Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 30 March 2017

When Great Trees Fall

A dear and caring friend posted this to me on Facebook today...
  ❤❤❤

When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
Maya Angelou

3 months today

Dearest Natey.

It is now only/already 90 days, or 3 months, since you left us.

It is not getting any easier. In fact, if anything, it is getting harder and harder. As the enormity and magnitude of it all really sinks in. And also as the small little details come into bright focus and make themselves starkly evident. Little things I hadn't even thought of can become big huge gut-punch things in nano-seconds as the realisation hits me.

The other night a friend posted one of those cute Bored Panda FaceBook posts of 'Childhood Photos Recreated'. You know the ones. Original photos of 3 toddler in the bath, recreated with 3 tall gangling adults squished into the same pose. Or girl with baby brother on her lap, now grown-up with huge twice-her-size brother trying to balance on her lap. They are sweet and sentimental... and as I was looking at them and smiling it hit me. Right in the pit of my stomach. I gasped, barely able to breathe or contain myself, wishing I could un-think the thought I had just had. But I couldn't, and I couldn't look at any more of the photos in the series because there was no funny, sentimental or lightheartedness about them anymore. Because we'd never get to do those with Natey, and my now 10-year running tradition of our annual Christmas hat photos of the boys is suddenly gone forever... paused in time at 2016, and never ever to be the same again. :(

All the photos of you dear Natey and all the videos. People wonder if they are hard for me to look at, but the truth is they are not. I love them and I like to immerse myself in them. Because in them is you, and in them is all the happy, present, light, carefree, spontaneous and fun memories of you. Every photos and memory brings a smile. So I don't avoid them, I seek them out. Because that's where I find comfort.

Everywhere else where you aren't, or won't ever be, holds pain, sadness, emptiness, desolation and sorrow. That's the part I find difficult to deal with. The 'what now?'ness off it.

#DoingItForNatey keeps me focused on moving forward, and keeping going. But when I stop I di sometimes wonder, 'What the hell for?' 'Why bother?'

Natey after 90 days I miss you more than ever, and I am struggling to find new meaning and purpose without your smiles and laughs. I wish you would come to me when I dream at least, so I could see you sometimes. For now all I get are my crows. Every day they are there. And I love them, and they are the one thing I hold on to. When I see them I even say out loud 'I see you there' and I smile.

I bumped into an old neighbour last week at the gym. He'd heard the news and offered his condolences when he saw me. I was at a loss for words and feeling so defeated at the time. Not even knowing how to respond, I eventually just said 'I don't even know how it happened....'. Because I really don't. He looked at me and simply said, 'If you knew how it happened, it wouldn't have happened'. It's as simple and complicated, as mundane and profound as that.

I really really wish I knew, because then I would have prevented it.
Natey I wish I knew.

I love you my boy.
I will never forget you.

Monday, 27 March 2017

To an Angel

I met the beautiful and funky Shannon McLaughlin at the 2015 Midwifery & Birth Conference. She made an impression on me at the time as such a beautiful, grounded and free-spirited and seeming natural woman. 

I have attended 2 of these wonderful events. One when Natey was in-utero, and the last when he was a rambunctious 14-month old refusing to be tamed - while I told my story of 'Tragedy to Triumph'  culminating in the healing circle-of-life journey of his incredible birth. I had no idea my talk had much of an impact on anyone there, but it was important for me to tell it, and to express my gratitude at having had the opportunity he gave me. The wonderful people behind the Midwifery & Birth Conference were very much part of my journey and have held me then and still now. They kindly dedicated this, last, conference to Nathaniel's memory. 



I very sadly missed this phenomenal gathering of birthing people, which just happened last week-end - I wish I went, but I felt too vulnerable to trust myself to hold it together, and it wouldn't have been fair to the happy expectant pregnant ladies that would have been there. 

Anyway, Shannon attended again and heard about Natey's fate there... She wrote this beautiful piece after hearing about him. 

Thank-you Shannon. 


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

75 days...

Natey Boy, it's been 75 days since you left us.



That's 2 and a half months.
It feels too long. It feels like you were just here, and you could come back at any moment...
But you don't.

You are everywhere and nowhere.
I see photos of you all day. On my phone, in the house, on my laptop wallpaper, on Facebook.
We have a nook in the bedroom with all your 'stuff'. Rocks, stones, feathers, well loved cars, baby bear, your art from school, your favourite books (Remember how you used to giggle when I used to Read you the 'Bunny Pie' book?), the black feather I found.
I still say the things you'd say: 'Are you kidding me!?' 'Holy Cow!' 'A little more milkie please?' 'My school!' 'Dat boy whadup?' All these things make me smile and laugh.

I see your crows everyday. Not a day goes by that I don't see at least one, usually more. They bring me great comfort and make me smile each time I see one. They very often fly right over me.

But they are not you. Your photos are not you, you memories are not you.

And every now and again the enormity of the hole you have left in our house, in our lives, in our hearts really hits and feels so big. Too big to bear even. So big I can't let myself feel it completely yet. I can;t bear to think of all the potential and possibilities you had, and how much more you could have and should have got to be, get and give here.

