Travel, exploration and a little bit of adventure…

Posts tagged “death

the end of an era

And so too, with the passing of Reg Strauss, we have seen the end of an era. Reg died on Tuesday afternoon, 19th July 2016. He is fondly remembered by all those he leaves behind.

Perhaps, it is that little frown he gets, when he is concentrating on the computer

Or that boyish grin that stretches across his face


Silently missioning in his room, he’s busy unscrewing bottles and measuring fluids

An alchemist of the night


No, actually often

He marches


Staring into the screen of his phone as if it holds some hidden clue

I sit on his couch

Studying him

Getting high on this charm that seems to ooze

Out of him

Oh god! I hope I am not getting Sharon, Chunky, Shirley, Claire disease!

It seems to be very infectious

Or at least he is…

The moody 5 year old who is at times quite devious, slipping

Past me on the stairs, trying to be invisible

Sweetly, he asks me if I can use another computer

Playing with my ponytail as he passes me in the passage

He is quite scary when he is mad

I have to try very hard not to want to fix it

There is something vulnerable about this little tough guy

That makes me want to rush out and save him

(As if I could!)

ari reg & pomps (1)

I laugh at the idea of him in pyjamas

I worry if he eats

My heart feels sore when I hear he is saving money for the dentist

He knows much by way of pain

Later, recounting the story of David, I cry for the first time

He makes sharing my sore bits easy

Suddenly excited, he flaps his arms

His camp mannerisms seem so incongruous with the bad boy image he projects

I come to realise this “Marky Mark” wears his heart on his sleeve

Chunky doesn’t think he will stay here long

A story I am beginning to know so well

I haven’t had enough time with him

In retrospect, no one actually has

IMG_0684 copy-ExposureThat day we spent together walking in the park

All talked out after hours of catch-up

Still dressed as though we had just left the club

Our walk

The day

Are etched so clearly in my mind

I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think about it

It’s all I have left of him now…

Warm fuzz and photographs

I spend the night waiting for him to walk in the door

But he doesn’t

He won’t

Never again

The reality of this hangs over all of us

I will be honest; it is terrible here without him

A massive hole

An empty space

I have no idea how they will fill it

Or for how long they will hold it together

Feels like trouble coming — a big gust of change blowing through the house

32_Reg_jan01_1 (1)REG4 (1)




Births & deaths

saying hello

I meet him as an old man in a chair
A small blanket covering his legs
Our conversation is brief
He apologises for not being able to get up and say goodbye properly
And then we leave a little while later
My boyfriend’s uncle
The old man in the chair

Today, it’s a few weeks later
Everyone is out doing shopping when we arrive
A hospice notice is tacked to the cabinet near the front door
It hangs in mid-air, where it can’t be missed
It feels like an announcement
This is no ordinary family lunch
Perhaps even the last one.

hospice notice

The dining room table is decorated with cutlery, plates, eats and cakes
I realise we are not the only ones who have come through these doors doing the last respects march
The old man in the chair has been replaced by the metal frame of a hospital bed
A crumpled form lying beneath its sheets
Its unexpected and I’m unprepared
I enter with Grant and we sidle up to the bed to say our hellos when
Quite suddenly this man who I hardly know
Who I only met for a few minutes takes both my hands in his and grasps them tightly
“Hello Rowena,” he says “its so nice to see you”

I have to fight to hold back the tears
He is half the size he was before
His skin is pulled tightly around his skeletal structure
Comforted now only by the bones that lie beneath
But still he holds my hands
Complaining about medicine schedules, bring the next round of pills and ooh yes, don’t forget the morphine

And so, I’m having my hand held by Uncle Binks in a room surrounded by memories and old furniture when suddenly my head is reeling with questions it needs to ask
Or rather answers it must have in order to understand
What does it feel like to be hanging on?
To be waiting to die?
Why doesn’t the body just give up?
I am struck by how the living are so poorly equipped to deal with death
I realise, I too one day, will be a sibling like his brother next to me watching life loosening its grip on one of my sisters
All I want to do is get out my camera and somehow document what’s happening because it’s all so raw and so real

Funnily enough, Uncle Binks has a few tricks up his sleeve
He perks up a bit and sips his medicines
And despite the hollow colour of his cheeks, his hair is curly and alive. Full of energy!
I watch him and find comfort in his ability to laugh at himself
He notices a cupboard that was next to him is missing
He could have sworn it was there a few days ago
He tells me stories of crabs in the house and shopping with his wife until I am laughing out load

