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    You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott (Book Review)

    Megan Abbott is a Goodreads fan-favourite so I picked up this book on a whim between another book that I’d been struggling with.

    Megan Abbott

    Devon is a teenaged Olympic Gymnastics hopeful. Her parents are heavily involved with a very tight-knight group of gymnastics community, but no other gymnast is as as talented as prodigy, Devon and Kate and Eric Knox have stopped at nothing to help pave her way to success.

    The gymnastics community is rocked when the young, good looking boyfriend of an assistant coach meets a violent and mysterious death and suddenly Kate and Eric Knox are finding out things about each other, their friends and their children that they are shocked to learn.

    Honestly, I didn’t even know what this book was about when I started to read – I actually thought it was going to be a young adult novel but I was wrong. It was a beautifully written mystery thriller that was from the perspective of Kate Knox, Devon’s mother. I wasn’t sure that I could keep track of the large circle of characters at first and it did take me some time to figure them all out — most become periphery characters and the main ones become quite clear very quickly.

    You Will Know Me was a great little surprise and my introduction to Megan Abbott as an author. I have heard a lot of buzz around her work and have generally tried to keep low expectations when it comes to hype — but I feel like her writing style was fantastic and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. Even if I had all but figured out what was going on before it unraveled, I was still able to enjoy the wrap-up of the mystery.

    This is a very short review, but there was really nothing bad that I had to say about it.

    I would recommend this book to anyone except for maybe my friend, Belinda because her line of work would just leave her picking at plot holes that might not be obvious to anyone else reading 😉

    Let it be known that I have since purchased three other Megan Abbott books.

    You Will Know MeYou Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    View all my reviews

    Paris Jackson, Paparazzi, Rolling Stone & The Limelight

    I’m sure its been mentioned once or twice, but full disclosure: I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. So huge in fact, that I met him a couple times in the 00’s by traveling across the friggin’ ocean just to catch a glimpse of him (and thankfully they were much more than just that).

    After he died, I would say my fandom died a bit. Well, I didn’t/don’t love him any less, but there is really nothing to “follow” and I wasn’t one of those fans who transferred my feelings for him on to his children. I have been fairly uninterested in his children and all of their endeavours because I really feel that MJ wouldn’t have wanted their lives splashed around the press until they were old and mature enough to deal with it.

    Clearly things didn’t work out that way and over the years I’ve briefly read things about his daughter (mostly) and can’t help but to feel for her. I have a soft spot for that tiny little girl back in 2002 who slept soundly on her Daddy’s chest as he pressed his finger to his lips and waved me over to his car (before I got knocked on to my arse by some… er… matronly German girls who proceeded to scream in his face and motivated him to wind up his window entirely) as if I was silently promising to not wake her.

    Paris jackson

    Paris Jackson is a gorgeous 18 year old now and while I don’t frequently read Michael Jackson websites anymore, I often have read comments judging her tattoos her boyfriends her clothes… everything — coming from MJ fans themselves. It is no secret that after a suicide attempt, she got sent away to a turnabout school for troubled or problematic teens. I don’t understand that while knowing that she has dealt with mental health issues, people still think it is okay to continually judge from behind their keyboards without realising their weight of their words; as if she could never possibly read the things people feel the need to tag her in on social media.

    This morning I read an article for her latest Rolling Stone magazine spread and felt a great weight of compassion and sadness for her; the solidarity of going through the rest of your life without the person who loved you the most; who was the entire world to you. Granted for her, it has been much harder, losing a parent at an early age would be catastrophic.

    She spoke about being thrust in to school after being home schooled her entire life – where she began using drugs and hanging around with bad influences and was suffering anxiety and depression – even touching on a sexual assault that happened at 14 and I can’t help but to wonder where the hell her guardians were and what on earth they were doing? After the death of a parent at 11, why wasn’t there counselling for the kids? Why weren’t they correctly supported? Why was a 14 year old left to her own devices? Why at 18 is a young woman tattooing herself to cover track marks left from heavy drug use after being clean for a number of years? (Honestly, what the fuck?).

    Paris jackson

    Perhaps her story is similar to so many that I know and love — I found it heart breaking to read — at the base of the article a very young, lonely girl resides trying to find a place in the world just like the rest of us were at 18, with the added peppering of world-wide judgment from not only the general public, but from Michael Jackson sycophants who think they know what he’d want for her; who care so little about her feelings that they let their own perceptions of who Michael Jackson was, shape who they think she should be.

