“Mike time for work”

July 31, 2010

He didnt need waking, his alarm always was there to get him up in time for work. I had made my cuppa and sat in bed for at least an hour before I walked in on that Saturday, one year ago.

As I wake this morning I hear the first line of a potential poem, “My son died, one year ago today”.  But then I think of the words of David in Psalm 90:

The length of our days is seventy years—
       or eighty, if we have the strength;
       yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
       for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Mike “flew away” during the early hours of that Saturday morning. I have tried and tried to find a poem that mike recited when he was about 11 and it was about a “thinking bird”. It so typified him. I remember over the days after his death a feeling that “he had morphed” or “gone through the metamorphasis process”.

John says in chapter 8 verse 36, “if the Son sets you free, then you are truly free”. Can you picture a small bird in a cage, contained and constrained by that “body”. A song Mike liked and made a video to was News Boys “I am Free”. He used a web camera and filmed himself jumping and waving his hands, he was only about 14 at the time. It was so nice to watch this boy who seemed so often “trapped by the framework he was born in”, to be un inhibited and express his “freedom” through this simple action of waving his hands and jumping.

One year ago I did not walk in and find a dead body, I walked in and found  a fragile bird that had been released to fly and become what his maker had origionally intended for him.

Love you Mike and miss you heaps buddy, but so happy to know “you are free”, Dad.

Friendship with my buddie

July 30, 2010

The caption I wrote on the last blog was “Naughty Boys”. Five days before mike died, Mike and I went out and brought not just the replacement DVD player we set out to buy but a flat screen TV and surround sound system. That was the occasion Mike said “Dad you only live once” as I deliberated whether to buy all these “toys”.

Last night I sat and watched “Hitch”, which he claimed had some good sound and was one of the two movies we watched the night before he died.

As I look back at photos, which is another mega blessing that we have so many of Mike, I see how many activities we did together or with Kathy. Mike was the one that wanted to join me/us when we were heading out. Another great memory was of Mike, Kathy and I going for walks and so this evening, Kathy and I will go on one which we had done many times with Mike.

Last Walk with Mike

Today is one full of emotion. As I have said, the date is not as significant to me as the days. Friday last year was such a fun day with Mike. A very full one which exemplified our friendship.

He was a lovely son and gave Kathy and I no trouble. I miss his humour. My chest is puffed with pride when I think of him.

I have to smile as the climbers at the back of the house desperately need a trim again. One year ago today Mike and I climbed up and cut them. What is hilarious is although its summer, it keeps spitting with rain, which is exactly the weather last year. I was up the ladder with the electric hedge trimmer and he was supposed to be holding the bottom from slipping.  I then saw he was standing in the conservatory out of the rain, smiling at me and with out words communicating, “well if you want to be up a ladder, in the rain with an electrical cutter, that’s your problem, I’m standing in the dry”!

My heart is full of thankfulness today for the life of my buddy and the priviledge to have had such an awesome 18 1/2 years with him.

Another day of Worship

July 28, 2010

We have a choice. Every day we have to make choices, some days they are seen more as “trade offs”. If I decide on one choice, it is at the expense of another. Due to my limitations, if I take one path, I for go the possibility of another.

There is also the immediate choice when in a given situation. What was my reaction towards God, the God I had followed for 30 years, when I found Mike dead in bed? I know of people who have used the Tsunami tragedy to walk away from God, His people and Church.

Today I have less answers and I didnt profess many in the past! But if I could head people in a direction, it would be to simply worship God. From my own experience, worshiping God in the storm, with the pain, hurt, darkness, trying to breathe, loss of purpose………..there is such an encounter of God.

On monday I went to the grave, on Tuesday I watched a video of Mike playing the guitar on my phone as I walked in the park early morning, today I listened to one of Mike’s favorite worship albums Delirious and Hillsong playing together.  What an uplifting and encouraging experience to walk in the park listening to this, knowing that Mike enjoyed this, listening to the words and chatting to God.

28th July 2009, boys being naughtly!

The season has begun.

