it’s begun

It will be 5 years this year on 4/4 that Robbie died – well physically died. I feel a shift. I feel OK with this. It’s a total recognition at a cellular level that his death is a material thing – an eternal thing.

[note – interesting observation – on reading back what I wrote I see the word ‘eternal’ – i wrote ‘external’ but predictive text changed it – am pondering the different meaning this change in word highlights]

We still have all his stuff – all his material possessions – his room is as he left it but will all his stuff from his life in Newcastle stored in there.

This is the year to shift his stuff – transform his stuff into something new like he was transformed when he died. He graduated from his uni course and his life at the same time – now its time for the same process to happen to his stuff – his material possessions.

My daughter is still uncomfortable about this. I broached the topic some years ago and she wasn’t ready – probably neither was I – so we left it all be – the conversation and his stuff. But now I feel a stirring – a strong stirring to shift it to match the shift in me.

I need to bring the family along with me or it will cause more pain.

On 16 Feb we made the big decision to give the bar that Robbie made away to his best mate. I thought I would never part with that creation but it got to the point where every time i  looked at it it felt like it should no longer be there. It wanted to move, be somehwere else. We were using it to remind us of Robbie and for storage. It was not being used as an outdoor bar. What better place than on his best mate’s new deck! It was an emotional significant moment seeing the bar – its heaviness – being moved on to the trailer and being driven away. There is a space now in our outdoor area that was not there before – a lightness – for new air to blow through – a new perspective to experience Robbie’s physical death. So the first material thing we have shifted of Robbie’s was his bar.

Also in February I opened the windows in Robbie’s room for the first time since his death. I have been trying to capture his smell in the room. I still smell it – no one else seems to. But again I felt it is time to let that go too – another material sense to part with. So opening the windows and letting in the fresh air was a big thing. After a few hours I noticed his smell moving into all areas of the house – the kitchen, the living room – he was released – free. Everywhere I went in the house I could smell Robbie.

I love crocheting. My daughter loves sewing. A year or so ago we got excited about turning his clothes into a family heirloom quilt. I love the idea but realistically that would be torturous for me – I hate sewing with a passion – frustrating, stop/start, no flow, mistakes, rip apart argghhhhhhhhh – my heart rate has increased just thinking about it.

For Robbies birthday this year we met for brunch at Alchemy cafe – Jess (daughter), Hugh (ex-hubby), Shane (husband) and I. As we were all together I raised the subject again about what to do with his possessions. I mentioned I was keen to make the process one of my research activities for my PhD. I want to make string/yarn from his clothes and then make things – like crocheted items and rugs and baskets and whatever else emerges. Jess was horrified – she felt ambushed – she shut the conversation down. That was 5 Feb – its now 26/2.

We spoke about it again at my home a few days ago. She suggested that we could share the clothes – for instance she would cut out the images on his t-shirts to use as panels in a quilt and I can have the rest for my yarn-making.Great outcome – this will work.

Jess also told me she felt I was cutting up Robbie’s clothes just for a Uni assignment – wow! I am still reflecting on that statement. So many issues raised by that comment:

  • I Feel she doesn’t take my PhD research seriously – “uni assignment”
  • I feel I am creating the “fibre of Robbie’s life” and she feels I am ripping up his clothes – perspective such an interesting thing – the same activity is being seen from 2 totally different perspectives with string emotional hooks.
  • Am I doing this as a result of my research or would I have done this anyway even if I wasn’t doing my PhD? Does it matter?

I have felt from the start that my PhD is very much a part of my ongoing process of grieving Robbie’s physical death so yes the research process is impacting my choices and vice versa. I am creating a new way of being by immersing myself in the PhD process. The PhD is a grief management tool for me. Some people go to psychologists, others stay in bed, i am doing my PhD – all are valid.

I like the idea of yarn-making: because when you do this kind of craft it becomes a meditative state – a space is created for things to emerge – like stories (yarns). I also like the word ‘fibre’ – cos its making the fibre of robbies life.

This is a shift from what I originally set out to do with the PhD activity – I was going to create yarn from things in my life and then crochet my own shroud. But this has now changed to use this activity to shift Robbie’s material things. It feels right. I feel energised and excited about this path.

The more I immerse myself in the process, the more I am noticing the coincidences and synchronicities that are opening up the path for me – almost effortlessly and its quickening.

I need to make string – I had no idea how to do this – and then the people I needed to teach me appeared and they are local! In January I met Wendy Buck who makes string from corn husks and she taught me how to do that.



Wendy then introduced me to June Faulkener who makes yarn from local fibres – natural and waste – and then creates baskets, bags and items from that yarn.






Yesterday I attended a meeting of Basketry SA in my local town Gawler, Its a new group that has just started – it was the 4th meeting and the group is called BATS – basketry and textiles. Every other group in the state just does basketry – but this group – in my community no less – uses plant fibres AND material textiles as in unwanted clothes – hence BATS (basketry and textiles). wow – how ‘lucky’ am I – what a ‘coincidence’. So yesterday I focused on making a few meters of string from plant fibres in abundance in our area while around me women were cutting up old bedspreads to make rag rags and baskets and another women bought bagfuls of colourful material pieces we could all use. The string has some experimental sections with emu feathers and purple material scraps the women gave me and encouraged me to entangle with the plant fibres. What a sight to behold all thes
e local plant fibres and material scraps waiting to be transformed into new states. I was sitting with a group of women who have the skills I need to learn to turn Robbie’s clothes into something new. They also create a nurturing space to be able to do this.

We sat in a circle in a beautiful shady garden surrounded by vege patches, tin sheds and the old stone house. The conversation ebbed and flowed while our fingers worked away. The local knowledge in the group was deep. I learned about the history of our three local cemeteries! Who knew!!

So I have found a meeting of our hearts and minds with my daughter where we have agreed on how we can both work with and share Robbie’s things to create something of meaning for each of us. We can even help each other. I have met a group of wonderful wise local women who are teaching me the skills I need and they offer a creative space in which to work.

The transformation of Robbie’s material things has begun … what other internal, external and ‘eternal’ changes will this lead to?

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