    I loved and followed Michael Jackson since I was 5 years old and my fandom was intense until the very day the man passed- but I was never fooled, I didn’t know him. I had a perception and an idea of who he was and I am sure he was that person genuinely, but he was also multi-faceted and real. He was someone’s brother, someone’s son, a little girl’s father and a father to two other boys — based on the fact that he was both a little and big brother, I can imagine that at times he was a shit-stirrer and a petulant asshole. He was probably a good friend but if you upset him, he would have probably written you on to his shit list forever — that’s human. He was human. And his most humanifying job was being a father.

    Paris jackson

    I don’t have an issue acknowledging that he probably had mental health issues — that Paris has obviously dealt with (if not dealing) with mental health issues – but that doesn’t give people a right to question her decisions or to assume everyone in her life (her boyfriend, manager, friends) is trying to lead her down a garden path or that they are ‘bad news’. It doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t embrace the opportunities that present themselves to her.

    This morning I saw this video of Paris being mobbed and harassed about her father’s death and it absolutely gutted me;

    What the very fuck is wrong with people?

    My mum passed away in November 2016. If a single fucker ever dared ask a single question in such a way about her passing, I would have knocked a person out. And then, at the end there is some soft-voiced bitch making a comment about how it’s okay Paris. Condescending, rude, punch-worthy. Salt a wound and tell her how to act….

    And so today I remembered why not to read the comments section — questioning her sexual assault; not being able to get over the fact that she considers herself to be bi-racial and the biological daughter of Michael Jackson. There were comments saying that if she should be used to the limelight or that she should have expected this kind of backlash after being interviewed by Rolling Stone.

    Victim blaming is okay when it applies to people who have notoriety, is it?

    It kind of shocks me. Do those same people question their best friend when they say they’ve been assaulted? Do they snort and chuckle about hairy predicaments that their loved ones have gotten in to? Do they take glee in seeing other people fall? Paris Jackson grew up in the limelight, but she was not in the spotlight – it was her father and a child would entrust her safety wholly in to that guardian.

    Do I think Paris Jackson is ready for a career within the showbiz industry? If I’m going to make a judgment based solely upon the paparazzi video above? Probably not – however, just like my fandom and perception of Michael– I saw one single facet of who he was and same goes for Paris. I am sure there is more depth to her than one can gain from social media posts or moments of tumultuousness when she is simply in transit. She seems so sensitive and easily upset — that is not a bad thing to be, but it might not be a great mix with fame. Would I judge her decisions as if I know her or her family? No.

    I just watch all this from afar feeling empathetic toward an 18 year old who looks as bewildered and lost as I felt at 18 (though I don’t think I had a real reason to feel like that) and I feel shame for the rest of these despicable humans that feel like they should all get a say or a piece of her for the sake of being funny, seeming knowledgable about MJ or for their photographic pay day.

    I hope if Paris does decide to extend herself in to the limelight – that she will take it on with great armour and know that people are assholes and that opinions of both MJ fans and the wider public don’t matter – that you can’t make everyone love you. It is my hope that her ups and downs will resonate and be able to help others by continuing to be herself and being the voice for those who have been through similar losses and issues that she has endured.

    I think that would be something her father would be incredibly proud of.

    Sailor Jerry Spiced Carribean Rum

    Sailor Jerry Spiced Carribean Rum – the best thing you’ll ever drink, hands down.

    sailor jerry

    If I’m going to get myself a bit stupid, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum is always going to be my choice of drink!

    Whenever I order it from a bar, I get lots of questions about it and end up offering sips around to anyone who is willing to try something new (and amazing) and take a damn step back away from the poison that it any cheap mixer drink that will discolour your tongue.

    Don’t be fooled in to making a face and thinking that this rum is anything like Bacardi or any other white rum that we’ve all had regretful experiences with (hello, umm trying laying in a hotel shower recess at 6 in the morning crying and moaning and trying to waffle-stomp my own vomit down the drain), this is spiced rum and the taste is completely different.

