It’s been a reflective week. My mother, who passed away in 2004, would have celebrated her 86th birthday this week just gone by. As I reflected on the journey she went on, the devastation of losing her when she was just 69, and now the impact that together she and I are having on many, many lives, I can see how very different things can be, when we dig below the surface.
I have the day that my mother died firmly entrenched in my mind and my heart. That day was the most heart-breaking and traumatic day of my life. Yet upon reflection, and under the surface of the tragedy, there were so many blessings that have sprouted since. I will share this in a shortened version, the full account can be found in the book I wrote about my amazing mother, called Dance Until it Rains.
On this particular day in December 2004, my mother had been on a fifteen plus year journey with cancer and beaten just about every medical odd to have survived and thrived for so long. I had planned a weekend away, but was on the verge of cancelling it and staying by her side. However, on the encouragement of my dad and her doctor that she was stable, I decided to go. Well, it didn’t last long because at 5pm on that Friday I got a call from my dad saying that she had taken a turn for the worse and I should get back to Melbourne. Panic set in!
I was in Sydney. I rushed to the airport, I bought a ticket and waited for my flight, which after a lengthy delay was cancelled. I was frantic and clearly desperate as flight crew managed to get me on the next flight home. As I sat on that flight, in mid-air, I got this immediate and painful sinking feeling in my gut, and I just knew I had missed her. I knew she was gone. As the plane landed, I turned on my phone and a message from my father confirmed my worst fears, that she had died whilst I was in the air.
It’s hard to describe how I was feeling at that time. Numb initially, then anger with myself for going away, and then finally desperation to get to the hospital to be with my family and see her for the last time. I decided to save time by going and getting my car first and then coming back to get my luggage off the carousel. The plan was going perfectly until I came out, after getting my luggage, to find I was being written an infringement, by a humourless parking officer, for stopping in a bus zone. I pleaded with him, and he ignored me, so, I said, ‘Do what you have to do, I’m out of here.’ I drove off leaving a stunned parking officer, with a half-written parking infringement in my wake.
When I finally got to the hospital, it was around midnight and heading into Saturday morning. I sat with my mother for about an hour, holding her hand, sobbing and telling her how much I love her and how sorry I was for not being with her. I am not ashamed to tell you, I was devastated and traumatised by this event for many months, even years. In fact, it wasn’t until I was writing Dance Until it Rains, that I allowed myself to see the treasure that was buried beneath the surface of that tragedy.
The first insight I got, as I was writing and healing, was that maybe my being away when she passed was actually a blessing. I think she held on longer than she would’ve liked, because she didn’t want me, or us, to be in pain, and I believe my being away allowed her to give herself permission to go. I had to dig below the surface to see and feel that. The second amazing blessing, since her passing, is the loving and joyful relationship I have been able to develop with my father. Then, the greatest treasure I found below the surface was discovered after Dance Until it Rains was published in 2011. Since that time, my beautiful mother and I have been together every single day as we share the message of hope, courage, love and purpose. She has left an impressive legacy and I am grateful that I get the opportunity to help her take it to the world. Since she has passed, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many lives have been touched by her life, her story and her inspiration. Wow, what a privilege. For a long time, it certainly didn’t seem like any positives would come from her passing, and it wasn’t until I started digging below the surface that the magic appeared.
In my podcast this week, called ‘The hidden benefits,’ with Natalie Matthews, we discuss the wonderful opportunities that come hidden in every challenge, problem or adversity, if you just dig a little. Natalie has struggled with separation from her family in the UK due to COVID and talks openly about her struggles, and about the wonderful benefits that she has discovered as a result. It is my greatest desire that from reading this blog and listening to the podcast, you will also dig to find the hidden benefits that lie just below the surface of every single challenge, problem or adversity.
No matter what you are currently facing in your life, I want to encourage you scratch below the surface. Underneath your relationship issues you will find opportunities to create wonderful connections. Below your financial woes you will discover lessons to help you create stability. Beneath your health challenges, there is wisdom, inspiration and advantages that will help you regain your health and then claim optimal wellbeing. The answers and opportunities are there for you, just under the surface, and all you have to do is start digging. You will be amazed, delighted and excited by what you find when you dig below the surface.