With All the Love in the World, Fly Free Beautiful One

The last two weeks have been incredibly difficult for my family and I; tragically on the 17th of May my amazing brothers gorgeous fiance was taken from us. She was involved in an absolute freak single car accident, an accident that still doesn’t even seem to make much sense – and how can it ever? She was only 21, with so much life ahead of her to live, so many hopes and dreams but a desire for a humble yet wonderful life. Even though she was the most beautiful girl that most people had ever laid eyes on, she certainly wasn’t a princess (even though that’s exactly how my brother treated her – like she was the most wonderful little lady in the world). She was a tough little cookie, brave and fierce – she was training to be a vet nurse, while working in child care to save up for her November wedding, to start a life with my baby brother. As you can probably tell from her career choices, she really cared for others and for animals – she really truly did! So incredibly compassionate, this wonderful little gem touched the lives of so many people in her short time with us with her words and actions – she was the kind of girl who knew just how and when to give you a warm hug.

Snapped this photo a month or so ago when we were paintballing - only she could look so beautiful while pulling a face!
Snapped this photo a month or so ago when we were paint balling – only she could look so beautiful while pulling a face!

In the past week, we’ve all been riding a roller coaster of emotions; at first shock and a hell of a lot of grief, which has at times morphed into anger and frustration – how could someone so beautiful be taken so young? Horrible things cross your mind; mostly complete anger as to why others more ‘deserving’ were not taken in her place – why was someone who was so good taken from us? There were nights for all of us when we would wake up believing that she was still alive, that there had been a mistake, some kind of mix up.
I know that we will continue to feel this way at times but we can also be thankful that we were lucky enough to have met such an all round brilliant person. My heart has never ached the way that it has since we lost Rikki and as much as it hurts, I hope this pain never goes away – because I never want to forget how much joy she brought to our lives and I’m worried that the day it stops aching will be the day that you truly leave. I know though, that I shouldn’t be worried; she will be with us in every sunrise and sunset and each time we see a sunflower (her absolute favourite) or any bright or beautiful thing for that matter, we can all take comfort in the fact that she is still bringing us joy. What has been one of the biggest struggles is trying to think of how we can now all live that extra bit of life for her. When trying to think of what things she may have wanted to achieve in life, the only thing I could think of (apart from her desire to visit Harry Potter world) was her overwhelming urge to just marry my bother and have beautiful babies. It hurts to know this is a dream she can never achieve but if we all make sure we fiercely chase down our own dreams on her behalf, she will live a bit of extra life through each and every one of us.

At her engagement to my brother - your love is one to truly be envied.
At her engagement to my brother – your love is one to truly be envied.

I was fortunate enough to have the oppourtunity to speak at a celebration for her life after her funeral – a truly special event where we were able to bring some of the dreams that she had for her wedding to life, tasting the food, cakes and wine she had selected, leaving our mark on the finger print tree that she had thought up for her wedding and enjoying the decorations and colours that she loved so much. I have included below what I wrote for her and although I now know that ‘closure’ is something that my family or I will never ever truly feel, every little piece of therapeutic action we take will help us just a little bit. Rest in peace beautiful angel, though the world will be a little less bright without your smile to brighten it up every day, may you fly free and see the world from a better place x x

My favourite photo of this gorgeous girl, taken on Mothers Day, just three weeks ago, when the world was a brighter place. Her feet were sore from new shoes so my darling brother just started carrying her on his back. What a love.
My favourite photo of this gorgeous girl, taken on Mothers Day, just three weeks ago, when the world was a brighter place. Her feet were sore from new shoes so my darling brother just started carrying her on his back. What a love.

“A beautiful angel was taken from us far too soon. Rikki you were my surrogate sister, a beautiful little lady who brought so much happiness and joy to the lives of everyone around you. I will always be grateful for the love that you brought into my brothers life – you made him feel so special and wonderful. You two had the kind of love that others can only dream of. Not only did you light up his world though, but also when you came into his life you gained a whole new family, a daunting experience that you took completely in your stride. Where others have fled in fear from out big, boisterous and ridiculous family occasions, you fit right in, even showing us up sometimes. We knew straight away that you were the perfect addition to our crazy clan, boldly claiming your own gift – an inflatable pool toy, at the first Norton Kris Cringle and joining in on our silly games with full gusto. Your second choice for Christmas present, after having the pool toy stolen, was a washing basket full of toilet paper – and you were delighted! Never before have I seen a girl so happy about toilet paper – which I then went on to steal from you, as was the nature of the game! Never will there be a Norton family gathering where you won’t be missed, but your mark on our family will always be there. To us, you were already our sister; daughter, niece, cousin and granddaughter and forever you will remain.
Your vivacious spirit affected everyone you encountered; you were too kind, too beautiful and too courageous for us all to keep up. It has been absolutely phenomenal to hear from so many people about how you effected their lives – receiving messages from people who I didn’t even know you knew, about all the quirky little things you used to do has been so heartwarming. It’s a rare quality, but I don’t think there was a single person you met, whose life you didn’t have an impact on – even if it was just sharing your beautiful smile to brighten up their day. I know that personally I’ll never be able to eat spaghetti again without having a little laugh at your expense – and I’m sure that you know exactly what I mean! I can’t imagine that any other girl could have taken a shed and turned it into a warm and gorgeous home – even though it meant that you once found yourself sitting on the roof in the pouring rain, wearing only your pajamas and dressing gown, laughing while the boys fitted your new fireplace.
You were the crazy girl who got burns on her bum when sliding down the slippery dip at the pub but still went back to do it again, you put me to shame when we went paint balling – telling me that you were scared of getting hit before going in, along with your partner in crime, our beautiful Nicholas, all guns blazing and using up all your paint balls in the first round – and possibly even winning one round if I remember correctly!
Knowing you was one of the greatest gifts that my family and I could have ever received. Thank you for being you.
You followed your dreams with such fierceness and made us all so proud and humbled. You taught us to be brave and to follow our passions in life.
You were a precious gift sent to teach us how valuable life can be; because of you we will always be the best versions of ourselves. You’ve brought us all together here today, just like you matched up plenty of your friends, bringing new and wonderful friendships to this world, because bringing people together was just one of your many talents and thanks to you, your family will forever be ours.
Thank you beautiful, for coming into our lives, I just wish you could have stayed for a little while longer.”

