Christmas 2013 & The Port……….

So I love coming down to the Port…. It was where Trenton grew up. He adored this place, and everyone from here. His Dad bought an old bakery, well over a hundred years old, and he slowly converted it to a home. He and Trent’s Mum lived here back in the seventies and eighties, and it became his studio to paint in, and eventually the gallery it is today. Trenton’s Dad is a painter, and a damn fine one. He won a scholarship to live and study in London for a year in 1971, and later on he, Sue and Trent went back to Europe to live for a while. Trenton spoke of flashes of memories of this time, and remembers it as a really happy time. At some time in the early nineties Warren bought a bundle of nice old frames from a lady who collected them from elderly people or deceased estates. He used to pay about ten dollars for a bunch of them, some with paintings still in them. Most of them were worthless, but one that he particularly liked, he hung in the kitchen for a couple of years. It was a few years later that he noticed some pictures in an art magazine done by a convict artist, and he realized that he had one that looked very similar. He ended up selling it for $22,000, and managed to do a huge extension on the home that added a huge formal lounge and dining room, a laundry and toilet and an upstairs parent retreat complete with spa bath! When we come here, we feel spoiled, like we’re visiting an historic B&B… it’s absolutely beautiful, and Trenton was so happy to bring people here and show it off. He said he’d never sell, and used to tear up at the thought of ever losing one of his parents. We both did actually, we knew we were heading towards the age where it becomes more common, and with friends recently losing theirs, it only made it seem more of a reality. We both wondered how each of us would cope. God life is a cruel bitch sometimes.
In Port Albert there are many family traditions that I hope continue for as long as we visit. . We always have a BBQ in either the Tarra Bulga National Park or at Woodside Beach. Tarra Bulga is a beautiful area in Sth Gippsland with streams and waterfalls running through a rain forest. We used to bring our own barbie and have an open fire in a rustic old hut, which was just lovely. There are photos somewhere of Rubes there as a three year old wearing Trent’s giant jumper with the sleeves rolled up, and Poppy was a month old chubby baby. They are such awesome memories….. Woodside Beach is a gorgeous surf Beach about 40 mins from The Port, and there is a BBQ hut and playground there where we eat, before heading onto the beach for a swim or a walk. This year when I went there post Trenton, I bawled my eyes out the entire time we were there….. it’s really hard to force yourself to do the things that were clearly your Hubby’s favourite things on Earth to do, but without them by your side.
Chrissy morning was gut wrenching. I held it together while the Santa pressies were excitedly unwrapped, and I took photos and video like I always would have with Trent. Mum and Dad stayed Christmas Eve as I didn’t feel ready to go it alone just yet…. They have been beyond incredible through this time, and I’m not sure I’d be standing without them to be honest. The girls were an absolute nightmare the day before… so I guess they at least got it out before Christmas Day… although Poppy was an emotional wreck on Chrissy night at the Trenton family Christmas. She just couldn’t keep it together and kept bursting into tears for Daddy. Between her, Sue, Lex and I, we cried as many tears as we downed drinks to soothe the pain. I know I keep saying that Trent had so many fave days of the year, but I swear Chrissy was the big one. He adored seeing the extended family, and prided himself on his speech making abilities cheersing everyone for any old thing all night…… “Here’s to you, here’s to me, here’s to the trees, here’s to the beer!” Oh and of course he’d have at least one deep and meaningful conversation with most of the family members during the course of the night. I guess he was famous for that in every aspect of his life….. friends and family alike. I find it impossible to believe that I will not receive any drunken poetry texted to me at three in the morning again…. or have him dragging me into the bedroom during a party to remind me that I was his, and that he would still give up everything else in his life to be by my side nearly nine years into our relationship….. and that he’d die for his girls. We always said on our ten year wedding anniversary that we’d renew our vows together, and then have the party of all parties with everyone we knew, with me being able to get shitfaced this time, on account of not being pregnant. That’s how much we adored each other. That’s why this will slowly kill me in every way, because most people don’t find this kind of love in a lifetime, and yet I did….. only to have it torn from my grasp. And way to damn early…
There was just so much that we still needed to experience together.

