Loss and strangers

broome-2014-16The Kimberley moon at dusk

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Sitting next to someone on an airplane can sometimes be awkward. Do you want to talk. Would you prefer to zone out in your secure bubble contained between your armrests, headset firmly on. You were late 40s, 5 o’clock shadow, and looked decidedly friendly (after a surreptitious side glance). So, I ventured out and tested the waters, as I’m a chronic hater of awkward silences.

So is Perth home or holiday destination for you?

Neither! You replied, amiably. You were en route to Broome to work offshore on the ships out that way.

And so I latched on to the cheery but safe subject, prattling on about how much I love Broome, and the conversation meandered agreeably to talk about travelling and bucket lists, so on and so forth. We spoke about our occupations, the bits we like, the bits we find challenging. The conversation flowed effortlessly to and fro, both refreshingly interested in each other’s life experiences and opinions.

Then inevitably we started speaking about family. You’d mentioned a son and a daughter previously so I not-so-cleverly inferred that you had two children. You paused ever so slightly, then said yes. I noted the pause but callously soldiered on. After more questions you volunteered that your eldest son passed away four years ago. We nodded commiseratively together but I didn’t delve, I could hear the pain heavy in your voice. The attention turned my way. And for the first time ever because of your honesty and compelled by the way you spoke with both feeling and calm bravery, I was able to say and acknowledge to a stranger that I had two older brothers. But that I lost one last year.

You understood. You understood why I had to stop speaking at that point. Although you didn’t say much, your compassion and sympathy were apparent. Your sentences became cropped, your voice thick with emotion. You told me that family is everything. You told me that things do get better.

And I believe you. You’ve been there. In fact, you’re still there.

Thank you, John. I might never see you again but thank you all the same from the bottom of a torn but healing heart.

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I’m super excited to see how Alphabet Family Journal looks in person – it’s about time we saw an Australian publication like this!

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So here I am. No longer clinging to my twenties and barrelling head on into my thirties. Although initially reluctant, I am now a lover and reveller of this decade of life.

Sure life brings with it the weight of more responsibilities but slowly and surely through experience and time I am building up a sense of self-knowledge and self-worth that seemed tortuously unattainable before, previously striving unsuccessfully to gain it through academia, popularity, career and parental approval (oh the scourge and blessing of every Asian child). I’ve still got a ways to go but I just get this feeling that I can carry on now focussing more on “being” rather than “trying”.

Family and positive relationships are like light and life to me. As many of you may know, life threw me and my family the massivest of curve balls last year. Over the months I’ve come to realise that this grief and longing and missing are not simply going to go away if I ignore it or make myself too busy to think about it. It is now a part of me. 

But this is my life. I will live it.

And I choose to live it boldly and joyfully.motif

Beloved

manal-saber-wedding-5Attending a wedding of someone precious to you is always an absolute delight. I particularly love to study the faces of family members, almost living vicariously and feeling lifted by the emotions so clearly written in their expressions.

Noted here. A mother’s tender but intensely proud and protective stance, beaming with happiness over her daughter, the bride. The bride, a grown woman but forever a daughter, bowed in love and ultimate respect.

The hands and richly embroidered garments of three women. Mother-in-law, bride and her mother. White, universally symbolic of pureness of heart and devotion. Hands dipped and decorated to reflect the deep religious and cultural traditions that ceremonialise this marriage. They are dyed with the runes of blessings.

A groom, finally allowed to see his beloved on this special day. He bends down to kiss her gently on the forehead, face cupped exquisitely in his hands.

Excitement barely contained behind her veil.

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Henna

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The intricate markings adorning the hands and feet of the beaming bride-to-be trace back to a tradition centuries old in its origin.

Other ladies belonging to the bride’s family are also decorated as such, but none as complex or beautiful as those that grace the bride.

She is the most blessed, the most joyous, the beloved.

Joy

dans-30th-2We recently hosted the surprise birthday party of one of my absolute best of friends. I can barely remember a time that I didn’t know Dan, she always lived just a few streets away from me when we were growing up. We did many a sleepover, were choir nerds together, threw smoke bombs at Chinese school together, survived private girls’ schooling together, and then survived most of med school together. Our lives have essentially been the amalgamation of Glee, Ja’mie: Private School Girl (we weren’t Ja’mie), and Grey’s Anatomy with a splash of Karate Kid. (C’mon, you know you wanna watch that crane kick scene.)

Things have led me of late to pull apart and really evaluate the things I truly value. And it really boils down to one thing. Relationships.

More than ever, I appreciate and treasure these lifelong and genuine friendships. I could shave my head, pick my nose, share the highest of highs and most recently, the lowest of lows, and these girls will never desert me. Some friends come and go, but these ones stay a while. A long, long while. And I love them for it.

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And so it was…

jinn-bday-4So Jinn has finally joined the elite three-oh club, where one becomes instantly more knowledgeable and wiser in the ways of the world, and yet is still youthful enough to be able to wear skinny jeans and play soccer three times a week. I kind of freaked out when Jinn mentioned FIFTY people were rocking up to our house for his party, but I have to say that with a little (read a lot) of help from my Mumsy, mum-in-law and sis-in-law, a wonderful Moroccan themed dinner was laid out and heartily consumed by all our guests. I also may or may not have ordered five cakes from Boucla, my fave cafe of all time…

We wish there were more photos to share of this special evening, but we were both too busy running around like crazy chooks setting tables and chatting to guests to take very many! Hopefully these pictures give you a hint of what a lovely and charming night we all had, enjoying the perfect balmy evening in the presence of many loved ones.

Happy bee-day, bozo!

Text by Sarah

Photos by Jinn, Gwen and YW

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