Do I want to just forget this year? Hell no.

leavesTo paint a leaf, you have to sacrifice the whole landscape. It might seem like you’re limiting yourself at first, but after a while you realise that having a quarter-of-an-inch of something you have a better chance of holding on to a certain feeling of the universe than if you pretended to be doing the whole sky.” –Nicole Krauss, the History of Love

They say that suffering Great Loss can carve us into gentler, kinder creatures.

Personally, I wish it were different. I wish eating chocolate or having lazy mornings on the sofa or walking along the river or watching endless episodes of Modern Family or doing any number of things I’d rather do than cope with loss …  I wish these things made us somehow Awesomely Amazing People.

Instead we kick and we struggle and we weep and we get knocked down and we get up eventually and we count our blessings that we’re not That Poor Bugger that’s worse off than us, and with Grace and effort, we get a teeny bit softer and a little bit kinder.

I lost my man this year. I lost Greg Parker, the Man-Who-Lived. I still don’t understand what that loss actually means. It is as if for all those years, Greg kept me alive with his Life Force, which burned brighter and stronger even as his body was dying, and now that fire is gone.

The very notion that he is not here – annoying the hell out of me, loving me despite all my faults, helping me find my way (quite literally, as he was my Google Maps), or explaining something I didn’t understand (he was also my Wikipedia) – seems somehow wrong. Like a Great Mistake in the Universe has occurred and I’m waiting for someone to fix it.

I had a dream that he came back. He just suddenly walked into this great big hall which was full of people at the end of a large conference.

Stomp, stomp, clap. Stomp, stomp, clap.

Buddy you’re a young man hard man
Shoutin’ in the street gonna take on the world some day.

Greg’s voice rang out with such power and clarity.  He had everyone stomping and clapping to the beat. Then everyone was singing,

We will, we will rock you!

My heart was wildly happy – Greg Parker was back, his voice was back, his electricity, his charisma, his music. Everything was going to be ok. His eyes shone and he was well, and young and vital.

I never felt so cheated in all my life when the sound of dogs barking woke me and I realised it was a dream. I witnessed it – I was there when he came back, and my mind was cruel that morning to have returned him to me and then taken him away. Again.

I loved Greg for three decades. I didn’t realise how profoundly until he died on May 16th this year. 2014.

But I never want to forget this year.

I never want to forget his courage, his compassion, his valour. Valour isn’t something we see very often.

I never want to forget our last family holiday. When we knew that the treatment wasn’t working any longer but death seemed far away and we all thought that Greg would pull another rabbit out of his hat. When he was still able to walk. There was magical light, beautiful horses, family meals, his children and grandchildren and beloved son-in-law around him. Laughter. Long walks.

I never want to forget his last show. Greg was actually only 8 weeks away from dying, but we didn’t know that. He wanted to say goodbye, to offer his music one last time. We called the show From Our Hearts to Yours. I never want to forget seeing 1000 people standing up and clapping as he wept and said how much he had loved serving us, how much he loved us, how thankful he was for everything, even the cancer, and for each and every person in his life – and he named each of us. Or that his painful, beautiful efforts were captured so sweetly in a story done by the 7.30 Report, immortalised forever on film.

I never want to forget how he wept when I promised that after he was gone, I would hold a concert in his name, calling it From Our Hearts to Yours – The Greg Parker Memorial Concert. 

I never want to forget finding this house that I now live in, this amazing house that I was going to nurse him in comfort for the months or year that I imagined he had. I wasn’t to know that he would die only four days after we moved in. So instead, this magical garden, this light-filled home, and my walks by the river across the road have offered me peace and respite.

I never want to forget the tributes that were collected by my loving sister from all over the world to come together in this book, read aloud to him by Mary, as they both wept, only days before he died. Or the beautiful people that filled every corner of this house with flowers afterward, and the 600+ people that came to honour his life at his wonderful, love-filled, unforgettable funeral.

I never want to forget the kindness of my friends and family. Of Greg’s sister Terri’s constant presence in those difficult last weeks, of my sisters’ love and food and prayers, of all the friends who sacrificed time and energy to come to my aid. Of my niece Shanthi who not only helped us move house that weekend before he died, but who moved in with her husband and young children, and helped me put one foot in front of the other in those first grief coloured, post-Greg weeks when I barely remembered that I had feet.

