Thank you for my riches

This is a special Christmas and New Year for me. It is the first Christmas since Anth’s passing. It is a time of reflection and peace as well as a time for friendship. I am not giving many gifts this year, there’s no baking, or playing Christmas carols or sending Christmas cards. But I am taking time to count my many blessings. I love my life, and I love my friends and family who make up that life. It has been such a difficult year. The hardest of times. So now, at the end of 2017, I would like to acknowledge those who, for me, have made life worth living.

First and foremost, there’s Anth. Thank you for the memories, the sweet sadness of love for an intense 5 years, for giving me the priceless gift of appreciating life, living it to the full, not sweating the small stuff, and giving me permission to look after myself.

Thank you to my beautiful friends and family. To the people who supported me through the worst of times, and to those who have been there in the aftermath to sweep me up and make me feel loved and valued and embraced.

Thank you Tony and David, what we went through together was terrible. Thank you for being the best of friends to Anth, thank you for holding his hand, for laughing with him, for caring for him (especially for cracking fart and dick jokes in the best boy way). Thank you for fetching him his beloved wine and gnocci. Thank you for crying. Thank you for being there at the end. I will be forever grateful.

Thank you Hala and Leanne, for unquestioningly supporting your husbands giving their time and energy to Anth.

Thank you my beautiful kids, Sang and Jinny, and stepdaughters Elsa and Laura, for being helpful, supportive and just so normal. You’ve picked me up when I’ve been low and helped me get on with the day to day with your teenage energy. Thank you Sang for helping me care for Anth at night. (You’d make a great paramedic one day if you so choose). Thank you Jinny for being my sounding board, and Laura and Elsa for being my friend (and also thank you Elsa for getting that tattoo). I love you all.

Thank you to my new sister, Trish. Family comes in all shapes and sizes, but you know a sister when you see one.

Talking of such things, thank you Leah, the sister-cousin who was always there, but who I didn’t know until I was 37. We’re not biologically related but you, and John, and now Sav, are my family through and through. Thank you for visiting this year and making November a beautiful adventure.

Now, my best mates, Kylie and Michelle. What can I say. You gals. Kyles, I would not have survived the agony of that first night if not for you. Barnesey, the best wing-woman a gal could hope for, always there when I need you, whether an understanding ear, a drinking partner or a dog god-mother! Two smart, powerful, kind and fun women. Life is so much the richer for having you two in it. Power to the red-lipstick wearers!

Thank you my beautiful extended family. I am so blessed to be related to so many caring, smart, deeply good people and proud to be a Smith, from our particular South Australian line of Smiths. Our forbears have passed down such a legacy of love and integrity, which shines through all of us and binds us together. Whether it’s my big brother Robin and family and their obsessive desire to help all creatures great and small, or all my artistic, intelligent, impressive cousins who continue to inspire as role models to me, the youngest of my generation. I think, in particular of Wes, so carefully crafting wood turned pens, Anne with her beautiful writing, Ricky with her painting, Bob with his metalwork sculpture, Mary with her graceful, stylish bravery and Rosalie with her unassuming capability. And of course I think of dear, departed Helen, the sweetest and kindest soul of all.

Maintenant, mes amis francais …. People ask me why I learnt French. The answer is simple. It has enriched my life. Not just through travel or work, but principally through the people I have met. Jean-Francois, Mim, Nadege, Fabienne, Stephane, Claude and Tom have been such a wonderful support to me this year, both while Anth was sick, and after, in picking me up and making me feel loved and providing philosophy, food and fun. Thank you Isabelle for being my best French friend outre-mer and in particular for your generous hospitality in New Caledonia.

Thank you Sandy and Lelia, the eloquent Tracy Crisp for your words, my work colleagues at the CSO, Mary Hill, my best boy buddy Blenky, the greatest neighbour Rob, the awesome Jo Pratt and Kane and the dear, dear Simpson-Jepson family for all your love.

I have made new friends this year too. The team at the Flinders Foundation have given me purpose and things to look forward to. Ross, Amanda, David and Brooke, please keep on hassling me – I need it! Thank you to Tim, Ben, Jackie and Justine for taking such good care of Anth and for becoming my friends in the process.

Thank you to my internet friends, Lynette and Sean. You have both lost loved ones this year, and we have found communion in our grief. Your online solidarity and companionship have meant the world to me.

And last of all thank you Mum and Dad. Mum for giving me that fighting spirit to face adversity and Dad for the confidence to know that I have always been and forever will be loved.

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2018 that is full of joy and promise.