    Sailor Jerry was named after American tattooist and Navy-man, Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins who had a tattoo shop west of Honolulu, Hawaii. This area was a leaving shore for service-men who were coming and going during the war. Norman, “Sailor Jerry” Collins built up a reputation for vibrant and bold designs and was the first westerner to learn directly from Japanese Tattoo Artists and to, in his words, beat them at their own game.

    Jerry’s tattoos were bold and flawless and the makers of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum feel as though they hold themselves to the exact same standard.

    To drink straight, this rum is smooth with hints of vanilla and cinnamon to the point of seeming a little caramel-y. It warms the tongue and goes down with ease leaving no bitterness or after-burn that some spiced rums can leave.

    Sailor Jerry goes down amazingly easy (a little too easy) on a hot night. Sometimes I add a little lemonade (Australian lemonade, not traditional lemonade, equiv of sprite or 7up?) and lime to it, or else soda water or mineral water.

    The other awesome thing about Sailor Jerry is that it comes with incredibly cool packaging with labels that change from time-to-time. There have been many limited editions that we’ve had over the past including A4 sized posters of tattoo pin-up girls and more. Currently, we have noticed an entire black glass bottle limited edition with (four?) different labels. And everyone who reads this blog understands that I’m a huge sucker for packaging.

    So… there’s my review and soft push for you all to go pick up a bottle and drink yourselves stupid while singing your favourite sea-shanty. Just not so stupid that you can’t enjoy it. 🙂

    Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum Page *This is not a paid/sponsored review

     

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Review)

    If you are looking for a thrilling bit of book that sucks you in and takes you in to a world of whimsy and slight oddness, than this book is something you should run away from, stat.

    peregrine's

    In 2015, my friends bought me this book as a late birthday present. I loved the visual aids and thought it was going to be so good.

    I decided I would make it my 2017 first read and I was totally let down. Totally.

    I don’t usually bitch and complain about books because I like to acknowledge that it’s a difficult process and well, let’s face it… no one like’s to have any old nobody come and take a giant shit on their hard work and hours of effort…

    It started off soooooo good! Jacob’s grandfather is the only surviving member of his family during the holocaust and is sent to stay in a home where he was protected from the Nazi’s. Jacob has a close-knit relationship with his grandfather who told him stories of his peculiar friends from the home. Jacob eats it all up until he is at a coming of age and realises that none of it could possibly be true.

    Jacob is a poor little rich boy who has no friends (and I’m not surprised, because he’s a snivelling little shit) and hates his mediocre life even though he obviously has two great parents who love and care for him.

    When Jacob’s grandfather starts making gibberish comments and stops answering his phone, Jacob finds him at his house after dark, dying in the scrub behind his house. Jacob sees monsters and his grandfather’s dying words become a riddle which he spends the next 100 or so pages trying to decipher.

    Honestly, it was kind of dragging by that stage. I downloaded the audio book to listen to to and from work because its harder to stop ‘reading’ when you’re driving.

    All of it turned in to a mess of time travel, time loops, odd children with forced dialogue and odd storylines. (The grandfather’s sweetheart turns in to Jacobs…) he decides to stay in the 1933 time loop and his dad is totally okay with it all. He realises after time that he’s also peculiar and has special powers or some crap…

    To be honest, I stopped paying a lot of attention because I was either raging out a Camry driver or I got lost in the excessive plot.

    Honestly, the book could have been a thousand times better. The peculiar characters could have been better and I could have felt less underwhelmed as the book came to a close.

    My friend told me that perhaps the movie would be better in this case – especially given that it’s a Tim Burton film. Makes sense right?

    WRONG!

    The movie was so much worse. Jacob was the most emotionless character I’d ever seen. His acting was terrible. Mrs. Peregrine was smug and almost evil. I hated it. I watched about 45 minutes before deciding that it missed so much of the actual detail that without reading the book one would probably be confused.

    So, not only was money spent on the hardcopy, but I also had a Kindle version that I read from bed. I also bought the audio companion from Amazon … and then spent $6.99 on the movie rental.

    I spent so much money on such a crap book.

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    View all my reviews

    The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster-Blake Review

    wrong girl

    Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster-Blake is your average enjoyable rom-com chick-lit book for those who aren’t looking too hard to find purpose in a very, very fictional story.

    I’m by no means a book snob. Sometimes I want to read the way I watch TV: without having to think too hard.

