Death, Australian Idol and time.

Hi gang, first up I want to say a gigantic THANK YOU to the many thousands of you who read and enjoyed my ten tips for teenage girls last week. I’ve never had a response quite like it, especially from said teenage girls. It truly warmed my black heart reading your messages and knowing that my words had somehow helped you.

This week I’ve just got some quiet words about loss, you see four years ago this week my family went through the wringer. Those of you who’ve read my book will know what I’m referring to, if you haven’t read it; on October 18th 2014 my uncle Haydn passed away after being involved in a car accident. Ten weeks later, his Mother (my Nana) also left us. I wasn’t going to write about it, in fact I had another blog ready to go about making my kids watch Beaches; but lately I’ve been feeling the weight of their loss, and I find that when my thoughts are sticky, it helps to write them out.

On Saturday it was my Dad’s birthday and while we were at his place, my Mum gave my eldest daughter a hard drive full of memories. Later that evening the girls and I sat on the couch and laughed at my Australian Idol photos and all the unfortunate hair choices, make-up mistakes and our many abuses of denim. My whole family had come to see the Australian Idol live tour in Melbourne, and everyone had taken photos with the cast, including Uncle Hayd. A photo of him, my Mum, my Aunty and I flashed up and my daughter quickly clicked passed the photo (knowing what this week was and not wanting to upset me) but and as she did a video of my Grandmother appeared. She was giving my Mum a guided tour of her bedroom. She was putting on her ‘posh voice’ and pointing with flourish to her new curtains, bedhead and beloved blanket box.

Mum, Me, Aunty Jo & Uncle Haydn, Aus Idol Live show 2005.
Nana and Marty Worrall! A true highlight for her.

I’ve seen the video a hundred times, but I haven’t watched it since she’s been gone. It was like looking at it for the first time again with fresh eyes. I took in every detail, wishing I could dive into the computer screen and stand beside her. Her bedroom always smelled of perfume; Elizabeth Arden’s Red door, and I could almost smell it as I watched her. Then she laughed and I realised how much my own cackle sounded like hers (think Mary Poppins meets Cruella DeVille and you’ve nailed it.)

As I watched her I remembered our weekly conversations and smiled. I wished I could tell her I am having a son, I could imagine her response. She’d be beside herself and a blanket would be ordered and embroidered with his name, as she did for both of my daughters.

I went to bed last night and read the letter she sent me after my wedding, it’s the first time in a long time I’ve been able to do that without crying. In fact imagining her making mental notes on the day to write down later, made me laugh to myself.  After she and Haydn died the grief came in steady, consistent waves. Four years on and I can report that the waves are much further apart and I don’t feel as though they’re going to drown me when they hit. When this type of thing happens to you, the phrase “It’s going to take time”  gets thrown around and you feel like punching the person who says it in the throat, but it’s true. However the passing of time doesn’t make you miss them any less, it just allows the acute sadness you feel when you think of them to make way for a dull ache.

That will make way for  bittersweet memories.

That will eventually become happy and precious ones.

What I mean to say is that your first thought isn’t: “They’re gone.”

Its: “They were here.”

The glorious Denise Arline Spence.

This week if you could think loving and slightly inappropriate thoughts about Eddie McGuire for Nana and toast Haydn with a can of diet coke, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks for letting me write it out,

Speak soon.


22 responses to “Death, Australian Idol and time.”

  1. Thankyou for sharing also your teenage tips my granddaughter is 13 first year high school she can be loving giggling then sillen no talking scowling turning into satin aaahhhhgggg who is this creature??? Love her to bits your blog really helps Thankyou❤️😘

  2. Exactly Em. I am not as erudite as you but this week I too have been pondering the huge gap left in our lives by those we love and how do we deal with it. We are not prepared for it, ever. Thank you Em.

  3. Your blogs are always so beautifully written. You are such an incredible & inspiring human. Thoughts are with you this week. Much love.

