Lucky for me, I have a tonne of them.
Remembering them in any detail is another problem.
I can remember VIVIDLY every. single. mistake and/or failure in my entire life – back to being about 8 years old. I can remember every word/slur/insult that hurt me, every stone thrown at me, every time I hit the ground and scraped my face from being pushed down from someone (metaphorically and physically) – usually a manager and/or bullies at work. I can remember every rejection. Every “no”, every guy who didn’t fancy me back, every friend who betrayed me, every loss, every hit I’ve ever taken. I have the bullet wounds and scars on my back from the thousands of knives people I trusted stabbed me with. I have scars from every bus I’ve been thrown under and survived. I remember everything that hurt me as clearly as if it only just happened. My memory is surprisingly sharp when it comes to recalling pain.
But the good memories? The ones my Bible tells me to literally DWELL on as OFTEN as possible? Well, that’s a bit of a challenge.
The first thing I want you to know is, I’m blessed to have any happy memories at all 🙂 I thank you Jesus for every single happiness you’ve showered down on me, they are countless. Thank you for every sunset, every rainbow, every wave on the beach’s shore, every rose I’ve stopped to smell, every bouquet I’ve ever had delivered or recieved in heartfelt surprise and blessing. Thank you, Lord – for every friend who’s put a loving arm around me when I’m hurting, who’s squeezed my hand or walked quietly beside me in the many, MANY valleys of darkness, pain and shame I’ve had to walk through, for every friend who came over to ‘sit with me’ when I was in suicidal crisis and listened for hours without judging me, or came over just to colour in with me when I was deeply depressed and was incapable of doing anything more.
Thank you for every phone call in these modern days of technology where the caller sees my name pop up on their screen, smiles, and swipes across to answer 🙂
Thank you, Abba Father for every single time I’ve reached a child and made them believe in themselves. Thank you for every child’s laugh, thank you for all of their beautiful letters – which almost always start with “Dear Janet, love you…” (I keep them ALL and always have), thank you for letting me hear children’s ideas, experience their giddiness when playing games, their giggles of delight at the simple joy of blowing bubbles or their creativeness when drawing, painting or decorating a cupcake. Children are my heart and working with them throughout my life has been my greatest privilege. Lord God, I couldn’t thank you enough for the honour of being around children, seeing them learn, laugh, grow…it’s been an absolute pleasure to be a childcare worker, a Sunday School teacher, a trainee Kindergarten Teacher, a successful Youth and Children’s Pastor in the UK for 8 years and an ocassional volunteer children’s helper here in Australia.
Thank you for every friend I’ve made, for every guy I’ve ever fell in love with, for every time I made my brother want to look up to me, for every non-scripted, non-careful, heartfelt talk I had with my beloved Daddy when he was still walking this earth with his goofy smile and for every time Mom played with my feet or tapped a heart-beat rhythm on my leg when I was a little girl and curled up in her lap, falling asleep feeling safer than I ever have in my whole life.
These are (some of) the memories that make my life worth living. These are the times in my life that I treasure so much:
(in no particular order)
Every time I’ve been able to teach a class on Uni Prac. I have loved being able to write lessons, interact with children of all ages and see my ideas either come to great fruition or fail terribly and help me learn and grow along with the little ones I’m passionate about helping. On one Prac it was Easter, and I hid little chocolate eggs for the children to find around the classroom. I loved it! I love seeing children so happy and so excited. One little boy – he had blonde hair, bright eyes and a heart of gold – asked me where my Easter egg was. I told him they were just for the little ones and he – without a moment’s hesitation – gave me one of his. A little solid chocolate egg rapped in bright pink metalic paper. I still have the wrapper in the folds of my Bible and whenever I come upon it, I remember that little boy’s earnest face and how willingly he gave. Sharing is a big deal for a young child. That boy’s Momma raised him right.
I have had countless ocassions that I have held tight in my heart where children include me as one of their own – another kid – instead of as a grown up. I love that. Jonathan (first husband) interviewed children I worked with as a Children’s Pastor in the UK to help me prepare yet another University application for teaching (I applied and tried EIGHT TIMES you know to be a Kindergarten teacher). In it, a 7-year-old Natasha is squirming in her seat and looking with childlike curiosity at the camera. Jon’s voice from behind it asks “Out of all the children’s workers here in Church – why do you go to Janet the most?” and Natasha’s face lights up…and she says straight down the barrel of the camera “Because Janet understands me“. Oh my heart. I cried watching that for the first time and every time since. It’s on an “old” DVD now and is kept in my many boxes of treasured gifts (90% letters and cards) from children and friends.
I was walking with Troy in the city and we were about 18, I think. Neither of us were driving (both taking lessons and both so excited to drive, though) and we were walking towards the bus we were to catch to Troy’s house that afternoon to hang out. We were about 100-150 feet away from the bus stop when our bus pulled up and people started getting off. I was wearing high wedges at the time (they were in fashion, bless my heart) and there was NO WAY I could run in them. If we missed this bus, it would be about a 40 minute wait (in the heat of summer) for the next one to Ellenbrook. Troy was worried, but he was a gentleman and didn’t say anything about it. Troy didn’t rush me to catch the bus. I could see him struggling against wanting to run for it, so I stopped, took my fancy shoes off and flashed him a smile, shouting “Come on! RUN!” as I took off like the wind – and we did. And we made that bus. The way Troy looked at me when we sat down on those old green leather (?) bus seats that day – like I was…someone very special…I will never forget.
