Catching my breath

Malini in the snow

A pleasant young man casually tells us to place our feet on the green line and wait for the chairlift to come around. We sit on the swinging seat as it moves around the giant cable, barely stopping for us to get on.

“The safety bar is coming down now; remember to lift it before you get off on the other end!”

Suddenly we’re airborne, taking off into the whiteness. I was completely unprepared for the ground to disappear. We’re swinging hundreds of metres in the air held by teeny tiny cables. If I move, if I breathe, I will surely, surely plunge into the abyss below.

White knuckled terror envelopes me. What is this feeling? I’ve never had a problem with high places before this! Suddenly I understand how it was for Greg. Acrophobia was the ONE fear he had. I didn’t quite understand it until this moment. A fear of heights always seemed out of place in a man that was otherwise completely fearless.

Mary is sitting next to me. I realise that my terror is matched in equal measure by her exhilaration. While I am convinced that if I let go of the safety bar I will plummet to my death, she is almost dancing in her seat, taking photographs of everything.

The next day the sun comes out and we do the same chairlift ride. This time I am myself again and the fear has disappeared. The wonderful vista stretches to forever, snow covered peaks, breathless beauty, unimaginable majesty. What an amazing continent, this vast land with so many surprises. I had been completely unaware that Australia had this much snow in it, or what it does to one’s soul to be in such high places, in such … whiteness.

I step away from my sadness for a few moments.

“How lucky are we?” I say to Mary. “So lucky, mum,” she agrees.

I imagine she’s also thinking, as I am, if only her dad were here to experience this.

We are in a black and white world of extreme weather, of purity, grace and majesty, of unseen dangers, of very soft (or very hard), landings.

They speak mysteriously to this period of my life, and I see that this place, this adventure, is helping me inch my way forward and coalesce the pieces of my being that have been shattered by Greg’s death.

Mary and I went to the mountains and discovered snow for the very first time. Our delight in the experience must have reverberated through the heavens. Perhaps Greg too, was smiling.

Mary and I had chosen to travel 3500km across Australia to visit the snow covered mountains of Victoria, because we had wanted to do something different to mark this period of our lives, this liminal space we found ourselves in after  Greg’s death. I had no idea how significant this choice would be.

_____________________________________

Greg Parker, my husband of twenty eight years, passed away on May 16 this year. Although we knew for four years that it was coming, I was completely unprepared for his passing.  Let me rephrase that. I was completely unprepared for how I would feel.

In the aftermath of his death, Grief was a Great Void that both stretched out endlessly in front of me and filled my head and heart. I had no words for it. I still don’t.

It’s been over two months since he died. I seem myself on the outside. “Coping well” I imagine friends may be saying. Sure, now there are days when I go nearly 24 hours without weeping, and when I think of him, grief is sometimes not the first emotion I feel. But there is never a moment when he is not in my thoughts, sleeping or waking.

Perhaps one day I will fully accept that the indomitable Greg Parker, the legend, the-one-who-would-never-die, has gone, and I am to navigate the rest of my life without him. For now I am leaning fully into every emotion. I am remembering that while I have lost a treasure, I have innumerable things to be grateful for.

I’m pretending that I can do this.

And I’m trusting that as Everything Changes, I will too.

Malini on Mt Buller

Comments 55

  1. Malini
    You are such a trooper! Greg would be so proud of the way you are dealing with things. He would be smiling and nudging you to move forward, to have fun and explore new and exciting things that are just around the corner. Life is there to live but remains hard when that someone special is not there to share it with you, but rest assured he is definitely there in spirit. Love to you Malini and your family. Oh….and big hugs!!

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      Sweet Maria, you are such a bundle of love. I still remember that first workshop you attended, and how discovering your creativity was a changing moment in your life. Now look at you – exhibiting your work, a full on artist in your own right, and a lovely friend. Bless your heart, dear Maria, and thank you for sharing my journey. xox

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      Thank you Debbie, your prayers are appreciated and I’m full of gratitude. Thank you also for being such a loyal reader. Your website is lovely, looks like it’s had a makeover too if I’m not mistaken, well done! xox

  2. <3 I believe in you. There is a reason the indomitable legendary Greg Parker married you. Quite simply because you were also (a very different) indomitable legend in your own right. I see it even if you can't.

