18 January 2016

Where to from here?

I feel slightly at a loss with my blog at the moment. Not quite sure how I transition from the intensity of the last few months (and posts) to random arb posts about my day to day living. All seems ridiculously trivial. What the hell is the point?

I guess I am going to simply write because its a discipline I know is beneficial. I know that writing helps me embrace my shit that I cant vocalise any other way.

I was lamenting to a friend recently that I cant cry. Well, not easily anyway. And when I do I immediately try to make it stop. Crying for me always seems thoroughly counter-productive and extremely self-serving. I don't like it. I would far rather take that pain and DO something.

One of the few things that can usually help bring on the tears is when I sit down and let my hand slide across the page - unedited, perhaps wrecklessly but ultimately honestly.

I am beginning to think I may need to reassess things - perhaps tone down the DOING and try get in touch with the FEELING.

Even writing that makes my blood run cold. 

Scary scary shit.

I have been told I need to go for therapy. Frankly I call bullshit. I know what needs to be done. I just need the courage to go there and trust that despite what comes out I will recover and regroup.

The fact of the matter is this - despite the fact that my entire life has turned upside down and that everything I have ever known or trusted has been challenged I still feel thoroughly like myself. In fact, I feel more like myself than ever before.

Perhaps I need to unpack that in the future. Or not.

30 December 2015

Tribute thoughts

11-9-68 to 25-08-2015

This is the unedited, first and only draft I did for Russell's tribute service. I never did use it as I decided on the day to just speak from my heart. I found it on my laptop today and am so grateful.  I have no recollection of what I actually said at the tribute. 

For those who could not be there; this is the best I can do for you at the moment - I have a feeling much of what is written here was covered on the day. I do hope to upload the video footage in the coming month or so.

1 September.

I don't know what to say. And yet there is so much to say.

Lets start at the beginning. I met Russ as a teen at a multi-denominational young adults group. He only ever came once...lucky for me I managed to peak his interest enough to engage with me in some lively churchy banter. I guess you could say our first date was going to visit a new church together the following weekend. Yup, true story.

What drew me to Russ from the very start was his passion. His intensity. His pure conviction about whatever was on his heart at the time. He drew me out over the weeks that followed and I vividly remember twisting his arm to go to movies instead of studying. I also remember him telling me the story of how in matric he had handed in his prefect badge because he could not stand the hypocrisy of the school system. I may then just have fallen in love with him. He was a straight-arrow bad-ass and I knew I had met my match.

About six weeks into our relationship he had to go to Plett with YFC. It was going to be a long 2 weeks! I can still see us standing in my folks driveway; him about to get into the car to drive away and my heart POUNDING IN MY CHEST because I knew. I knew I had to say it. I told him I loved him that night. He hugged me tight, kissed me goodbye and drove away WITHOUT saying it back.

I walked back into my parents house, into the kitchen where my mom was making supper. I just started to sob uncontrollably. I knew what had just happened had little to do with his response (or lack thereof) and everything to do with the fact that my heart now thoroughly belonged to someone else and that scared me immensely.

Upon his return he casually told me he was in for the long haul – if I didnt see marriage potential I needed to be let him know. Intense. Intentional. Goal orientated. He had me in his sights. 

Lucky me. Suffice to say we were married within a year of meeting each other.

Our first ten years were treacherous and we both made big mistakes but we were relentless in our pursuit of each other.  

When it hurt we still did the work and each time we overcame our struggles our love and commitment deepened.

I am so grateful for the 24 years we had.

These last 4 months have been the most bittersweet of my life. I was daily humbled by his unwaivering faith. His complete and utter conviction that whatever the outcome our God is a good God and He will not fail us.

Not once did Russ bemoan his circumstances – not once! True to form Russ approached his situation analytically, intentionally and spiritually. While he was ill he did not watch tv, surf the net, read books or fall into a pit of despair. We spent every moment together – doing nothing but simply being together.

