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Monday, October 15, 2018

Eight weeks ...


it's a rollercoaster, and having experienced it before doesn't make it any easier

when you only have a short time together, every minute, hour, day and week matters

today, tonight, is the eight week anniversary of the last night I saw my love alive, the night I went to sleep with my head resting on his chest and woke to him gone, and all that entailed

it is also the eight week anniversary, prior to that, of the first time I fell asleep listening to his heartbeat, and woke surprised and stunned that I had met him

because we had such a short time together, the reaction of others to my grief is amplified, as they expect me to "get over it" or assume my pain doesn't matter, because they knew him longer

his UK family has been incredibly kind, and understanding

others, less so, but we also process our grief in different ways, and I need to honour my love by honouring others' passage through this

he would expect me to be better than I often feel as I go through this

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Six weeks out ...

... or is that six weeks in?

Six weeks out from losing him, six weeks into life without him.

Six weeks since I lost my love and the pain is still razor-sharp and raw.

I am sleeping better, finally, and talk with him before bed each night and awake accepting that he is no longer there but feeling blessed to have known him.

He was the gentlest, most generous, loving and empathetic person I have ever met, not just to me but to all he met, and I would gladly have given my life in place of his.

That's not a deal I was offered.

I feel honoured to have been with him in his last days, to have brought light and laughter back to his life and to be moving with him toward health and happiness. To have cooked together for each other and our friends, to have amused those same friends with teasing each other and them.

And as hard as it was, I'm glad I was with him at the end, to know he passed so peacefully and without any pain and to be able to assure his family of that. I hate to think of what would have been if we had not met.

But the knife stabs of missing him are continuous - each time I type the day's date, as I do multiple times each working day, I think of the date we met, the date I lost hime, the dates of his funeral services here and in the UK.

The knife twists savagely each evening, as I leave work and realise freshly that I am not going home to meet him, and never will again. The emptiness of evenings and weekends is a yawning and inevitable void that I have to consciously cross each day, each week.

I'm doing my best not to fall into that void, as I know that is not what he would want.

I'm spending evenings walking on the beach, or sitting watching the waves, or walking beside the river on my way home. I haven't done that in a while, being in a hurry to get to him instead.

I'm doing yoga, and checked out a gym nearby where I'll probably start a six-week kettle bell challenge next month. That will give me a positive focus for my evenings and  weekends as well as tiring me in a way yoga doesn't.

I've stopped drinking for now - I was being careful not to drink much after he passed but was going to my local simply for human company. I've always been content with my solitude but since losing him, I've needed kind words and friendly faces.

I'm still stopping by those places, but ordering soda water instead of wine, as I know alcohol won't make me feel better. But I still want to see our friends, to laugh with them and share stories of him. I don't think I'll ever tire of that.

As much as I grieve for him, I grieve for our unrealised future and unfulfilled plans. I know he is at peace and suffered no pain, but I also know how much it would pain him to see how those who love him are suffering.

I'm trying to respect those who were part of his entire life, and and those who shared much longer parts of it than I but find myself inadvertantly bumping up against them at times as we all negotiate our way forward while not knowing what that entails. The lines of communication are unclear and it is my nature to ask for clarification when that occurs, but that is not the way of those he has loved far longer than I.

I'm doing my best to move forward carrying his wairua with me and and to honour him by doing so.

Step by painful step, day by painful day.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Others' reactions ...

When my love and I had been together a few weeks and were already deeply in, he mentioned that he was getting approached a lot more by other women, "hit on" as he put it.

His rescue greyhound was a great conversation starter and I seldom walked him without striking up conversations with others, but these were more than just conversations, he said.

I replied that I wasn't surprised, that when one is loved and in love, their whole demeanour changes. Confidence increases, there's an air of contentment that was previously missing and a new spring in the step.

It wouldn't have hurt either that he had this constant, slightly goofy grin after we got together that made his already handsome face even more lovable.

One's whole demeanour changes with grief also, but not for the better, I would say.

So I'm surprised to find myself being hit on a lot lately, as if there's something attractive about my new vulnerability. The flirtation usually stops as soon as I mention my partner recently died, but it's something I never expected.

Also something I don't understand.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


in my head
i play a supercut of us
the magic we gave off
all the love we had and lost 
and in my head
the visions never stop
these ribbons wrap me up
but when i reach for you
there's just a supercut
Lorde, Supercut from Melodrama 

Grief colours everything.