I miss you baby boy. Life is just not the same without you in it. It's hard to find joy, and fun again my boy. We try to keep going to live #LongDays and to keep #DoingItForNatey, but it's hard.

I love you.
I am sorry
Please forgive me
Thank-you

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Natey's Red Cross Memorial Plaque

We were invited to visit the Red Cross Children's hospital and to tour the facilities and especially the cardiac unit. 

An in-memorium plaque was placed in the memorial garden at the Red Cross Children's hospital in honour of Natey and in thanks for the fund received in his name which will be used towards helping other children with Childhood Heart Disease. 

About R60 000 was donated in his name. We sincerely thank each and every one who donated and who helped save or better the life of another child.

 Natey's plaque was placed next to Doc Ollie's plaque. 


Us with Pauline, the Children's Trust donations coordinator.

Natey's Plaque

Doc Ollie and Natey's in-memorium plaques placed along-side each other


The hospital memorial garden


Cake (with stars!) & Sunflowers for the hospital staff.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

#DoingItForNatey

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. 



#DoingItForNatey is about remembering to be present, grateful, spontaneous, to live long days, to push yourself beyond your fears or self-imposed boundaries and limitations. Be who you are and who you want to be without inhibition or apology. 


I will be riding the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and hopefully also doing the Platteklip Challenge again this year both in support of SAEP and also #DoingItForNatey

For every breath that feels tough during the training and the actual ride, I will be grateful that I can breathe and I will push on, because he can't. And if I can raise some awareness and money for the Children's Hospital *at the same time that will be an extra bonus. I am already riding in the charity group in aid of SAEP (South African Education and Environment Project). But will add this to my reason to keep going...

But despite fund raising this is a cause to seize the day and make the most of your life. Do it for you and keep #DoingItForNatey.


* In honour of dearest Natey there is a donation drive to collect money in his name (Nathaniel Leonidas Thor Canter) for the Children's Hospital Trust, in order to help other little ones with Childhood Heart Disease to get the life saving treatment they need.

Grateful for generous nourishment

Someone who works for Andrew set up a meal train  to provide meals for us for when we went back to work and all the guests and visitors we'd had stopped.

This is an online system to coordinate a meal provision service for someone. "When a friend is in need, everyone asks "What can I do to help?" The answer is always to make a meal. When many friends make and deliver a meal, this is a meal train."

At first we were embarrassed and a little resistant to accept it. I mean it's not like we were ill or disabled. We were back at work, walking around and 'functioning' throughout the day, and acting 'fine' for goodness sakes.

But both Andrew and I soon realised that we were 'at work' more than actually working. And that we were not that productive or functional at all. Attention spans were (still are) short, our focus is scattered and unpredictable. Our memory and recall is unreliable. We are forgetful. We zone out. We are easily distracted. We get easily overwhelmed and we are more often than not day-dreaming or a bit emotional. Between this we are trying to juggle our actual real jobs and the responsibilities we have to our clients, companies and teams. So while everyone is being kind and patient and giving us lee-way, stuff does need to get done. By the end of the day of frankly 'keeping our shit together' in public at work, we are pretty exhausted physically and emotionally.

I found that I had no time, energy or inclination to cook by the end of all that, and more so I was almost incapable of going to the shops to do grocery shopping etc for a good month or more. Noisy hustle-bustle public spaces - like shops - actually made me frightened. The sensory overload actually made me fearful and feel like retreating and hiding away (fright or flight mode). I couldn't easily face it. I am only just now not panicked at the thought of having to go do some shopping, but I still take it really slow.

Then for over a month I had almost no appetite. I didn't feel like eating, and nothing tasted good to me either. I ate to keep my strength more than for any enjoyment.

All of this was contradicted with a feeling of duty and responsibility - and also wanting - to make sure the boys and Andrew are looked after, properly fed and nurtured. To make them feel valued and to support them through their grieving process. It was a bit of a conflict in me; I didn't care about eating myself, but felt I had to look after everyone, but I also didn't really have the energy to bother. It was a weird and unpleasant tug-o-war inside me.

So when Andrew found me sitting at home literally having eaten an old discarded crust of bread for dinner one Friday night (ah Fridays those weekly reminders of what happened)... he decided the Meal Train would not only be welcome, but actually probably practically necessary for us at the time. And so he graciously and gratefully accepted.

It is such a marvelously practical way to coordinate and help people in need - whether due to a new baby, illness, injury, a death or any reason why someone would need help with meals. For the past month or so we have been blessed with kindness, care, generosity and nurturing nourishment in the form of a hearty home cooked meal each week-night. We have had curries, lasagnas, pasta bakes, picnics, quiches, pies, chicken, paella etc. All lovingly made and delivered by friends and colleagues.

I am so grateful for the wonderful people who have helped us so much during this terribly hard time.


It has given us room to breathe. Space to be still and to think and feel. Time to talk. And very real actual nourishment to give us the strength and energy to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other and to keep #DoingItForNatey.

I'll be forever grateful.
I hope to be able to pay this act of kind service back one day. When in a situation where you want to say 'How can I help?' chances are providing a meal is a really good way to do just that. Remember this.

Sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed.