I attended the funeral today of a young mum who was tragically taken from her devoted husband and three beautiful young children by breast cancer. She fought a brave and valiant battle for four years. It was utterly heartbreaking. The coffin was adorned with her children’s painted handprints. Her photo displayed on the coffin, showing a face so young, vital and full of life, that the magnitude of this tragedy was hard to comprehend. The slideshow of her life showed a young family in their prime, enjoying the simple joyful moments of any family; a wedding, kids’ birthday parties, family gatherings, holidays, school achievements and special daily moments. It gave me pause to think. In the face of such unspeakable grief and tragedy, it was heartwarming to see a community come together to show their love for her, and the family. The church overflowing with sobbing mourners, many young parents, her friends, school mates, work colleagues and locals, turned out to show their support and share their sorrow. It is this kind of occasion that makes me grateful I have returned to a small community such as this, where everyone knows everyone, and where your joy and suffering is shared by so many.

I can’t imagine being faced with the prospect of my own death. I suppose in this situation you can eventually come to terms with your own mortality and the inevitability of losing a battle to a foe far greater than your physical and emotional being, but I can never comprehend the sheer terror and grief that must confront a parent when faced with the ultimate and unavoidable pain of having to say goodbye to your children. It is something so terrible and unimaginable that there are no words to describe it. The thought of leaving behind young children, one just started school, must be the worst cruelty a mother could ever face. Being robbed of your children’s childhood, and them robbed of a mother, is a tragedy so unspeakably awful it defies explanation and understanding.

My kids were mucking around in the bath tonight, and normally I would get cross, probably shout a bit,  but tonight I just watched them and took a deep breath. They are here, and I am there with them. For that I am grateful.  I read them extra stories at bedtime, I lingered as they fell asleep. I will go into their rooms tonight and make sure they are safe. I will do the things that we take for granted daily, simple moments and mundane tasks that she is robbed of. Today I will be grateful for those moments. I am there for them, they are here for me, and that is something I have arrogantly assumed would always be.

We don’t know when our time is up. I have thought long about my own mortality in the face of this. When you’re young you assume that illness and death is something you will face when you are old and have lived a full life, when your children are grown and are strong, independent and capable enough to survive without you. But this might not always be so. I hear so often of young mothers, being taken in their 30s and 40s to illness, that it is unsettling and unnerving. Why is this happening so often? Why are so many young children being left without mums? Why so many Dads left to raise children alone? Is there an explanation, or is it something that is beyond our control?

My lack of internet access has caused me frustrations and I have battled with the powers that be to try to have it resolved. I have been anxious that I have abandoned you my readers, that I have worked hard to inform and entertain for nearly three years. But being without the means to blog has also given me the opportunity to spend those hours that would otherwise be devoted to blogging, with my kids, my family and friends. It has been a wonderful and liberating time. At first I missed the blog, and was keen to return, but now I have settled into a life that is focused on my children, their new schools and kindy, their new friends, routines, habits and lives. It has been a joyful and enlightening few months. It has been beautiful.

Instead of fighting this, I have decided to embrace it, and so am going to take a sabbatical of sorts from my blog and design business. I want to focus on my family, my new home and community, and getting our lives in this new place underway. Decorating, design, interiors, blogging, social media and all the rest can wait. It will all be here tomorrow, next month and next year. Life may not. The world will not end if I don’t write a post. What is important and what is most precious are the three little people sleeping soundly upstairs who I am blessed to call my own. They are now my focus and I aim to spend the time appreciating them more and helping them grow, for as long as I have the honour and joy to do so.

We have a wonderful new home that is brimming with possibilities, and I want to focus on that too. So many things to do, so many opportunities, so much to be grateful for.

I will pop in every so often, and when the house is ready to be reinvented I will be sure to share the journey with you, but forgive me if I take a leave of absence for a while, to recalibrate my life so to speak and turn my attention to the things that matter most. The people who I am fortunate enough to have in my life, big and small, and through whom I grow richer every day.