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  3. Beautiful heartfelt post Malini. So much vulnerability in your words, in your sharing of what it’s like for you. The photo of you discovering snow for the first time brought tears to my eyes. I will remember this when I find our winters too long. I’m so happy that you and your daughter did this trip to the mountains. Blessings and much love to you and Mary. xo

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      Suzanne dear, thank you so much for being such a loyal reader, and for your support over the years. I see the advocacy work you are doing now… and it must be so strange to think of people like us who have no familiarity with snow. I’m so glad we are sharing our journeys. xox

  4. Eloquent as always, Malini. Your post brought tears to my eyes, as well. I love the photo of you in the snow, and I agree with Suzanne that I’ll have to think of you discovering snow when we’re in the middle of a long snowy winter! Keep well.

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      Thank you for stopping by Valerie and for sharing my journey with me. Your support is so appreciated from my heart to yours. xox

  5. Very touching and well written. I wish you peace on your journey with your daughter. Thank you for sharing xox

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  6. Malini,
    What beautiful words so filled with grieving and healing at the same time. I can not imagine what you life must be like without your partner of 28 years, but I do believe that your grieving is a sign that you loved deeply and that is a gift.

    I am looking forward to reading more about this journey of yours.

    Shari

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  7. Dearest Malini,
    Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of you and Greg and Mary and Rachel and all the family. Your story, as always was filled with honesty and emotion and pure love. Your photos were beautiful and I’m so happy that you found a place of peace and wonder, and I hope your heart is beginning to mend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us. With love and prayers, Carol

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      Carol dear, I am so touched at your loving words. Thank you so much. I’m inching my way along, and writing about this ‘difficult to speak about’ process has been part of the mending. So grateful for your kindness and your prayers. And Greg benefited from your gentle and useful help every time he used the lever to get out of the car, the supportive cushion on his wheelchair… and don’t forget the amazing venue for his last concert. Thank you so much. xox

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  8. We love you Malini. Thank you for sharing with such integrity, and I’m so so sorry for your loss. Sending you much love and strength. x

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  9. What a beautiful post Malini – I’d been wondering how you were doing – we aren’t ever prepared for the actual time when our loved one has to move on and it hits hard. Very gradually though we surface again and the snow is a perfect and pure place to conduct this metamorphosis that you have to. Suffice to say, through your posts over the last few years, I’d have to say along I’m sure others that Greg would be there with you both holding your hand. One day at a time ….

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      Marilyn your support over the years from so far away has been a gift. Thank you for sharing my journey and for your love and kindness. xox

  10. Malini, what can I say other than this is a beautiful post. Yes, even though we “know” it is coming, death still breaks us open. When it comes to birth and death we shift between two very different knowings, don’t we? I am surprised that there is snow is Australia, too. Now more than ever, I’d really like to visit Australia and see what it has to offer. Perhaps, one day, we can sit over coffee and talk as only Sister Flyers can. Blessings!

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      Yes, Birth and Death are both difficult and painful, and lead to amazing shifts, you are so right. Broken open, surprised, shattered, but inching back. Thank you for sharing my journey Robin, and for being such a loyal reader, I am deeply grateful. Please come visit Oz 🙂 we’ll meet and laugh and have that coffee. xox

  11. Dear Malini, What a great idea for you and Mary to discover something new together – one that you do have a word for – “snow.” As for the intensity of what you’re going through day by day, no need to tax the limited intellect to come up with correct labels. Sending love and big hugs, Lynn

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      You’re so right Lynn. Much of it cannot be described, as I have no words for it. But the snow was symbolic, and so was the journey. See you in Perth soon, I hope. xox

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      Thank you Margriet. Mary and I shared a room together on this journey, just as you and your daughter did when we first met so many years ago. So much has changed since then, and I thank you for sharing this part of my life, with your prayers and your loving thoughts. xox

  12. Ohhhh Malini…I’m so sorry you and your daughter have been thrust onto the grieving road. Sounds to me like you ARE doing this journey well so far—allowing yourself to feel the emotions as they wash over you, trying new places while in the liminal state, openly expressing the overwhelm and the pain…all healthy ways to hang on in this new landscape. One of our sons died unexpectedly six years ago…and as a fellow walker in Griefland, I can tell you that it WILL get easier, but your Greg will always be in your thoughts and in your heart…it becomes a little less intense over time.