    What I mean by this, is that sometimes I enjoy watching the Kardashians or The Vanderpump rules show – not because the people are likeable or that the story or characters are incredibly thrilling, but because it serves it’s cheap purpose: entertainment.

    wrong girl

    Chick-lit books are all similar in storyline and purpose and The Wrong Girl was really no different.

    Girl is self-deprecating. Girl has model-looking girlfriends and is considered the odd one out in a circle full of otherwise carbon copies. Girl is quirky, clumsy but apparently also adorable in her awkwardness that is supposed to be the one thing that sets her apart.

    Hot, strapping, beautiful species of male turns up and crazily enough has the personality and perfect amount of mature communication skills to boot.

    Man sees the beauty in girl and takes on her annoying emotional self-loathe and turns saves the day and turns her in to some strong, independent (lols) take-no-shit woman that because of the way her man builds her up, manages to overcome subplot; this could be kicking away the dead weight friends that make her feel so bad about herself, give up drugs, shopping or other “cute” addiction or even a career advancement.

    I pretty much summed up The Wrong Girl in this summary which happens to be the same formula for most chick-lit books. This is written in a characteristically Australian way which sometimes made me cringe and other times made me feel like I was proud of Foster-Blake. It was a cute story that I struggled for a short while to get in to which may have not been due to the writing, but perhaps more to do with personal circumstance.

    I liked the characters in The Wrong Girl but couldn’t help but to wonder why her best friend (from the first few chapters) was just long-forgotten after the plot began to unfold. Did the author forget him? Given that they were supposed to be friends for 10 or so years, I was surprised by how quickly the MC gave him the heave-ho. Seemed odd.

    This Wrong Girl has been transformed to an Australian TV show that was vastly different to the novel. Given that most books far outweigh the TV/Movie adaptation, I was pretty happy with the TV show. I have to admit I liked it better than the book; perhaps the beautiful hunk that is Jack was played by a stunning indigenous man which doesn’t happen to often on Australian TV.

    Overall, I enjoyed the light-hearted book. It wasn’t my favourite read of 2016, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at another book by Zoë Foster-Blake in the future.

    The Wrong GirlThe Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    View all my reviews

    2017 New Year New Me!

    Joking, joking. I’m going to be the same as I have been every year, changed only by the hard times that have shaped me.

     

    Each year I like to acknowledge the passing of the year and rather than really having a resolution list, I like to set new goals or think about ways that I can challenge myself. I also like to reflect back and see what’s changed as well as what I’ve achieved.

    2016 has been a really shitty awful/bitter sweet year but I think I am ready to get back in to things.

    I have actually achieved some things in 2016 that I had on my goal list – ones that I thought were more just kind of pipe dreams, and for those things I am proud.

    It was also the year that I lost my Mum and so closing that chapter on my life comes with great regret and sadness.

    This was a year of learning who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. It was about my eyes opening to the true colours of those in my life and those who were in my family’s life.

    I learned in 2016 that you will make time for those who you want to make time for.

    In 2017 I have a few plans that I really hope to achieve;

    I have written a book in 2016 and I hope to perfect the manuscript and start sending it out to publishers and if that doesn’t go ahead, I will begin to start researching self-publishing a little more seriously.

    I have a business venture that I have been thinking about for a little while that I will explore within the next few months.

    I want to go to Japan, Hawaii and New York.

    I want to up my fitness training and start saving money more seriously.

    I also want to stop getting riled up over stupid things and love and cherish those that I choose to have in my life and stop being so selfish where I can.

    My new reading challenge is 35 books and I’ve began to choose which books I’ll read – that means I’ll be picking up my reviews again 🙂

    — so that’s basically all for now, I hope everyone had a great New Year my next post will be about my New Year’s Eve.

    Ready Or Not…

    Not going to lie, I’m still reeling a little bit from my Mums death and I haven’t really felt compelled to write anything here in a little while.

    I am a little unmotivated, a little sad, a little lonely and feeling as though everything is still incredibly surreal.

    I guess it’s a giant adjustment to say goodbye to someone that you spoke with almost every day of your life.

    Every now and then I think of how she was back in July or August and I’m confused as to how she lost her life so fast. It doesn’t seem like it was fair or that there was enough warning.

    I didn’t really believe that I would be celebrating my first Christmas without her in 2016. And trust me, Christmas without my Mum is going to be weird and devastating and the thought of it actually makes my stomach churn.