July 27, 2010

These past weeks I have had less to express on my blog. From being very active in regular sport, enjoying cutting down trees with my chain saw and feeling ok with life, I hit a very flat spot. For the past two weeks I have had to sleep both in the mornings and again in the afternoon. Energy simply left me. I have a whole new appreciation for those who suffer from ME or depression of some sort. It is totally debilitating. It would be pointless for me or anyone else to of told me to get my act together. Part of me wonders whether the long grey days has anything to do with it. A family visiting from Australia and staying close by invited us the other evening for a barbe. The sun was out and walking home, I could tangibly feel something “lift”.

Thoughts abound about this week leading up to the 1 year mark. Actually its not the date that is significant to me, which will be on Sunday. Its the whole week and then around 8:00am Saturday morning. I begin to realise its the season not the day. We talk about the “holiday season” or the “Christmas Season”.  All of us as a family are doing very well. Kathy, like me is active in exercise. In fact she has just booked for us to cycle from Coast to Coast in a couple of weekends time. Its so nice to hear her excited about the two of us going away together.

A time to remember

A friend who is experiencing grief said to me the other day “I am doing better but I dont want to”. The emotion that accompanies the grief keeps us close to the person. As time heals, the emotion is less intense, distance becomes a reality. Kathy and I do not want to stir up the emotion during this season, but I also do not want to just let the week pass. As I have contemplated over my feelings, the thought of lent and lighting candles, or opening doors on chocolate boards came to mind. So I have decided to do something every day and with that, take a moment to thank God for my beautiful buddy. Yesterday it was a visit with Kathy to his grave, where we simply thanked God for his life. Today, I was up early walking and watched a video of him playing his guitar on my phone.

The season is bitter-sweet, but we choose to not focus on his death but rather his life.

I will Praise you in the Storm

July 18, 2010

Its grey outside and drizzling. Yet again, when we expect it to be sunny with sunshine because its summer we have grey and drizzle. In so many ways, the storm is not over. The passion and purpose for life is not there. I dropped the girls off at Church and went to see Mike at the graveside in the drizzle. I stood there and thought about the last year and God’s grace and mercy. All I can say was “to God be the glory, great things He has done”. If one song has helped us as a family this last year it would be Casting Crowns, “I will praise you in the Storm”. I wish it was over, I am tired and frustrated, BUT we have not been abandoned. God has been so faithful and we have such awesome family and friends that have walked the journey with us.

Praise You in This Storm
words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it’s still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you”
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I’ll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can’t find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth


What will we do on August 1st?

July 14, 2010

For us. August 1st was just going to be another day. Why would it be any different to all the others? Although that would be the 1 year mark, the loss and grief would be no less or no more than Jan 26th or any other day. Others have started to mention that date to us and in one sense we answered their direct question but inwardly did not process the thought. At least not until I read Akila’s blog and realised that Aug 1st for her was going to be an issue.

She and I talked and being similar personalities, we thought to use the day to celebrate. My mum wanted to join us for the weekend and so Kathy thought it would be nice to open up the home that weekend to my brothers and their families. Akila has also invited a good friend to come and stay. We wondered whether to have a little Thanks Giving at the grave and invite others.

As the time has passed I have been getting more and more overwhelmed at the prospect of a house full of people. I love then all and they are all welcome but when they told us they could not come, I was relieved! These days I try and process these emotions and press myself to gain an understanding. At times that is tedious and does not come straight away. The realisation came that “I was not in control”. The same feeling as the immediate aftermath of 1 year ago. The house was full of people. The emotion of that was shattering, although really appreciated and I would not of wanted it any other way. I could see that the event was very emotional and the family and friends around us was a fantastic and vital support, but it was all “linked” to the unhappy event. The inner fear was starting to rise and sub-conscious anxiety of a dej-a-vu experience.

I sit quietly and contemplate, oh how soothing that is. I dont have to organise, oh what a relief. Today, I’m not who I was. The Mark who would organise, enjoy events, never say no to a party…..I’m not there, I hope that will return but I need space today I did not need before.

