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Living in the shadow of death

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

It all started once again when I was out for my morning walk and pondering over some of life’s questions and the challenges that are often thrown at us.

On the same quiet residential street where I’d seen the mallard ducks ambling across the road the previous week, I encountered the crushed shell of a turtle that hadn’t been as fortunate as the ducks whilst living life in the slow lane. His little head was still poking out and he’d met his fate as he’d been slowly crossing the road. This led me to think about the trajectory of life and how we never know what path we will be travelling down in the weeks and days ahead, and then quite unexpectedly my own trajectory started to unravel and I was confronted with many things I didn’t foresee on the horizon. As I encountered the sadness of my children making choices that they knew would upset me I felt betrayed and let down. To know that they considered that the unnecessary choices they made were far more important to them than the suffering they would knowingly inflict upon me just made me feel sad and somewhat under valued in their lives. As I internalised the pain and felt somewhat aggrieved, there were days when I really wished I had been that unfortunate turtle.

In an effort to lift my spirits and try and escape from my current reality, my significant other and I decided to take an overnight trip to Canberra to visit my much loved uncle who had been experiencing his own health problems. It was a wet and foggy journey south, however the sun came out when we saw his face light up upon our arrival. We enjoyed a cuppa and some homemade Banana Oatmeal Cookies on the verandah as we laughed and reminisced about the good times. The atmosphere was warm and convivial and we had raised his spirits just as he had uplifted ours. Early in the evening we checked into the historic Hotel Kurrajong, a warm and homely residence blending Art Deco styling with modern conveniences. The Hotel Kurrajong had been home to many politicians in years gone by, including Prime Minister Ben Chifley who preferred its comfortable down to earth confines to those of the Lodge. The Queen had also stayed at the Kurrajong when she had visited Canberra.

The next morning we had planned to enjoy a sunrise walk around Lake Burley Griffin, however those plans were quickly thwarted after receiving an early morning phone call with the sad news that a much loved member of our extended family was in the Intensive Care unit of a hospital in Tamworth. We left Canberra promptly and travelled via our home in Sydney and onward to Tamworth where we arrived in the early hours of the next morning. The following days we spent on a knife's edge not knowing whether our loved one would make it through the night. It was interesting to observe the differing reactions of family members, some eagerly seizing upon every bit of negative news and often inserting themselves into the unwell person's trauma, whilst others tried to offer support and comfort through human touch and saying very little. Each of us had a role to play in strengthening his desire to move forward and in the end he returned home which brought with it a new set of circumstances to be contended with. During the process we were all reminded of the fragility of life, we listened as our dear father reminisced about his life growing up, the hardships, the friendships, the places and the people. Through tears in his eyes we witnessed his love for a family he knew loved and cared for him deeply. In the end that was all that mattered and the reason he willed himself to live on.

It’s not goodbye for now….it’s enduring love and gratitude that we still have you.

Which brings us to today, St Valentine’s Day. I know most of us associate this day with love, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, however what many of us do not know is that St Valentine is not only the patron saint of lovers, he is also the patron saint of beekeepers. As one of the worlds most important pollinators of food crops, bees and their caretakers have a very important role to play in life, just as love and lovers do. Thank you St Valentine, you have a very important position to uphold as a guardian of both.

Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.


If you’d like to try the Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies you can find the recipe here.

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