The last weekend we had together was so special. Russ was really ill. I was with him and talking to him and trying to be strong while inside I was torn apart; hiding my excruciating pain. Then the most remarkable thing happened – We watched as Russ was transported into the presence of Jesus. He was fully alert, fully awake but very clearly not in our realm. His eyes were bright, full of life and excitement.

I watched as he fully experienced the love and utter joy at being in the presence of His father. He was so deeply overwhelmed by the enfolding love and his gratitude overflowed. He thanked Him endlessly for his peace, joy and love and his words resound in my ears to this day. (and i have it recorded on my phone)

 'Lord I don't want this stop, I don't want to lose this'. 

We sat in stunned silence, on holy ground, as Russ begged Christ to pour out His love into this valley and over the mountains that each and every one of us  (you)  could know what it feels like to be fully loved.

When Russ came back to me I jokingly asked him if he was now ready to leave me. And without hesitation he replied yes. He called me his beautiful princess and told me that we will be together soon. That there is no here and there but simply an eternity waiting for us. That this life is simply a taste of our time yet to come. 

I cannot tell you what this did for me – to know that my man who simply adores me had found a greater love and deep peace.

I now know, without a shadow of doubt, that heaven and the afterlife is real because Russell told me so.

10 December 2015

Closing the Chapter

I made my blog public when Russ became ill. I wrestled with God for AGES about it as  I was NOT happy to gut myself and bleed in public.

It was one of the single most difficult things for me to do - to pour my pain and grief onto a page for all to see. I did not want to be some poster child for inspiration when I knew very well who I was and how I was processing my circumstances....but I do believe it helped me make sense of the unthinkable and perhaps it helped many others too.

I will never know the full impact but I do know that the season is over.

I will be closing my blog once again. I will simply be writing for us - about our every day lives. There will be no profoundness or inspiration. Just the tick-tock of everyday life and our attempt to live it out in a simple yet intentional fashion.

I want to thank all of you for walking with us so strongly and purposefully in this time. You all have held us in a way I never imagined possible.

With my love always
The FiveTribe

30 November 2015

Hello Monday

I spent some time on the beach this morning. The girls swam and the lad and I just hung out.
It was tough not to notice the obvious; he should be here. Period.

It did afford me some time to ponder, allow simmering thoughts to bubble to the surface.

I found this on my screen this morning and the words rang so beautifully in my heart.

Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion,
    comfort all her mounds of ruins.
I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden,
    her moonscape into the garden of God,
A place filled with exuberance and laughter,
    thankful voices and melodic songs.
 (Isaiah 51 : The Msg)

And yet the beauty still just feels like words on a page for me. I cannot find comfort or hope in these words. The bible is weird for me now.

I can't yet reconcile many things I was taught as a christian and I am not even trying. My spiritual walk has become so part of each breath I take that words on a page are 'nice' but not life-altering.

The only think I know for sure right now is:

"When we feel we've lost our hope, and we're standing all alone.
Our God is with us til the end.
There is no fear in love, for God has overcome.
Our God is with us til the end."
(All Around - LifeChurch)

The whisper of hope remains constant and it's breathed anew in me each day by my Maker; of this I have no doubt and because of this I can tentatively embrace each day as a new adventure.

27 November 2015

The Birthday

There are times when words are unable to express the sanctity of a moment or experience. I am not even going to try - suffice to say joy, peace and gratitude flooded my being on this day.


I fell many times on this daunting climb but I did eventually make it to the top; I felt Russell's pride in that moment.


" In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that ..
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back."
Albert Camus

23 November 2015

The Ambush

My run today nearly killed me. Not because I am ferociously unfit but rather because my grief decided to ambush me on the hill back up to my house.

This particular hill has fast-moving traffic on both sides. Busy people with busy lives careening to get home at 6pm. 

Little did they know that the girl walking unsteadily was not tired but rather fighting for her life and sanity. I have not experienced this kind of sharp, unabating, overwhelming pain since Russ was ill.  I thought the worst was over.


