She told me to go and grab love with two hands, go and make it work, bugger everyone else.
So, six months after we decided to be together, I packed up my little car and drove the two thousand two hundred and ninety two kilometers from Carey Gully to Jimboomba. I wanted to start a new life, I was making my dreams a reality, I was following my heart. We spent two years in Queensland. Two years later our son arrived. I realised when you have a baby you need a support base and I desperately needed one, I wanted to go home. We packed up our lives with our six month old son and drove two cars, the entire contents of our home, the cat and our two horses all the way back to Carey Gully to start over, in my home town. It was bloody hard but we have made it finally. I finally feel happiness and peace in my heart. I feel that I have created the life that I was meant to have, the life I think my Mum would have loved to have.
The very moment I fell in love with Keith I was totally and utterly committed to him and our future, his future, for better or for worse. It will be five years this Friday since we committed to this relationship. We have been married for 7 weeks, and have two beautiful children together, I have two amazing step children and three beautiful step grandchildren (yes I am in my twenties!!!!) Love is love. Love is all the arguments, all the tears, all the hesitations, all the vomit, all the blood, all the sweat, all the anger, all the happiness, all the laughter, all the frustrations. It is everything. It is all I need and I wouldn’t bloody change it for anything.
If ever we needed a reminder about life, this is it. Love. Love is all that matters. The people that we love and the people that love us. I can’t imagine the hole that she will leave behind, someone as vivacious and caring as that will leave a trail of broken hearts behind. I can’t make sense of it, or begin to understand why this would happen? Or think of those kids, now without their beautiful Mum. Shit.
Last year (or was it the year before?) we were meant to go to Fleetwood Mac together. As soon as that tour was announced we were THERE. Even though I was already going in Sydney I was SO THERE to go the Adelaide concert with her and sing our guts out to Stevie Nicks. And we were spewing when they cancelled. While young of age she was an old soul with a fiery passion for the Mac (like her Mum) and the Beatles. I will always think of Amelia when I hear Stevie sing.
So, Amelia, fly on sweet girl, wherever it is we fly to. While hearts will be broken they are filled a little more because of you being in this world.
To her close friends and family who knew her and loved her, I am so sorry for your loss. I’m just some person, down a wire, that was lucky enough to spend a little time with her too, and for that I will be forever grateful.