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I am very fortunate that I am very close to my siblings. I have an older sister and two older brothers. Sadly in July 2022, we lost my eldest brother John, after his long battle with cancer. He was a fighter in the true spirit of the word, even on his last day he was independently wanting to do things for himself.

I had hoped with all my being that this day would never come. He fought hard and endured 64 rounds of chemo. He shared his journey on his Instagram account, and was determined not to give up.

For my husband and children, we had been contemplating moving to another state. After 2 years of continuous lockdown in Victoria, we no longer felt like we could breathe and we need a change for our children’s wellbeing. I remember talking to John about our thoughts, and he said ‘Go, don’t stay here waiting for me to die’. John and I were close, and he was the Godfather to my children. Sadly with 2 years of lockdown, we didn’t get to see him as much as we wanted. Throughout the 2 years, we had family facetime sessions, special family lunches (everyone cooking at their own homes and sitting at the table so we could eat together), Sunday chat sessions and phone calls in between.

My husband and I finally made the move and relocated. We had settled in our new home, I was speaking to John and his wife on the phone, and we talking about plans for them to come and visit. Within weeks, everything went downhill, fast. I was receiving calls from my mum and sister advising me if you want to say good-bye you need to come now. But my heart was say NO, not yet.

One day I woke up and said to my husband we have to go back. I need to see him. Now was the time. We drove back and got back into Melbourne the Friday evening, I saw John at lunch time the next day. He held my husband and my hand (we didn’t bring the kids to see him as we wanted their memories to be favourable). I was shocked when I walked in and saw him, I couldn’t believe how much he had wither away in such a short time. His body was very frail, he was talking but I couldn’t hear him nor understand what he was saying, but his hands. His hands were, as I had always known them, filled with warm, big and soft, and very encompassing. I will never forget that moment. We had a limited time we were able to be with him.

Honestly I felt robbed. I had barely seen him for 2 years and I just wanted to hold him. I wanted to tell him so much I love him and what an amazing man he was and I am forever grateful I got to be his sister, but felt so awkward at that moment and couldn’t speak a word.

John received his wings that evening. I’m thankful he waited for Dean (my husband) and I to see him one last time. I remember waking up at the time he would have passed, I just had this feeling but I couldn’t understand what it was. The next morning my mum told me he was gone.

The big fat hole in my heart. He’s gone.

The weeks following I just had brain fog. The first week, I could barely think, and all I did was cry continuously on and off all day and night. My husband and I would sit and talk about him constantly throughout the day and night. We wanted to encourage our children to do the same, we wanted them to remember him for all the amazing things he did, the silly jokes he played, and the ‘Uncle John’ sayings.

I was recommended a book, Signs: The secret language of the universe. Amazing. I’m grateful that Laura Lynne Jackson wrote this book. It truly enabled me to see and understand the signs John was sending us. The very short version of the book is those who pass can share signs with us to let us know they are there. I was explaining to my children the things Laura was sharing in her book. We agreed that 2 rainbows were Uncle John’s connection to us. WOW….2 rainbows were turning up everywhere. I mean everywhere.

One day I was driving, and I just had the most overwhelming feeling John was there. I said out loud ‘John show yourself‘ and within seconds, I mean seconds, two rainbows exploded in the sky. My husband and I looked at each other in shock. I know I could connect and feel others’ energy but wow….I wasn’t expecting that. The kids just screamed with excitement announcing Uncle John was here.

The emotions that have followed since John’s earthly departure have been anger, hurt, more anger, confusion, frustration and sadness. I miss John’s hugs. No one gave hugs like John.

John was a great brother, uncle, godfather and hero.

Honestly, until you have experienced your own loss, you will never truly understand how a person feels and what they’re going through. I think that pretty much applies to many things we experience in our lives, those who have been there get it, those who have not do try to understand.

I was fortunate to have an amazing network around me to support me. I know John would want us to live our best life, doing all that makes us happy and simply focusing on us as a family.

My words of wisdom are simple when you loose someone.

  1. Take it day by day, there are challenging days and these are the day you need to be more loving and giving to yourself.
  2. Remember them for who they would want you to remember them as.
  3. Don’t dwell on the loss, embrace the life they had and the amazing things they did. Being Irish, I always heard my folks talk about the Irish wakes are a like party because they’re celebrating their life, not morning their loss.
  4. Talk to professionals or those you trust if and when you need to. Don’t deal with it alone. There is plenty of support available.

To John:

“Hey John, just wanted to tell you I love you so much and I miss you so much more. You always came to my rescue when I needed it growing up, you listened, you shared your ‘John wisdom’, and you were a proud person. Proud man, son, husband, dad, uncle, godfather, and grandfather. Love always your little sister.”