I remember this pain. The one that takes my breath way; causes me forget my children, my family, my friends, my own life. It simply screams for my life to be  be over. At any cost. 

I remember this pain from the days I would sit alongside my sleeping, ill man.

And now ---- I arrive home to my kids excitedly preparing for my birthday tomorrow. 
Kids who, I know, feel an overwhelming responsibility to make my day super-special and so I hide my swollen eyes  and dash upstairs announcing a quick shower before dinner.

And so another page is turned.

17 November 2015

"One Day"

In the beginning all I feel is pain;
my heart has been broken
but quietly the realisation comes
first with a smile, then with a laugh

Just like when the sun begins to set
and light and darkness dance -
 within my broken heart
Joy and sorrow co-exist

For the past week I have been ruminating on this journey of parallel experience. Brokenness and joy. Laughter and tears. Triumph and tragedy. Light and dark.

It troubles me deeply.  I understand that this new reality of mine is not unique. In fact I was told that One Day I would find myself laughing again. Enjoying the silly, meaningless fascinations of everyday life. 

It is quietly, gently unfolding before me and yet I still feel a deep sense of discomfort as I cannot understand how this can be happening mere months after losing my soulmate. 

I wish I could say I feel a sense of relief at the desire to laugh again, but no
I feel betrayed by my own heart and head. I feel disloyal and shallow. I feel like I want to, need to, hold onto the deep brokenness and pain to honour the love that Russ and I shared.

Gentle introspection (not a familar experience) has forced me to unravel and rebuild all kinds of weird shit that I had never considered. It has been both devastating and empowering. 

Again two very different emotions restlessly residing within me.

While sorrow and brokenness are never fun places to hang out they remind me  of a life and man who brought me so much joy; I would not trade these tears for anything. 

Perhaps it is simply accepting that joy anew can begin in deep brokenness.

"Every moment of our lives we have the opportunity to choose joy.
It is in the choice that our true freedom liesand that freedom is, 
in the final analysis, the freedom to love. 
-Henri Nouwen 

10 November 2015

Life is beautiful. And Terrible.

I really should not do this to myself. I had a completely different post in mind. Now I am a wreck and have to hide from my kids until I recover.

I realise now why I dont blog very often. Blogging often results in me looking for a particular image which then means I have to delve through MANY images to find the one I need.

A part of me feels I need to FORCE myself to do the hard stuff - look at photos, watch videos and listen to his voice notes. Maybe it's good for me.

Probably healthier than sitting in a dark corner cutting myself. Yes. I now understand why people self-harm.  Hurting physically is far more appealing than the gnawing, relentless bite of emotional pain.

My mom took both these images. It is the day we moved from her house back to ours.We had been told that our time together was limited. We desparately wanted to make sure we spent as much of it as possible in the beautiful house we built together nine years ago.

This day marked the beginning of our preparation for the end. I still feel utterly gutted.

You don't know pain until
you're staring at yourself in
the mirror with tears streaming down your face,
begging yourself to just hold on 
and be strong.

31 October 2015


My alarm went off at 7am this morning. Same as every Saturday for the last 6 weeks. The difference today is I actually pulled myself up and out of bed whereas all previous weeks I have stabbed the 'dismiss' button with revulsion.

The difference today? ACCOUNTABILITY. Something I have managed to studiously avoid my entire life and even more so the last few months. Today I knew I was ready for the challenge.

I have been desparate to run but emotionally it has been utterly devastating for me each time I laced up. Each footfall took me back to races, landscapes, mountains and trails that Russell and I had disovered together.

He always kept me warm on those freezing start lines! 

It felt utterly wrong to be running without him; my breathing would choke me up and I always ended up walking with tears behind my big dark glasses.  He was my running mentor, encourager and he was SO proud of me.

My 10k PB was set on Chappies Challenge thanks to him!

I know he wanted me to keep running; this fact alone did not help me push through.

