January 6th, 2012. Ashes.

by Lori Dwyer on January 9, 2012 · 46 comments

I didn’t realize how terrified I was of today until I wake up and it crashes in on me… This is it. Come 2:34pm– give or take a minute or two, but not much– and I’ve lived a whole year as this strange, strong, almost–Lori person.

The day before today was Tony’s birthday; and I pack my kids and my car and one of my best mates and we head to Paradise. We walk on the beach in the cool afternoon light and I whisper ‘Happy birthday, babe, I love you‘ into the salty spray.

I am an ugly, acidic, frothing mess come Friday morning. I pull myself reluctantly from slumber, only to fall asleep again on the lounge an hour later. There is something not quite right with me… Who can sleep for ten hours, then sleep again an hour later? Someone who is running from the world, who prefers the black warmth of a dreamless sleep to reality. Someone like me.

We spread Tony’s ashes in a beautiful place almost a year ago, and that is where I will be today. No greatly significant reason… This place is not special to me as it was to him, I don’t feel him any closer to him here than I do when I’m curled up alone at night. I just don’t want to do today, and I don’t want to visit the spot where my husbands ashes were carried out to sea. So I may as well get it all over with at once.


I consider attempting to explain this to my son… But how do you explain the concept of ashes to a four year old? How do you tell a child that this is their father’s resting place when you’re not one hundred percent sure of their grasp of psychical realities, of someone being dead and not moving back?

It hurts, to be the bad guy all the time. Other people talk to him about his daddy, but I’m always the one who has to reiterate that he is not coming back. I’m the one who has the job of extinguishing simple, normal childhood flights of fancy when the Chop comes to me with hope all over his face– “Mum, Mickey and Donald have a rocket on the TV and it went all the way up to space!! Could they go to heaven, and then cone back again?”

How do you think it feels, to have to answer that question?

In the end, I decide that the whole ashes thing is just too much, for both my little man and I. There’s plenty of time for that… Years of question ahead of me, years of confusing, heart breaking answers to give.


It’s difficult to hate a place that is so breathtaking.

The bay where Tony’s ashes are spread is tiny. It’s a ten kilometer drive in there, on a corrugated dirt road, through a weapons range that’s still in use.

It’s worth it.

You follow the signs to whatever particular beach you’re heading to, tiny dirt tracks that sneak off into what appears to be miles of scrubland. Have faith, follow the road, and it tapers off into a cluster of campsites, not as full right now as they would normally be come January– the weather has simply not been warm enough.

Park your car, grab your children, your camera, all your bits and pieces, and wear your shoes for the walk down to the bay– it’s a stroll but rough, gravel and sticks and banksia bits lie along the path, litter the wooden steps that have been planked there for your assistance.

You’ll hear it, the waves, and smell the salt before you see it.

And suddenly the scrub opens up onto the next closest thing to Paradise… This looks like Heaven, as my husband would have imagined it.

It’s a huge round of crystal clear, green water. The sand is so soft and fine and it curves almost the entire way around this naturally conceived wonder, right up until it meets rocky outcrops, two of them positioned at ten o’clock and two o’clock on the far side of the bay. Between the rocky outcrops is the ocean.. It rushes in and out, filling the bay with clear salty water, but the gap in between the rocks is only a few meters wide… It breaks the waves, and any swell that does make it through are tiny shore rollers without even a peak of angry foam.

The entire bay and beach is no more than 500 meters wide. It is low tide today– last time, the day we spread his ashes, we did it at high tide, spreading handfuls of them that looked like green sand into the water from a rock that pokes it’s head out of the middle of that green, crystal expanse. I was crying and laughing as I cursed Tony’s name, because he knew how much I hated the cold water, and the ocean was freezing.

But today the water is shallow. It’s still cold– far too cold for me to venture in– but my children never notice and splash for hours in the sparkling water. My son can walk, unaided, almost directly across the middle of the bay, and the water is no higher than his waist.