By now the gang has arrived bringing with them the noise of lives that are just beginning
I am touched by the generosity of a family I am just starting to get to know
They let me take photos of what remains of their little family and give me a box of old photos so that I may immortalise all they have left


the family

On our way out, I sneak into the lounge to say goodbye
Uncle Binks is curled up on his side
In front of him the wall is decorated with beautiful old black and white photographs
All the lives that have come before him
Outside I hear the chatter of all those that will come after
It’s safe and warm in there with him and I think to myself that this is how I’d like to go one day
Surrounded by people that love me in the faint afterglow of the afternoon sun

binks in the lounge



hey you!

granny with her granddaughter

caylee and binks

last kiss


on death and dying…

Click image to view gallery

I meet him as an Afrikaner with a rifle and a moustache. There is a shyness in him, an awkwardness that makes him mumble and stare at his feet.

I prod. I probe.

Eventually I undress.

Fast-forward to hot summer days, red bricks and hadedahs on the roof of our little house with the pink kitchen he hated.

Searching through papers last night, I discover a few treasures I had forgotten about:

“In amongst all of this I feel this really deep incredible love for Ant. He has been so kind to me. This morning when I cried, he just held me and I felt so safe. I could have stayed there for a very long time, buried somewhere beneath his arms and t-shirt. And then he said I couldn’t deal with my emotions. Sometimes I think he is far older than I am”.

In between, lots of mistakes. Decisions that now only leave regret.

Our last conversation is jovial, you will come visit me in the summer and laugh at my stories of mechanics. And then somewhere in this world full of promise and things to come, you exit.

I drive through the night. I can feel an urgency to get to you, well what’s left of you.

I rush to the hospital. You are lying there with tubes and pipes, your life a constant beep in my ear. Your energy lingers around me, delaying a reality I will have to accept in due course although initially I feel quite angry with you. Who is to take pictures of me now? Who is to give my work its creative vision? Who is to love me for all my imperfections? My tummy, I hate but you loved the most. Promise me you wont forget me. Promise me you’ll visit me in my sleep. And if I ever have a baby, you’ll be there when it arrives. Promise me…

It all gets quite desperate at that stage because I have to let you go now.

The following Sunday we place your ashes around 3 trees we plant in memory of you. Your mum and dad look so beautiful together as they scatter the grey powder that is you. He keeps looking at her, as if awaiting her instruction. There is something quite innocent about her energy – barefoot, blonde and broken. Perhaps she finally appears harmless. You get under my nails and this perturbs me somewhat. I sob then, and lovely Anthea, beautiful Anthea, holds me like you did once. She makes me feel safe.

And now?

Now the road is dark, long and winding. I pass through places that I do not know, but are strangely familiar to me. Like hugging your dad.

I spend my time looking for traces of you – photographs, letters, cards. I might find something I overlooked once, thinking it unimportant, trivial, foolish.

Your birthday speaks of opening your heart and letting the sunshine in. I keep getting messages from people saying I was the love of your life. What they say is only really hitting home now. Its funny the way things work… Chunky summed it up for me the other night, when he recounted the Queen’s speech to me.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

Looks like you have left me bankrupt, again.

So, to Anthony…

who has taught me the love of flowers and the quiet beauty they possess.

who has captivated me with magic tricks and juggling balls

who has shown me i can be happy without money and material possessions

who has taught me the cleverness of words and punctuation

who has pushed me to the extremes of anger so that i may know what rage is

who reminded me constantly that i am a powerful princess capable of daring feats

that despite my background, social status, my wounds, my fears and inadequacies that i am worth it

and who comes to me in the strangest of places – whilst driving in the car, watching the sun rise even washing dishes

and reminds me that he will never leave me even after he is gone

i am eternally grateful.

thank you for sharing your sand dune with me xx

The last 2 years have been punctuated with the loss of a lot of important people in my life. I had originally thought to create a photo album just of them but decided against it at the last minute. My life with these people, and now without, was full of bright bursts of colour, things that made me want to celebrate being alive. The following photos lay testament to this and are some of my most memorable moments during my short little life thus far. It gives me great pleasure to share them with those around me.