80 thoughts on “The life we saw.”

  1. This was such an unbelievably moving post. I often find myself panicking about the fact that someday I won’t exist. It’s actually part of what has led me to my love of historic preservation (a career change I will be beginning with a new school program next year … excited!). I’m fascinated by what is left behind and I can’t wait to be a part of helping these things linger. It will be my small bit of immortality, outside of any children I may have in the future. But besides my preservation hopes, a thought that helps me out of these panic-filled moments has always been that 1) I can’t do anything about my eventual end, and 2) I can certainly make the most of the time I do have. Now, I probably don’t make the MOST, if I’m being honest, but I do try when I can. I always strive to do better. I’m not sure if I’m scared for or envious of this old man you met in the airport. I’m leaning towards envious, as I’m not sure how I would be reacting in his situation. I hope he had a great time in Sydney!

    Also … Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium = probably one of my favorite movies. I also have to try extremely hard to hold back tears during that scene. Such an unbelievably beautiful movie, start to finish.

    ** another side note: I’ve been following your Photo a Day challenge for several months now, and I have to say how much fun it has been! I’ve been posting them various places but they’re also on my website: http://www.curiouscommentary.com – I’m about to head “out and about” and I’ll be sure to snap today’s prompt! 🙂

    • I thought the same when I was talking to him, “Could I be so composed in such a moment?”

      I fear that I’d be in a depressed ball counting down my moments, rather than living them – but who knows.

      I’m so glad that you’re loving photo a day. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm. Will pop over for a look at your blog. x

  2. I got a giggle out of your comment about a “thick American accent.” Do we all sound the same to people from other countries? Or can you tell at least approximately what part of America we’re from according to our accents? It’s funny because even where I live there are few different accents just in this metropolitan area, but pretty much only those of us who live here can tell the difference.

    • Ha! For me there are definitely different types of accents – I have no idea which are from where. I nannied for an American woman {Oh, I LOVED her!} and she was from Chicago but had been in Australia for a few years. I couldn’t tell that she had an accent – probably because I knew her so well and that was just her.

      But then others are so strong I have to figure out what they’re saying.

      Oh, and I have a thing – when I went to America last year so many people seemed to be wearing perfectly white shoes – hence the white shoes comment. 😛

      • I, too, giggled at “thick american accent”. It made me think about how I categorize accents from other places… And what constitutes thick? (northern vs southern) In the midwest (chicago), they have somewhat of a northern accent -or a straight accent with no southern drawl… Wheras someone from new york or the south would be a very definitive, clearly northern or southern accent. I’m sure this is true for other countries… Just never heard anyone say anything like that about us and thought it was interesting!

        • Thick to me is someone that doesn’t have any Australian pronunciations at all – so they’re American from America, not an American living in Australia. It’s funny that you haven’t heard it before – I feel like I’ve heard it a bit but about many accents.

          Now I want to hear you accent so I can tell you if it appears thick or not! 😛

        • I live in the St. Louis area and we are as Midwestern as it gets but we do not sound like Chicagoans. They would say we have a southern accent, but we don’t agree with that. LOL, they just have a small bit of northern accent to them. 😛 However, you go into the inner city and the ghetto accent has some southern qualities to it. Then, I have relatives that live up in northern Missouri and they definitely have a country twang to their speech, but it’s still different from the deep south type of accent. Which I can emulate pretty well… but I sound like a cartoon character if I try to do a northern drawl. LOL!

    • I have an American friend who lives in Reno and we have chatted once or twice, she says i sound like Nicole Kidman:) I kinda like listening to all the kinds of accents. Obviously we don’t know all of them but there are a few that can be picked straight away:) MY mother in law is English and when i first met my hubby i could not understand a word she said…now she is just *Ma* and i know what she is saying:)

  3. Beautifully expressed, Chantelle. I haven’t watched that movie – I want to now. And yes, amazing things always happen at airports, I agree.

  4. yes yes yes. I loved that line about life being an occasion and to rise to it. I thought it was brilliant. I cried when they had this conversation. I love to people watch as well and could do it all day.

    How sweet was that grey haired old man, i feel so sad for him and i dont even know him. You have a wonderful way with words.

    I shared a photo on my facebook page today.

    One day you will wake up and there wont be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.

    Paulo Coelho

    I thought it brilliant. Kinda fits in with the little old man xx Have a great day.