It is quiet here, peaceful and secluded and beautiful. This was Tony’s favorite place to be as a kid, his family has been coming here for generations. As the crow flies it’s only twenty kilometers from where I grew up, in my own Paradise. We used to get milkshakes from the same old–fashioned cafe in the nearest Big City Town, and that has an odd comfort to it. It took us another 25 years to find each other, but we were there all along. The sights and sounds and smells of our childhood where the same… We lived the same reality. Just separately.


I am grateful I don’t have to drive home… I am exhausted, my head hurts and my body is aching. I lay back in the sunshine and close my eyes and half doze, drifting in and out of sleep… One eye opening balefully every now and then, to check the ticking advancement of the clock.

At about 2pm– when I could have, would have, changed things, given half the chance again– I let out a tiny, involuntarily wail and squeeze my hands shut into fists. The only way I can explain the next half an hour is hot… An ugly, fetid, green heat that smells of rotting things. I live through that half an hour all over again, for the trillionth time. I try to remember details, words, timelines… Things I know I have forgotten from that afternoon, because they just don’t bear remembering. (“Was then when he put the rope around his neck, Mrs D?” The police woman is lovely but her partner is a plastic copper, young and green and he has tears in his eyes and I want to slap him.)

Some things, they’re best left forgotten.

The flashbacks, that awful heat, is begins to recede as I watch the clock tick past… 2:34 pm (his shirt beneath my hand); 2:37 pm (my neighbor shaking his head, saying “Call an ambulance”); 2:42 pm (my son, confused and half asleep, deposited into my lap). By 3pm that ghost who wanders the lane way behind the Purple House, she’s on her way to the hospital, to the Quiet Room. My heart slows. My headache is gone. I am exhausted, depleted, shell shocked all over again.

But I have done 365 whole days inside my ow
n personally tailored hell.

And I have survived.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

chimney pipe February 23, 2012 at 4:33 am

You are amazing.

chimney pipe


Mirne January 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Flashbacks suck and surviving is hard work.


Donna January 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Goosebumps…. You have the most amazing ability to write as if we can feel your pain, your heartache as if its on the tip of our own tongue.

Have been thinking of you but been so absent from the online world sorry. I just wanted to extend a belated wish of continued strength to you,amazing Lori. 365 days thatno doubt kicked your ass but you kicked right back, best you could. You really are a true survivor xx


Rachel January 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Kepp on keeping on Lori. You're courage is amazing xxxxx


Miss Cinders January 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I've had this page open since yesterday. I had to refresh it so I could post.

But I still don't know what to say.

So I'll send you kisses & huggles instead xoxoxo


THE Bird January 11, 2012 at 2:48 am

Tony's resting place is truly, one of the most beautiful places on our planet…

It is a childhood stomping ground for my daughter, me, my mother & my grandparents.

It is even more special to me now, because of YOU Lori, you & your Tony…

Tony, my friend, I have known since I was so very young…

Now, due to your tribute, your unstinting love & loyalty, I feel I know Tony more now, than I did then…

Thank you Lori. You are beautiful. xxxx

I know for a fact that Tony loved you so very much… he told me so. It was just after the birth of 'The Bump'…


Kelloggsville January 10, 2012 at 7:02 am



Chantel January 10, 2012 at 1:05 am

You are a survivor and you will keep going. Love to you all xx


Melissa January 10, 2012 at 12:48 am

One foot in front of the other, breathe in. Breathe out.

You did survive. You survived and managed to keep 2 other little people going as well.

And right now, for now? Surviving will do. A time will come when it feels like something a little more. One foot in front of the other. Breathe in. Breathe out.