We will be joined by my mum and Lea, which I am very happy and about and there is a sense of right to it. We will visit the grave around 8am which will be the time I walked in and found Mike. I dont want to make a ritual of that but this year that is my desire. What a blessing that the first anniversary is on a Sunday. That means a lot to us as we want to Thank God that day. Thank him for the life of Mike but also for the amazing blessings he has bestowed on us this past year. We will also go to breakfast at McDonalds as a bit of fun as Mike would have been working there at that time in the kitchen.

Keswick 2007

Psalm 150

 1 Praise the LORD. [a]
       Praise God in his sanctuary;
       praise him in his mighty heavens.

 2 Praise him for his acts of power;
       praise him for his surpassing greatness.

 3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
       praise him with the harp and lyre,

 4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
       praise him with the strings and flute,

 5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
       praise him with resounding cymbals.

 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
       Praise the LORD.

Another Hurdle

July 8, 2010

I could give several titles to this entry in my blog. “Bitter Sweet”, ‘ A tough day”, “I walked away from a memory”, “I love you so much”, “I am scrapping the memory”.

Guess what all that is about? Would you believe it if I told you its simply the fact that I had to scrap my car today. Its just a car…..yea right, if it was just that then why was a crying walking home from the scrap yard. Here are some photos to explain.



My Lovely buddy at the wheelMemories


Jobs Together

I taught Mike to drive in this car and I have to confess that was before the legal limit of 17! We also did many jobs for others with this car and had so much fun doing them. I wanted to teach him about the value of work and gaining financial returns from his work. We cleaned lots of windows. When we had finished the job and he had been paid, I would ask him as we were driving away, “What is my cut”? he would smile and tell me to get lost!

We would load our bikes on the roof and enjoy riding in the r forests and mountain trails. We would pile in the car for a trip to grandma’s.
The other evening I was so angry putting roof bars on my new car. I came in and just wanted to drink lots of wine. If I am totally honest I have held off writing about this as I wanted to use language that we all know falls into the category we call swearing! Here is what I was so angry about.

You were not here to fix these with me

 The truth is I am not the best when it comes to practical. I have a go and  I accomplish a lot but the process is not a straight line! I fixed these bars on the new car the other evening. The back one went on fine,  but the front one was too short. I then realised I had the feet on the wrong way round. I sorted that for the front but was too angry to reverse the back one. Why? Well Mike would have seen that I was fixing it incorrect. He would have started to smile. He was far too gracious to tell me I had it wrong, but from a very young age, he could see what I was doing wrong. I would have hinges on the wrong way, he knew, I had clips up side down, he knew, he could see what I was doing wrong and he would simply smile. WHERE WAS MY BUDDY TO SMILE AT MY WRONG FIXTURES!!!!!

So fixing up a new car or scrapping an old one is painful. I sit by my fire pit writing this telling Kathy that I have to admit, the bottle of wine numbs the pain.

Why do we say loss, when he was taken?

July 1, 2010

There are days when I have thoughts and wonder why I would write them in public. Part of me is nervous of being vulnerable, another part being afraid that I am wallowing in grief or may be if I am totally honest, afraid that people think I am wallowing in grief.

I know its 11 months today because my friend phones me on the 1st of the month. I feel I should have moved on and be further along but this I am discovering is an iterative process.

For the past few days I have a growing emotion that is related to the emergency services telling me that they are now going to take Mike’s body away and that I should go into the living room while they do that. Yes I was able to go to his room with Kathy, Laura, Peter and Win and say good bye.  But then I let others take my buddy, my dear lovely buddy out of the house. I let others put their hands on my son. I want to protect him, I dont care if its a struggle to get him down the stairs in some special carrying case, I should have done that.

We talk about ‘loss’. The feeling is more that he was ‘taken’. I should have given him to them, not for them to take him.

As a family, we know there was divine intervention if Mike not waking up that day. With much pain we have submitted to His authority over that. But that is only addressing the faith aspect not the human one. I dont have any issue with God taking Him, I am sad that unknown people took him.

When we lose something, whatever that is, whilst we have to grieve the loss, there is a difference between me initiating the loss or me dealing with the consequences of loss due to someone taking away something I had.

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