  5. Oh my goodness, you had me in sobs before I could finish reading. What a great message! I too love Mr. Magorium’s Magic Imporium! How nice of you to offer a sweet man a kind ear to listen to his thoughts as he nervously waited for his flight.

  6. I don’t cry when I read blog posts. I cried when I read this. I want to rise to the occasion of life. Thank you x

  7. Beautiful Post! Bless that dear sweet old man that JUST has cancer. I hope he has the best time with his mates and I hope he has a fullfilled rest of his life and that things fall into perfect place for him.

    This is the first time I have read one of your posts but I have been following your blog for awhile. I will be reading more! You write beautifully.

  8. Airports have a special place in my Heart being a FIFO Wife they have very sad goodbyes and very beautiful Hello, i also like to sit there and fill in gaps in what i see, what a strong old man taking his last flight to see his friends but yes don’t wait for the plane or Diagnosis live now. Beautiful Blog post Hun

    • me too! I think I lasted until “end it with a simple and modest “He died.””. I love, love, love that line.
      Chantelle, a beautiful, moving post. I lost my Pop while I was pregnant with Lily and it kills me all the time that he never met her. I want him here at Christmas especially.

  9. Love this entry Chantelle! I am a people watcher too!! I worked for a car rental company for a decade and never, ever grew tired of watching … People are so interesting 🙂

  10. Wonderful post! Admittedly my eyes teared up at the part of the old man who JUST has cancer. So sad 🙁 My sweet 3 year old little girl was cleared of cancer in May, but her most recent scan last week showed a new growth. Emotions are high over here in our house this week. Life really is too short so you definitely have to make the most of each day!
    And I especially like that you quoted Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It is in my top 5 favorite movies ever!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. Relationships are important, sometimes you don’t realize how much they mean to you until it’s too late.

  12. A beautiful post… I’m sure the elderly many boarded his aircraft with a smile appreciating that someone as beautiful as you spent a few minutes with him showing interest in his plans.. Something the younger generation seldom do these days…
    I too watched that film, and the children and I were all in tears when Mr Magorium threw his last paper plane…just as I am now…

  13. Totally shouldnt have read this sitting at my desk … quick exit to the loos to compose myself before anyone sees me having a wee cry! Old men always make me sad for my gorgeous Poppa who I miss so very much … uh oh another trip to the loos for me… sniff sniff :o)

  14. I was fine until I got to this part –

    We miss him so much, and for the most part I’m mad that he’s not here.
    He should be. To see the stuff we’re doing. To be part of it. To play
    with us. To see Lacey grow. To be near us. To meet our puppy. I want for
    the stupid, small things. I want to show him our Christmas lights, and
    have a beer with him on the front deck. Go to the beach. Hear his
    stories again, and again. Just normal stuff.

    *sniff sniff* My mum has been gone for 15 years and dad 5 (both from cancer) Every day I look at my kids and the acheivements they have all made in their lives and it makes me so full of mixed emotions it makes my head hurt.

    (((HUGS))) Chantelle and to all those who have lost loved ones

    p.s. I too am a people watcher 🙂

  15. A couple of years ago my mum had lymphoma. It wasn’t terminal – thanks to my nagging she went to the doctor and they treated her quickly. It was a wake up call to our family and we’ve been “living life” ever since. Especially my folks, they scrimp and save while they’re home and then travel as often as they can.

  16. Thanks for another great article Chantelle. Your words “Don’t wait for the plane or diagnosis” are powerful. So many families are living their lives taking their health for granted. As a family rocked by a diagnosis I too want to encourage others to dream big and get out and start living.

  17. My dad had cancers.. He did not get the chance for a last play even though he worked every minute of his life.. Life is such a rush these days we have to be conscious of just being.. Thank you for sharing that.

  18. I’m in tears at the sadness and beauty of this post. I feel the same way about my mother in law as you do about your father in law. We miss her so much and wish she was here for all the little moments. Truly we should enjoy the small stuff when we can because we don’t always get the chance to say a big farewell and you never know which little moment will be the last one to enjoy together. xx

  19. Loved this and everything struck deep to my heart. I love airports. I love planes. I loved how everyone seems to be on a schedule…waiting for a plane…in a rush but at the same time, forced to sit down and wait with other strangers. I loved how it was ‘just’ cancers… lost my Dad and losing my mother in law to just cancer. I miss my Dad so much but yet at the same time, celebrate all that he was. We watched Mr. Magorium on Friday as well and his outlook on life is amazingly sound and wise. Well done lovely for sharing this.