Melissa January 9, 2012 at 11:48 pm



allison tait January 9, 2012 at 11:24 pm

You're doing it Lori. Every single step. x


Melissa January 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm

You made it. You are amazing. You never have to do any "firsts" again. So much love to you and your littles. xoxox


Amanda January 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm

These are the hard days. There will be more, but not as hard as this day. and you survived it. XA


Stinky January 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

well done getting through the last year, you rock. Can't imagine just how hard its been, although its a year since I have been reading here too – followed a link on another blog I read when they asked for bloggers to come and support you. And I'm so fucking proud of you for it all, although I know, one step at a time, surviving and self-preserving


Carly Findlay January 9, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Wow Lori
That was amazing, and you are amazingly strong.
You did it. 365 days, and you'll continue to do it. One day at a time.
Thinking of you


Amy xxoo January 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

And for now, surviving is enough. Keep on keeping on Lori, we're all here with you xx


Anonymous January 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm

You have touched so many people with your honesty and resilience. I'm sure you dont always feel brave but you are an incredible soul.

Thank You for sharing.


Ann Anon


Vicky January 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm

You aren't just a survivour Lori. You're a warrior. x


Jjiraffe January 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Beautiful, sad, courageous. I've never met you but you are one of my heroes. A large world of people are better off because of your words. Thinking of you today and abiding with you.


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow January 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I think you have done much more than merely survived. It might not feel like it though, I realize.


Ma January 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm

With you, Lori.


Brenda January 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Much love and much strength to you my friend.xxx


Susan January 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm

You made it through the day. I'm proud of you. Keep strong, you can keep making it.


Madam Bipolar January 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

You have lived through the first 365 days. I am so proud of you.


lori January 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Been thinking about you so much. It sounds like a lovely resting place. Love and peace to you.


E. January 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm

They say that the first year is the hardest. After you get through all the firsts you know you can survive. I don't think that means the pain is gone just slightly more tolerabe as time goes on.

Thinking of you.


Maxabella January 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

You are doing it, Lori. x


Sharon @ Hear Mum Roar January 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

I think your instincts about the ashes concept is right on the money. I think if you keep listening to your instinct, that's the best you can do.

What a gut wrenching time of year for you though! I wish I had a fast forward button I could hit for you.


Miss Pink January 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

I have no words. Nothing I say will ease your pain. But I want you to know that I am reading with a clench on my heart and so much love for you and the kids.


Rin January 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

You are the most amazing and inspiring person Lori! Sending so much love to you and your two beautiful children. Continue the fight hun xxx


Anonymous January 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

I don't really know what to say…

You survived this year. You are such a strong, wonderful person.

Thanks for sharing.



Adalita January 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

No matter how you feel you are a strong and always honest woman and I love reading your blog for that reason. Hugs to you and your children. May 2012 be easier for you.


Claire January 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

My goodness sweetie…as ever your strength, grace and honesty leaps from the page. Thinking of you, today and always.


Pandora January 9, 2012 at 9:20 am

You are incredible.


Emma January 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

You did it lovely. Thinking of you xx


Lynda Halliger-Otvos January 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

Your strength in the face of tragedy is laudable and inimitable. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.


Sharron January 9, 2012 at 8:49 am

You are amazing. that is all


Ms Styling You January 9, 2012 at 8:47 am

You are indeed a surviver Lori x


Annieb25 January 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

You did it. Much love. xx


Julia January 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

You. Have. Survived. xx


Mary January 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm

you know I have been holding you in my heart and thoughts these past days.

whether or not this is the right time to say this I have to say it – your writing becomes more and more beautiful- the way you write reminds me somehow of Tim Winton's.



Shelley January 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Hugs Lori xx You have made it through a whole year. I hope this year and the ones the follow you can find some peace. Have been thinking of you x


BabyMac January 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm

You did it. You ARE doing it. You will get there x


Toni January 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I wish at the very least that his death hadn't been so violent, Lori.
You have all these terrible images in your heart and mind, and what do you do with them? I would imagine there'd be a million complicated reasons why you don't want to share them with Other People, but I hope you have a place to put them because no-one should have to hold onto those.
Like everyone who's watched you on this journey, I hope for you that this next 12 months is easier. That there is peace and joy and laughter, and love. That above all.


C. January 9, 2012 at 10:47 am

Beautiful Lori. I hope the next 12 months aren't as raw for you. Much love xx


Mrs Woog January 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

My body is covered in goosebumps. I adore you and your strength and your comittment to your kids and your future. It is bright my little clown xx


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