Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Guardian Angel....

My family is a large and somewhat complicated one (which I won't go into here but may do somewhere down the track). Over the past year my perception of life, my past, my family and who I am have dramatically changed (in ways that have been both painful and positive).  My parents separated when I was quite young and my mother re-married when I was about 9 years old. Along with my step-father came three new siblings. One of these siblings, Alex, was 3 years older than myself, and it is to her that I want to turn the attention of this post.

I'm not sure what has compelled me to want to write about Alex at this moment (perhaps it is because earlier today I was recollecting the way we used to watch movies over and over again and recite all the lines when we were young; or perhaps its because the anniversary of her death passed the other week?). Being born with a physical disability, much of Alex's life was a struggle. Despite this, she lived every part of her 24 years to the full and she had a profound impact upon everyone she met. 

Last year, Alex's mother had a book published, which was a compilation of pieces of writing completed by Alex. This book was given to me a few months after my son was born, as I was slowly coming out the other side of my post natal depression. Reading it was extremely emotional for me. It brought up a number of issues that I know I haven't fully dealt with from my childhood and also brought to light a number of aspects of Alex's death that I also haven't dealt with. The hardest part for me, however, was the realisation of just how much we lost when we lost her. Of course I always knew she was special and her death devastated me. But to a certain extent, my youth prevented me from being able to fully understand and appreciate this wonderful person when she was here with me.  

I have always missed and thought of Alex in our good times and have such fond memories of all the laughter, but this past year was the first time in which I had craved her presence in a bad time. In reading about the depth of her understanding of life and people and her devotion to helping others all I could think of was that I would give anything to be able to have a conversation with her now and to seek her wisdom and advice in such a dark time. Even though Alex could not be with me physically over the past year, I now view this book as a gift from her. One that came to me at the perfect time (kind of a coincidence - why did it happen to come now as opposed to some other time over the past 10 years?). I haven't seen Alex's mother since I received the book but I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to her for sharing this wonderful gift with all of us. Through this book I have been able to gain a deeper understanding of just how amazing Alex was. 

Despite living with people every day, many of us will go a lifetime without ever really understanding them or having a glimpse of their inner most thoughts about life. When I stop and think about this it just seems so sad and crazy. Aren't these the important things? Why do we let all the mundane, trivial things fill our days and interactions with the people closest to us? This book is a timely reminder to me to look for, appreciate and recognise the gifts inside each person in my life, right now. Look at everything I will miss out on if I don't.


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