Kiss your little people once more tonight, for all those mums who have left their angels behind….




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25 Responses to A moment of reflection.

  1. Mel says:

    The time away from your blog and design service has been a blessing to you and your family, allowing you to reflect on what is truly important. My children are older, but I took the same route as you have and put my blog to rest, so that I can concentrate on my family.

    I have only recently found your blog and there is lots of content to hold me over until/if you return :)

    Wishing you and yours a truly beautiful life.

  2. Ali says:

    What a beautifully wise and heartfelt post Mel. It’s true that it often takes a tragedy to remind us of what we have always known but too easily forget. Love and hugs. Xox

  3. janine marshall says:

    Hi Mel,

    What a truly beautiful, thoughtful and heartfelt post. I have too wondered lately, why there seems to be so many young parents losing their lives and leaving young families behind. Just before Christmas there was a lady at the primary school who lost her 8 year battle with breast cancer. I can’t imagine what her husband and kids have gone through…….I didn’t know her very well, but she had organised her own funeral, had bought everything for school for the boys, birthday and Christmas presents. I don’t know that I could be that strong….I visualize myself sobbing into a hanky being an emotional blithering mess but I guess that inner strength kicks in when it’s meant to and just maybe you have travelled down the path and faced your own mortality. I, like you am grateful to be here and have my family too. Enjoy the time with your family and we will hear from you again when the time is right.

    Take care


  4. Michelle says:

    Mel, thanks for sharing your life over the past couple of years. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog (especially your posts about the messy yet wonderful imperfection of family life!) Best wishes for the future and enjoy your time settling into your new home.

  5. Peta Howe says:

    Hi Mel what a heart felt story. We as a community faced a similar story last year. A young mother (aged 39) of triplets (aged 7) in my sons class fought a hard fight with breast cancer but sadly she passed away. It really makes you evaluate and appreciate everything in life and to never take anything for granted. On a happier note I love your blog and follow you on Instagram your new home is beautiful x

  6. Julie says:

    I will miss your blog Mel as it is one of my favourites but you are making the right decision. My four “babies” are now aged between 22 and 30 and the time when they were little seemed to pass by so quickly. Four and a half years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer at fifty one and although I am well now the experience taught me to spend my precious time doing things that are important. I can’t think of many more important things than spending time with your children. Another of my favourite blogs is The Painted Hive and Kristine only blogs sporadically but hers is still a great blog. Blessing to you and your lovely family.

  7. Cancer is on the rise no doubt. I hesitate to post my thoughts on why but I feel it is imperative I do so. It merely takes research to see why more and more people are succumbing to disease and at earlier ages. Myself, I am an American designer and mother of two. I am extremely concerned about the ongoing disaster at Fukushima Diaichi.

    Tons of highly radioactive waste is pouring into the Pacific and our shared atmosphere every day. It is not possible to clean up as the coriums have now melted down into the earth. The nuclear industry as a whole is based on lies and corporate greed. It is inefficient and dangerous despite what the powers that be may say. It is wasteful and leaves a horrific legacy for humans and animals who share this planet. Just research Chernobyl. Fukushima is much, much worse as it is ongoing and the explosions contained MOX fuel as well as plutonium, cesium, tritium, iodine ect. These isotopes persist in our environment for days, years – even centuries! They have been found in milk and other food sources including tuna and salmon which I no longer consume.

    There are massive amounts of this diabolical waste being buried, dumped into the ocean and sometimes left in the open to fester and re-enter ecosystems as in Fukushima. Already whole populations of animals are disappearing in the Pacific. Herring, sardines, sea stars, sea lions – the list goes on and on. Whales are washing up in record numbers. Research for yourselves. Read all you can and draw your own conclusions. I urge you to do so for your families sake.

    Helen Caldicott is an Aussie pediatrician and an expert on nuclear who has many videos on UTUBE. Also http://www.enenews.com has daily updates on the crisis you can subscibe to. I have found the forums invaluble as many scientists and former nuke professionals comment on the articles.