    Christmas was my Mums favourite time of the year. She got excited about it and enjoyed planning what to cook, who she would be entertaining and especially loved the gift giving part of things. The last two Christmas’ were great and I found myself in a bit of a role reversal, buying her lots of stuff because I absolutely adored her hilarious reaction to gifts.

    Everyone that I’ve spoken to has felt really indifferent to Christmas and maybe I feel that way this year because of everything that has happened, but I know I’m going to miss the fun part of it; of having her there not being a grinch about things but rather being excited and happy for the day to come along.

    I’ll be taking it easy this year– I’ll be probably hanging out at home for the most part… and maybe sleeping it away depending on how I feel. Which, let’s be honest, will probably be shit.

    Short and long of it, right now I really miss my Mum and I feel it most on my alone weekends and when I get home to an empty house.

    I have my things to keep me busy, but I’m sure it’s tangled up in an element of avoidance because when I stop, I feel like I’m going to realise that she isn’t coming back.

    So for now, I’ll just keep myself busy.

    I’ve read The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster-Blake to finish my 30 books for 2016 goal, so I’ll aim to post that review soon.

    Meanwhile, check out my cousin and my blog for our business: http://www.bigcuzlittlecuz.com/blog/

    Back from hiatus after losing my Mum

    Hi everyone,

    I’m back, I think.

    Although, given what’s happened I don’t know if I’m ready to be back at anything, so time will tell as to whether or not I want to take more time away from regular life and given that I didn’t have a superficial relationship with my Mum, my loss is great, I don’t know if I know what regular life feels like anymore.

    But I’ll try.

    Where I left off: 

    On October 10th my Mum had two massive seizures which changed the course of what life my day-to-day life was and she never came home from hospital.

    I had my 33rd birthday on the 14th.

    On the 15th, I had a trip to go to Queensland with my cousin booked. I debated for a week and some as to whether or not I go and my stepdad and I agreed that there wasn’t really much I could do at home, so I went for my 5 day trip. I don’t regret going, but I did spend most of my time there feeling guilty about not being with my Mum. In hindsight, I don’t regret going because what was waiting for me back home when I returned was something I may have not been able to emotionally manage without that break.

    I spent a lot of time in between trying to read different books for blogging purposes but found nothing that held my interest — perhaps this was more to do with my state of mind rather than a problem with the books.

    After my trip my time was spent literally every second day driving back and forth to and from the hospital where my Mum was located and trying to keep myself together enough to visit her without falling apart, continue working without letting anyone down, combating my mental health, trying not to direct the anger that I felt toward my friends or my boyfriend and … breathe.

    On November 6th my Mum passed away in a way that was both expected and unexpected. We had all hoped and prayed that she would turn a corner and be well enough to come home after treatment. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be.

    The important thing was that my Mum was surrounded by the most important people in her life for the last few days and was cared for beautifully by unforgettable staff of the facility where she was being kept comfortable. It devastates me that we were unable to bring her home like she so desperately wanted to be, but it just wasn’t to be. She passed away in our arms, quite literally and there wasn’t a single other way I would have wanted it.

    I think if it weren’t for the support from my family and friends, I would probably be in a heap somewhere…

    Even writing the words above are hard to do without falling apart. Again.

    In between all of that, I was incredibly sick and it turned out that I actually had pneumonia. My brother and I suspect it was due to the fact that I slept in the cold, baron part of my Mum and Stepdad’s house with cold, wet hair after we left the nursing home for the last time. The weekend she passed happened to be one of the coldest mornings that I can remember. I slept minimally for the next few days which probably didn’t help – running purely on adrenalin until the funeral passed.

    I’ve only just come out the other side of being sick but I still can’t stop coughing when I’m in the middle of a fit. Not fun.

    My friends stayed at my house and were great for laughs and for someone to try all the places where I wanted to eat but didn’t want to go alone.
    My workmates were incredibly supportive and some went as far as feeling the weight of my sadness and helping out in practical ways.
    My cousin helped me plan out my goals and plans going forward week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year.
    My boyfriend has been endless in doling out his affections, support and love as usual, even if it’s not always fun for him — or really either of us.
    Everyone else has been amazing in offering support in kind ways, practical ways and emotionally.

