Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 ..... YOU'RE GOIN DOWN

Today sucked. Bad.

A fitting end, to a shitty, crappy, awful year. Tim was really upset, I made Max cry, and Dave went down to the beach without me. Wahh!

Actually, it's quite fitting ... to see this year out by myself. I'm loving it. I hired out the movie "Baby Mama", took the baby on a looooong walk, (not off a short pier, as I'm sure some people would like), bought some chocolate, did some writing, turned the house into a total BACHELORETTE PAD. My GOD I am messy.

I did get invited to parties ... and I could drive down to the beach with Dave and the boys if I really want to ... but I'd prefer to stay here and chill. I really enjoy my own company. I cannot wait to welcome in 2009 ... may it be amazing. A big, fresh, shiny new year ... whatever shall we all do with it??

Before our complete family dysfunctional meltdown today .. I took Maxie out for brekkie, leaving Tim to give the baby his bottle in his cot. Tim calls my mobile not long after I left ....

Me: "Hello?"
Tim: Sounding very sombre and serious ..."Hi Eden. Look, I don't know how it happened ... but somehow the Baby got out of his cot and he fell and I think he's broken his leg."
Me: Screaming like a maniac, swerving my car off the road to meet Tim at the hospital, scaring Max and making him cry ... "OHMYGOD OH MYGOD OHMYGOD!!"

I couldn't breathe properly and started to hyperventilate, to hear Tim's panic .."Eden I was joking! He's fine, he's asleep!! It was a joke!!"

I did NOT think it was funny, and told Tim in no uncertain terms. Hung up, consoled Max, got a grip.

My goodness .... he got me a beauty. I damn near shat my pants ... I rang Tim back after I'd calmed down, he was beside himself with guilt.

I said don't worry - it's fine. I'll just get him back triplefold.

Funny thing is, all day I have been so bloody grateful at Universe that the Baby didn't break his leg today. Amazing how a bit of gratitude can change your whole perception.

Happy New Year to you. May it bring you a big fat slice of Happy. (Actually, Happiness resides in you, much like Dorothy always had the Power to Get Home. It's the last place we look, though ... inside ourselves).


Tuesday, 30 December 2008

After Everything Happened

As far as Christmas went .... I had a really great Boxing Day.

I'm not joking. Today I even took down our Christmas tree with such a joy that I almost hummed. I cannot WAIT to piss this year off. All year, people have told me .... "God never gives you more than you can handle."

I was like ..... ummmmm THAT'S BULLSHIT. Freakin hate that saying ... until the other day, when I read "God will never give you more than you can handle ... but life will."


The best part of Christmas was going to my sister Leighs house, and just chillaxin' with her and our other sister, Linda. Awesome sisters, all the time. Growing up we had to take our battle positions within our family ... unfortunately for us, we missed out on bonding. But by God we have made up for it in the past few years. They continually show me:

1) How strong women are.
2) How, when I upturn the contents of my mind onto their unsuspecting ears .... they laugh.
3) How to do things properly. (Their nickname for me is "haphazard.")
4) It will always, always be funny when someone hurts themselves.

I'm still working on something to give them, for going above and beyond the call of duty in the Riley household this year. I simply could not have survived without them ... they were on Chemo Patrol. They totally rock.


In baby news ..... ummmmm, I fell in love with the baby today. Again. He is so divine. I found myself holding him, amazed that he is so big ... saying to him over and over .. "How did we get here?" He is my tough and quirky favourite little brute in the whole world. His first word was "Mama." ... Dave and I were having a competition about whose name he would say first. Every chance I got I would say "Mama. Mama. Mama." Over and over again. Dave would be in another room, and walk out to him. "DADA. DADA. DADA."

Max would hear the commotion, come over and start screaming "MAXIE!! MAXIE!! MAXIE!!" Right in his ear - he wouldn't flinch, though. For he is a tough one, this baby. Had to be, you see.