She never had the chance to be a mother but my goodness would she have been an amazing mumma. She was a great God-Mother though and her spirit will live on through all those whose lives she touched.
She never had the chance to be a mother but my goodness would she have been an amazing mumma. She was a great God-Mother though and her spirit will live on through all those whose lives she touched.

I’m going to tell you a secret…

I just got back from Melrose and I’m already fantasising about going straight back. Melrose, never heard of it? That’s okay, I’m sure you’re not alone – it’s one of South Australia’s best kept secrets.
I can’t remember the first time I went there – it would have been when I was pretty young. My parents have always loved this little gem of a town – and who can blame them?! It’s about a three hour drive from Adelaide, located in the Southern Flinders Ranges with a population of no more than 500. Idyllic, spiritual, relaxing, warm and inviting are words that spring to mind when describing this gorgeous town – but it’s also absolutely thriving. As a mecca for the Australian mountain biking community with some of the best (so I’m told) trails in the country, barely a weekend goes by when there aren’t tourists in town for that very reason. Expertly supported by the team from Over The Edge, mountain biking is going great guns in this town. This is the thing, (apart from the general serenity) that drew my parents here. Just over a year and a half ago, my somewhat unconventional parents decided to have a bit of a ‘tree change’ – sell up their near city home, quit their jobs and move up to Melrose full time.

Isn't it glorious? The view from atop one of the nearby hills
Isn’t it glorious? The view from atop one of the nearby hills
Tiff making her way across the swinging bridge as we adventured off!
Tiff making her way across the swinging bridge as we adventured off!

It’s been a bit of a process, it certainly hasn’t happened over night – there’s been a lot of hard work, sacrifice, sweat, tears and deliberation throughout the journey (which is still a real work in progress) however things are finally starting to take some kind of recognisable state. Many of their friends have called them crazy – why sell up a successful business and a nice house, quit a good job and move three hours out of the city?! Especially now the kids have finally moved out?! Good thing my parents don’t pay too much heed to the opinions of others – if they did then they probably wouldn’t be chasing their dreams and how dull life would be! Mum and Dad are planning to build accommodation specifically for mountain bikers – Dad can go on epic rides every day and Mum can indulge some of her artistic talents (she’s always been fantastic at whatever art or craft project she decides to take on; spray painting, stenciling, water colour, lead lighting – the list is almost endless! )

Mum and Dad's yard - there is still work to be done but I have no doubt it will be amazing before we know it!
Mum and Dad’s yard – there is still work to be done but I have no doubt it will be amazing before we know it!
Did I mention that they fed us well too?!
Did I mention that they fed us well too?!

Me? I’m stoked. I can go on holidays to one of the most beautiful little towns in the world (big call, but valid) and I’ve got parents who aren’t afraid to do what makes them happy – which is surprisingly rare in a society where people are constantly striving to impress one another with their new boat, fancy sports car or new fangled electronic device. They’re bold and brave but certainly not crazy. Inspiring is a word that springs to mind. Sure, they don’t know that it’s going to work out but they’ve got a drive and passion that many would kill for. I envy the faith that they have in themselves to follow their dream and know that if they simply love what they’re doing, and do what they love, they’ll find a way to make it work.

Cards Against Humanity - the least appropriate game to play with family. Luckily my family aren't like a normal family!
Cards Against Humanity – the least appropriate game to play with family. Luckily my family aren’t like a normal family!

We had a great time there this weekend; drinking (a fair bit…there are some great local wineries!), playing card games, going for relaxing walks and not so relaxing bike rides (there are very family friendly options available too!). We drank at both pubs (there’s plenty of variety!), had coffee at one of the three little cafes, browsed some of the gorgeous little shops and very quickly got in to the laid back swing of things. I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent my long weekend!

Mum and Dad’s accommodation should be ready later this year – I’ll post links once they’re up and running because this gorgeous little town is one that absolutely everyone and anyone should pay a little visit – we can just pretend it’s a secret!

P.S. – I spent some of the weekend reading the amazing book ‘The Art of Asking’ by the wonderful Amanda Palmer – I’ll probably talk about that in my next post so stay tuned xx