We were travelling around the world. I was 13 and Jay was 8, bless him. We were in America, driving across the States sightseeing – maybe we were in Colorado at the time? We stopped to get petrol (how Dad drove on the opposite side of the road all that time and didn’t kill us all is beyond me) and Dad and Jay went into the store to pay and get snacks. They came back and Jay hopped up into the back seat with me and proudly gave me a pack of “Virginia Slims” playing cards. “Jay was so cute (he really was) that the store owner was enchanted by him” Dad told me, turning in his seat to smile at Jay. “The owner said Jay could have anything he wanted in the store for free and the first thing your brother said? He asked “can I have something for my sister?”…and that’s where the pack of cards came from. I still have them to this day and remember that day when I hold them. I remember back with a broken heart to the days when I was Jay’s hero – not his enemy. It also makes me smile because at the time, “Virgina Slim” was a company heavily promoting smoking. Haha. Of all the gifts a little boy could choose…bless him. I can imagine Jay just seeing fancy ladies on the cards and thinking “Oh, my sister might like these” and smiling as he offered them up to the salesperson on the counter.
It earned me a hard slap in the face from my Dad that afternoon; but I am proud of this next moment I’m going to share with you: I stood up for my Dad and refused a ‘gift’ his younger brother (a true a**hole) tried to give me. I’d witnessed “Uncle” (pfft) Andrew BULLY my Dad for years. Years and years. Then one day an invitation to come and stay at his Queensland house for a week. Instead of being bitter, angry or even a bit cautious, Dad packed us all up and off we went. I don’t remember their house….just the tropical weather and how charming, funny and charismatic my Uncle was. He knew how to light a room up. I was confused by this facade but wasn’t fooled for a minute. On the last day of our ‘visit’, he had left a striped yellow and white tshirt on my pillow “Love from Uncle Andy and Aunty Deb xx“. I remember shaking my head at it and recalling in my mind the last voicemail he’d left my Dad only a few weeks earlier, calling him a “ball-less bastard” and hoping he’d die. Now you’re trying to give me a shirt? Yeah. You can F*CK RIGHT OFF, mate. I’m not having any of your bollocks. I can see right through your bullsh*t, “Uncle”. You want something from my Dad, that’s why you’ve invited us all to your lovely, expensive-looking home. I’ve heard you discussing a new business venture with him. You think I’m young and stupid but I know things. I see and hear things and unfortunately for you, I remember things. I am SUPER PROTECTIVE of my Dad and you are no good for him. So I sat and I penned out a letter saying exactly that. I ended with something like “Thank you for the shirt, but I can’t accept this knowing how badly you treat my Dad. I wish you well but no thanks“. Dad was BEYOND FURIOUS when he found out later that day (I can still hear Uncle Andrew shouting obscenities down the phone at Dad before the slap) and as I write about it, I can feel the sting of his hand on my cheek. It wasn’t a slap, it was a BLOW. A hit. I took it and I’d take it 1000 times, Dad. I did that for you and I wouldn’t take it back. I don’t care how pissed you were about it, I did what I believe was right and ironically, that’s something I learnt from you.
My memory lets me down when it comes to things I’ve done well, but I have fuzzy memories of sticking up for kids who were being bullied at school, of taking my lunch and sitting with ‘the loner’ at different schools, colleges and Uni’s so that they would feel included and welcomed. I remember taking the side of anyone I felt was being treated badly. I remember passionately advocating for the voiceless and being a friend to anyone I saw as lonely or hurting. Those are all good memories. Having a friend look up at me with tears in their eyes when I sit with them and make them ‘unlonely’, and hearing them say “Thanks, Janet”…those are the memories that make me who I am. I am proud of every single one of them.
I remember being out at Justin’s new farm in mid-2009 and the precise moment I fell in love with Aubrey. He and I went for a walk for some reason (I was reading too much into it at the time and thinking Aubs wanted me alone so I was really, really excited) through the trees and the dense shrub just as the sun was starting to set. There was a huge fallen tree and Aubs jumped up like an Olympic champion. He turned, reached down and offered his hand. Looking up at his chiselled face, his red fringe in his blue eyes and his gorgeous hand out to me…I felt like it was a magical moment. I heard that song *** put song here when I remember who it was by – some boy band: “today this could be…the greatest day of our lives…“*** and I took Aubrey’s hand. I was at my thinnest and most sexy then, so Aubs had no trouble pulling me up next to him on that huge fallen tree in the Forest. We stood there, in the forest glen for ages, watching the sun go down, listening to the wind in the trees and the birds singing. It was one of the most romantic moments in my whole life. I don’t remember if we talked, I just remember the feeling of the breeze on my arms, the beating of my heart, how gorgeous Aubrey looked and how the moment felt like one in a million.
While I’m on this topic, another great moment in my life – with Aubrey – was probably months after the magical moment in the forest. Between that moment and the one I’m about to tell you about, Aubrey had very gently explained he didn’t feel ‘that way‘ about me and I’d taken it like the dramatic queen I was. (I cried about it for days, yeah). We were out on Justin’s farm again and this time, Aubrey’s parents for some reason were with us. I loved them. It explains why Aubs and his siblings are such amazing people – it’s because his parents are strong Christians, loving, kind, sweet, funny…they were amazing. A pity I couldn’t marry into it, I think. I loved them all so much. Anyway, *sigh* Aubrey, his parents, his younger sister Lucy (who I like a lot by the way – she’s such a strong young woman of God and we still talk to each other at least once every few weeks), Justin, Sharyn “Shaz” and I. We were all stood in a circle talking about God’s blessings in our lives (I love when Christians get together) and out of nowhere…Aubrey stood behind me and pulled me close to his body; his arms folded over my chest…like a couple. I remember thinking at the time “Boy, you said no to this – what are you doing?” but at the same time, feeling pleased by the eyebrows that went up around the group because Aubrey was making such a public statement. Even now, I can feel his strong arms around me. I loved that moment.
Writing about all these moments has made me so happy 🙂 I’m going to clean the house! haha.
I’ll write more soon xx