  20. Thanks Chantelle for this sad and thought provoking post. This year my husband and I have had a change of lifestyle, we are focusing on the small pleasures in life and making the most of everyday. I have just joined the photo of the day for the same reason, to try to notice more in our surroundings and put a smile on our face from the little things.
    I wish you and your family a wonderful xmas. xxx

  21. Thanks chantelle, a lovely post today. I watched that movie (again) on the weekend too and that’s also one of my favourite parts. I lost my beautiful dad 6 months ago, and whilst I’m not angry, I get so sad sometimes at all he will miss and all I can’t talk to him about anymore. My gorgeous twins are about to turn 10, we just bought and moved into a new house the cricket season is in full swing…….these are all the massive and mundane things I can’t chat to him about and some days that just hurts my heart. When I do think of all this, I think if something my mum told me she read in a book recently. The main character was dying of cancer and her doctor said to her, “Have you had joy in your life?” “Yes”, she answered, “Have you brought joy?” And she answered yes to that too so pretty much, that’s all that mattered! I hope everyone, including that fellow at the airport, can answer yes to both questions too.
    Thanks Kirsty x

  22. We often forget to make the most of every day – thank you for your beautiful reminder… Tears are streaming down my face, hugs to you and your family and to that dear old man in the airport 🙂

  23. Thank you Chantelle – this was another perfect post … and really struck a chord with me as I am yet again another career crisis talks with myself… and it reminds me to keep focused on my dreams and never to let them go because of the amazing experiences i will have doing it.

  24. Four years ago my husband died of a heart attack. Sudden, completely unexpected. He was in great shape and only 52. Worlds best dad, great husband. Two things that happened that fateful day that my now 16 year and I will always carry with us…When he dropped my son off at school that morning they lingered in the car to listen to the end of a radio program they both enjoyed, laughed, hugged, and exchanged “I love you’s” before our son started his school day. That same morning my husband called me on the phone to discusse a matter that could have ended in an argument but ended in laughter and the agreement we would see each other through and a shared, “I love you.” Life is very short.
    I am sure your airport pal took your smile and warm wishes all the way to see his “mates” God Bless you for the taking the time.

    • Oh Katybeth – I have goosebumps and tears. It’s my greatest fear to lose Shane – I just can’t imagine being without him.

      I’m glad your last memory is a positive one. Thank you for sharing and reminding me again just how precious life is. x

  25. OK Firstly, my husband and I..we are an internet couple just like the ones you mentioned. He the American, me the Australian – and yes, we met at an airport after months of netdating. (been married almost 12 years now) Secondly, my father died in June. That’s it, “he died” and the lifetime of memories he left behind are so great and so varied, it’s kind of like he’s still here in a way, living through us perpetually in the things we say, feel and do. Our next story as a family will continue without him but his life’s influence will still somehow be threaded through it as we move forward. On Christmas Eve we always watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart – an old black and white film that ponders the question…”What would life have been like had little George Bailey NOT been a part of it at all?” Please watch it with your family this Christmas – it will leave a lasting impression, just like the lives of those who have gone before us. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/

  26. This was the perfect post at just the right time. You seem to have a knack of doing that! I have been feeling a little low, as I always do at this time of year, that my Mum is not around to celebrate. She absoulutely LOVED Christmas, spending time with her family, making Christmas lolly wreaths, enjoying the festivities. I should be excited about spending Christmas with MY little family and extended relatives, instead I get angry and sad that another Christmas passes without Mum. But she would not want me to feel this way, she would want me to be joyous and excited, creating new traditions and celebrating old ones with my children. So today I will start to see life as “let’s make the most of it” rather than looking at it as “it’s not fair” and “life’s too short”. Merry Christmas, Chantelle, to you and your family xx

  27. tears streaming down my face. my dad died 9 years ago and still when I think of him I burst into tears, I cry if I try to talk about him, he was an amazing man who lived a fun filled adventurous life and he was grateful for that . I love your wise words to take that plane today. Life is an adventure – we can’t wait for it to coming knocking on our door, we need to take the step outside the door and allow the adventure to begin. Thanks for the inspiration.

  28. Ugh! Chantele, you have touched a dear place in my heart. This month we lost a very dear friend to cancer. 20 yrs. ago he battled a separate cancer, while my hubby battled TB. Life changed in both homes and our friendship grew deep. It’s been such a shockingly deep loss for us. None of our parents have passed, so this is the closest death has inched near us. I told his widow, “I still cry about him being gone. I don’t cry for him, because he is so much better off now. I cry for ME!!!!!! I miss him in my life!!!”

