u i and love

a tale of two hearts

a year ago

Dear Tanya,

A year and a day ago today was the last time I saw you, the last time we laughed. Over the last few weeks I've found my thoughts gravitating towards you even more than usual. 

I've never shared about you here in this space but I have pulled away from blogging because anything and everything I would say in this space felt like it was a lie if I didn't also acknowledge the pain my heart felt about what you were going through. But that wasn't my story to share, it was yours. But you're no longer here and I love you still and your story and the mark you have left on my heart are all I have left of you.

This little corner of the internet has always been a family album of sorts and it's never felt right or complete to me without a mention of you here. So here is your story as I told it at your funeral.

.  .  . 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things and the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:8

As we’re all aware, at times and for a significant portion of the last decade of Tanya’s life, she was required to walk through circumstances and subjected to experiences and a system that at times was anything but right, anything but pure, anything but admirable, excellent or praise worthy.

Philippians 4:8 was Tanya’s favorite verse and when there’d be a lull in our conversation which wasn’t too often, she’d pipe up and say “Philippines 4:8 Tina…whatever is true” and look to me to finish the rest of the verse. So in honor of Tanya, Philippians 4:8 will form the guidepost of how I will share her story as I saw it as her big sister.

So let’s start from the beginning. I have been told that I begged and pleaded with mum and dad for a baby and so they obliged, both in their early 30’s having arrived in new country on the other side of the word with their two kids, they took the advice of an 8 year old and I’m so glad they did. Six and a bit months later Tanya made her early, incredibly early, entrance into the world, 3 months before schedule.

Esther 6 weeks

You are officially 6 weeks old baby girl. 

Your big brother has just gone out on an adventure with Baba and Dedo, so it’s just you and I at home which is such a treat. I just fed you and got to hold you in my arms and just stare at you, study your little features, talk to you and pray for you. I really treasure those moments when it’s just you and I but am so thankful we have your brother around most of the time to entertain us both. Oh my goodness does he love you. Yes he’s still a 3-year-old boy so he doesn’t spend every waking minute wanting to play with you but when he does, he’s so gentle and considerate. I love the way he says your name, the way he asks you questions to include you in conversations, the way he sings little songs to you in the car when you're upset,  and the way he pokes his head into the pram to say “ssshh, it's ok” when you're crying. He adores you.

You may only be six weeks but here are a few things we’ve learnt about you so far:

1. You have a really gentle determination about you.
2. When you’re in pain, you’re in pain and you make that known but when you’re upset, you get really sad and you do this sweet little frown just before you start crying as though you are just about to whisper “mummy, I’m sad, please help me."
3. You love hearing Lucas talk. Your head usually spins around to where he is when you hear his voice. Oh and seeing you smile when he’s chatting away to you, oh man, get’s me every time.
4. Yeah, your smile. Period. No words.
5. You love staring at Dad you are mesmerised by him, I suspect it’s his beard and glasses. Same goes for his voice when he’s in the room.

-       Oh speaking of Dad, it seems you’ve inherited his skin. So we’ve spent the last week visiting doctors, praying, making phone calls and emailing other mums who’ve walked this journey, reading, so much reading, buying cream, probiotics, new detergents, moisturisers, supplements and cook books for the new diet I need to be on to manage your flare ups. It’s still very much early days but thankfully it looks like we may have found a combination of things that your skin loves. I’m really thankful it’s not life threatening, that we can find ways to help you manage it and that you are so incredibly healthy and thriving. 

When you're a little older Esther, you'll discover that one of the worst most stressful things in life isn't an exam or a deadline at work but that feeling of helplessness when your little one isn't well and you're not sure if you'll be able to find the answer to help them get better, that my dear is the worst, just ask Baba and Dedo. I'm so thankful I get to do this parenting thing with your Dad because when your kids aren't well you want someone in your corner who's on the same page as you, someone who's positive, proactive and hopeful, when your not feeling so hopeful and your Dad has been all those things this last week.

Esther you are such a gift. We are so in love with you my dear baby girl. So excited to get to know you more as the weeks, months and years unfold, our family is so much better for having you in it.

xx love mamma

Your first week

Dear Esther,

You were born on the 6th September 2017 at 8.29 am, you weighed 3.842kg and were 52.5cm. You were full term, 40 weeks to be exact.

Those numbers, 40 weeks, 3.842kg won't mean much to you as you grow up; they're pretty typical stats, nothing inherently special in them but to Dad and I they are numbers that we'll forever be grateful for. One day when you're a little older we'll tell you that whole story. The story of how waiting for you changed us as individuals and as a couple forever.

But for today, let me tell you the story of meeting you and your first week in our family.
This image is the executive summary of meeting you. It sums up how we felt meeting you for the first time. It captures all the important stuff, the stuff we're still struggling to find the words for. 


Jaya's first birthday

Maneesha you could not have planned a more perfect party for little princess Jaya! Our jaws were on the floor from the minute we walked in, completely breathtaking.

As you look through these photos in years to come Jaya, I hope you grow to realise that in every little thoughtful detail your mama pulled together for this party she was thinking of you. Thinking of how she could pull something together worthy of her precious little princess to show her and the world how much she means to her and how thankful she is for the light you bring into her life.


Matt and Lucinda's Wedding

a birthday sail

The last few months have been a bit of a blur. Typically when things are blurry I like to sit and write to work out how to make sense of it all. But I've now learnt that there are times when words don't come and all you are left to do is put one foot in front of the other as you try to walk through the fog. 

So that's what I've done. Some days putting one foot in front of the other looks like getting out of bed, having a shower and doing your best to get away with wearing sunglasses all day so your toddler can't see how bloodshot or puffy your eyes are from crying all night because you don't want him to think it's his job to fix you. Other days putting one foot in front of the other looks like having dinner with girlfriends and losing yourself in laughter about their crazy stories of smashing blenders in the front yard. Other days it looks like putting on a bracelet with your sisters name on it so you feel like you are carrying her around with you. And then there are days when putting one foot in front of the other looks like being out on the water with those you love, enjoying the endless possibilities and hopefulness that the ocean always seems to comfort you with.

I miss my sister. A lot. It hurts at times. A lot. And every time that pain strikes my heart I try to breath deep and sit with my hurting yet thankful heart. Thankful that I loved well, thankful that I got to be loved well by her. 

I once thought that "grief" was something that you did. You grieved and once done you move on. I'm not so sure anymore.

I think Glennon Doyle Melton is onto something when she says "Grief is love's souvenir. It's our proof that we once loved". 

For me at least, I suspect grief, as it has already and will continue to look like many things as the years go by; some days it will hurt, other days it will look like joy and gratitude for the things Tanya's love and life taught me. 

Once upon a time grief scared me and I felt so sorry for people who were grieving. Yes it's awful and painful at times but it's also "our proof that we once loved" and what a gift that is. 


Caitlynn and Aaron