Chrissy without……

Yesterday was the first of my two Christmas days without Trent. We went up to the cousins farm in Yea, and by all rights had a great day and night away. The girls particularly loved it, feeding the calf, riding the tractor, collecting eggs, hooning around on my nephews motorbike and four wheeler…. Rubes loved spending the whole time outdoors. On the way there Pops was writing on the magnadoodle and asked if she could add Daddy to the list of people going, because he would be going along in her heart. She often says such simple, yet extraordinarily deep things. Especially for a six year old. We turned up late as I got myself worked up into a state packing, preparing the salad and bathing and getting the kids ready. I think sub consciously I just wasn’t ready to go. The fam were amazing as usual, and they made it as easy as possible for me. I really did have a beautiful time…. it’s just that I felt hollow inside. I kept picturing him like he was two years ago when we were last there…. laughing at the girls as they tore open their pressies, hanging with the boys….. napping on the couch for something different. What I’d give to have an argument with him right now about him always falling asleep at my family events. We were both pumped about staying over this year so we could both drink, and were hoping my sisters and their partners would stay too as we never got to have everyone all together. Chrissy was one of our favourite times, neither of us ever wanting to miss our family Christmas… hence the reason we decided two years ago to have ours the weekend before each year. This coming Wednesday I have to tackle his family Christmas without him. I feel sick at the thought of it…. how will I hold it together in front of the girls? I know everyone will be crying at some point… He might have been the most loved friend around, but his family adored him. Inevitably he’d make some ridiculous speech at some point, and make everyone laugh. His cousins and Aunt an Uncle just wont be the same. And of course we’re all there already anyway…… It fucking sucks, and there’s no easy way through it. Everyone keeps telling me next year, new year, new life etc etc…… I didn’t ask for this new life, nor do I bloody want it. How can next year be better? If no one else dies it will be better, but he’ll still be gone…..