 As fate would have it I have discovered a new friend who unwittingly let slip her hidden running dreams.... Little did she know that this was just the fire that needed to be lit in me...I thrive on seeing people who thought they could NEVER run get to a place where they are signing up for races.

Punishing run through Roodeberg - Our last race together.

Stunning training run overlooking Noordhoek - discovering new routes.

At 0745 we were in the car and at Parkrun. Sweet relief for me to see a NEW parkrun venue with a completely new route so I was not assaulted with memories of the many past runs with Russ.

 In fact I can say I enjoyed every moment with my friend. It was a completely new, clean experience and I came away feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Early morning beach runs were so great for our souls.

Running will always remind me of him but slowly I am beginning to find comfort in this instead of pain.

Finding my own footfall again but embracing the fact that he remains part of each and every step.

30 October 2015

Ticking Normality

Another week has passed.

This one has been more tenable than last week. It has held some highly amusing moments; widowhood definitely has a funny side occasionally.  I even took the kids out for spur of the moment supper last night and it did not overwhelm me. We had a great evening and I ate a good steak! Hopefully it will provide much needed fuel for my first Parkrun in months tomorrow.

I have help at the house this week - much of the woodwork (doors and windows) were in grave need of repair and restoration. It feels good to start getting on top of things and to feel like my house may feel like a home again in the near future.

To this end I also started clearing the schoolbook cupboard. I am tossing all old homeschooling content as my kids are starting a completely different curriculum next year. I am pairing down to the bare minimum in an effort to keep things clean, simple and uncluttered.

This weekend seems set to include more DIY-ing, springcleaning, running and rugby-watching....and my big brother is coming to camp out with us for a few days which is going to be very cool. :-)

Sounds awfully normal doesn't it?

25 October 2015

Two Months

I wish the 25th of each month simply meant payday to me. Instead it reminds me that I need to take a deep breath. And then another. And another.

The day started badly. All of us were cranky and unhappy. Steve texted with the idea to climb Table Mountain and I laughed hysterically. In the past this would have lit me up like a bonfire but these days just getting out the house is a miraculous experience.

Instead we settled on a trip to Dias Beach in Cape Point.

This idea was not met with much enthusiasm from my crew. (Rach was working at TEARS for the day) Levi and Faith came along with heavy hearts and grim attitudes. Once again I found myself trying to carry everyone's emotions.

It's getting old. I want to be selfish and just deal with my own shit. My own pain. MY loss.  I want to not have to think about ANYONE else for even one day. Sadly parenthood affords none of us such luxury; not even in my unenviable position.

I am happy to report that after some time in this beautiful natural haven we all found some solace. Some joy. Some semblance of happiness and gratitude for what we have on our doorstep.

I have found that in nature's wide open spaces I find what I need to rejuvenate. I feel deep loss and loneliness but I also find a sense of comfort. It's incredibly difficult to describe but that's okay - I don't have to be able to articulate the experience - I just need to immerse myself more often.

Nature can bring you to stillness
that is its gift to you.

Eckhard Tolle

24 October 2015

The Anniversary

24 years since we met.

23 years married.

60 days since he went ahead of me.


 So finite yet we live like we have infinity within our worldly grasp.

I celebrated our life together by doing exactly what I knew we would be doing if he were right here with me. 

Levi and I went to Cafe Roux with fellow rugby junkies and watched our boys give the AB's a cracker of a game. 

Bittersweet. My heart ached in a way words will never convey.  

The trouble is....you think you have time.  


22 October 2015

Facing The Obstacles

Faith and I have both been wrestling lately.

She no longer wants to dance.
I no longer want to run.

These things that used to bring us so much joy and peace now seem like insurmountable, meaningless tasks.

Together we are making a plan. While she dances - I run.

Sometimes neither of us can do it and instead we lie on our beds and watch series.
Or stare into space.

But we have a plan and we are doing our best.

21 October 2015

Walking Through the Days

 I really wanted to blog more often. I wanted to one day look back and see how I made it through the most heartbreaking time of my life. What did I do each day? How did I manage?