    Take note that Fukushima is only ONE out of over 400 nuclear power plants worldwide – one power outage where the fuel can no longer be cooled and the reactor will melt down just like Fukushima. We must work to cut back on our own consumption and bring clean energy sources like wind and solar to fruition. We owe this to future generations. I fear for our planet and ourselves and you are wise to take time out for your family and yourself. Peace and health to you all.

  8. Brony says:

    Mel, children are a gift that we only have or such a short while. We get caught up in the process of our lives, starting new jobs or new ventures, being successful. As mothers, wives, friends we often forget what the really important things are, there is always so much to do, always someone to please. It is a smart woman who can sit back and see the big picture….and see her family in the frame, not what she is going to ” give up”. Have a wonderful rediscovering the Southern Highlands it is such a beautiful area. Enjoy watching your little ones grow.
    Thankyou for your blog though, I have enjoyed your entries each day, and you taught me a lot about decorating.

  9. Hi Mel.
    kiss and hug those kiddies, tears rolling down my face for a Family I do not know, but grieve for.
    We lost our Mum and Dad within 6mths of each other when I was 5 yrs. old, on my 1st. day of school, leaving 7 children…. 3 under 8 of which I was the youngest……….we have survived with so much help from a small beachside community,and our beautiful older sister (21) at the time, and her husband , who worked 3 jobs to keep us together, along with Legacy.
    I spoil my children, now grown up with love and hugs, they and my husband are my world.
    This is the 1st. time I have put this in paper and the tears still flow……….
    Love your blog, will search till you come back on deck……..enjoy your precious Family, keep safe,
    Susan X

  10. Natalie says:

    A very sobering and inspirational post. Sometimes we need to regain a little bit of perspective on what’s important in life. Life really is too short and we need to remember to take time out to enjoy the little things. Thanks for the reminder :)

  11. yvmama says:

    My sister passed away last year from cancer at 43 leaving behind a son. I myself have 3. There is not a day that I don’t think “I am doing what she can’t”. I am not a perfect mother but I am a mother aware that this time is a gift. I also wish women would stop being so hard on their physical beauty. I don’t like my new grey hairs or the wrinkles but I try to handle them with grace for I know that being alive and watching my children grown means that inevitably I too am aging. I feel like I am aging for 2 and trying to make my sister proud. I understand your need for a break but I would be lying if I said I was not going to miss this blog. Good luck with everything.You have incredible humor and taste and that never goes out of style. Take all the time you need. We’ll be here.

  12. Beautifully expressed Mel. Don’t waste a minute of this precious time we have here.

  13. Christie says:

    We will be here when you come back. Life is such a struggle of juggles for modern mums step back and live in the moment. Sometimes it takes something so very confronting to make us reassess our priorities and focus. I remember Jane MacGraths passing had a momental affect on me. Maybe you are ready to let it go and embrace the treasures that you have x

  14. Ben says:

    Of late I have noticed in your posts a certain frustration…. Internet not working, crying kids, a dog that makes mess, previous owners of your house leaving it in a bad state etc and I’m glad for your family that you have decided to step back and look at the big picture. Your family. That is all that truly matters. Who cares what your house looks like if everyone you love is in it. Be present. Give love. Be happy. This is a great post and a reality check for me also. Phones/devices are put in a drawer when we all get home and we all have to be present with each other… We are so much more connected just from that simple measure. Good luck. You have divine taste and are a wonderful stylist- I am sure that you will be extremely successful when the time is right.

