There lies deep within all of us a spark of genius to create, be it making the perfect dish to sample with friends, the making of a gift for a loved one, a smile to share with a stranger. Whatever you can conceive, if given reign, becomes manifest in giving of your unique self, that is the beauty of expression.

In the summer of 2016 urgent whispers in the form of rhyming words started to fill my mind. At first everyday affairs would push them out of the way in favour of the more mundane, until the urge to take note was so overwhelming. So taking time out and grabbing my ‘mobile office’ I opened the Notes App on my iPhone and let my fingers tap out whatever came to mind, there began my journey. My unique expressions mostly come now each time I sit on the patio in my garden or some other inspiring place in nature. No longer do I resist the urge to express, I simply give in to what is needing a voice in words. My Notes App has become my best of digital friends, along with the realisation and a deep appreciation that I am free to create and capture in any moment, providing of course that I have my phone!

Little did I know just how important such a creative outlet would become in a few months time. For we are never truly prepared for the losses that life deals all of us at some time through our life’s journey. Personally for me, the loss of one of my best friends, a powerful, loving, mentoring, mountain of a man who taught me courage to stand for who I am and all that I can be, was suddenly gone. William ‘Bill’ Douglas was that man who passed peacefully in July 2016, in the arms of his beautiful wife Julie, whilst I was laying at his side. That moment is one of my most honoured, treasured and precious memories.

As happens along life’s path, and as time moved us from such sorrow, in early October my sister-in-law was thrown into the same sad vale and now as a family we said goodbye to her courageous mother after losing her battle with cancer. Life became colourless and numbing once again.

A trip back to the UK (my home land) was scheduled at the end of October, where excitement to reconnect with my family was overriding my inner sadness. How wonderful will it be to see my Dad again, talk with my Mum, laugh and chat with my sisters, hug my beautiful daughters, and spoil my amazing grandchildren? All of these life lifting thoughts and more fuelled my need to be with them.

Talk with my Mum, I did. Laugh and chat with my sisters, I did. Hug my beautiful daughters, I did. Spoil my amazing grandchildren, I did. See my loving, supportive, encouraging, proud Dad, I did. Speak to this amazing man who moulded me, I didn’t for he was sleeping until he passed away just two days after I had arrived, with no chance of sharing long held words I wish I had shared. The darkness for our family settled like an ungraspable mist as grief took us all to where we never want to envisage going. The head of our family too, was now gone!

In the three weeks that I spent with my family before returning to Perth, Australia, my home for the past twelve years, two poems were born from that time. So coloured by my recent experiences, each poem now had a depth that hadn’t been there before.

Settling back into life in Australia was, I thought the way to find some kind of equilibrium. But life often has different ideas. Having been home just a week, I received a very distressing call from my eldest daughter to say that my son Matthew was missing and that he had been missing for a couple of days. “I’m so sorry Mum” I heard her say, but what I could feel was unmeasurable by words, just a brevity of feeling. Our concern as a family of course was immense, especially as the police were advising that we use social media to spread the word.

Day after day, the pain of fear grew, and my expressions in rhyme spoke of agony and despair. On 23rd December 2016, the unspeakable truth was spoken by my second eldest daughter. The heartbreak in her voice was palpable as she told me, that my son was dead. I could feel her motherly instinct in wanting to protect me from that pain, as she so very gently told me. Knowing through my feelings that she never ever wanted to hear the very words that she was now using to tell me. She was a mother telling a mother, and yet at the same time for her, the news was that she had just lost her brother. In that moment, I was aware that both of my daughters are the most amazing mothers, because to deliver such tragedy with compassion and selflessness is a beauty they both hold with grace. I love them both so deeply for that.

And as you sit and read my story, our story as a family, you may be compelled to think how sad, and yes it is and was, to lose so many in so short a time. However my recent journey can be viewed through my poems, where some are really sad, and yet some spiritually uplifting. Others celebratory and, telling it as I see it. But each expression has richness and flavour from the moment I was experiencing it, which is what gives it colour.

The fact is life can be great, exciting, wondrous, shitty, deep, painful, magical and any other descriptive word that works for you. But this is exactly the point, it’s life! It is how we chose to embrace and react to it in every moment that is important.

My poems often amaze me, inspire me, even startle me at times, as I think “where did that come from?” but sharing gives them life outside of myself. And through those words, a new passion was born, a lighter, gentler and magical side of me came to the surface. This is expressed through short stories for children, and I have been told they speak to the kid within adults too. Jet, Baby and Tilly are the leading characters in these stories, and are in reality the beautiful dogs that share life with my amazing husband Roly and myself. I hope to be sharing their adventures too, soon.

My life is healing, as is my families, and it is through their love and the loving support of friends that I am reminded everyday “just how lucky I am.”

Cheryl ♥

Me