Precious little time

I begin this post with a huge lump in my throat (a little more than 36 hours after I got some distressing news my mind has finally began to process it) and although I post this on the 1st of April, let me make one thing clear from the get go – this is in no way an April Fool’s joke.

It seems like just the other day, but 6 months ago my family and I lost my aunt. Just over a week earlier my cousin’s twins were born. I guess the universe has a strange way of keeping the balance. To make space for new arrivals, others must leave this world.

To some, six months might feel like an eternity – to others, it’s barely a drop in the ocean. When my aunt passed away I mentioned how difficult and unfair it must be as a parent, to out-live your children – but when we’ve lived a full life, it seems slightly less unfair. You had a good life, you saw your own children and grand-children grow up, your time came and those that are left behind have to deal with the loss.

But, how do you deal with this as a parent losing a child, of just over six months?

One of my cousin’s twin sons passed away suddenly in his sleep yesterday morning. As a parent (and even before becoming a parent) I’ve known known about SIDS and how today it remains unexplained. But you never, in your wildest dreams, think it could happen to someone you know, let alone yourself.

I cannot begin to imagine what my cousin, her husband and children must be going through right now. How does one process what has happened? How do you explain it? Whom do you blame? Something inexplicably wrong has happened, someone or something is to blame? You want answers, I know for sure I’d be questioning everything and everyone if, God-forbid, something like this had to happen to me. All I know for sure, is that it’s not fair – life just isn’t fair.

Since my cousin and her children live in New Zealand I’ve never seen their children in person, other than photos on Facebook and keeping in touch electronically. Regrettably, I never got to know my little namesake, but we shared an invisible bond of a family name and a blood-line. I know he will be missed by many, but especially so by his parents and siblings.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you dear cousin. May you all somehow find the strength to get through this. I’m not sure I could, you’re all much stronger than I am.

If today was your last day?

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?
– Chad Kroeger, Nickleback

My mom has been up away for about a week and a half now to be at the bedside of her eldest sister who was in hospital. She had malignant growths removed from her bowels and after surgery became more ill from a hospital virus she contracted. Her organs started to fail and she was placed in a medically induced coma as her body was to week to cope. For a period of time she was on a ventialtor as well as she could no longer breathe on her own.

My mom, her sister, younger brother and her mom (my gran is 92 by the way) have been going every day to the hospital and back to be at her bedside and to motivate her to fight and get better. Last week however they were told that she might not make past midweek. So the family has been preparing itself for the worst. A priest was also called in to say a few prayers.

A specialist told the family that she was not brain dead so they couldn’t legally turn off the machines and let her go. Over the weekend she stabilised so that she could be removed form the ventilator however still in an induced coma.

While all this is happening my cousin (daughter of the second eldest sister) is 39 weeks pregnant and just about ready to pop! Understandably her mom is being tugged between her sister’s condition and the miracle of her daughter’s pending birth. Not a situation I would wish upon my worst enemy.

I spoke to my mom again last night and she said that she spoke to her sister and commanded her to wake up and wish her for her birthday (yeah it was my mom’s birthday yesterday – she turned 60). After she left the room my aunt’s daughter-in-law noticed tears streaming from her eyes while she lay in a coma on the bed. I guess it must be true that we can sub-consciously hear people while in a coma.

This morning around 2am my aunt passed away. I guess she tried to hold on just a little bit longer so as not to leave my mom with the reminder on her birthday each year about her sister’s passing and not on the day her neice would give birth to her first-born. I really feel for my gran who I couldn’t imagine what she must be going through – as parents we should never be in a position that we should have to bury our children, especially not at the age of 92!

And so with the passing of one life the balance must be restored – any day now my cousin will give birth to their child and the ying-yang will be in balance once again.

Here’s the video to the Nickleback lyrics I was referring to at the beginning of this post. Remember, live your life to the fullest because today might be your last day. Rest in peace, aunt Pieta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jyy9Qj-FBw

10 years on – through the looking glass

If you’d asked me 10 years ago where I thought I’d be today I probably wouldn’t be able to picture my life quite like this – I know I had aspirations of getting to this point one day but that’s all they were back then.

About 11 years and 6 months ago my life changed, in a blink of an eye. I met someone with whom I began a new chapter, in fact, a few new chapters. I convinced her to move with me to the UK where we made London our home a year after we met. Six months later we returned and got married.

We went back to London where we lived and worked for another 3 years. Somewhere along the way we did some travelling in and around the UK, Portugal, Greece, France and Mexico.

And then another chapter began, Melissa was born. Four months later we packed up our belongings, shipped them off to South Africa in a container and flew back to Cape Town.