So this went on for a while ... I am totally not exaggerating. When Tim moved back in with us, there was another crazy person standing in front of him, expectantly. "TimMY. TimMY."

He said mumma first. I SO totally won, fist-pumping my way across the room. But inside, I was so touched .... he must like me.

Even after everything that happened.

5am Christmas morning ...

On top of his Santa present ....

Look what Santa brought! ...

Always with the camera ....

Monday, 29 December 2008

Love. Kiss. Man. Woman.

Yesterday, I told Dave about Emilie.

I wasn't going to ... but I just couldn't help it. We were on one of our "Let's just get so fucking fit" mammoth walks, and I blurted it out.

"A woman whose blog I read died. She found out she had cancer when she was pregnant with her second child. She fought it, but died the other night."

I didn't want to tell Dave because I didn't want to spin him out ... if I said that to him he would scoff, and tell me as if he could EVER be spun out. I'm sure he can, as he is not Superhuman. (Even though everyone - including himself, thinks he is.)
"Wow." He thought for a while. "Did she do chemo? How old were her boys?"

Emilie did do chemo .. a lot of it. Her eldest son is three, and the baby is nine months. I found a link to her blog through someone elses, who put out the word for some support. My ears pricked immediately, especially seeing "cancer" and "newborn" in the same sentence. So I started reading, and sometimes commenting.

Wishing her on, wondering how she was, thinking about her from down here.

Now she has died, her babies have no mother, her husband left to find the strength he never knew he had ... but is in us all. And things make no sense.

And a woman in Australia tells her husband on a long walk about how narrowly he escaped death this year, we must cherish every single moment. Every day is a bonus. Even when I argue with Dave and call him every name under the sun (because I am thoughtful like that) .... we know how close we came to the fire. So close, in fact .. that the backs of our heels are charred from running away from it.

So close.

I keep showing off on Facebook. Status updates of beach houses and bikinis .. and now I know why.

For so long, we were the Broken Family, hiding away. Nobody was allowed to look at us. No pity, thanks. I can make enough on my own.

But now we are out in the sun, look .... I have a beautiful baby! My husband is no longer the Beige Man .. he is HOT! Look ... here is a photo of me kissing him on the beach to prove it!

Maybe I'm not necessarily the Showpony from Showland .... maybe I'm just sticking my finger up at the cancer that came and left us this year.

Hopefully forever .... but you just never know, do you? I believe it's called making hay while the sun shines. And the sun is shining on us, my friends. Freaking GLARING.


A ladybug landed on my finger yesterday when I was folding washing. It waltzed up my pinky and flew off, so I put a prayer out to Universe, for Emilie and her boys.

She asked her husband Stephen to put this quote on her blog, after she had passed away.
Fare Well, Emilie. Thank you.

"And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth."

— Raymond Carver

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

I wish you a Hopeful Christmas. I wish you a Brave New Year.

I've had two meltdowns and one altercation with husband .. all before 9am.

No shower yet, baby has kept me up all night, Max is so bored he tells me - almost accusingly, that he is ... "Reading a book, mum!"

The Christmas tree is DEAD, Long Live the Christmas Tree. I still have presents to wrap, supposed to be leaving soon to go down to Sydney to stay at my sisters, Tim doesn't know what time he knocks off work so I picture us all sitting in a fully-laden car, parked outside his workplace, me running in to drag him away. I hope there are no arguments in the car on the way down, Chrissake I just want to get on as a family today. Because, you know, it's Christmas EVE.

Whose ridiculous idea was it to write the Inaugural Christmas Trivia Quiz, aka The Riley Cup? I sit here madly googling "free celebrity trivia questions", and then get so absorbed in them I lose myself. Why DID Ashley Simpson name her son Bronx? Still working out if it's cool or not.

