Friday, 3 April 2015

Stronger Than She Knows

I'll never forget the day the bottom fell out of the world – that's what it felt like when my husband, Adam's mate uttered those horrendous words that changed the world forever. I actually asked "Adam who?" like I knew several Adam's. Once he confirmed my worst fear, my immediate thought was Jodie – my beautiful gorgeous friend, my second was Joel and Reef – those precious boys I love like my own. My next thought was what I needed to do to help them survive this unbelievable chain of events.

Leigh and Adam showing off the catch of the day
Like most people who met him, I've had my “Adam”  moments. Discussions about everything from child rearing to international politics. Again, like most people I had my fair share of Adam take the opposite side of my argument not because he disagreed with me, but because he liked to see you test your argument, wanted to make sure you could justify your position. He'd wind you up, then grin at you and say, “You know, I actually agree with you...would you like another drink?”

My family has been privileged to spend a lot of time with team Bowden. You know that family you have a great, easy friendship with? The one where all the adults get on whether it's two, three or four of you together, the kids get on and it's just easy? The one where the line between being friends and being family is blurred? (I call Jodie the sister of my heart and I love her like I love my sisters.)

Sister of my heart
That's what we have with the Bowden's, they are a daily part of our lives. School drop offs, after school activities, dinners, days out, camping trips, boys fishing trips, girls days out – we did the lot and I can't remember a time we didn't have a ball of fun. Adam features big in those memories. Really, he was one of the kids. My kids adored him and he adored them back. I can remember him telling me he loved watching and talking to my daughter Kira. Not having a daughter of his own, he was fascinated by the difference between her and the boys. He also loved that she didn't let the boys get the better of her. I love that he didn't treat her differently from the others, but recognised her uniqueness and it's value. He loved my son Luke too. He always had time to talk to him, like he did with his boys. He included him in things where Luke got to learn from Adam  along side Joel or Reef. I loved watching him talk with Luke, taking him seriously, really listening to him, treating him like an equal.  He was willing to pull both my kids into line when they needed it. Basically he treated and loved them like his own. Spending such time with them gave us an insight to the Bowden's lives, their love, their team.
Adam with his two boys and his two "adopted"children
If you've seen it, you know what I mean. The Bowden's moved as one. The love and the commitment from all four to their family evident in everything they did. When they were together, they were so present in each other's lives. Every joy celebrated, every heartache shared. And Adam loved his family with every single inch of his body and soul. His jubilation at their successes, his tenderness when the boys hurt themselves, the way he looked at Jodie, touched her, smiled at her, his pure love and contentment when he was with them. If you are lucky (as I am) you will know exactly how it feels to be in a family like that and so you will know the enormous hole left by Adam.

Personally I've become aware of what he left behind in the boys. I took the boys shopping for a birthday present for Jodie and while they were comparing two items, Reef mentioned which one he liked better. Joel reminded him it wasn't what he like, but what mum would like that mattered. Watching Reef head off with a fishing rod and bait, ready to catch the biggest fish he can. Both moments are pure Adam.

I was going to say I'm in awe of Jodie, which I am, but the thing is I always have been. Even before Adam died I knew she was amazing, stronger than she gives herself credit for. I watch her now and am not surprised at how she is dealing with this. Her acceptance of the shittiness of the situation, her nurturing and protection of her boys, her ability to put one foot in front of the other, her determination to live this life in a way that would make Adam proud. Even her graciousness and concern for others who are feeling the loss of Adam, putting aside her own grief however briefly, to acknowledge the impact his death has had on so many. In the first few days after she lost Adam, she would look at me totally bewildered and ask “How can I do this? Adam was the one who drove this family. He made these decisions, I just followed along.” The truth is, she was always capable of making those decisions, taking the wheel and steering through the obstacles. However, like many of us, she was happy not to, happy to let Adam do it. Now she has to do it and she is doing it so well. While the fact she now has to parent on her own, has to forge her way through this world without Adam by her side is terrible and sad, watching her realise that she can has been incredible. Jodie's belief in herself is growing day by day – you read her blog, you can see it. And the girl can write. Jodie and the boys came to our place for dinner last night and we ended up talking about her blog. “There's all these people reading it,” she said in complete wonder “I don't even know who they are, but they send me messages telling me how much they get out of it, how it helps them. I don't even know what I'm doing!” I can't remember the number of page views she mentioned, but it was in the thousands.
Strong, capable woman
Team Bowden is missing a member. But like all good teams, those that are left are banding together and promising to see it through to the end. I know Jodie thinks she isn't as good a captain as Adam, but I beg to differ. She will lead differently, but she is more than capable. In the meantime, she has another amazing team surrounding her in the form of family, friends and the community she lives in. She also has the team of people who read this blog. It helps to know others are out there,  thousands of you  reading, praying, sending love, crying, hurting, acknowledging this journey, backing Team Bowden. 

In the days following Adam's death, two of Jodie's closest friends set up a Gofund me page. The idea was to raise $20,000 for Jodie and the boys. We're almost there, just under $4000 short. If 200 of you who read this blog, who haven't donated would be willing to donate just $20, we'd hit target.  Some of you knew Adam, some of you will only ever know him through this blog. He would have welcomed everyone of you into his house and showed genuine interest in you and your life. All of you either know Jodie or are getting to know her and the incredible woman she is. If you could see you way to supporting Team Bowden, lifting them a little higher, carry them a little further, we can help get them over this line.

Team Bowden
Donate here to support Team Bowden.

Cheers  Kylie (Sister from another Mister)