I never want to forget the agonising pain of losing someone you love that much, because without it I would not have known how much I loved.

I never want to forget taking to the mountains with Mary, and the healing whiteness of our first experience in the snow or the feeling of holding Greg’s oldest daughter Rachel to my heart and stroking her beautiful blonde hair, knowing we were linked forever in our loss of her beloved Daddle.

I never want to forget how Mary held me close when she found me shaking and weeping and how she helped contain my grief with her love and wisdom. (Or that my baby girl graduated this year, won and award for her photography, took her first solo overseas trip, climbed a mountain in Greg’s name.  She is basically Awesome).

I never want to forget the painting my friend Phil Doncon created only days after Greg died, of a sunset and an ocean. “Mal,” he said, “I reckon this is the ‘Sea of Light’ that Greg plunged into”.

And I never want to forget coming home to my students, who welcomed my announcement that I was teaching again after an 8 month break by booking out all my workshops in 3 days. Sharing their awe and wonder they feel when they rediscover their creativity fills me with joy. Every. Single. Time. They are a constant reminder to me that making art is a gesture of hope.

A dear friend wrote recently how 2014 has been a difficult year. A lot of pain and a lot of loss. She wanted December to move on quickly so she could forget this year. I agreed almost as a reflex. But ever since then a little voice inside has said,

 “No, Malini. You don’t ever want to forget this year.”

Whole Family in Margaret River

Greg, Rachel and Sage in Margaret River

Greg and Malini walking in Margaret River

Greg and his girls on his last birthday

At the Concert on March 22

ABC TV interview

ABC filming the Dress Rehearsal

Greg and his brothers and sisters

At Greg's side on Mary's 22nd Birthday April 22 2014 (1)

Greg with his grandchildren a in his last weeks

My sister Susheel offers healing

Greg and his Best Mates

Shanthi

Greg and Mary on her birthday 3 weeks before he died

Candles and photos the night he died

Malini in the snowy mountains of Victoria

Mary on the summit of Bluff Knoll Nov 1 2014

Mary Graduates and Wins

Sea of Light by Phil Doncon

A lovely spot in my garden

My first group of students after my break

Us

 

 Leave a comment here.

Comments 42

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      I am always so honoured that you read my posts, Wing. Thank you for that. And for those kind words. Greg really adored you (you were his favourite 🙂

  1. Eloquently put as always Malini. It was such a joy to share in one of your workshops and as always I love to read of your journey and feel inspired by who you are being in the world. Thank you.
    Love Gina

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      Gina dear, it was fantastic to meet YOU and share your creative adventures for the day! You were a joyful, lively presence in the group, one I will always remember. Thank you for those very lovely words. x

  2. Oh dear – you have done it again, Mal. The sadness yet joy in this post! The Ultimate post of the year and you won’t forget this year for the reasons you state; 2014 will always brings both emotions to the fore. Love the pic of Greg with the grandees and the littlest one looking so lovingly at him – whole thing brings tears of joy and sadness. Joy to see such joy in others, sadness for selfish self wanting him to still be around. But the legacies he left!! WOW – you, an artist of …. willing to share with others; Rachel, her children – such joy in her and her art comes from Greg; and Mary – a talented artist in her own right. What an amazing family! Thank you for sharing all this – puts fire in my heart each time> Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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      Sweet Robin, what a dear you are. I look forward to reading your responses most of all! Thank you, thank you. You were very loved by Greg and of course always, by me. You and your unpredictably coloured hair and your very loving heart. xox

  3. As always, a story shared , of joy and sorrow and most of all, pure and simple and true love —- moving in all ways. A love story that is beautifully told —- Though I must admit, I would have LOVED to have heard the full power of ‘ We will – Rock You’……………love that song!!!!!

