Last Sunday was a really emotional day for myself and a number of friends who came together in memory of a dear friend who left our lives one year ago.
Kelly was a special woman who bought fun, laughter, a good dose of cheekiness and so many happy times into the lives of everyone who knew her. She was so very much loved by so very many people.
And yet, it would seem that nobody really understood the pain and torment that lurked beneath the bright smile that took your breath away when she turned it on for you. I’ve never known anyone who has a brighter, cheekier grin than Kel. Her mega-watt smile could seriously light up a room and warm your heart to the core.
Over the years I had glimpses of sadness in Kelly’s eyes and occasionally we had darker conversations that seemed to be out of character for a person so full of life and laughter. But I simply had no idea that this beautiful Mummy was dealing with demons that would eventually become too loud in her head and ultimately drive her over the edge.
For people like myself who don’t understand depression and the depths of despair that accompany it, all we are left with are so many questions.
The biggest one being WHY?
So many of her friends, myself included, in the past year have started a sentence with “I wish…” when referring to Kelly.
I wish we had known how sad she was...
I wish she had asked for help...
I wish I had been there for her that day...
I wish she was here now to see how beautiful and strong and amazing her daughters are...
I wish she knew how much she was loved...
There will never be an end to the wishing. And there will never be answers to the why.
But Kelly, I’m sure, would want all who knew her to carry on living the best and brightest life they could and to keep her memory in our hearts and minds as we lived that life.
So, last Sunday, a little group of 14 trekked to the top of Mt Warning in Northern NSW in honour of our beautiful, lost friend. The first and last time I tackled this mountain was with Kelly a few years ago so the location held a special significance for me. We bitched and moaned with each other all the way up and down the mountain and created a wonderful memory of a challenge conquered.
This time, seven Mums who had the pleasure of meeting her when our daughters all started school together in Prep accompanied me along with Kelly’s 4 gorgeous daughters and other family members.
All I can say is that I’m pretty sure Kelly was laughing down at us with her biggest, brightest grin as we slipped and slid our way up and down the mountain in, at times, torrential rain and ridiculous bush walking conditions.
I had visions of standing at the top of the Mountain toasting to Kel, enjoying the beautiful view as a group and recounting our favourite memories of her.
The reality was, half of the group got lost on route to the Mountain and so we walked as two separate teams 30 minutes apart.
Half way up the rain set in and got heavier and colder as we neared the top. And when the group of 6 Mums finished scaling the treacherously wet and slippery peak we were not greeted with stunning views and rainbows but a complete and utter white out, howling wind and freezing temperatures in the middle of NOVEMBER!
Yep! Kelly was definitely laughing down at us for sure!
The ultimate prank!
After the obligatory selfies to prove that we did in fact reach the top, we started a hasty retreat back down the mountain.
But Kelly did have ONE beautiful surprise for us as we left the summit.
As a group we all screamed with delight when, as we headed down, we were presented with that big, bright, beautiful grin of Kelly’s plastered on the face of Maddie, her youngest daughter who was running up to the summit in triumph!
Maddie was followed closely by Emily and Bianca and we all laughed and hugged each one of those beautiful, tough as nails, adventurous girls who were so very proud to have made it to the top in honour of their Mum.
To me that was a moment to treasure and I could not have been prouder of these little people who bounded up and down that bloody mountain in those ridiculous conditions…..you should be so proud Kel, they are beautiful young ladies with guts and grit to boot!
This day will form part of the memories we have of you Kelly, the laughter, the tears, and the rain – the BLOODY RAIN!
We have already promised as a group to come together again next year to remember you, but next time it might be a little more your style……long lunch anyone?
As a side note: while organising this walk I wanted to do something in Kelly’s honour to help other people who might be suffering from mental illness.
I set up a Go Fundraise page to raise money for the Livin organisation who are “all about living your life at the top and destroying the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Connecting, supporting and encouraging one another to talk about their feelings, issues and challenges because “It Ain’t Weak to Speak”.
They do wonderful work in the community and I know that Kelly thought highly of the work that they do.
If you would like to donate to the organisation you can go to their website and make a donation directly, or buy some great looking apparel from them with the proceeds going to those who need help the most.
Or, you can go to my fundraising page that is still running and contribute through it. Before the climb we raised $1500 in Kelly’s name.
And remember #itaintweaktospeak
I wish……..Kelly had spoken.
Love you babe <3
If you, or anyone you know is suffering from the crippling effects of mental illness here are some emergency help lines that can be called at any time:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Men’s Line Australia 1300 78 99 78
Salvo Care Line 1300 36 36 22
Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800
Salvo Youth Line (02) 8736 3293 (Sydney local call)
Child Abuse Prevention Services 1800 688 009
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467