Sunflowers

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 4.05.15 pmRecently a close friend of mine lost her brother in a tragic car accident, which is a terrible thing for anyone to have to live through.

There will never be any words that I could say to her to make it hurt any less and the only thing that I could ever do for her is hug her, be there for her and pray for her. I really wish I could do more. I can’t speak from experience but I imagine that her pain would be very different to mine because of the shock factor and the sheer sudden-ness of it all.

Because when we lost my Dad, he was already very sick so even though I didn’t allow myself to think “what if” very often, it was always something that hung around in the back of my mind. Then when the cancer started to grip him more and he became noticeably sicker – that thought then started to creep further and further into my conscious mind, which was – in a sense – some kind of preparation I suppose.

Sadly, my friend simply wasn’t afforded any of that. She was given no time to say goodbye, no warning and her brain wasn’t given months (or weeks) to mentally prepare for the shock. Her world changed in an instant and her heart, emotions and brain were literally thrown in the deep end and told “COPE” or else.

I caught up with that friend last week, it was the first time I had seen her since the dreadful passing of her brother. On my way to the restaurant, I was praying for her (like I do for all of my friends) and the thought occurred to me that I should buy her some flowers for no reason other than to say: “You are loved”.

It was also exactly 2 months since losing her brother and I didn’t want to make her focus too much on that but wanted her to know that she means something to me and flowers seemed like the perfect way to do it. So I walked into the shop and started chatting with the florist as I admired the many bunches of bright colours that surrounded me. I was clearly overwhelmed for choice so the lady then asked me if she could help me to make a decision.

She asked me what the occasion was so I told her that it was an anniversary for my friend and left it at that. The florist got to work bringing me bright bunches of gerberas and carnations and roses, which were all pretty but none of them felt “quite right”.

Then suddenly my eyes went to a bunch of sunflowers that were wrapped in red paper over in the back corner so I walked over and picked them up excitedly. Noticing this the florist said: “They’re nice aren’t they but they’re not really what you’re looking for. How about this bunch they are $5 cheaper too and much more cheery”. I glanced at them and agreed that were certainly more exuberant but I was still strangely drawn to the sunflowers and just couldn’t explain it?

Maybe it was the red paper around them that I liked, or maybe it was because I LOVED sunflowers when I was 18? Maybe it was bringing back memories of the quilt cover and curtains that I had appliquéd with sunflowers to decorate my very first flat when I left home?

Whatever it was – I KNEW that the sunflowers were the ones that were coming with me that day. I HAD to have them and there was no talking me out of it. So I paid for them and starting walking toward the restaurant where my friend was waiting.

I walked in and handed them to her saying: “I’m sorry if sunflowers aren’t your thing but I really needed to get these for you and I just can’t explain it any better than than that. It was more of a compulsion that anything but you know how impulsive I can be so I figure you’d understand.”

I waited for her response CONVINCED that she was going to laugh at me and tell me what a loon I was but instead, she smiled and thanked me.

The after we’d sat down at our table, she pulled out her phone to show me a photo that she just needed to show me. It was a photo that she took the day that she arrived home from her brother’s funeral and she told me that it would blow my mind.

She was right.

This photo was the evidence of something that she’d begun before receiving that phone call that changed her life forever. It was a photo of the sunflowers that she’d planted in her front garden that she thought she’d never see but they had bloomed in memory of her brother whilst she was attending his funeral and they were standing proud and tall waiting for her to get back home to admire them. I was almost lost for words. Amazed.

But I will say this: I refuse to put this down to mere coincidence because I simply wouldn’t have gotten to the place where I am right now if it weren’t for the knowledge that God is present even in the seemingly small and insignificant details of our lives both lately and even when I refused to acknowledge it.

With all the hurt, pain, lies and backstabbing that I’ve experienced in these past few months I can honestly say that He has brought me through just like He promised He would when I had thrown myself down at his feet in desperation. Never will He leave me, never will He forsake me and for that – I am truly grateful.

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Winning The Race..

marathonI originally wrote this is a post on my Facebook Page and decided to post it here as well so that I could find it at a later date if I ever wanted to read it again .

While I was away, I spent some time with a lady who pretty much helped raise me. She is my Mum’s best friend and her husband went to school with my Dad so we all go back a VERY long way. She has known me my entire life and has always put REALLY good things into my life.

Well anyway, last week, I sat opposite her in a beautiful cafe having afternoon tea which turned into dinner, on the water one night – just the two of us – and we talked and talked and talked about EVERYTHING and nothing. We laughed, we joked and I cried.

I cried a LOT!

I sobbed about decisions that I’ve made recently, I expressed regret at pushing certain people out of my life and also lamented keeping some others in longer than I should have. I worried aloud that I was screwing my kids up and told her how much I hated myself for becoming a yelling, emotional, basket case of a mother. I told her that I didn’t know who I was anymore and wished I could go back about 12 months in time to have a do-over.

And she continued to listen without judgment and allowed me to get it all out.

I cried a LOT more still, and then after I’d sobbed my heart out to her she offered me an extremely sound piece of advice that I took away with me and have been drawing on it almost every day since.

She said:

“Fiona, we are all running our own race. Some of us cruise along at an even pace and appear to be taking everything in our stride while others, like you, feel as though they are constantly running uphill in the wrong direction all the while struggling for breath and wondering if you’ll even make it out alive. And that’s sometimes just our own perception because the reality is that everyone struggles. But sometimes your race may actually BE tougher and more gruelling than other peoples but that’s only ever going to be a seasonal thing.

But the beauty of having our own individual race is that although the finish line comes earlier for some people (we were talking about the passing of my Dad and her son), there is no-one else in YOUR race so there’s only ever going to be one winner and NO loser”.

She continued:

“The other people in your life – the ones who run alongside you – are not in the same race as you. They are running their OWN race with their own challenges and their finish line may come before or after yours but remember that you are not supposed to get the same results or finish times as those people.
Their race is not YOUR race.
You will never know when the finish line is ahead so all you can do is strap on your joggers, keep your mind and body as healthy as possible and keep running. You WILL reach the end of your race at the exact time that you’re supposed to and you will come first in your race. YOU WILL WIN because this is a race you cannot lose.”

And there you have it. Her words have helped me SO much that I just thought I’d share them here in the hope that she can touch another life like she did mine.