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      Yes, Marilyn, can you imagine how I felt when the dream ended. It was such a treasure. I guess that experience will have to be the gift. Thank you for those kind words and for always supporting my writing, all the way over in Middle Earth. xox

  4. I am blubbering tears of love … and also grief… All over my desk. Thanks for putting a beautiful spin on this past year, and I am so honoured to have been a part of it xx

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    Aww Shanthi, what would I do without you and your mad ways?! Who does that – picks up their family and moves in? You and Hoda – your blood’s worth bottling.x

  6. Oh Mal, I have no words except OMG OMG OMG! How absolutely true and beautiful. Thanks for summing up this year for all of us

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      Thank you for your most excellent help, my sister, I couldn’t have gotten through the year without your food and love and prayers.

  7. Oh Malini,
    As tears steam down my cheeks I thank you for sharing your story and shining a light on the complex process of grief. You amazing and inspire me as I am sure you do for so many others.

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  8. Your words are so beautiful, thank you my dear dear friend. I read this from Shakespeare the other day, which I think shows how important your sharing is. “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” Your words give hope and joy to my heart. X

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  9. Aunty Mal, this year really has been something! I often wonder how the story would’ve gone if I was living in Perth this past year… But I think I was meant to be Here for the family… And I’m so glad I got to be There even if it was ever so briefly in April. I look forward to being a part of the Memorial Concert when I return x

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      We wish you could have been here too, but I think you were with us in spirit, Carmel. Definitely looking forward to your return!! xox

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  10. Dear Malini I’ve only been to one of your workshops and thoroughly enjoyed it and learned heaps, Always love your writing and have followed your journey. Such special souls, you and Greg and your beautiful family – and such a beautifully written post from the heart, tears to my eyes just kept welling up. May you continue to have that peace and love, and know that life and death are only doorways. Am sure you already know that yours and Greg’s soul will forever remain connected. Much love to you, thank you for sharing so deeply xo

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      Patsie dear, I am so touched at your kind words. I love this line in particular “know that life and death are only doorways.” Beautifully put. Much love to you too and thank you for taking the time and stopping by xox

  11. Hi Mal,
    As always, you’re such an awesome writer. As I see it, you’re truly blessed to have such an incredible husband share 3 decades of his life with you and be surrounded by so many who love you. I agree with you that 2014 has been a great and significant year for you. Am so glad for you that you’ve resumed teaching; the overwhelming support from your students is testament of how much you and your work is appreciated! Keep up the good work, Mal!

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      Hey there old friend, that is so kind of you. Yes, I was blessed to have Greg in my life for so long. Both the ups and the downs. Thank you for taking the time to share this. much love xox

  12. Malini, how beautifully you have captured the year. Yes it did bring tears to my eyes and I remembered you saying “adversity is a gift wrapped in sandpaper”. You are an amazing woman who spreads love and energy. I love all the photos and can’t wait for your next workshop. Thanks so much for sharing your saddest and happy moments with us. Love always. Fidi xxx

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      Hey sweetness, I always feel that YOU spread love and energy wherever you go, so it is such an honour for me to read that. I’m blessed to know you and so fortunate to have met you through my workshops. Thank you xox

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      Hello Gaye, What a gorgeous thing to say, thank you to YOU for being part of my ‘comeback’ workshop and adding such warmth and loveliness to the day 🙂 xox

  13. Mal that was a that was a misty read ,we all miss him non so much as you , The rest of us only new a fraction of this man .It,s a testament to your strength of life as a person to get back on the horse. Love Rob

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      Rob dear, he loved you as a brother, and respected you just as much. Thank you for the years of friendship and unconditional love that you and Lynne gave him. xox

  14. Oh Malini,
    It has taken me all this time to find the courage and strength to read your 2014 story. And yes, your words and wonderful memories have made me cry. Thank you for sharing. You are so lucky to have had time with such an amazing man, knowing that even though he is no longer in this world, you both had so much love for each other. Your writings are so visual and truthful. Thank you again.
    My thoughts are with you and your family this Christmas and into the New Year.
    Lots of love,
    Marilyn (a student from your beginners class in 2014)

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      Marilyn I am so touched that you took the time to read it, especially that you took some time to get there – it makes it even more special for me. I am very fortunate to have shared my life with Greg, and each day that passes helps me to realise that even more. I wish you so much joy and love in 2015 and always. Til we meet again! xox

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