After the event……

Trent and I, luckily, had talked about what we wanted done to our bodies if we died. In fact we all had. Rubes was the first to say he should be buried under a tree at Port Albert where he grew up. It was tough to put forward these ideas 24-48 hours after he died…. especially since I could barely get my head around the fact that he had. It still feels like a bad dream…… or the worst nightmare you’ve ever had that you’re slapping yourself to wake from. Its pretty easy to think about what you want and what you’d do in “those” circumstances…. but actually making the decision is very different. I don’t know what propelled me through that week, but I was like a driven woman that couldn’t or wouldn’t stop until everything was sorted. The funeral director shat me.. she behaved how she was supposed to, said the things that needed to be said, pretended to understand.. yet she couldn’t hide her disgust when I said I wanted a cardboard coffin. I didn’t want any religious undertone in the ceremony…. in fact I didn’t want a ceremony at all, just people talking about their lives with Trent. I didn’t want his body to be the centre of our funeral, which is why we opted to have a memorial instead, and focus on the people sharing their love for him, and not of their mate in a box. Trent and I had lost my Uncle in the year leading up to his passing. It was a really sad ending for him, he couldn’t eat or drink for the last six months of his life, or smoke….. which were his three favourite things to do. One time when we were visiting, he mouthed that I should buy the girls a drink with his money, so we went to the vending machine and got three soft drinks. When I got back to the hospital bed, he snatched my coke and started sculling it…. but he had had a tracheotomy and had a hole in his neck with a giant tube coming out of it…. the coke hit the tube and poured out of him, so I’m not sure he got any in… but I can imagine just tasting it for the first time in months was enough to get him through the next few hours happily…… What a fucking shit way of going? If you knew you were heading there, being holed up in a bed unable to talk, drink, eat or smoke…. having surgery after surgery after surgery and never recovering or healing. And all just to decide to not have any more treatment, and to die a week later. His death really hurt me…. Nan had died a few years before of Emphysema, and her last few years were attached to a tank to help her breathe. So I had it out with Trent about his weight and his smoking. We’d both gotten a little complacent with our health…. but after Barry, I begged him to stop. I let the girls beg him and try and make him feel guilty. I used every dirty trick because I didn’t want to lose him to something that could be avoided. As I’ve said in my past posts… my absolute worst nightmare was him dying and leaving me to raise the kids alone. How fucking unlucky can you be to have your worst nightmare become a reality? Back to the memorial……. I was very decisive in that week after he died. I didn’t want to waste money on a coffin that wouldn’t even be cremated with him. It wasn’t about the money, we both had just never understood why you’d pay four grand to then be taken out of it beforehand anyway….. I had heard a few years before about a recycled cardboard one that you could write on…… so that’s what we ordered, and that’s what we did. I’m sure that some people may have found that strange…. but my girls and I wrote stories, drew pictures, coloured in love hearts and fucking cried our eyes out as we decorated his coffin and wrote special messages for him to take, alongside his best mates and close family. It was, looking back, something that no child should ever have to do….. but they did it with such bravery and strength, that it brings me to tears to remember it. Everyone, even the non artists drew something.. silly, funny, sad….. didn’t matter because it was our way of saying goodbye, but without saying the words goodbye. I don’t remember the next couple of months. I literally don’t remember. I think we block out certain things to survive…. they were dark… I know that for sure. Everyone is waiting for you to fall to pieces. Every time you laugh, they’re waiting for you to not, and when you’re not, they’re waiting for you to fall down. You beat yourself up if you have a good hour, day, outing… but the fact is you’re lucky if you can just forget it long enough to get through a shift, to have a coffee with a mate, to read a book to your kids…. anything without falling apart. On the outside I have to seem okay, because two very screwed up girls are constantly looking at me to make sure I’m still there, still breathing, still going to hang around. Can you imagine going to bed and then never seeing your Dad alive again? Worse yet, only seeing him lying on the floor of his room fighting to breathe. I wonder how I’ll ever be o’kay again, but to be six and ten and have to witness it…… I can’t imagine. His mates must try and put on a brave face for me…. but I know every outing is different now. Every grand final day, jam night, gig, Soundwave, birthday doo, gaming night, Chrissy drinks, work drinks…. lets be honest, any kind of drinks, will be forever without it’s entertainment, it’s hilarity, it’s love filled deep and meaningfuls and it’s T-Dog. How the earth is still turning I will never know……..

The aftermath……

So I guess we wouldn’t be human without some changes in our world since Trent. The girls miss him like crazy and go between wanting to talk about it constantly, to not wanting to talk at all and turning photos around to face the wall. Poppy is so sad that she can’t cuddle him anymore. I think it was her favourite pastime…. she sleeps with a photo of the two of them right next to her face….. it’s so sad, and so beautiful. She says he lives in the moon, and has a job up there cleaning the joint up. She often tells me when I cry that he is in my heart always, and will look after us from there. Rubes has a very different view on it…. she worries about our future, and how she will cope growing up without a Dad. She doesn’t want to have her sweet sixteen without, and wonders who will walk her down the aisle. She tells me that she doesn’t want me to replace him, but that she does want to grow up with a male in the house. It seems a little too mature for a ten year old. She still won’t walk or fall asleep anywhere near the spot on my floor where he fell, and when she is tired and anxious, she has to ask a million questions about what happened. She needs to know step by step what he did, what the ambo’s did, what happened at the hospital, when his heart stopped…. if he felt pain etc etc. It’s very hard to answer but Ive certainly had to get good at it. Sunday night she started howling for him at bedtime, and at the beginning I didn’t know whether she was tricking me or not….. but it turned into a three hour long meltdown where she convinced herself that I was trying to kill her, and that somehow a million bugs had gotten under her skin and in her veins and she was scratching away at her entire body screaming at me to make it stop…… Not the most normal of situations to have to deal with, but with anxiety as severe as Rubes’, that is an entirely normal meltdown. No less exhausting however. Poppy is more clingy than normal, and Rubes has started begging me not to leave her at all. I can only imagine what will happen when we start back next year with two new teachers, and two new classrooms full of children to get to know. And to top it all off, we move on Friday the 31st of Jan, and they start back at school on Wed the 29th of Jan….. It’s going to be a really crazy week.
At school you really feel the loss of a parent. Every day kids, particularly in prep are talking about Daddy this, and Daddy that….. It’s excruciating to overhear, and every story book has a Daddy character in it. It’s unavoidable I know, but so tough. I know in time it will get easier fr them, and for me… but there will always be people talking about similar things and not realising that we went through such a thing, and it was the toughest thing ever. I guess it’s a part of learning to deal….. we’re learning, but damn I wish we didn’t have to….