  15. Tracey Brancourt says:

    Go, enjoy your babies and family. We will all be here waiting when you are ready to come back. Tracey xxx

  16. Anastasia says:

    Lovely Mel so beautifully written and so true. It’s those stories and lives of someones passing and the family that’s left behind that makes us realise how lucky we are. Life gets too complicated and we are the only ones to blame. We can say no, we can keep it simple but many choose to keep running on that treadmill to do more, be more, want more, be validated more whilst right behind us is a little innocent army of love running to keep up. They don’t understand and nor should they. We have one shot at being present and being the most loving parent we were created to be. We can’t get this time back and as you know time flies by so quickly. Your family and sanity is the most important thing and we have loved the journey you have taken us on and will be here when you decide the time is right to come back. Whether it be 1 year or 5 it doesn’t matter, what does matter that you can look back and know you stepped up and put your family first. I’ve said it before it’s about balance and keeping it simple.
    Through tragedy comes rays of insightful loving light that guides us to be better people and make wiser choices…..we just need to hold on to those choices and thoughts and never forget.
    Enjoy what you have and I wish you all the love and happiness in the year ahead.
    Thank you for keeping me on track with your thoughtful post.
    Love AJ xxoo

  17. mydesignchic says:

    Enjoy your time with your family, and yes, tragedy the magnitude of this certainly makes us pause. My childhood best friend died of breast cancer at 39 leaving a 3 and 5 year old. She had just bought a house right beside me, and we were so excited to start our next chapter as next door neighbors! Her boys are now 21 and 23, handsome, well mannered, and successful and I see her in every thing they do…such a beautiful reminder to us all to treasure what is truly important in life. Be sure to pop in from time to time and I’ll look forward to seeing you in my inbox!

  18. Z says:

    So beautifully written Mel. I was diagnosed with cancer last year and my biggest fear was the possibility of leaving my three beautiful children and them having to grow up without their Mother. I am thankfully in remission now. Enjoy the time with your family and I’m sure you will all be much happier for it. Thanks for the fantastic blog, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts!

  19. Ruth says:

    Thirty-seven years ago I lost my husband, son and BIL to a drunk driver……sometimes Mel I have wanted to post a comment and say to feel less put upon and more grateful, but I didn’t. Because this is your blog and if I didn’t like it I didn’t have to follow. But in all honesty I would think my goodness does she realize what she has. The answer is YES. You were just venting, but I also think sometimes we should ALL vent less and appreciate more. I forget to do that myself. My MIL lost two sons and a grandson and In almost 35 year of knowing her I never heard her complain about anything EVER! I wish I could have one tenth of the character she had. I don’t, but I try and that is all we can do. We need to post notes and wishes about gratefulness and not other things that are of little importance.

    Take Care and what you posted from her death…..it wasn’t in vain.

  20. Oh Mel, my heart goes out to you and the family and their concentric circles.I must say I admire your tremendous personal strength to pause, acknowledge and re-evaluate your world. So many of us might feel this in the moment. However you have gone further.
    Of course I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blog & have learnt so much. I respect your right to make the decisions that are at your core.
    Take care & enjoy your glorious family,

  21. I cannot even imagine…. so tragic! But you are right, it needs to act as a reminder to always hug those we love close to us. xx

  22. Carissa says:

    Such a Beautiful Heartfelt post Mel!
    Take care of yourself and enjoy your Gorgeous family and new home!

  23. Angela says:

    Mel, Thank you for sharing. A well expressed post that had me in tears as well as some of the stories people have shared in the comments.

    You have been so generous in sharing so much design information as well as stories we can all identify with on your blog – it is a beautiful record of the hard work you have put into your last home, the journey with your children and a rich resource for all. We thank you for that. Social media/internet is a time consuming thing – I know I feel sometimes it takes me away from where I should be ‘present’ (and I don’t even blog). Look forward to still seeing your pics on instagram I hope.


  24. What beautiful thoughts. Such sadness for little children losing their mom, heartbreaking. I feel blessed that my three children have made it to adulthood. Even now, when I face my own mortality, it is my children that I worry about. I do not want to make them to have to face life without a parent, no matter their age.

    Blogging is for sharing, creativity and inspiration. There are no rules. Blog when you feel inspired. If that is infrequent, not a problem. I am in a phase of infrequent blogging due to a move, I have decided to not feel stress about it and will get back to it later when I have more to share and have more time.

    Your head and heart are in the right place. Family is what is important and a happy mama is at the center of it all. Good decision!

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