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Thursday, 1 September 2011

An August not to remember, but never to forget

On the morning of Sunday 7th August, hubby got a call from his sister in Darwin.  The other sister who lives there had been involved in a car accident.  Their car was hit by a fire truck.  She & her husband were in a critical condition & one other man was killed instantly.  Another walked away physically unharmed.

It was one of those surreal moments no one ever wants to encounter.  The shock, the denial, the worry.  An hour or so later, the second call came.  SIL had not made it.  It was the 13th birthday of their eldest son that day & they have another who turned 11 only a few weeks before.  We prayed that they would still have a father to care for them, however over the next couple of days, it became apparent he was losing the battle.   Hubby wanted to go to Darwin ASAP to say goodbye   Four days after the accident, the machines were switched off & our BIL also died.  Oh, those poor boys!

Jasmine & I got to Darwin a couple of days later, after organising someone to look after our pets & making all the necessary arrangements.  Days & nights were filled with phone calls, text messages, emails & car journeys as we made all the necessary arrangements.  Hubby is a co-executor of both wills, so there was extra pressure on top of the grief he was feeling.  I really felt for Jasmine, being caught up in this whirlwind of emotion and activity and being dragged all over the shop.  It was 2C when we left Hobart & 32C in Darwin, and Jasmine was pretty well overwhelmed by the tropical climate. There were a couple of days I just had to stay at the motel with her so she could chill out & have a bit of down-time.

BIL & SIL were both architects & had their own architectural company.  Darwin's a small place & they were astoundingly well known, having designed not only private homes, but also many public buildings & recreational areas.  We visited some of their buildings & got to really appreciate the depth of their talent that saw them win 6 architectural awards only a few weeks before the accident.   We'd talk to people in shops or at the markets & they'd start to cry because they had known one or both of them.  That sense of community there was awesome!

The funeral was on 15th of August - hubby's birthday.  I feel sad for both him & our nephew that their birthdays will now forever be linked to those memories.  The service was long and Jasmine did so well to sit through it.  She did have a meltdown afterwards - a combination of no breakfast & sensory overload.  I was on my way to get some food for her when she lost it.  She was fine once she'd eaten something, but still preferred to sit away from the main crowd of people.

That evening, there was a get together for family & colleagues at the Darwin Entertainment Centre - one of the buildings they had refurbished.  There was a poster up for a show that was playing - "My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch" based on the book by Graeme Base.  Jasmine & her Dad talked to a couple of the staff there & ended up buying tickets for the show.  It was really enjoyable family entertainment & a nice distraction from the rest of the day.  We then went across the road to a Chinese restaurant & had a lovely dinner with just the three of us.  It was much-needed & I wanted to make sure hubby got to celebrate his birthday in spite of everything else.

We stayed on for a couple of days with plans just to have a bit of R&R time, but there were still lots of things to take care of.  Jasmine & I came home on the Thursday as planned, albeit 7 hours late due to flight delays.  As we were stuck in Melbourne for 6 of those hours, rather than be bored senseless at the airport, we caught a bus it into the city.  We grabbed a visitors guide once we got there & debated whether to re-visit the Museum that we'd been to 2 years ago & she'd always wanted to go back to, or whether to go to the Melbourne Aquarium.  The Aquarium won...and she loved it.  I was just kicking myself that I hadn't brought my camera with me, figuring hubby had his.  There would have been some great shots.  Her favourite part was being allowed to lift a sea star out of a small display box & place it back in the main tank.

After we'd finished there, we headed to the Crown entertainment complex to find what was called a circus, but was in fact, a games arcade (AKA casino 'lite').  We had a game of air hockey (yeahhhhh!!!), had a look around & decided it wasn't really what we'd expected.  The next trick was to figure out where we were to walk back to the bus station.  After a false start, we found our way back & hopped on the bus back to the airport.  Jetstar had given us each a $10 voucher, so we got some dinner then headed to the gate to wait to board our plane.  Having been awake since 4am after only 3 hours sleep, we finally got home just before midnight.  Oh, how nice it was!

On the Saturday, Jasmine had her 'end of year' dance concert.  Normally held in November, it was brought forward this year as the teacher is moving away.  She really enjoyed performing & did well.  Thankfully, there was enough time between the Dog Dance for Contemporary and her Ballet performance to change costumes.  We're going to miss her teacher, but the new teacher comes highly recommended & a couple of my friends who know her tell me she's absolutely lovely.

I was a shame hubby couldn't be there for the concert, but we have videos & there'll be plenty more concerts to come, I'm sure!  He was due to fly back on the Thursday after us, but took a detour to Sydney to see his Dad.  We'd received a phone call at 12.30am on the morning of the funeral from the nursing home to say FIL had been coughing up blood & he was heading off to the hospital.  After a few days of a fever & pneumonia, he had improved enough to be discharged back to the nursing home.  A couple of days later, he relapsed & was back in hospital.  They were talking morphine to keep him comfortable until the end.  So after more wrangling with airlines, we got hubby to Sydney for a few days, where his Dad cashed in another of his nine lives & was sent back to the nursing home once more.  His end is drawing ever closer, but thankfully, we will have a bit more time to mourn the passing of two family members before losing another.  As it is, I don't think our eldest cat (just turned 17) has long to go before her body is overwhelmed by cancer & we'll be burying her in the garden next to Crusty.

So yes, it's been one Hell of a month.  I'm just waiting for this cycle of deaths to end.  So many people have passed this year.  There has to be a turn-around soon.  There have been good moments in there, like getting to know my other SIL better & seeing people & places we wouldn't have otherwise, but I'm ready for the Universe to switch gears a bit.  It's hard trying to meet Jasmine's needs when the cup runneth low and I'm feeling guilty that she's not getting as much time from us or as many opportunities to learn & interact with people as she needs right now.  She's going through another growth spurt & there is definitely developmental progress happening, so this is an important time for her.

I will sign off with a photo of the last time we saw SIL & BIL.  They travelled to Tassie in December 2008 & spent a bit of time bushwalking around Cradle Mountain before staying at our place for a few days over Christmas.  Hubby had been here for a little while, but Jasmine & I had only moved into the house the day before they arrived here and we had MIL & FIL here, too - all bunked on the floor in Jasmine's empty single bedroom.  It was squishy....and challenging.... but we have some lovely memories of their time here.  They were devoted parents who loved sharing adventures with their kids.

Riposa in pace xxx


  1. I'm so sorry :( What an overwhelming month August was for your family xxx