The most mundane activities are imbued with meaning - catching a tram, shopping, cooking (I haven't really managed cooking for the past month, it was something we did together and for friends. I'm concentrating on feeding myself regularly instead).

More important matters than bare survival have greater meaning.

Music was a large part of our time together.

My love would quiz me on who songs were by, but his background was Brit boy bands so I seldom knew.

I did recognise Spandau Ballet but that was from my misspent late teens as a roadie for touring cover bands in Aotearoa.

I tried to expand his musical knowledge with a Kiwi flavour, concentrating on meaningful lyrics, harmonies and the good old "Maori strum."

I introduced him to Dave Dobbyn (Welcome Home), the Mutton Birds (Dominion Road), and the Runga gals.

He already knew Crowded House and Better Be Home Soon, and we were talking about him going home to recover with his family.

The brevity of our time together makes everything a Supercut, although not in the literal sense.

There's no need to pick the best clips of our time together - that was our time together.

'cause in my head I do everything right
when you call I'll forgive and not fight
because ours are the moments I play in the dark
we were wild and flouorescent
come home to my heart

I took him to Breakup Karaoke at the premiere for The Breaker Upperers 

I was relying on my dear friend Zach to be there, but he forgot, so it was only me.

"Lovely" (his pet name for me when it wasn't "helpie horsie") got up to sing first, because somebody has to.

I came back to him telling me my voice was awful, but he loved my spirit. I could live with that.

i'm someone you maybe might love
i'll be your quiet afternoon crush
be your violent overnight rush
make you crazy over my touch

I also introduced him to Lorde.

I miss him so very, very much

Monday, September 17, 2018

an indifferent God

another trigger warning, another in "Essays on Grief"

I have a friend from Aoteara/New Zealand who was a Buddhist monk for nigh on 30 years,

Then left.

Not because he had lost faith in a supreme being, but because he had come to believe that supreme being was indifferent to the fate of humans.

Personally, I wonder if whatever god or gods there are get bored with their omnipotence and omniscience, and just mess around with us to relieve that boredom.

So I guess I'm at the phase at railing at god (or God, if we allow upper case) but that's hard to do when I don't really believe.

I kinda want to hedge my bets, and ask a putative god to look after my love, but that seems false and manipulative.

I'm not sure that is a god/God I wish to believe in.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lists ...

My beloved loved making lists.

Ticking things off those lists, not so much, but he made wonderful lists.

Early in our relationship, I asked him to make a list of what he wanted. A few days later, he pulled two sheets of paper from his pocket and commenced what was more like a job interview for the position of being his partner.

Future plans, where I wanted to live, how to introduce me to his son to be sure we liked each other.

Not inappropriate considering his former job as a high-flying management consultant.

The evening before he died, we made a list together. I wrote as by then it had become a joke between us that I was his much-needed Personal Assistant, his "helpie horse" as we termed it.

It's time to start making my own lists.

Make the bed

I sent this video to my love, to inspire and encourage him. He changed the lives of many people, not only mine.

(Though he did have a little insecurity about Navy SEALs and my military networks.)

It's Saturday, so I've begun by not only making my bed, but making it with fresh linen. That doesn't seem much if you don't know raw grief, but is a huge achievement if you do.

Upgrade the job

The reasons for taking a non-challenging job no longer apply, so it's time to step up to something more challenging. I like the company I work for and my colleagues have nursed me through the most difficult time of my life so I'm looking at options there first.

I'm also looking at other options, mostly working in communications for organisations that deal with mental health and other challenges. It's a field we both wanted to work in, and the few disagreements my love and I had were over how much of other people's pain he took on himself.


Moving back to my apartment has been hard, and has made me realise it's not where I want to be.

I think I'll move to Richmond, as we intended to do together, but there's no urgency to do so. My lease here runs til February, so I have till then to make a decision.

That decision needs to include whether I stay in Melbourne, or even Australia, where I don't have much of a support system, and work on building one.

I'm giving myself until February for that decision also.


There's one more box to put away, but it's full of very personal things so I can only handle one piece at a time, and then I have to decide what to do with it. There's no timeline for that as each is different and unexpected.

There are personal letters and notes, both from and to him, and other items that spark deeply visceral feelings.