  4. Oh now I feel like I know your Nana and your Uncle Haydn…..did your Nana start this business of writing words without vowels 😝….she sounds like an absolute treasure and how wonderful techno’s now they you can show these memories to your Son one day and he too will get to know her. Keep pushing ahead sweetheart you are doing a most marvellous job of everything and I hope you are as happy as I imagine you to be 😘😘😘

  5. Oh Hun, I hear you loud and clear, you are so right about the waves of grief /sadness:! When my dad died, then 4months later, my brother and only sibling; someone likened grief to a Sunami, hitting so hard, not giving you time to catch your breath before another tumultuous wave hits you; but after a while the waves become less frequent, still knocking you over, but able to recover a little more quickly, then further along, anniversaries and little reminders, songs, photos etc, you are able to brace yourself, the wave still hitting you, but somehow you will manage to keep your head above water, it’s a long long process, but we will get there!
    Am thinking all sorts of inappropriate thoughts of Ed, for Nan, no Diet Coke, but I’ll have a sofa water for Haydn; ( same spelling of my late brother’s son)
    Much love❤️

  6. Much love to you Em! I remember you telling the story of your nan at an Adelaide show and singing Somewhere over the Rainbow in tears. My mum died six months ago, you hit the nail on the head. Grief does suck. My precocious ten year old who was really close to her is always playing home movies of her…it’s hard but beautiful xx

  7. This touched me today. On 21st Dec, 2014, my Grandma and best friend passed and it ripped me apart. Since then, theres been 6 more funerals of family and close friends. Grief has occupied my families life these past years, but I count my blessings that I was able to know them and love them. Em, you are so correct in your description of the waves. For me, they don’t come with any warning, but I’ve learned to breathe and wait for it to pass. But I also know that knowing and feeling the pain of their loss, it’s made me hug my son harder, love my husband deeper and actively seek gratitude in the blessings all around us. I no longer feel the anger, but have accepted the gap on my heart will always be there. I send you and your family love, light and warmth this week and will send up a prayer for your Grandma and Uncle Hayd. Keep your chin up beautiful woman xoxo

  8. Thank you Em. I needed to read this post. My nan isn’t well and all I’ve thought about lately is what I’d feel when I loose her. This post makes me feel like it’ll all be ok. But for now she’s pushing through some really shitting times in regards to her health and holding on xo

  9. Em, I feel and hear ya. 4 years ago in December we lost my Dad. Then 6 months later, my Mums sister who was my surrogate Grandma (as she’d passed when I was little). The waves definitely ebb and flow and it hits at the most random moments, like when you are driving along quite calmly then swoosh you are in tears. My auntie was a fashionista, even at 93, and I have a number of her tops which even now, after countless washes still smell of her. Or maybe they actually don’t anymore and I just want them too. Continue loving hard, gorgeous one, it makes for a fulfilling life. 💕

  10. Hi Em, my beautiful mum passed away two and a bit weeks ago and the waves are coming in thick and fast. You’re totally right, I still look for her. Still want to call, but can’t. It isn’t they’ve gone, it is, ‘they were here’, I hate being told that time heals. It won’t.

  11. Sending love it’s a amazing thing when you can think of your darling loved ones and smile and not scream love you Em ❤️💙

  12. Em, you are so right! Reading this made me think of two very special people I lost in the last 3 years, I’m definitely glad that they were here! Thank you for your words and keep them coming! Xx

  13. Thank you Em for a lovely read. My Nanna recently passed away and just yesterday my Aunty lost her battle with breast cancer! It’s been a pretty heartbreaking 6 weeks….. cheers for sharing your own story of grief and remembrance!! ❤️😘😢

  14. This really hit me, I had a similar situation.
    We lost my Nana (the family matriarch) on my mums birthday, her daughter 2 years ago. Then that same month my uncle, her son diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, by Boxing Day he has passed away a matter of 4 months later.
    I think this is the first time I haven’t cried after reading something which made my heart sink! They’ll always be here even if they aren’t physically present! Xxx

  15. Me I lost my Nanna in 2005, it does get ‘easier’ but I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my eldest daughter I bawled in the shower because I’d never be able to tell Nanna and she’d never meet my child. And then I realised it was the 2nd anniversary of when she passed away and it was a sign!

    She wasn’t here when I had my daughter, or 3 years later when I had my triplets, but she is in every one of the kids in so many ways!

  16. Luv this read! It will be 5 years next week we suddenly lost my Dad (stepdad, but my Dad). It is bloody hard some days. This year one of the hardest as my daughter turns 21 and he won’t be here to celebrate with us 🙁
    Thanks Em for sharing (quickly wiping tears from by cheek and trying to finish this post through blurry glasses) Xx

  17. No mater what you right you bring up a memory. Thank you for making me think, I appreciate your words & thoughts. Have a good week Em ❤

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