Yet again another chapter began, our family and life back in Cape Town. As the years went by so did the changing of jobs, meeting new people, making new friends. And almost 4 years later our lives took another turn, for the better, Rebecca was born. That was a little over 3 years ago now.

It almost feels like it was only yesterday that I met Dina, and look how much has happened and how much time has passed.

And so that brings me to today, the 25th of September, 2009. Ten years on, so much has happened and so much that I’m grateful for.

Dina, Melissa and Rebecca – I love you. Thank you for being a part of my life and letting me be a part of yours. May there be many such milestones ahead and many more joyous times.

To my friends and family – thanks for being there for us too, in good times and bad.

Right now, as of the (automated) time this post goes live, I’ll either be lying next to Dina in our lodge at Monkey Valley (where we spent our honeymoon, 10 years ago), in Noordhoek, or having breakfast – enjoy the weekend, I know we will.

Another chapter begins

Well the last two weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster. With the news at work of retrenchments and the idea of having to find work again, especially in the current state of the world economy, had me quite stressed out.

I’ve since contacted a number of companies, gone through a few agencies and attened a few interviews but today’s news made me sigh with relief. I went to see a company late last week (through a referral from a family member) and was really keen for a follow-up as I really liked what I heard and saw. The follow-up meeting happened on Monday which went really well and this afternoon I got the offer that I was hoping for.

So I’m really excited to say that I’ve now left the unemployment line and joined the ranks of the employed again. I’ll be joining the team at Khanyisa Real Systems on Monday morning. I’m really hoping this is an exciting, fruitful and long next chapter in my life. I’m of the age now that I need to find a place that I really enjoy and can settle in, and by all accounts this seems to be it.

Wish me luck 🙂

It's official

I can now finally blog about what I alluded to last week. There’s been some water-cooler talk at work for some time now over the concern for lack of current work and new work, which just isn’t coming in as quickly as everyone had hoped. We were asked to put forward ideas for additional cost-cutting measures but it seems the unavoidable has to happen, some staff need to be retrenched. 

In an effort to be fair to all staff the company has decided to invoke the last in, first out policy. So the last 4 full-time employees who have joined the company are being offered retrenchment packages. 

We were told of the likelihood of retrenchment last week but I knew, in all fairness, there weren’t any other practical, feasible and unanimously acceptable ways that this cost-saving could be achieved without retrenchment.

And so, I am one of the fantastic four to be retrenched. It’s been a bit of a weight lifted off my shoulders (I did not sleep well at all last week after the news – after all I have a family and a mortgage to worry about) now that this process has actually been finalised and I can actively focus on moving on. At the same time I’m so ticked off with the fact that I’ve spent the last 9 months proving myself to the company, and now I have to do it all over again, someplace new. I’ve been involved in commercial software development for over 11 years now, I think I’m getting a little old for this now.

Anyway, the company is actually being very helpful in respect of the retrenchment process and are being very accommodating to those being retrenched with regard to use of resources, time off for finding new work and even speaking to their preferred partners to assist us in finding new employment. Something which the company can pride itself in, as that’s something hard to find out there. It’s important to note that this is not the company’s only positive points – they have many, including the people I’ve had the privilege to work with. They’ve done a lot for us and this was really their last resort – so, no harbouring grudges from me. 

I’m really going to miss working here and with the people but I guess it’s just my time to turn to a new chapter. Let’s hope the next one’s longer than this one has been!

LIFE photography archive available through Google

Google now hosts over 10 million historic Time-Life photos from as far back as the 1750’s to present day. A nifty trick to use Google Image search to only search for those photos is to add source:life in your search query. [via Lifehacker]

life-image-search1

Things to make you think…

Last night we rented The Bucket List out on DVD and after watching it made me think how easily we take things for granted. Living our life day after day, stuck in a rut, without much thought for tomorrow, other than whether or not you’ll be able to finish the work you didn’t finish this afternoon or whether or not the bills will be paid this month.

 

It made me think, maybe a list like that isn’t such a bad idea. Yeah, we all know about the 1000 places to see or the 10 wildest things to do (if you’re a thrill-seeker like I am) before you die, but what about your list?  What are the things that you want to do before you “kick the bucket“? I’ve got a few on my list, some I’ve done, others not yet but I think there are still more to add, I just hope I get to do them in time.

I know elsewhere in the world this has been done before, and there are countless videos and articles on the web, but this was a first for South Africa – today we witnessed, televised live, an open heart surgery. And what an eye opener it was. I’ve always been fascinated by medicine and as a high-blood pressure sufferer found that it struck a cord in the back of my mind – look after yourself, before that happens to you!