That may also take until February, or perhaps beyond.


Forgive the world, forgive whatever supreme beings or consciousness are so capricious as to bring the perfect person into my life, have him love me for who I am and love who I am, then snatch him away so quickly.

Forgive my love, for leaving before we had really begun. For passing so peacefully and so at peace but so much sooner than he should have.

I envy him his end - going to bed with positive plans for the future, and in the loving embrace of the partner he had chosen to venture forth with. But his race ended painfully soon, and I was in it for a marathon, not a sprint.

We'd been joking about which nursing home I would put him in. He liked the idea of the Club facilities at Regis, particularly the aperitif trolley.

Forgive myself, for all the "what ifs" and "if onlys", and understand I could not have changed the fact of his leaving, but I was able to change the manner of it and his final weeks.

Learn to value money

This seems counterintuitive, and counter to my very essence, but one thing I have learned from my love is that money actually matters.

That it can be used as a tool for good as well as evil.

That the scripture speaks of the love of money as the root of evil, not the money itself.

I've lived my life on social currency, adventure stories and strong-forged friendships.

My love's passing, in a manner I envisioned for myself, makes me realise it may not be so gentle for me (is unlikely to be, if the rest of my life is anything to judge by) and I need to put things in place for that.

Or board a yacht and sail to Palmerston atoll where my friend Sherrin is the school Principal, and become an unofficial writer-in-residence and chronicle the locals' stories.

Be an illegal migrant in the last place anyone would expect an illegal migrant to choose.

Channel my inner Hemingway, but in an Irish-Maori Wahine Toa manner.

Not such a bad idea, when I think of it, but I need to view money as a tool in doing that also. There are friends and backers I need to repay.


This is so hard and so important - I need to honour him by continuing to play.

Laugh with friends, share silly stories, sit with Dave and admire the beautiful people walking past and point out those he might have missed.

Take my time deciding if I want to continue with my love's sport, and I am on a practice team today.

The new coach is being my ideal of what a US High School coach would be and championing and protecting me as the club implodes around us.

Steve would be shaking his head at the shenanigans.

Eat, Sleep, Yoga

I'm having difficulty eating and sleeping, even with regular yoga practice.

I probably need more exercise. Yoga aids my mental health but doesn't exhaust me.

I'm seeing my doctor on Tuesday. Ironically, exactly four weeks from the appointment my love had with him, the morning he did not wake.

I'll ask his advice and listen.

He's not a miracle worker, but he has been for me. I was hoping he would be for my beloved also.

I plan to cook tomorrow. Prepare a week of lunches, make a soup or stew, bake cookies or brownies as a thank you to my colleagues for bearing with me and being kind to me.


Part of the planned move was setting aside a room for a joint office, for me to write in the early mornings and him to work when he woke.

There are a couple of Children's Books I had in mind, including the tale of how Raf found his tribe.

 but now, it's time to play ...

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Approaching Week Three

Trigger warning: I write because I am a story teller and a chronicler, and that is how I process the important things in life, and this has import on every level.

Being a writer and researcher, I know how to find information. But I've been surprised to find the "Five Stages of Grief" have been upgraded to the "Seven ..." (I'm also working on a new ThinkPad my beloved gave me that has the @ and " transposed so forgive me if I get them mixed.)

So, I'll try to take them one by one, in the upgraded version.


Yeah, we're all going through this.

I can only imagine what this feels like for everyone else as I was there and understood instantly but am still in denial. I wake from dreams of us together and have to face, again, that he is gone.

As for shock - I've had to force myself to eat as each time I take a bite of anything, I want to puke. I'm back at yoga, and thankful that my yoga community understands if I have tears streaming down my face as I practice.

It's really hard being in "the now" when all you want is in the past.


Lots of this also.

What could I have done better? What could I have done differently? Would it have helped if I'd been less understanding?

I think I'm dealing with this one - the damage wasn't on my watch and he was improving with me. I have to hold on to how much happier and positive I made him.

But also be careful not to blame others (see next step, Anger).


This one is so, so hard.

Of course I'm angry, as is everyone who loved this sweet, incredibly lovable man.

I've had this anger directed at me, I've been "handled", I've been disrespected and belittled and swept under the carpet.

Being Irish-Maori, my reflex is to fight back and bite back, but that is no way to honour him.