Silly season indeed - it's like the Collective Consciousness of Christmas Mania has descended in my brain. I didn't want to be all manic and psycho about it this year, but apparently I can't help it. I feel overwhelmed and want to go back to bed already.

It has been a freaking hard year, man. I have been much better lately about getting a grip on things, but today I am a USELESS bag of shit.

Someone once told me, (I believe it was my first sponsor) .... "If a things worth doing, it's worth doing badly." Amen to that.

My plan was to write an amazing, gushingly grateful post about what a fantastic Christmas this will be ... and to post a pic of the baby with his matching santa hat and red bib saying "Merry Christmas!"

But, his head is SO ENORMOUS that the hat perches atop it like he is a Giganto Baby from Mars. I should have known it wouldn't fit ... I looked at his head a few days ago, and said to Dave, "Man, I am SO glad I didn't push that head out."

Dave looks at me with a leer and a chuckle. "Yeah .... me too!"


So here is a pic of me in my office, trying to get work done. Still trying to wrap my head around the fact I have two sons. When the hell did that happen?

Wishing you all, a safe Christmas. Raise your lemonade to me, as we finally enter the last week of the Year That Was. PRAISE JESUS ON A MUFFIN CLOUD.



I Believe in Father Christmas

They said there'll be snow at christmas
They said therell be peace on earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the virgins birth

I remember one christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
till I believed in the Israelite

And I believed in father christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
till I woke with a yawn
in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear

They said therell be snow at christmas
They said therell be peace on earth
Hallelujah Noel .. be it heaven or hell
This christmas you get you deserve

Click HERE to see Bono sing this. Because, you know ..... BONO.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas Tree Dead .... Spirit Lives On

Our Christmas tree is dying.

Dave brought it home in the back of his ute a few weeks ago, triumphantly.

"I won the bet! Here she is!"

I looked at it and shook my head. "No WAY. You did NOT win the bet. The bet was you make a Christmas tree."

"I made it - I chopped it down. You owe me five hundred bucks."

"Bullshit mate. You owe me five hundred."

The stalemate has continued ... in the meantime, we both didn't know that you are supposed to actually water a real tree. We haven't, and it has been hot. (Oh glorious sun how I love thee!)
So now, all the freaking baubles are dropping off the tree, one by one. All of it's branches are visibly withering and shrinking.

"Mum, there goes another one!" Max calls to me, daily.

There is hardly anything left on the tree, now. But, I still turn the lights on it every night, and they sparkle and shine and you can't notice how crap it actually looks.

Last night, we went over for a BBQ at our friends house. It was so strange, being actually out at that time of night. Socialising. They are some of our closest friends, and when I got there I gave them some Christmas hampers and cried, and told them how much I have missed them this year and I'm sorry but we have all been at home hiding away from the world. They cried with me. And then we stopped crying, (because there always comes a time when you eventually stop crying, take a deep breath and go, well. Let's just get on with it then, shall we?) .. and we had a great night.

I made two of these little beauties ......

It's a Pavlova. I decorated one, and Max the other. I kept stopping myself from changing his strawberries around, from telling him to not stick his kiwifruit in so hard. Because, who really cares? It doesn't matter! Daddy is getting well again, hurrah!
The baby wasn't used to being out past his bedtime, and would not go to sleep. Dave was minding him during dinner ... I noticed the baby stopped grizzling, and thought to myself, yay - a peaceful dinner. After a while I craned my neck to have a look, to find the real reason he went so quiet.

Dave had giving him a rib to gnaw on.

Because, you know .... we are the FLINTSTONES, after all.

During dinner, the conversation got around to Dave, and how he got diagnosed with that wonderful stage three non-hodgkins lymphoma, right before we had the baby. Suddenly, all other conversation stopped, and people turned to us, itching to know what it was like. And I was itching to tell them. It's easier, now .. to talk about it. But when it was all happening, and I got accosted everywhere I went, my GOD I got so cranky with people and their stupid comments and intrusive questions.

