On the cusp

As my longest year draws to a close, On the cusp, awaiting rebirth, I am walking the path of my new life. I sense an intense, familiar, “cleaning-out” energy. It feels good.

I write to Karl in my journal in early December 2016:

With the big rubbish bins outside Rose’s house, I can easily recycle papers – and other stuff. I like the idea that I will soon be a woman without “attachments”. I really mean that!

I am done with schlepping my belongings back and forth.

A great sloughing off is about to happen for me.

I am eager to begin.

I visualize living a writing life in Vancouver.

In late 2016, I write again to Karl:

I see a small flat in Vancouver’s West End. I see love and kisses and cuddles and reading the weekend newspapers with a new partner. It feels healthy to me: putting flesh on the bones of my vision.

I begin the massive job of decluttering my space in Rose’s house, emptying the boxes I have hauled from Nimbin, and giving away things I cannot take to Canada with me on the plane. As I sense my energy shifting for a new season, I admit to Karl that I still have trust issues. Some days I am so frightened that I struggle to get out of bed.

Christmas 2016

Karl adored everything about Christmas: decorations, lights, a tree, a classic Bavarian dinner… everything… Our last Christmas together saw me returning from a disappointing business trip to find the whole house decorated, the tree decorated with wrapped presents under it, the fridge bursting with German Christmas goodies: stollen, liverwurst, paté, chocolates… In my childhood, Christmas was a painful time, and I was a bit of a Christmas-phobic until I met Karl. I quickly entered into the spirit of Karl’s Christmas magic and healed some of my childhood wounds along the way.

For Christmas in the sub-tropics, of course, the dress code is different from that in Canada or Germany! Fur-edged shorts were the go!


And my Gypsy lover adored baubles and trinkets! Especially at Christmas.

Karl with some of his trinkets

Guerilla trinkets

In our stylish modern house, I’d often find new crystals, baubles and tiny, glittering wind chimes hanging in a window, on the deck, or hanging with the pots and pans in the kitchen. Guerilla trinkets. Karl would collect them at the thrift shop in Lismore, where he worked as a volunteer and he’ hang them when my back was turned.


At Christmas, I simply had to surrender my aesthetic stringency and get with the program: Karl’s Christmas program. Every string of kitsch, blinking multi-coloured, frosted lights and every garish, glittering garland for sale at the thrift shop, Target or the supermarket festooned the decks of our house.

And then there was our Christmas tree. For years we debated about the proper approach to hanging tinsel (Lametta in German). I favored carefully laying it on the tree branches, delicately, a single strand at a time. Karl preferred to throw handfuls of Lametta at the tree from across the room.

Hanging decorations, 2008

And no Christmas Eve lunch would be complete without a noisy kookaburra monitoring proceedings from the deck railing!


My first Christmas alone

Now I am living in Brisbane and facing my first Christmas alone. With no Karl to set up and decorate my tree, I improvise. I buy a Christmas card and an anniversary card for him.

On 17 December 2016, I host a lunch in Brisbane to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary, trying not to feel embarrassed or self-conscious. I tell my friends I have dodged the PTS bullet; I am going to be okay, but it will take a little more time. While my energy levels are still low, I nevertheless imagine that I have crossed a wide river. I celebrate my courage.

By December 2016, I finally begin to accept the reality of Karl’s help. His comfort, reassurance and guidance color everything I do. The forensic examinations for my injury compensation case continue. I fly from Brisbane to Sydney to be assessed by doctors and psychiatrists. I am not hopeful, but I persist.

I start writing a new book: this book.

I accept a Christmas gift from a dear friend: a “float” in a new float tank spa a few streets away. That is a huge mistake. I suffer a shocking, dramatic PTS attack inside the float tank and run screaming from the building.

My Christmas and New Year’s holiday at the beach with Rose Gardener is filled with anticipation. Rose, a wise Sufi scholar and practitioner, has much spiritual wisdom but is hesitant to share it. I beg her for answers.

A crash course in love

As 2016 — the longest and darkest year of my life — draws to a close, I acknowledge that I’ve been enrolled in a crash course in love. Karl explains that I came into this world to touch many lives. Together we begin to flesh out our vision for a book about the conversations we have shared since his death (for nearly a year). I now see my whole life as a gift and our shared Nimbin adventure (including the house building) as an incomparable treasure.

I eagerly anticipate the sunrise of the New Year — and my new life