Taking the high road, loving him, is what honours him..

As for bargaining, I realised when I woke that he was dead.

There was no bargain to be made.


I'm leaving this alone for now.

I need to step away from this right now, to care for myself

OK, I'm back. Still waking around 0300 each morning to the sadness that is missing him.

The loneliness of knowing he existed and how good we were together is deeper than any loneliness I could have imagined before knowing him.

We had all too brief a time together. He died exactly eight weeks to the day that we met, but we spent most of those hours together. We understood each other, from our first crazy conversation to finishing each others sentences and responding to others in the same manner.

Being such a new relationship, we were in deep and wallowing in our joy in finding each other, when we had both given up on finding love again. We had occasional disagreements, but were very much in a honeymoon phase, planning for a healthy, happy life together.

Most of my memories of and with him were happy, and almost all were positive. I only wish we'd had time to become a little bored with each other but that's a luxury we didn't get.

As for depression, I'd very recently been diagnosed with mineral imbalances and a DNA strand mutation that present as depression, and prescribed activated minerals to supplement what my body was unable to get from food. With the agreement of my doctor, I stopped taking antidepressants, although the doctor warned that the withdrawal would be horrendous.

It was, and Steve helped me through it, the way he tried to help everyone he met.

He had an appointment the morning he died with that same doctor as I hoped the answer might be as simple and complex for him also.

The fact that I'm so deeply sad and broken but not "depressed" is proof that the mineral supplements are working, but I'm being self-aware and monitoring my mood and have reached out for bereavement counselling.

Yoga also helps.


This seems a long way down the path, and it's a lonely path to walk.


I am working on this already.

I took a low-stress low-paid job where I could help people but leave the job behind at the end of the day so I could focus on our relationship and trying to help Steve recover.

That's no longer my focus so I need more challenge in my day, while still helping others.

I've applied for something that has purpose and would also bring all my skills into play, and a dear cousin has told me of a possibility in her small town at the gateway to the Outback. I'm willing to talk with the publisher of the local paper there.

Back again, life keeps getting in my way. I don't want to overanalyse that statement right now.


At this point, I have lost sight of hope. I can possibly see acceptance and peace somewhere further along this journey, but hope seems far too, well, hopeful.

Monday, September 3, 2018

on grief and privacy in the digital age ...

Two weeks before my beloved died, a dear friend lost her love in a freak boating accident in the United States.

I learned about it via Facebook, in a raw message from her as they continued to search for him and she prayed he would come home safely.

My beloved and I discussed it, and he initially expressed discomfort with sharing such news via social media. Although he was almost 10 years younger than me and studied computer science at university, my career in journalism and constant travel meant I was much more adept with social media than he.

I told him  I had been troubled the first time I received news of a death via Facebook but over the years since had come to realise that, once immediate family and closest friends were notified, it was the most efficient way of notifying others, without the pain of having to go through that one by one.

Memorial pages and accounts are also a way for those left behind to keep their loved ones' memories alive, in the same way writing keeps my memories alive. My young cousins often visit their late father's page to leave him messages and tell him what they are doing. A dear friend still leaves messages on a chat app for another dear friend we lost this year.

It's the same as visiting a grave and talking to those interred within but, as we tend to travel more these days, it's a way of taking that grave with us.

He considered it from that perspective and agreed.

And then to privacy, and we all have different perspectives on that. As a writer and journalist, I am accustomed to living in the public arena, so I try to choose my words carefully in whatever I write on social media.

Others are more guarded and protective of their privacy. My beloved was incredibly open, honest and forthright so my first blog post after his death was also open, honest and forthright.

In the rawness of my new loss, I failed to take into account that his family may not wish to be that open and I linked the post to his Facebook page. They asked that I remove it.

Out of respect for them, and the enormity of their loss also, I complied, and have since refrained from referring to him by name in my posts, but writing is how I best process anything and this rawness and trauma requires a lot of processing.

I'm learning we all go through the phases in different orders and at our own times. Some leap directly to anger, at the universe in general, while I am still working through denial, despite being there for his passing and the aftermath of medical personnel and police.

I still wake in the early hours of each day expecting to find him beside me and each day have to come to the realisation that will never happen again.

I process that pain by writing about him, by writing to him, by sharing stories about him not only with our mutual friends here but with my support network around the world.

