Mighty Martha – 3 years on

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Martha on Rainbow Beach ~ 2000 (pre breast cancer)

Today it is three years since Martha passed away, over there to heaven, out of her tired and painful body. I do remember that day with sadness, but as the years have gone on, it has become a day to celebrate too. I know now that Martha lives on in a new realm with Lou. They’ve run their life races here, and now I feel like it is time for me to pick up where they left off, make the most of my life, and celebrate the creative spirit that has awakened in me since Martha passed away.

December 7 will always be important – time to reflect on Martha’s life, and celebrate the person that she was to me. I don’t think either of us ever really knew or understood the connection that we shared. I loved her, supported her and honored her while she was alive, but now I can see more clearly her most special attributes: brave, independent, expressive, creative, kind, vulnerable – a truly beautiful soul. Those of you that knew her well would agree I am sure! She wasn’t perfect, none of us are. But the thing that I love and admire most about her now is that she was true to herself all along.

Born in to a family where business minded careers were most highly valued, Martha fought for her right to be her creative self. I’m sure she moved interstate to Noosa in order to cultivate that part of herself, and to be with people who better understood and honored what it is to live a creative life. I know that she completely loved “the sisterhood” she felt amongst the women who worked with her at the homewares store, Gibsons. They loved and supported her right back, all the way through her decade of breast cancer challenges, along with many other dear friends. As Martha always said, “the universe delivers”! She received the love and support she needed. While I am sure that there were many times when she may have felt that the challenges she was given in life were bigger than she could cope with, she always came through smiling in the end. Martha was small in body, but strong in spirit. She was mighty! She was special. And she was loved. So much. So very, very much. I think she knew that in the end, and then she could go in peace.

I am proud she was my sister and cherish the love and friendship we shared, especially throughout the breast cancer years. Sometimes together in person but mostly via many hundreds of L-O-N-G chatty phonecalls between Noosa and Sydney, almost always filled with love, laughter and plenty of tears too. That was the thing with Martha, she always wore her heart on her sleeve, so you were not left wondering where she stood! Her kind heart attracted so many good hearted people in to her life. She gave love out in copious measure, and it came back to her in many ways, shapes and forms over the years.

When Martha died, it really did change me forever. Much of me is the same as before, but a whole new aspect of myself was cracked open and began to grow too. In this new part of me, I have found a creative self I honestly never knew existed – not for 50 years! So that has been a gift. I value my relationship with myself and with others more strongly too. I see people for who they really are more clearly. To be honest, I have found past the few years to be REALLY hard. There have been many, many days and nights where I really questioned what the point of it all was, it was so hard to see through the black fog that descended and never really went away. It HURT to lose not one dearly loved sister, but two. It HURT to lose my breasts and go through those surgeries. And it hurt to lose my business and sense of purpose and self when pink zebra closed too. Really, it has been horrible. Not all day, every day, but bloody hard overall.

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Through it all, there have been some really special people who have held out their hand and helped me, in big ways and small. Without those beautiful souls helping me and encouraging me along, I honestly believe I would not be here today. They helped me. Me, who never really thought I needed much help from anyone. Being able to ask for help has been a big lesson for me, to accept that sometimes you really can’t do it all on your own. Like Martha always did, I’ve found that asking for help is hard to do, but necessary, when facing some huge life challenges. Help does arrive from both expected and unexpected places. I’ve built so much internal strength too. And you do get there in the end. I am so grateful to those that have “helped my being” in recent years. Thank you to each and every one of you – you know who you are! All of those kind messages and reassuring conversations have made such a difference to me.

When Martha went into palliative care a few months before she died, it was expected that she wouldn’t last long. So we started a “running relay” of family members back and forth to Noosa to keep her company in her final days and weeks. Well, we thought it would be days or weeks, but Martha thought it was so lovely to have us all together that she stayed around for weeks and months! Each time I only packed for a few days, and then ended up staying way longer. So I bought some clothes to suit the warmer Noosa climate – loose tops, dresses, leggings, sandals – different from my then usual fashion business attire. At one point I said to Martha, “OMG Marts, my wardrobe is becoming so like yours, I think I am morphing in to you!” And she said, in her sweet way “Ohhh no! You don’t want to be me. You have to be YOU!” So I said, “well maybe I will be the best of me AND the best of you”. And I honestly think that is what has happened. I’ve kept the best of me, and taken on the best of Martha too. I’m proud and happy that a part of Martha lives on in me. I will always honor it and cherish it. Thanks for the gifts Martha! I know that she lives on in spirit with me, delighting in the good, soothing and guiding through the not so good, cheering me on! And guiding me along, to find my true path too.