    My cousin stayed the longest, offering her pragmatic support which has been good at keeping my mind busy so that when life does feel a bit normal again, I can do all of the things that I have wanted to do but didn’t get the chance because I was 1, emotionally exhausted, 2, too busy with my Mum, 3, didn’t feel timing was right.

    Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time in three weeks. I am unsure about how to feel about that or whether or not I feel ready, but I do feel like the routine is going to do me the world of good.

    Afternoon drinking is probably not going to work out very good for me if I keep going as I am.

    I started reading again this week, so I suppose a book review will be on the way and I plan to post some photos of the month and a half where life went a bit awry.

    In the meantime, my cousin has been working really hard on our business so you could check that out — we have some really cool new products and if you use bfriday16 promo code, you can get 20% off until tomorrow. http://www.bigcuzlittlecuz.com

    Rest now, Mum…

    This is the eulogy that I somehow managed to read at my Mother’s funeral on the 15th of Nov, 2016. Posted for those who were unable to hear parts of it due to my sniffling, voice cracking or just cos they were busy snivelling themselves. (This was shortened on the day)

    For anyone who knows me and who also knows my Mum, they’ll be able to attest to how similarly our minds think.

    Standing here now talking in a serious way at her funeral seems unreal, because the loose plans we made for this to happen are not the way its playing out right now.

    Jokingly, on a trip to Sydney one time, Mum and I started talking about how we want our funeral to go. It was not this. We started by agreeing that we would want our presence to be missed – none of this, celebrate-my-life crap, but really, you know, feel the pain… that if guests weren’t grieving appropriately, they should be removed by an usher.

    An Usher who happened also to be Usher – the singer… Usher the singer sounded good, but what sounded even better was the idea of one of our best friend’s actually arriving down the aisle on the back of a pot-bellied pig with a lasso and the threat to remove anyone who wasn’t wailing loudly and comically over their loss.

    However, there’s probably no need to have that designated piggy-cowboy turn up, because I am sure everyone here feels that loss and that grief just the same as I do right now.

    Many people knew my Mum to be a certain way – to all jokes, humour, bluntness and coca-cola… not a lot of people knew my Mum like I did.

    mebruisermid70s

    My Mum was loyal, dependable, protective, sensitive, supportive, loving, kind, compassionate and the absolute best friend that someone could ever hope to have. You always knew where you stood with her and she always told you what you thought to your face. She was also hilarious and quick-witted and had a lot of good stories to share.

    Those who have known my Mum for as long as my brother and I have been around will know just how protective she was of us. Some examples;

    – When my first real and serious boyfriend devastated me by ghosting me out of the blue , she sent him a cutting, blunt and … shall we say, threatening text, allowing you all to colour the lines, she told him to do her daughter the respect to let her know what was happening or…. else… Less than three minutes later I had a reply to one of my embarrassingly many texts telling me it was over.

    – After a day of being mercilessly teased at school, I went home and told my Mum. The next day she waited outside of the school like a sniper, only with a cigarette in hand and a narrow-eyed glare that I found incredibly intimidating when I was on the receiving end of it. Once I pointed the offender out, she got out of her car and basically made him feel the same way he had been making me feel for weeks; scared, fearful of my safety … and so forth.

    – Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospital for various reasons – my Mum was by my side every single day regardless of how much she didn’t want to be there, regardless of how anxious it made her and regardless of how boring it was. I never once woke up without her by my side. She made me laugh when needles were coming at me, she told me to picture my grandmother doing karate when I was crying about being stuck with an IV… in every avenue of my health, my Mum was always there telling me that everything was okay, even when we weren’t sure that it was going to be.

    – When Mum was re-diagnosed with cancer early last March, we weren’t expecting the prognosis to be quite as bad as it was. I went with her to hold her hand, to hopefully protect her the way that she had been protecting me health wise. When we were delivered the news that there were legions in her lungs, without warning, I broke down and melted down so hard and so fast that all I can remember is my mum hugging me and telling me that it was okay as the doctor called for some help. Because even though she had been delivered some crippling, devastating and out-of-the-blue news, she still wanted to protect me.

    mum

    – “Its allright, Jessie,” I can still hear her saying it. Its what she said whenever I’d start melting down about the cancer – way to make it all about myself, right?