My Hubby……

I loved being married. I was so proud of who I married too…. I’d often overhear couples speaking of their partners in a negative way, and I felt so lucky to be happy with mine. Trent and I always spoke about the fact that we’d gotten our “shit’ bits over and done with in our previous relationships… and so we were able to reap the rewards of what we’d learned from them. We had the most amazing wedding too…. It’s still the best wedding I’ve ever been too, and sure I’m clearly a little bias! We married on August 11th 2006 at Emu Bottom Homestead in Sunbury. It was the most incredible venue.. not the main homestead, but the old wool shed and slab hut that were built in 1854 from rough hewn red gum slabs, the main feature being a large stone fireplace where later on the meats were spit roasted and barbequed before being served from a fireside carvery. We married in front of the huge open fireplace in the slab hut, in front of a rip roaring fire and 130 family and friends. The song that I chose to walk in to, seeing as it was lit up by hundreds of candles and we needed something to set the mood, was Gorecki by Lamb. It was incredible walking in to see everyone we know standing , waiting… and there was Trent at the end standing proudly and nervously waiting for my five bridesmaids and 3 year old Ruby and I to walk in. I will never ever forget that moment, and I hope this memory stays with me forever. Mum and Dad walked Ruby and I in, and when we came around the bend and she saw Trent, she yelled out “Daddy…” and ran up the isle throwing herself into his arms…… The best part of this memory is that Trent took on Rubes when he met me, and up until the April of that year he was called Trent, or sometimes Daddy Trent. On Trent’s 30th birthday (the 8th April) we officially received the paperwork from Rob having changed her surname to ours… and he was beside himself. He said it was the best birthday present anyone could have ever given him…. The rest of us followed and the ceremony just flew by. We moved from the Slab Hut into the old wool shed where we ate and drank and listened to beautiful music played by a cool old guy on an acoustic guitar. There were more speeches than any wedding I’ve ever been to (Maybe more than his memorial) and the similarities between our lives became clear to everyone there. We adored the fact that we’d lived parallel lives…. in so many ways. It was not only the similar upbringing with the wonderful families, but the shenanigans we got up to. He was the loud crazy one of his friendship groups, and I was the same in mine. We were both very naughty in our teenage years, although he seemed to hide it well from his parents, where as mine was a tad more in your face…. (Sorry Mum and Dad.) Our lives had revolved around music and socializing… our friends were like family, and our family were like friends. We experimented with drugs, drank too much booze, skipped too much school and hung out with people we shouldn’t have. But we both knew our limits and we both pulled through it unscathed, where others did not. He was a country boy and I was ten minutes from the city, but we honestly could have come from the same womb. In the nineties when I worked at the House of Fools in Footscray, and he was studying at Uni in Footscray, I remember writing up a funny band name on the blackboard out the front for that Saturday night’s gigs. It was Midget By Default, and it just so happened to be his band. My band Alchera had been Friday night residents for a few months there already at this stage, and from that gig I’d nabbed the job of bar tender on a Saturday night. Chances are I was working there the night his band played, which is amazing seeing as I wasn’t to meet him for another ten years. Then a couple of years later I befriended a chick at Rob’s house warming party in Footscray, and apparently Trent and a few of his best mates were there at the party, including his girlfriend at the time, who it turns out was the one I befriended that night! She and I walked around arm in arm drinking together the whole night! We didn’t work this out till years later when Sonya was telling me that he’d been at that party…. talk about six degrees of separation. So there were many crossovers in our lives where we could have met but didn’t, and I know it’s because when we finally did, it was meant to be right then, and at no other time. If I hadn’t struck up that conversation with him at the hinge gig just after I’d had Rubes and was still with Rob, and we hadn’t spent the six hours talking platonically at the bar, and then I hadn’t thought on and off about him for the next year until we re-met, but when both finally single….. things would just not have been the way they were. I’m not a spiritual person, but this was written in the stars, that’s for sure. It saddens me with every word I type tonight. I know that my story is no more special than anyone else who has lost their partner, but I feel like this loss was so great to so many. He was adored by so many, he adored so many….. he gave out love like he had all the love in the world to give…. and maybe he did. He was famous for his drunken deep and meaningfuls that lasted for hours, and no one seemed to get sick of them….. He cuddled you till your ribs were cracked, and he just seemed to make anyone that spoke to him feel like they were so important. He made me feel like the most adored person on Earth…. and I will never again feel those enormous arms around me……