Me with Martha - always chatting to someone! - in her final weeks 2011

Me with Martha – always chatting to someone! – in her final weeks 2011

Hooray for good and lovely sisters. Today especially, I honor and love Martha and am thankful for all that she was to me in her life, and all that she continues to be as I step on without her in person, but with her gentle, wise spirit alongside, always holding my hand. I used to text Martha when she was heading in to one of her countless surgeries over the years “I am holding your hand” and she would text back “thanks Sare, see you out the other side!” Now I think it has reversed – Martha is holding my hand, and I will see her out the other side of this life. But there’s still much more to be lived, so I’m getting right on and living it, honoring me and honoring the beautiful and mighty Martha too. It is such a comfort to know Martha and Lou walk with me, all day every day.

God bless you Miss Marts, our Noosa sis! That’s what I always called her and no wonder I always feel so peaceful when I spend time up here in Noosa, as I am again this week. There are so many people, amongst family and your many friends, who are especially loving you and remembering you today. Yes, love is all you need and I feel yours with me each and every moment. I will always carry you in my heart. Enjoy your well deserved “party in the sky”.  I hope you are enjoying the show!

16 responses to “Mighty Martha – 3 years on

  1. Elizabeth Lewis

    Dearest Sarah, I have been thinking of you this past week and thinking how much I was missing your watermelon hearts updates… Thanks for sending, brought a tear and a smile to my face 🙂 I hope your feeling a lot stronger these past few months since your surgery.

    We are all well at my end. ( some photo’s below of me in shanghai and mum, dad, André and I having Dinner the other day.) I am just back from Working in Shanghai factories and André and I are looking forward to Christmas with family then we are going away for 4 week to Switzerland to ski.

    All my love to you and your lovely family and look forward to seeing you in the new year Chat soon X x E

    >

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  2. Kate Ratliff

    So so beautifully written dear Sarah.
    You truely have a gift.
    My day has been the same the last 3 years on the7 th as we remember dear Martha.
    Arise light a candle off to visit Jan then off to the pub.
    Here’s to celebrate a true Angel.
    Your spirit remains so alive in our hearts.
    Love always ,
    Kate R
    X

    Like

  3. laurentide16

    Hi Beautiful Sarah

    I can never seem to reply to your blogposts directly but wanted to reach out after this one, which is so beautiful, touching and insightful. You constantly inspire me, on so many levels. I’m thinking of you and am always here for you.

    Sending you love and big hugs. Sal xxx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    • Hello my lovely globetrotting friend! thank you for your beautiful comment and thank you for being one who has “helped my being” this past three years – definitely meant to be that our paths have crossed! Let’s make sure we always have this connection! Love & hugs to you – safe travels (and rest, rest, rest!) xxoo

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  4. Heidi

    So beautifully written x Heidi

    Like

  5. Sue Story

    Dear Sarah,
    I think of Martha so often, the precious lessons learnt, the time she enjoyed with family and the meaning of love and joy she brought to us all.
    Sarah, you have shown enormous courage throughout your recent trials, and of course losing Lou so sad for you all.
    But yes, she is with Martah in the sky and I am sure both are looking down on your and your loved ones especially today.
    Please send my love to Jan, I would love to catch up with you all again.
    Currently I am with family for Christmas in Florida, but maybe on your next visit we can meet.
    I will celebrate Martha today, time for vanilla bean icecream!
    Much love
    Sue Story

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    • Hi Sue
      So lovely to hear from you. I hope you never underestimate the importance and specialness of all that you, Terry and all the wonderful people at Katie Rose did for Martha, and all of us, in those final few months. You made such a difference to us all – helped make the “unbearable” just so much more “bearable”. I do believe you were all God sent! I will send your love to everyone and pass your message on to Mum too. We’d love to meet up again with you. Sending love to you and your family for Christmas – enjoy that “vanilla bean”! I hope your toes are still twinkling too! xxoo

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  6. Sharon Unger

    Beautifully said Sarah. It’s a hard one but your perspective is inspiring. Look after yourself.
    With live from afar!
    Sharon

    Like

  7. Hey Sarah,
    only known you a short while but your strength is evident. Now I know why! What a hard and beautiful story. Bring on 2015 and new opportunities we create. Look forward to catching up in the new year. Take care of yourself lovely lady.
    Trea

    Like

  8. suzievboyd

    Beautiful Sarah

    Love

    Suzie >

    Like

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