    In 2009, Michael Jackson announced a bunch of concerts in London… I went to bed hearing the news, hatching my plans… my Mum woke up reading the news knowing I was hatching my plans. As I walked down the hallway to greet her in the morning, she glanced at me – we both exchanged awkward glances; I began to smirk and finally she said, “Jessie, don’t even think about it…”

    I went to London after Mum and I discussed how I would/could do it, I’d easily justified it to her, fully knowing no other parent would ever support their child going to a concert in England… I went even after Michael Jackson had died, for which I had been devastated – sharing just how much so with really no one except my Mum. I didn’t need to tell her though; she emailed me every day with her supportive words; she comforted me even when I felt okay… I think because it was something that we shared in common so we both felt the loss;

    Our drives to Sydney to see family were often spent playing the entire Michael Jackson catalogue; we used to sing loudly together, poke fun when the other stuffed up the lyrics, or pause the music to discuss which version of him we preferred – we made up really stupid interpretive dancing which to the music which were really all had-to-be-there type moments of memories that I will treasure forever.

    I don’t want to miss out on talking about how talented my Mum was. She was an artist. Not like some flimsy fiftys-something woman who’s children have flown the nest and has taken up a pottery class and thinks she’s quite good. No, my Mum is a creative genius. She is good at just about any art medium. I know that she’s good at every art medium because she was also fickle with her art interests. She could paint, she could sew, she could knit, she could build, she could sculpt. once I saw her bravely saw apart an incredibly expensive cupboard/wardrobe. Me on the other hand? Creative genius, not so much.

    Mum didn’t do things by halves. When my brother and I were kids, Mum used to make dolls and country craft things which unfortunately included evil clowns and would sell them and do craft parties. One day, all of a sudden, she got bored and took up ceremics. She went to some classes, mastered it, came home, bought a kiln and set up shop in the garage. She did that for a few years, learning to paint with oils, chalks and make lots of cool pieces for the house – then, woke up one morning in the way that Mum could and thought, eh, I’m bored of that.

    She took up folk art. It was only in the last 5 years that Mum sold the hundreds of magazines and folk art books and an impressive collection of paint brushes that I was never allowed to touch for my own flimsy art pieces.

    And then when I took up jewellery making, she jumped on that band wagon with me. I took up crocheting at some stage and was actually able to teach her how to do something—it was a proud day, but the problem was, once Mum started, she didn’t stop until she was bored. Over the past 10 or so years, I’ve seen the kitchen at her and Shane’s place change from a country cottage theme, to a saturation of the colour red, to a vintage coca cola theme, old tin signs everywhere – truck stop style theme – she became bored of all of these things and just recently she had become obsessed with owls. The last thing I bought my Mum was an owl toy that she sat in the chair marvelling over. At her 60th birthday this year, her friend, Sandra bought her an owl necklace and every time it was removed over this past month she kept asking for it back, even right up until her last days…

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    What I want people to know most about Mum was how good of a friend she was. To me. A lot of people only get to know their parents as Mum or Dad, but the best part of my relationship blossomed with my mum in my early 20s when she allowed me to get to know her as a person not as simply, my Mum.

    A lot of people make the throwaway statement that their Mum is their best friend – but for me its not lip service, my Mum was actually my very best friend. She knew more about me and how to read me better than anyone in my life. She knew what things I struggled with and sometimes I didn’t need to tell her how hard something was, she simply sensed it or could tell by looking at me. If she couldn’t understand my actions, she never made me feel bad or told me that I was wrong, she would hear me out and at least try.

    A lot of people water down their personalities to seem more palatable to their parents, they hide a lot, they tell them only the good parts so as not to worry or upset them, but not me – my Mum is one of the only people who received the unfiltered version of myself that I could freely and comfortably be without any fear of rejection, hassle or self consciousness.

    Actually, if anything, it sometimes became a joke of just how honest I could be with her that I would try to shock her – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t – sometimes she’d shock me right back…

    She was the best friend that anyone could have – she was always honest, would never let me leave the house without rethinking my eyebrows, my outfit, unless I wanted to look like I lived in Mt Druitt… she was my best shopping critic, the only person that I ever took shopping because she wouldn’t lie to me to save my feelings. In fact, I made my eyebrows and my dark roots a matter of urgency to fix before today, because my Mum would zone in on those things and remind me gently that they needed to be done.

    “Ooohhh those roots need doing! Looks terrible.”
    “So…. You gonna get that eyebrow looked at, or what?”