But, these were our friends ... genuinely concerned and gobsmacked by exactly what happened, how we found out, what we were thinking and feeling. It was a relief, to talk about it. Dave and I kept talking over each other, rushing our words.

"We thought it was his appendix ... "
"I really thought I was finally getting abs for the first time ..."
" ...but it wasn't abs, it was his cancerous tumours poking through his belly."

Then we all started cracking cancer jokes, and I sighed and realised how much I have missed my friends.

We ended the night playing celebrity head. Of course I was Bono, and Maxie was his hero, Crash Bandicoot. (Note to self ... wear makeup when out. You are on the wrong side of thirty-five.)

Someone put Dave as being Anthony Robbins. He had no freaking clue, so we started giving him insane hints to help him. Finally, I put on the biggest, booming American accent and made big sweeping gestures with my hands. "C'mon! You can do it! It's all in how you think! If you think it and believe it, anything is possible. Yeahhhhhh!!!"

He guessed it straight away.

I kept looking over at him, sitting in his chair with his silly bit of paper stuck to his head. I thought about how this year he would turn off all the lights and just watch TV in the dark. Not wanting to talk to anyone, just a guy lost in Chemoland, wondering how the hell he had got there.

Oh my God it already is the best Christmas ever.


Friday, 19 December 2008

Serendipity ... or, How I Think Universe Works

The other day, when I did my ENTIRE Christmas shopping in four hours (manic, much?) ... I saw this necklace in a shop and had to have it. It's a blackbird, and it whispered to me to take it home.

So I did .... via a trip to the doctors office at that Pesky Big Cancer Clinic with the free sympathy parking. The doc gave Dave the all clear (dodge bullets, much?) ... there was much rejoicing and relief in Chez Riley that night, I can assure you.

Later that night I was web surfing, and came across the lyrics to the song Blackbird, by the Beatles. Instantly I was reminded of the moment at THE U2 concert two years ago ... when I was literally hugging the stage and Bono broke into a song inside a song. Like a song sandwich, if you will. I didn't know the song, and I know all U2 songs. I was struck by the beauty of the words, and turned to the women next to me and asked her what it was.


I hadn't thought about it since ... until the other night, when it flew back into my life and landed around my neck.

My anthem for 2008.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
you were only waiting
for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Oh You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Dave sees the necklace the next day. "Oh. A crow."

"It's not a crow, it's a blackbird!"

He laughs. Later on Tim sees it .... "Cool magpie pendant."

"It's not a crow or a magpie ... it's a freakin' blackbird!"

They both laugh at me, and I join in.

Six and a Half and Three Quarters

This is what the end of Year One looks like.

Sweetest Max had his last day of school today, ready for the big long Christmas holidays. This week, not only did he bring home a report card saying how well he has improved in all areas of school, and how popular and kind he is ... he also got his school photos.

I was horrified.

He noticed them straight away too .... "Ummm, mum - what are those things under my eyes?"
"They are called bags, sweetheart. You must have been very tired. You have had a very, very big year and I am so proud of you!"

Can you imagine, being six ... waiting all year for your mum to go into hospital to have a baby, then suddenly bang! Daddy gets 'yucky lumps' so he has to go down to a different hospital. So, you have both parents in two different hospitals. (Enter amazing aunties). Then mummy comes home (with a new baby that unfortunately cried a lot in the early days) but for a while there, we didn't know when daddy would come home ... if at all.

And you are just six. Or, six and a half and three quarters, as Max always would say.

No wonder I threw him the biggest and best seventh birthday party any of his friends had ever seen. Jumping castle, presents, pinata, fancy dress, 20 children ... everything. (I had a panic attack ten minutes before the party started, luckily my sister whipped out her trusty rescue remedy.)

What I'd really like to have given him for his birthday is this year back, but I can't. And the better we all get, the more I realise how much he has matured and learnt this year. He grew up when I was busy having numerous meltdowns.