  29. Such an emotional post Chantelle. I definitely have tears as well. I lost my father in law 4 years ago very suddenly and I feel sad when I think he doesn’t get to share in the joy of our daughter or the baby on the way.

  30. I lost my mom to cancer almost two years ago. I had my son, two days after her birthday 9 months ago and I miss her every day. I still have moments regularly when I have something to tell her, and want to immediately call her, only to remember that I can’t. You are so right. I wish she was here to share the big and little thing with.
    Life goes fast and it’s a reminder to be present.

  31. Thanks for sharing this story… My father passed away three years ago. He was just like the elderly man you met at the airport. Strong. Conscious of the passing of his time here on earth. He used his final months, weeks, days and hours enjoying life to the fullest (possible considered his cancer) and we had the opportunity to share our thoughts and memories. We also created new memories. Treasures in my head! There were no unsaid words at the time he crossed over. He lives on, in our memories. He asked me and my sister explicitly to keep his memory alive in our sons. My son is now almost 9 and his grandfather still is part of his life. His memories are vivid and clear, and when he aces a test at school he sometimes says “Pake (grandpa) will be proud of me in heaven, don’t you think, mom?”

    I feel sad reading about the loss of your father-in-law without having the opportunity to say goodbye and create those few last memories together. My heart goes out to you. But honestly, I don’t know what’s best. Having an open and abrupt ending like your father-in-law, or going through the terrible and painful fight without a chance to win it. It’s a good thing nobody get’s to choose, I think. And the missing part and being mad, that’s the same.

    Church isn’t my thing. I do believe there is something out there, something good. And I believe in meeting again, somehow, somewhere, sometime. I believe you will meet your father-in-law again – and I also believe he’s there – he is aware of all those things you mention. Keep his memory alive – he will be there as long as his memories live on in your heart!

    Thanks again for sharing this story. It made my Monday morning one of sweet memories.

    The Netherlands

  32. Not a good time to read this beautiful post – the PMS had me at “I’m dying and I want to see my mates for the last time.” Sob! Life is so short yet we are constantly making excuses why we can’t do something, go somewhere, change job, move house, break away from the mundane and just live a life wonderfully fraught with true unadulterated happiness. Thank you for the poignant reminder.

  33. My father in law committed suicide on his wedding anniversary almost 21 years ago…his wife had died (48) of lung cancer just 18 months before, she had never smoked a cigarette in her life but he was a 80 cigarette a day man and it was the passive smloking that caused her cancer. It was 22nd December, he was found on Christmas eve and our son was born on Boxing day (he was 56), he rang both his children the night before and to this day I am angry with him for doing what he did (even thought the nurse in me tells me that he must have thought there was nothing else to live for and he must have been in such anguish and pain)…the repercusions of his actions to this day reverberate through my family…my husband (now my ex) had such trouble dealing with it that it eventually tore us apart, my children have grown up without a grandmother and a grandfather…so I agree Chantelle, life is short, enjoy every minute of it and do not take anything or anyone in your life for granted, they just may not be there tomorrow.

  34. Another 1 of your amazingly thought provoking blogs. I have lots of tears. Happy Christmas and a very happy healthy New Year to you and all your family

  35. Chantelle, I love this post! I am so with you on the airport thing. I love going to airports and watching the world go by. I too invent a story for everyone and I get quite emotional with all the comings and goings… the story of your old friend really touched a chord, I was diagnosed with Cancer twice last year, and though my prognosis is good, it’s completely changed the way I live my life. Every day I wake up, I’m grateful and want to make the most of every day. Sometimes, I lose sight of myself and start sweating the small stuff and I have to rein myself in. I don’t count the days, I make the days count, or at least I try to! I think every day we have, and every day we share with those we love is such a blessing. People say time is a great healer but I wonder if that’s true, because when we lose someone special the ‘missing’ never seems to go away. I guess we’ve all lost someone we love, and know how much it hurts. Thank you for a wonderful post. It’s a wonderful little reminder to count our blessings and enjoy today.

  36. My favourite post you’ve ever written lovely. Every word of it do very wise & true. I love the way you see the world. Xxxx

  37. Having always been a big fan of airports this post made me smile. And having just lost my dad to cancer not even 2 months ago, it made me cry. My little boy is not yet 8 months old, and he’s my first born. Dad won’t see him or his other 5 (so far) grandkids grow up. He won’t know about any additions to my family, or those of my sisters’. We will never get to know what he looks like as an ‘old man’ – he was only 63. I always imagined he would be part of my kids lives, and my little boy won’t even remember him. Luckily we have a few beautiful photos of them together, but it breaks my heart to think that a man who was so loving and full of life, now no longer exists.