    Last year my brother took my Mum to Europe to Italy and Croatia… leading right up til around two weeks before she left, Mum was sick as a dog from all the chemotherapy and doubted whether or not she would be able to go and actually enjoy herself.

    I was glad that she did go, and as if she hadn’t had chemo in awhile, she enjoyed that trip more than anything in the world. I still have the texts that she and I sent from over there saved on my phone that I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of. And for my brother, this is probably going to be one of his fondest times spent with her – during that trip chemo had destroyed Mums tastebuds so she was hard to please in terms of food, but when she did find something, it was all I heard about. She complained about the walking, but did it anyway – she took about a zillion photos and absolutely treasured the time she spent with her son and daughter-in-law. When she got back, every conversation for about a month began with, “Well when I was in Europe with your brother…”

    This whole cancer thing has been the most harrowing journey that I’ve ever been on. A friend referred to it as living inside a fishbowl—that’s exactly how its felt on some days.

    Mums original diagnosis was serious, but I didn’t honestly think that we would arrive here at the end of it – I don’t like to hear people telling us that her battle was lost to cancer, because it wasn’t. Her battle should not be diminished because she fought against this beast long and hard and with good humour, faith and determination for much longer than a lot of people are able to given the prognosis. At no stage did cancer beat her ability to laugh, smile, throw a smarty-pants statement at someone, usually her husband or I.

    Cancer did not beat her ability to make outrageous food demands, or tell me that I my eyebrows needed doing or that my roots looked terrible.

    Cancer may have wore her down and made her weak and frail and destroyed her tastebuds, stole her hair – which as it turns out – she didn’t care much about and given her a shorter span on life, but it didn’t take away the love that she had for her children, her husband, her family, her animal babies or her friends, but she did not lose her battle.

    No one ever really can say they beat cancer and this was a discussion Mum and I had multiple times. When someone has been given the all clear, they have not beaten it, because its not a battle or a fight, it’s a disease that unfortunately puts a full stop on another person’s life.

    “I hate it when people say they’ve beaten cancer, or cancer beat someone,” I told Mum one day after we went for lunch when she got back from Europe.
    “Me too,” she said, “you don’t beat cancer til you die of something else – like, maybe a heart attack.”

    We both laughed, but how accurate.

    People kept praising our strength and bravery in dealing with this and while that’s a nice thing to say, I want to say that none of us have been particularly strong – but rather, just dealing with it. Giving up was never really an option, but it didn’t mean there weren’t times that we didn’t fall apart or go slightly insane trying to process this journey.

    There were times my Mum cried in grief and weariness and felt like running away from it all. I can only speak for myself, but I am sure both her husband and my brother has felt like its too much to handle as well. There have been times where I’ve made my boyfriend’s life difficult because I haven’t known how to properly process my grief. It’s not really about being strong or being brave, but its about knowing that there is absolutely no other alternative…

    In my Mums life I never saw another single person or thing intimidate her; save for cancer… Maybe that’s not true, maybe she was intimidated by a lot of things, but she never once let it show, and to me that’s as good as.

    My loss is great; the hole in my heart will never be repaired, with the loss of my Mum was a piece of my heart; my best friend, my supporter, my champion – and I’m not quite sure how to go about recovering from this, or if I ever will – my Mum did everything for me – and people often told me that I had to grow up sometime, but maybe that’s because they never really experienced having a relationship with their mother quite like mine. I didn’t need to grow up, I could and can do all those things myself, but she was happy to help or advise or come along to see the Dr with me and relay the important information so as to save me the panic of having to remember things on my own.

    I was blessed to have the special, unique relationship that I had with my Mum for the short 33 years that I had her. I’m proud of her determination over the course of her diagnosis, I am proud that no doubt she continued on as long as she did for the sake of Shane and my brother and I… but I am glad that she is resting, that she is no longer in pain.

    Cancer may have taken her but cancer never beat her.

    My Mum is my best of joy and while my heart feels like it is in a thousand pieces and might never recover, I can be comforted knowing that I came in to the world loved by her and she was able to leave the world knowing that she was loved by us. Unconditionally, wholly and completely.
    With my Mum’s DNA woven in to every fibre of me, I was gifted with many of her best parts replicating themselves within me.
    My Mum was one of a kind and will now be the diamond in my sky.