Closing the Chapter on 2020

Warning: I’m about to unload 2020’s worth of baggage on this post and the roller coaster year that was 2020. The timing, I admit is not the best for this post due to the current situation in NSW but it’s a part of my current process and it would be best left to read on happier days. I hope to bring more positive content from here on end.

I’ve been putting off completing this post for over 6 months. I’d start and stop over and over. I’d cry, and try to process and I’d abandon it. To be honest, I wasn’t ready. They say grieving is a process and I didn’t really start until recently but I feel like this is something I needed to write down and to finally put it to rest. Not to forget but to reflect on and process.

If I could write off 2020 I would but some of the happiest and most significant milestones of my life happened in 2020, along with some truly painful moments dotted across the year.

Couple sitting on front steps of their new house

I started the year off strong with buying my first house together with my then fiancĂ© Matt. We celebrated the milestone with a blank canvas party with our friends and our one furniture, the outdoor table. It was one of the most memorable celebration we’ve had in our house. Throughout 2020, we converted our pond into a fire pit and renovated and fixed the leak to our studio space in the back. We are still in the process of making our house a home but it’s really starting to feel like home now.

Hens Weekend with the girls at Hunter Valley, 6 girls standing in front of vineyard

I was so grateful we were able to go on my Hen’s Weekend with some of my best friends before the lockdown started in March 20202. I was filled with overwhelming gratitude that whole entire weekend. It was also a nice farewell for our group before months lockdown and not seeing each other. We kept in touch online and to be honest I think it really brought us closer and made us communicate more with each other. I’m always grateful to them for helping me through 2020.

Sunset Couple Wedding Cancelled due to Covid

In May, Our wedding was postponed. I feel so deeply for every couple that had to go through it during the last lockdown and for all currently experiencing this. It’s not easy to have the day you’ve been planning for what seems like years just cancelled. Being forced to postpone a wedding due to a pandemic was unimaginable when we first got engaged. We decided in the end it was for the best as we wanted all our families and friends to be present on our wedding day. We started to plan our December wedding with the hopes that my family in Indonesia could attend.

Panda and I Napping, Panda the Tuxedo Cat

With the Pandemic and the postponement of the wedding, I threw myself into work. I found myself working longer hours due to the additional duties we needed to perform with COVID-19 at my family business and I regretfully prioritised the wrong things. On July 20th, 2 days before my birthday, Panda, my beloved tuxedo cat passed away after I missed 3 vet check ups because I was “too busy with work”. In my mind, it was only a check up and she seemed healthy. She was due to see the vet the weekend she passed. To this day I still feel the guilt and I continue to torture myself with “what ifs” but her death snapped me out of my crazy work routine and I started prioritising my health and the health of my family.

Milka the Tuxedo Cat

In August, we fostered our now forever cat Milka. I didn’t really think through the time commitment that came with fostering a cat. Admittedly, I wanted him to fill the hole that Panda left behind but you can’t really replace one of your best friends with a look-alike so instead he made space for himself. While preoccupied with work, my family’s health, planning a wedding and now Milka, it didn’t give me much time to process what happened to Panda. I would just have random outburst of sadness mixed with anger and it would cycle over and over. I would find ways to distract myself from feeling the sadness and the guilt and it always returned with a vengeance.

Mum and Me

Fast-Forward to end of October, my mum was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease and they recommended immediate bypass surgery which by chance was scheduled exactly a month before the wedding. At this point Matt and I were unsure about the wedding. At first we considered moving the wedding back again however after further discussions and factoring everything we had planned, the vendors we had booked, with my mum’s blessing and assurances that she will be fine to attend, we decided to go ahead with it.

I am so thankful that my Mum’s surgery went ahead as planned and with no complications. My mum is the strongest most self sacrificing person I know. The recovery was a tough one and if you ask anybody, 1 month post-bypass is not long at all. She spent the month before our wedding in the hospital and post-op rehab. She spent the day before and day of our wedding coordinating food and helping set up while in unimaginable pain. Through it all, she didn’t complain or show that she was anything but excited and happy to be there. Thank you so much mama.

The lowest point of 2020 was on the 8th of December. I remember that morning, I was at home about to head to work when I received a phone call from my cousin telling me to head straight to the hospital to be with my mum because our grandma had passed away. At the time my mum was staying at the hospital to do her post-surgical rehab. It was probably the most heartbreaking experience of my life seeing my mum crying. There were a lot of tears in December. My grandma was the most patient and kind woman I have ever known (and will probably ever know). I’ve never seen her angry. She was a master at self-care and her family values were unparalleled. With her children split across two countries, she and my grandpa split their time equally between the kids and made sure that everyone felt loved. I always felt so “mature” when I would got to hold her hand to “keep her from falling” but really at the age of 10, she was stopping me from running across the road and killing myself. She always made the people around her feel happy and important. I will always miss you Emak.

Tea Ceremony Red outfits for wedding

With everything happening so close to the wedding, we really didn’t know whether to go ahead with it or not. Again with the family’s blessing and a serious discussion between the two of us, we decided to go ahead. We really needed to end the year on a good note. 11 days was not a long enough time for use to grief. I was so emotional on the day of the wedding. I still can’t believe we pulled it off. I’ve always said, it’s not the wedding we imagined but the one we were meant to have. It was a bittersweet occasion under the circumstances but it was something I think we all needed at that point.

Matt and Thia Dancing

We were (and still are) both so filled with immeasurable gratitude for all the help that our friends and family have given us to make the day happen. We will never forget all the effort that they had put in for us, for helping us with the details of the day because we just couldn’t juggle it all on our own at the end. The zoom surprises, flower arrangements, tea ceremony, plates for Zorba and all the bits and pieces organised by our families and friends. Thank you to everyone who made it happen. We are also so grateful to the family and friends overseas who spent their day in front of their computer to watch it all unfold. We were so relieved by the easing of restrictions a few days before our day. It meant the world to us to have most of the people (who were in Australia) attend.

With the Pandemic and everything that’s happened, grieving was made impossible and to be honest, I didn’t understand how to process everything because there was so much. But now that we are halfway through 2021 and living through our second significant lockdown, I am making more time to properly grieve over everything that happened last year and I am starting to feel like myself again. Despite the crazy start of the year with having my car stolen and burnt out, I didn’t feel as upset as I would have been before 2020. I’ve spent most of 2021 practicing some form of self care and especially by asking for help when I need it and getting back into healthier habits.

I’d like to thank my husband Matt for being there for me through it all and for navigating this weird period of our life with me. Sorry for all the moods that you’ve had to endure. I’d like to apologise as well as thank my family and friends for their patience with me during this first half of the year as well as helping pick up the mess that I was in 2020. I am finally starting to find myself again.

New zealand Auckland Honeymoon

I’m not sure what this second half of the year will bring for us and I recognise that a lot of people are going through a difficult time. For my family and friends in Indonesia, I’m thinking of you everyday and I hope things improve for you all soon. I also hope we can see an easing to the restrictions in our area and please make sure to reach out to myself or to your loved ones should you need help. Stay safe everyone and I hope to be able to hug you all again in the near future.

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