Our worst family holiday….

So, just like any family that is honest with each other, we had some horrendous family holidays. You know the kind that are a nightmare from the packing stage to the unpacking at the end stage! Our fist major one was to Jervis Bay in 2009. Pops was nearly two and Rubes was six. We decided to drive up taking a night in Bega on the way inland, and then a night on the way home via the coast in Lakes entrance. Mum and Dad had been going to J Bay since I was fourteen and would take my mates with me and hang out down at the pool hall all day with the local boys. J Bay was about an hour and a half south of Sydney, so a bloody fair drive away. But what a spot….. being all nature parks and reserves, it’s the most beautiful place and world famous for snorkeling and diving. Think aqua warm water and white sands…… Heaven. So off we went thinking we’d have the most relaxing week ever, and we started our journey. Firstly, Poppy never slept in the car. She would wriggle around, get agitated, need someone to constantly give her attention, and then would just scream when she was tired! We’d all take it in turns to sing songs with her, draw on the magnadoodle, play finger puppets…. absolutely anything to keep her mind off the restricted car seat. This alone is an exhausting affair, but you do what you gotta do! We made it the nearly seven hours to Bega by the skin of our teeth, and got Pizza to settle in for a recovery night. Wrong!! Pops wouldn’t go down in her port a cot, Ruby was still the lightest sleeper in the world and wouldn’t stay in the bedroom without her or us, so we put Pops in the double bed with us, and dragged Ruby’s mattress out and put it next to the bed. We had the telly on and tried for hours and hours to draw on her, sing to her, do anything to entice sleep and because she hadn’t slept all day, she decided not to sleep all night! Ruby was being screamed at by the end of the night as she continuously got out of her bed and tried to get into ours, but we barely fit as it was being a double! You know when you’re so tired you’re catching seconds of sleep with your head still up? That was the most sleep we had all night….. It was awful. In the morning we all took a swim and got our shit together to tackle the remaining three and a half hours to J Bay. When we arrived we had the amazing job of putting together a brand new three roomed tent in the stinking heat, then putting up the port a cot and trying yet again to get Pops down. Well we worked out straight away that sleeping in a tent during the day in the heat is a no go….. and screaming a lot in a tent in the heat equals a very hot and bright red bubs. So we went the “walk the baby to sleep in the pram “option” and even that was a struggle….. She was getting twenty minutes here and there, and you couldn’t stop walking once she was down. Rubes on the other hand had a ball. She rode around, made a little friend called Lyric a few doors down, and although she wanted to be fourteen instead of four and head out for the day without us she really did have a pretty awesome time. Bed times at night were the worst, the wind their is loud, so getting Rubes down in the tent was hard enough. She already presented then with signs of anxiety, so one of us would lie with her till she went off (hours….) and one of us would walk the streets with Pops. Each night when all we wanted to do was crack a beer and regroup, we had to spend so long getting the kids down that we ended up following them to bed anyway. The neighbours must have hated us cause boy did Pops have a scream on her! So I think it was eight to ten days of this, and of course Trent and I barely spoke to each other for fear of ripping each others heads off…… We fought if we opened our mouths… and we didn’t cope at all doing all of the above right in front of my parents who I’m sure were watching on thinking “holy shit…!!!” Then to top it off, we went home via the coast line, not knowing their were roadworks all the way back to Gippsland……. and it took us approximately sixteen hours to get home instead of nine! And if you think that wasn’t shit enough, Pops got gastro on the way home, and I had to sit in the back catching her projectile vomit into beach towels for a few hours while Trent drove….. we went through every towel! It was a long time before we headed on another family holiday…. and we certainly gave the camping up until Poppy was four or five and requested to go. I laugh now….. but at the time I wanted to leave them all on the side of the road and run away!!!!

