Because Samuel died suddenly, unexpectedly, there were a lot of things left undone. And because it was the first week of the school holidays; the week before Christmas, there were a lot of things that involved Samuel.
So instead of having a little bit of time to think about how we would deal with these issues as they came up, there were several to deal with, one on top of the other. And we had to decide - quickly - whether to go ahead or not.
Christmas Day was just three short days after we lost Sam. The natural instinct was to curl up in a ball and shut out the world, but we had Oliver to think about. To a six year old, Christmas is everything, the biggest event of their year. We couldn't take that away from him, he'd just lost his brother.
So we decided we'd try to keep it as 'normal' as we possibly could. As many of my friends already know, I'm not a big fan of Christmas at the best of times. So needless to say, I found it very difficult to muster any enthusiasm for the day.
But we did it anyway. As I mentioned in another post, Oliver was over-the-top in his enthusiasm, and seemed to enjoy himself. My wonderful parents brought the whole lunch shebang with them, and we had a few visitors throughout the day, so we stumbled through and it was OK.
New Year's Eve
Normally the week between Christmas and New Year is fairly quiet. Unfortunately we had to hold a funeral in that time. (Some time I would love to share my memories and thoughts about that day, but not today).
Our New Year celebrations in the last few years have been a bit quiet. We had a party a few years ago that no one turned up to (yes I know, lesson learned) and since then have just spent it at home with a good friend or two. In the last couple of years, Samuel had invited a friend or two over, which was nice: too young to drink, but old enough to have good, clean, independent fun.
This year, we decided to revisit a New Year celebration from a long time ago. One that was accompanied by good memories.
When I was pregnant with Sam, Anthony and I went with Sally down to the river. We had a lovely evening talking and watching the storms (I can't remember much else - it was 14 years ago and the intervening years have been quite eventful).
So on New Year's Eve 2009, we packed Oliver and the dogs up in the car and went down there again. Sally and Jack came with us, and we got our feet wet. I won't say it was lots of fun. But it was nice.
Last year, we had a great holiday at a very nice resort park in beautiful Merimbula. The boys and I camped there for a week, and Anthony joined us for a couple of nights (he had just started a new job and couldn't get the time off).
We liked it so much we booked again. It was paid for before summer even started, we were that keen! Samuel loved it there (we had stayed in Merimbula a few other times before that trip). He was a real water baby, and loved the beach.
So when mid January rolled around this year, we had to make the decision: go and have the holiday or cancel it and stay here?
Well we did go. We talked about the pros and cons, and decided that:
- Sam would not approve of us not going;
- If we didn't go on this one, we probably wouldn't go the next time;
- It would be good to get away.
But it did make a difference, we were very comfortable. I think we probably would have left early if we were in a tent. We loved it so much, we are planning on buying one (just gotta save the $18000-odd bucks we need!)
It was hard, especially in the evenings where there wasn't much to do except sit and talk or reflect. There were a few tears (actually there were a lot), but it was also a good chance for us to talk about the good memories we had of Sam. Not having 'regular life' going on around us, not having the TV or the Playstation going all the time, not worrying about work or the weeds in the garden or the pets, just sitting, talking under the beautiful starlit sky.
During the days we kept busy.
We spent a lot of time at the beach or in the pool, and just did things together. We must have collected about a million seashells, as you can see in Oliver's bulging shirt:It would have been better if Sam was there too, but it was still nice. A good way to bring out the smiles...
Them Crooked Vultures
Another thing that I was looking forward to was going to a concert with Sam. It was going to be his first, but James pipped me to the post when he took Sam to Green Day. Not that I mind, in fact I'm very grateful that he did.
As many of you know, I'm a big Foo Fighters fan, more particularly Dave Grohl, who I think is a very talented musician (and very nice looking too). I also have loved Led Zeppelin for a long time, but was a little young when they toured Australia (actually, I think their last tour was 1972, so I wasn't actually born yet, but I have heard rumours that they are reforming and will tour again!)
As I have talked about before, Samuel and I share a musical bond, and thankfully he liked both of these bands as well. So when I heard that Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones (bass player from Led Zeppelin) and Josh Homme (singer/songwriter most famous for his band Queens of the Stone Age) were forming a band, I was excited.
Anthony, who has been my faithful companion at many concerts and festivals over the years, was not interested in seeing Them Crooked Vultures, but it was too great an opportunity to pass up, so I decided to buy tickets. This was before this band had even released one song mind you; I was basing my judgement on the talents of the other three bands. Samuel said "I'll go, mum", and I thought: what a great idea! So I bought him a ticket.
In the mean time, they released an album, and we both liked it (thankfully) and we were looking forward to going.
So as the gig approached I had to decide (again) whether it would be better to go or stay behind. In the end I decided once again that Samuel would be pretty peeved if I didn't, so I asked James to join me.
We had a good trip together. There are 12 years between James and I, which he never fails to highlight. "It'll be like going to concert with my mum" was one lovely comment. But we did have a good time, and I think I had convinced him by the end of the night that I was cooler than he thought. Mind you, when I was happy to wait 1.5 hours to catch a glimpse of Dave and the others at the stage door, in the hope that I would get to say hi, maybe tell him about Sam (only to have them jump straight into a waiting car and take off without so much as a "Hi"), he may have suspected I have a creepy side. (Wait until I tell you about the emails I wrote to Sam's favourite musicians - I suggest you reserve judgement on my sanity until then, dear reader!)
But it was a great gig. I haven't been to a small gig for a while, and managed a great spot at the front (and off to the side) where I could see Dave play the drums and hear the awesome music too.
There were a couple of teary moments: when the support act finished and the lights came up, I saw all the excited people and thought about how much Sam would have enjoyed the experience. I cried a bit then (James was in the toilet and came back saying "I can't leave you alone for a minute", but was very nice and gave me a hug), and then during Sam's favourite songs "Scumbag Blues" and "Bandoliers" (well they were getting the most playtime on his iPod), I shed tears.
I had made us special t-shirts, with a picture of Sam on the front. I felt very proud wearing it. I had hoped that I would be able to get it signed, but have to make do with a patch I bought. The shirt will be coming with me to every concert now. I'd hoped to take my camera in to document the night, but 'The Band" wouldn't allow cameras. Cameras on phones ok, but not cameras. Oh well.
And maybe the hardest one?
The day Sam died, he and my mum and I were going to go and see "Masterpieces From Paris", an exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. I had always wanted to see 'Starry Night' up close (it, and the other, more famous 'Starry Night' painting are among my favourite Van Goghs), and was pretty excited about it being in Canberra. I was surprised when Sam wanted to come.
Well we didn't go that day, and for a long time I didn't know if I could. But mum and I went yesterday, and I'm glad I did. It was hard (and they always are), but I'm glad.
It's funny, we've said that for all of these events: it was hard but I'm glad I did. I guess that's what the healing is all about.