I wish there was a page I could visit to read such stories from his many friends whom I never got to meet or talk to.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


My love,

I miss you so much. I constantly notice things and file them away to tell you at the end of the day to make you laugh, then remember that won't happen.

I miss your love for your son and the pride you had in him and I'm so sorry that the first time I will get to meet him is today as we say goodbye to you.

If we speak, I will follow the plan we agreed on and simply be one of his Dad's many friends. He will always come first in any future dealings I have with your family.

I miss the constant missed calls and voicemails because you could never quite understand work hours and phone rules.

I miss the intelligent conversations and the silly humour and the huge amount of care you had for everyone, especially the damaged souls you met at the clinic.

I miss lying beside you as you talked at length with your mother and sister and I ache for the pain they are also suffering and the anger they must feel at the world right now.

I miss the future we had planned together and feel lost at how to move forward without you, but will do so one step at a time knowing that is what you would expect of me. As we discussed with your recovery, baby steps grow exponentially to become giant strides. I only wish we had met earlier to start those baby steps while there was still time.

I am devastated by your passing and the trauma of being there through it, but feel blessed to have brought happiness back into your life and to have been there when you and your family most needed me.

I'm so glad it wasn't hard for you - you fell asleep knowing how much you were loved and having spent the evening planning your son's future, your recovery and our future together, and you were finally at peace with the steps you needed to take for all of that. That you didn't wake is heartrending but for those of us left behind, not for you.

I know you had lost faith and you know I distrust religion, but I believe we carry those we love with us forever, and you will always be the gentlest, kindest, most loving part of who I am.

I am honoured to have been your love.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

on Kate, and Anthony, and Kurt, and mental health

Let's talk about depression and mental health issues.

Because we need to talk about them more, and realise that we all have flaws, we are all human, but there's a huge societal pressure to present a bright sunny exterior to the world at large. To 'keep up appearances' and seem to be coping.

And much of the time, all we really need is a kind word, a shoulder to lean on, a friend to listen.

That has become harder in the age of digital, when it is all too easy to notice your differences with other people than your similarities. When the world is increasingly polarised as us and them, rather than us together.

I know of which I speak. I'm a survivor of suicide. My much-loved mother didn't know how to love herself and the void she left in the world affects all I, and everyone who loved her, do.

Every day, for better and for worse.

I've been visited by the dark dog of despair myself, and thankfully have had friends and family, whanau and whanautanga to rescue me from myself, plus a strong, strong survival instinct that comes from being an Irish Maori.

We don't die easily.

I have also recently been incredibly fortunate to be put in touch with a doctor who looked at me more holistically, did a raft of blood tests and diagnosed a mineral disorder that prevents the neurotransmitters in the brain from metabolising seratonin - the happy hormone.

It's a disorder that even many medical practitioners don't know about - actually, being an Irish Kiwi, I had to overdo that also. Two disorders and a mutated gene.

Methylation Disorder, and because I'm me, I have managed to be both under- and over-methylated, plus Pyrrole Disorder, plus a mutation of the MTHFR gene, that interrupts my absorption of folate.

As I said, I'm lucky at this stage of my life to learn all this, and understand why I never felt good enough, smart enough, brave enough ... never 'enough'.

This is from a gal who has sailed small yachts across oceans, hitch-hiked in Kenya, dined with heads of state and ridden a totally unsuitable motorcycle on a wild and veering path across the United States. But always felt unworthy.

Now, with the daily addition of activated minerals to my body, I no longer feel that way. But I understand those who do, as I also understand those who suffer alongside them.

I wish my mother had the help I'm getting. It may have made the world of difference.

I also wish Anthony and Kate and Kurt had the layers of loving friends I have, but they lived at a level where it is hard to know who is genuine and who is with you for what it can do for them.

It's too easy to get disconnected from friends and conversation at that level, especially when your livelihood depends on other people's perceptions.

One thing this experience has taught me, now that I've stopped judging myself, is not to take on anyone else's judgments either.

I still have issues - everybody has issues - but I no longer feel responsible for the state of the world, or the Donald (as a child, my nemesis was Idi Amin, and I would scheme how to erase him while lying in my bunk bed at night) or for trying to be 'normal'.

My mantra now:

If I could achieve all I have in my life while feeling unworthy, what am I capable of now I believe in myself.


Monday, May 7, 2018