My girls…….

I’ve been amazed at my girls during this time.. in fact I have found this incredible admiration and respect for them both at how they’ve coped. They adored Trent, and although he could be tough of them sometimes, they still ran to him when he walked through that door every day… and ran to him to show them any new artwork, or fill him in on what was going on at school each day. It was part of our daily routine. We’d sit around and tell each other one crappy thing that had happened to us that day, and then one great thing. He would tell them more than once a day, probably ten times if I’m honest how much he loved them! He and Poppy had one of those gorgeous “Daddy/daughter” relationships where you just know that she adored being a Daddy’s little girl. Her eyes lit up when he was around, and so did his. Being that Pops took after the Curry side of the family, I’d quietly sit and watch them converse and giggle at their similarities….. it was such a beautiful thing. I will continue to tell Pops just how much she reminds me of him, because I’m so damn grateful that just her silliness and her beautiful face will remind me of him forever. I think they had an understanding of each other like they were one and the same. Rubes on the other hand had her own unique relationship with him. The funny thing is, they were so similar! Both strong minded, unwilling to lose or give up, sometimes (o’kay a lot of the time….) impossible to talk to about their annoyingness! Neither of them would ever back down, so the epic arguments that went on for days felt like they’d never end…. but of course they always did. And with those two it would end in them both crying and hugging it out, and telling each other how much they loved each other….. Their love was certainly no less, just channeled differently. Trent knew Ruby very well, and for anyone that knows her, you know that you have to earn her love and respect. But once you have it, and he certainly did, she is the most loyal of people I know. Often with a few cans behind him, they would go off and have many hours of deep and meaningful conversation, and no one was ever aloud to join in. They’d laugh and cry, they’d talk about how special she was as he got to choose her instead of her being chosen for him…. He’d tell her that it was sad that Rob couldn’t be her Dad but that he was secretly ecstatic because he got to take up the role when she was 18 months old, and that it was Rob that had lost out. It was such a beautiful thing, and never for a day in our lives together did I or anyone we know question his love for her, it was just as strong as any biological link I can imagine, if not stronger. There’s something about a Dad and his daughters. I know I have it with my dad, you want so much for them to be proud of you, and you really need to hear it. Trent grew up with exactly that Dad, and thankfully so did I. I know he often got upset because he didn’t think he could do just as good a job as his…. but I know he did. We weren’t necessarily given the easiest little family in the word, but I can tell you that I never questioned his parenting as far as dishing out love and support was concerned. How can you not be happy with that? I know that getting six years and almost ten years of this man as your Father is better than never getting a father at all, but damn it’s hard to have it then lose it….. it’s like removing a vital organ and then having to retrain your body to keep functioning without it.