    Thinking of you and praying for you as you navigate this new life you never asked for…

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      Jill,
      I am so sorry for the loss of your son, oh, what a loss.
      Your kind words when straight to my heart.
      Thank you for sharing my journey.
      much love xox

  13. Malini, Your beautiful and courageous words, your journey to the snow with Mary has made a very big impact on me today. Thank YOU. I needed to read that despite the fact that you have gone through the painful loss of your dearest Greg, that you are still able to “pretend” to rise above the pain and see beauty in the hope that the act of “pretending” will change to be “not pretend & be real”. I thought I was in despair earlier today and then I read this amazing post of such wisdom and clarity. Thank you for making me stop and draw breath and I have taken much comfort from your strength. Malini, I wish you and Mary much love. Greg would have been smiling for sure xoxo

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      Sweet Elaine,
      thank you for these loving words. I am so glad that my journey has somehow helped you in yours as well. sharing stories is really one of the best things in life. You are such a beautiful soul and I’ll never forget the strength and healing in that painting you created in my workshop.
      Big hugs to you my dear xox

  14. Dearest Malini,
    What lovely words, how well you express yourself. You are a natural born teacher and still teaching even in
    your grief journey. You are a beautiful being and so generous. Lots of love and hugs Jeni
    PS I adore my painting “Wings of Change” – it has bought me such comfort and everyone who visits comments on it.

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      Jeni my dear, such kind words to warm my heart this cold morning. I am so glad you have that painting. I think of you and Wings of Change often. What an apt name for both of us… and it was Greg that named it. much love xox

  15. Tears gently rolled down my cheek as I read this. I’m so glad you and Mary took this trip. Such beautiful and profound moments and thoughts you shared. Thank you x

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      Melly, thank you for reading it and even though you are so far away, thank you for being with us with your prayers and love. xox

  16. Malini,

    Thank-you for sharing your journey with us all. I know one day I will again experience the loss of someone who I love with my whole heart and is a part of my daily life. It may not be my husband and I pray to never lose a child or a grandchild. And yet, it happens every day – suddenly someone is gone for our sight and our touch here on earth. I’ve seen my mom and my dad, as well as, my oldest brother pass on to heaven. They still feel so close.

    As you feel able, please continue to share…many reading are experiencing a similar wrenching grief and have no words to express it. You are so dearly loved by so many all over this world.
    We each hold you in our thoughts and prayers…

    Remember to breathe..and Love will be faithful to enfold you.

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      You are so right, Jody. Grief and loss are part of life. Such great teachers.
      I will remember your counsel and keep writing even though it can be difficult to express.
      Much love to you and thank you for your prayers. xox

  17. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing these insights into your journey, and what a wonderful setting of white snow to reflect and appreciate life’s beauty.

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  18. Wonderful post and yes for me too after death the world turned black and white. An absence of emotions so raw they are hard to deal with. Whiteouts and clear skies are such poetic contrasts. May you embrace the quietness, the cushioning, the enclosing that snow brings and when you and life are ready, may spring gradually melt away your pain and allow the flowers in your heart to bloom once again. 🙂

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      Suzi I am so sorry for your losses. I admire the way you have chosen such a unique project as a healing tool. Thank you for the beautiful words. I look forward to the day when flowers bloom in my heart. I love that image.xox

      1. Thanks Malini, on reflection, the project found me, it appeared there in the bottom of my cup. Going with it is what has lifted me up. Hugs, rest and much love. 🙂

  19. So sad and beautiful and all so so so true.
    What a lovely image of my dear brave smum taken no doubt by another dear deer.

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  20. Hi kawan Malini + Mary,
    You girls were so brave and adventurous in Victoria. You get a medal for your display of cheerful enthusiasm! In a fast world filled with distraction and materialism, slow down and learn to reconnect with Nature. It will forever give you deep insight, ever-encompassing meaning and a renewed sense of purpose, if you learn to hear with your heart and see with your soul, its intended lessons.
    May you and Mary’s adventures ahead be filled with purposeful experiences. Our ‘good man’ Greg will be there too.

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      Yours and Jasmine’s hospitality and kindness to us in Melbourne made this trip possible, thank you my old friend. You are so right about the healing power of nature. Your kind words are appreciated.

  21. Beautiful, touching, raw, inspiring post, Malini❤️ There is really no way to prepare our hearts for such a loss. Keep being gentle with yourself. Keep writing when you can. You have the loving support of this Flyer

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  22. Dearest Malini, in such sadness you still manage to find and express such beauty and joy. The journey is no doubt long with valleys and peaks to travel along the way, but I am sure you know you do not travel alone….. Love and thoughts to you and yours.

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      Hello my dear Robyn, your words are so kind. I think of you and David often. We’ve all suffered grief in our lives and I so appreciate your kindness and support in sharing my journey. xox

  23. Malini my ‘little’ sister, with so much beauty to share in your grief. It is an honour to walk with you as you lean into all these many emotions with so much courage and generosity for those around you.

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