    With Christmas approaching, I am filled with the joy and excitement of being a mum at Christmas for the first time, but also the overwhelming sadness of being a girl without her dad on Christmas Day. My heart breaks for my mother – they shared their lives for over 45 years, and now she faces her future without her soulmate & best friend. Yet, we will continue – ‘he died’ and we are still here. So we will have our dinner, open our gifts, laugh, drink wine in his honour, and we will cry a river of tears. For our loss. For his loss. For a wonderful life. For a life cut short. For those beautiful grandkids who will grow up without the cuddles of the man who loved them so very much.

    Life is short. But it is beautiful – and it is all we get. Live it well.

  38. Just wanted to say this post was beautiful. It reverberated with so many thoughts I’ve been having lately and constantly. And I love airports. Life is all the more beautiful for having this way to connect with you and your wonderful readers. The post continues through to yet more beautiful words in the responses of everyone commenting. Thank you for sharing x

  39. This is one of my favorite post you have written, well of them are but this one has a special meaning for myself and my family. I myself, can fully understand waiting putting things off till you don’t have any more time. I always thought, I would love to do this or that and figured I had all the time in the world, you know the teenage mentality (it followed me well into my adult years.) Last year, I went into liver failure out of the blue and got really sick. At one point, I thought I was going to die and leave my hubby with our 5 kids behind. That surreal moment, in the hospital room (which I was alone since he had to hold down the fort with our three little ones), changed our lives forever. It’s sad it had to come to that but I am so thankful GOD gave me another chance to rewrite things. Since then, I have been diagnosed with a very rare disease and have gotten better, well as much as I can. I get sick a lot, in pain all the time, and have to go on the worst diet in the world, but I am here alive, here still with my family.
    Now, I look at things completely different and don’t put things off anymore. My family learned how precious life is and I am blessed for a second chance to live it up. With that being said, this summer or fall, I will being taking the kids to Australia or Ireland (cant decide because I love them both the same) but this will be our first trip, family trip out of the New England (I live in the US in one of the smallest states, NH and of course I live in a super small town in NH even though all of NH is small compared to the rest of the us, LOL). From this trip on, we plan to save everything we can to go explore and show the world to our children (which I have always wanted to do growing up and never had the chance.) and enjoy the ride with them, since we all love traveling. Instead of investing in things that don’t matter and things you can’t and/or don’t take with you when you pass on, we are investing in each other in our family, which is the most important thing to us.
    Amazing post, like usual 🙂

  40. This is beautiful! I am a people watcher (listener) as well. Sometimes I like to make an educated guess about their lives, sometimes I just make it all up. My girlfriend and I used to go to the airport on Friday nights and just watch people. It’s a really fun pastime.
    BTW, what is a thick American accent? Since I’m American I don’t know what is a thick one and what is a thin one. Is thick like from the south, New York, surfer talk??? I’m just curious?

  41. I wander around airports, wondering what each person’s story is. Where are they going? Where have they been? Why? Are they as scared of getting on that plane as I am? (Maybe that is the metaphor of my life.) Why are SO MANY people all traveling at the same time!? I haven’t seen Mr. Margorium’s Wonder Emporium, but maybe I need to.

  42. In 1976 I lost my husband, leaving me to raise our four children. In 1995 we lost my daughter, then my dad and mum have passed also..Lately many of my relatives and friends have also gone. Death is so final! So very sad for those we leave behind. However the grief goes on for the rest of our lives, the ones who are left behind. Great that you listened to that man, I’m sure he would be pleased to know someone listened, then told his story so we all can remember to always tell our loved ones how much we care.

  43. I’m in tears. My Dad has lost three mates recently and he isn’t even 60 yet. But that man you spoke to, was my dad all over. Thank you for stopping to talk to him.

  44. Beautiful post Chantelle x Isn’t it amazing how we cross paths with others at the most unusual times and sometimes those brief encounters can have such a lasting effect.

  45. There’s a life I saw for myself. A life that doesn’t exist. One that fades a little bit every day. One that this time of year makes me grieve for like no ones business. There are a lot of us. This time of year makes it hard to be missing something. Missing someone.

    Great post. REALLY great post.

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