And he is ok ... more than ok. This afternoon, I went to his school to pick him up. All the children were making a guard of honour for the year six pupils, who will be starting high school next year. The principal read the names out, one by one, as they all filtered through, crouching under the outstretched hands ... I was almost sobbing. I don't even know any year sixes! Luckily I had my sunnies on. I watched Max, and my heart felt sore, I loved him so. One day he will be in year six .. one day he will be a man. I doubt he'll have another year quite like this one ... I think I was crying because this year is almost over.

Blessed relief.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


One day, not so long ago, I was in a screaming hurry to get somewhere important, like, you know COLES or something. I was irritated, tired and cranky.

In NO mood for the extremely slow driver in front of me, who I tailgated for a bit, indignant at having to slow down in the fast lane.

"Christs sake!" I thought. "I have a bay-bee. My husband is sick. Hurry the hell up!"

And then?

The slow car in front of me turned into the quiet street, that is off the main highway.

The cemetery, in fact.

My road rage disintegrated, and I felt a tad ashamed of myself.

There will always be somebody out there having a worse day than you.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Best Word I Ever Met

Today, the sun is brighter. The birds sing louder, I shower the baby with infinite kisses. I left a love letter out for Dave last night, to read when he got up for work this morning. Maxie got pancakes for brekky. I told Tim I loved him ... which is sometimes awkward, as he is my teenage stepson. (Awkward only because I feel like he thinks I expect him to say it back, which I don't ... I just want him to know how much he means to me).

Cliches are cliches for a reason .... life is precious, love your loved ones, etc.

We just found out that Dave is in complete remission. Remission ... how I love that word! The sweetest, most best word EV-AH. (Pic is of us kissing, last year sometimes. Shadowkissing.)

Goodbye, cancerous tumours. May you never darken our doorway again.

For the first time in seven months, I can breathe. I vow to not live in fear anymore. Life will unfold as it will, regardless of what I do, say, or plan.
I'm off to wrap presents. Merry freakin Christmas indeed!!!!


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Brief History of Me

Did you hear the joke about the husband who got diagnosed with cancer, five days before the baby was born?

I didn't think it was very funny either.

The baby is now six months old; the husband is now officially off chemotherapy treatments; and the wife uses words and writing to keep those pesky nervous breakdowns at bay. Sometimes, it feels like my life has been one trauma after another. But I'm still here, eating chocolate and drinking coffee like I always do. Hi! (waves).

I'm 36. Still wear glasses, after all these years. Tori Amos songs speak directly to my soul. I got married. Have two beautiful sons, and I'm also a stepmother (usually not evil) to some amazing people. Live in a big, show-offy house in the Blue Mountains, but I secretly yearn to live back in Sydney again. Anyone who knew me in my twenties would think I was dead already. Surprisingly, I'm not. Hi! (waves).

Went to ten schools, I think. I lost count. My dads kept dying, providing a rich minefield of angst to draw upon when I need to. I am in recovery. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be young and beautiful and single, travelling the world with careless abandon. I think it was Huxley who said that it is human nature to take everything we have for granted.

I don't believe you can have no regrets ... I have MANY. However, I don't want to die regretting the things I didn't do.

Life is too short to be self conscious. We must get real - get to the bottom of things. In my late twenties I "woke up" ... and have been awake ever since.

Oh - and I write. When I was little, I would write poems and ditties for my grandparents. Nan would rave about them with so much pride .. she would look me in the eye and say "Eden! You are going to be a writer someday!" Inwardly, I would feel a thrill, and think to myself .. wow, a real, live writer.

That "someday" has come, and I am indeed a writer now. I write articles for magazines. I edit my husbands shopping lists. I'm looking at getting published sometime in the new year, a childrens book with wonderful paintings in it, that I wrote the text for. I still feel like a wanker, saying it .... who the hell do I think I am? Important or something!?
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