Truth is I have not been able to blog. I have written perhaps 4 journal entries. I could not even tell you how I have made it through the last 56 days. In a nutshell it would probably look something like this:

1. The kids. Conversations with my children have often left me speechless. Their wisdom defies their years and I am so utterly grateful to have them in my life.

(when discussing times that may be hard in the future)

Rachel: Mom, I have never been married so I have never had a dad walk me down the aisle. I have many great men in the family who can do that for me.

Levi: Dad taught you how to drive, Mom. So when you teach me it is actually still Dad teaching me.

Levi: We may never be as happy as we could have been but that does not mean we cant ever be happy.

2. My family. We have always been a super tight knit clan but this has pulled us together in ways few would understand. I am eternally grateful for my dads right now - both of whom are keeping my world afloat in terms of Russell's business and his estate.

3. My friends. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined I would be surrounded by so many strong, loving, funny, wise and devoted women. Women who love me at my very worst, women who constantly remember me and include me and allow me the space to just be what I am in the moment. Russell knew this - he trusted my friends to take care of me and they continue to do so every day.

4. Chores. Yes. Simple acts like hanging the washing. Stacking the dishwasher. Wiping the surfaces. Cleaning the pool and pulling out weeds. All these simple things are acts that require great discipline but reap rewards in terms of my sanity. Unfortunately going to the mall is not on this list - this chore still require superhuman strength.

5. Series. The more mindless the better as my attention span is questionable at the best of times.

6. Pyjamas. And Russell's jerseys.

7. Coffee.

Things I have not been able to do:

1. Read. My capacity to read is gone. I cant concentrate at all. Not even a magazine.
2. Run. I am (was) weak and way to emotional every time I pulled on my running shoes.
3. Answer the landline or any unknown number. Dont call my landline - I wont answer it.
4. Clear or sort or throw anything out. I still have everything in my home that I had 2 months ago. 
5. Simple administrative tasks like paying outstanding bills. I care not. I will one day but its not today.

I can only say that almost 2 months down the line my heart is more broken with each day. It definitely feels worse. I have had to face the fact that it will never be okay - I will not wake up one day and feel like 'Okay, its done, lets move on with life'. The best I hope for each day is enough guts to simply make life look good for the kids.

Like I said to my friend T this afternoon - I am done with this human charade. Over it. Bring on the next scene.

09 September 2015

The World Keeps Turning

Waking up sucks so bad but at least I had a massage booked for 9am. My body is wracked with pain and that really is not cool when your heart is messed up too.

I cried my way through the massage. Thankfully my therapist is a very good friend and she just creates a safe space for me to come undone. My weekly massages may well be the key to a slow, gentle re-entry into my new life.

Aware that my day was going to hold many administrative challenges I decided to swallow my pride….and a tranquilizer ….. to get me through the horrors of red tape, long queues and 0860 phone calls. Phone calls that have me telling my sad story to people who don't actually care but have to tell you how sorry they are. And I have to be nice and say thank you for telling me how sorry you are.

Going out is still uber tough for me. It literally feels like I am walking around without skin on my body. I feel utterly raw, exposed and completely vulnerable. Simple things like noise, wind, voices or a stranger bumping into me causes a startlingly painful physical reaction. I know it sounds weird. In fact I googled it in case I was going nuts but apparently I still fall into the category of  'normal grief sufferer'. Normal is good. For now.

I started with a trip to the police station to get an affidavit to prove my residential address because I have nothing in my name and we all know how bloody fun FICA is nowadays.

Next up was the queue at the licensing department to renew my car license. Thankfully that went smoothly.

I then rushed to meet with my broker to discuss my financial future; true to form Russell took care of every detail and now it is up to me to take all the wisdom he shared with me over the years and make wise decisions for our tribe. This is a scary thing for a girl who never even had to check her own oil and water but he knew I could do it.

Tomorrow I will recover from today but still remembering that despite all the obstacles I got shit done. Yay me.