Sometimes things happen in your life, and even though you may not realise at the time, they turn out to be a real life defining moments. 2019 was a bit like that.
To say 2019 was tough for my family is a huge understatement. Don't get me wrong, we had our share of the usual stresses...finances, job, kids, but 2019 was something different. Like the whole year was cursed! We were definitely ready for it to be over!
We lost my father-in-law suddenly in August, which was a huge shock. He had only been complaining of a cold and being lethargic, little did we know he had thyroid cancer and would spend his final few weeks in hospital. We did the trek to Tassie but it wasn't for joy or pleasure, it was to say goodbyes and farewell my babies Pop. It's always tough losing a loved one, and to see my kids lose people dear to them breaks my heart, but that wasn't the end of it.
The thing that bought my year - my whole world - crashing down was losing the one person who had been there for me every day of my 39 years, supporting me and guiding me...my Mum.
Mum was fit, she was reasonably healthy (she had to be to run around after my sister's toddler 3 days a week haha) we just celebrated her 60th birthday this time last year, so she certainly wasn't old. She wasn't sick initially and she wasn't usually one to complain about it. But in November 2019 things were about to change.
What started as a sore back saw her admitted to hospital ED for a few hours, then they sent her home. A week later she was back in ED with severe dehydration and vomiting. A few days later home again. Things quickly progressed. It took another week and another hospital admission before we got a second opinion from another Doctor that would actually take us seriously. There was test after test, scan after scan. Eventually on December 9th we would find out she had stage 4 cancer. The prognosis wasn't great and after further investigation her oncologist concluded that she would need to start treatment NOW if she was to have any chance of living beyond Christmas...WHAT!!?? She wasn't even sick a month ago!
There were tears, revelations, uncomfortable conversations and the start of what we'd hoped would give us a little bit more time. But time is something that can never be promised. Despite 5 rounds of intense radiation on her brain and the first dose of immune therapy treatments, she passed away peacefully on December 17th surrounded by her three daughters.
I can not describe the pain. It's deep and relentless. Realising that she's just not there. That she never will be again.
I volunteered to put together the slideshow for her funeral service, after all I am a photographer, photos are my thing right! It was a lot harder than I thought. It was emotional. As I added each photo to the slides I studied them. I looked at each photo so intensely. I studied her every feature, her smile, her eyes, the lines on her face that told a story of the tough life she'd had. It made me thankful that I am so obsessed with taking photos, because we will always have these memories. My kids will always have these memories!
Losing my Mum has really solidified why I do what i do. Why I'm so passionate about photography. This is my why. Because tomorrow's are not promised and there are no guarantees. So that there is a tangible memory that will last long after the memories in your mind have faded. I want every family to know that they shouldn't take anything for granted. If you had asked me this time last year there is absolutely no way I would have thought I would lose my mum so soon. If I had known that by the end of 2019 she would be taken from us so quickly, there are a thousand things I would have done last year to make the most of our time together, and one of them would have been to take more photos. To savour more memories. That's what I want to encourage you to do. I want to make sure that your children and grandchildren can recall every line on your face and the way your nose crinkled when you laughed. Especially Mums. GET IN THE PHOTOS! I want you to have photos you can hold onto. That your kids can hold on to. To hold onto the people you love long after they are gone.
I thought I would have my Mum with us for lots more years to come. That my kids would saddle up on their Nanny's lap for a cuddle and whisper secrets in her ear until they were too embarrassed to do it anymore. That she would always be just a phone call away. I will never get to hear her voice again, but at least I will always see her face.
When all is said and done all that is left are the memories. I can not stress enough the importance of PRINTING your photos as well, but that's a conversation for another time. For today I want to leave you with this quote:
'A birth certificate shows you were born, a death certificate shows you have died, but photographs show you have lived'
In memory of my beautiful Mum
18/01/1959 - 17/12/2019