Heartprints: The moments in life that leave lasting impressions within our heart. Moments that connect us to other people, living beings, places. Heartprints transcend time and space. They embed themselves within our DNA. They are living memories stored within us that at random moments or events may bring about a re-membering.
Life & Death
This morning I went for a walk up in the mountains. After a hectic and very eventful week I felt exhausted and in need of quiet time to reflect and recuperate. I attempted to go for a walk yesterday up to Springbrook Mountain but fate had a different plan for me.
As I drove up to the top of the crest of the mountain I saw a dead red-necked pademelon on the road. I slowed down, and parked the car on the side of the road to take a closer look. Rigor mortis hadn’t set in yet and as I was about to move her body to the side of the road I saw a pink little creature squirming close by.
It was her tiny joey that may have been thrown from her pouch with the impact. I carefully picked up this perfect little creature in my hand. It was cold, and its arms and legs were struggling in slow motion.
I cupped him in my hand and went to the car looking for something warm to wrap it up in. I found a flannelette sheet in the boot and I carefully nestle this tiny creature in it. I put on the car heater to full careful not to place the joey in direct line of the warmth as I didn’t want to burn or dry out his soft, moist skin.
To help bring up his temperature more quickly I heated my hands on the jets of the car heater and cupped this tiny creature in my hands. I contacted Heidi back home who was still in bed and asked her what we should do. She contacted the head of Wildcare Australia and it was determined that Little Buddy whom I already had begin to bond with was ‘not viable’.
It totally floored me hearing that. Here was this tiny creature’s mother laying dead on the road, and from what I could see externally this creature wasn’t injured.
I had hoped that it could be raised and released back into the wild. Instead, it wasn’t ‘viable’.
What this meant was that the chances of this tiny joey, at 28 grams (I weighed him when I got home) were very slim without its mother. Unfortunately wildlife rescuers have to make these decisions on a regular basis and have learned the difficult way to prioritise lives.
Heidi took the tiny little creature to our local vet to be euthanised. While she was out I received a call that stopped me in my tracks. Someone I know had died. The person who called once had a relationship with him and was calling contacts in the deceased’s phone. I wasn’t having a good start to the weekend.
Zek Brewer was a beautiful man. The first time I met him there was an instant connection. Zek had a way of making you feel relaxed as he was so genuine. I felt I could talk with him on just about anything no matter how way out it was from the first time I met him.
He was a sales rep for a exhibition display company on the Gold Coast. As a retail designer I would get numerous reps contact me and meet up. Most of them I would communicate with on a strictly business basis.
Zek was different. It was impossible not to like him and it took no time before he felt like a lifelong friend. I am sure everyone who knew him felt the same way.
Zek was from the States and had that deep distinct American drawl that you knew straight away that he wasn’t from around here. I didn’t know Zek well or much about his past. I knew that he was once married and had kids back in the States. I assume that at some point in his life he knew he was gay and made decisions that no doubt had a big impact on his family and life. I also knew that Zek was a really genuine person and both Heidi and I liked him instantly.
The past wasn’t as important to us as who he was as a person.
The last time we saw him was when we invited him and his partner at the time, Nick for dinner. As often happens, our lives get ‘busy’ and years elapse.
Rod, who had contacted me to tell me about his death said that he had gone back to the US about 2 years ago.
Yesterday morning I was given reminders not only just how precious life is, but also just how important it is to ‘live’ it.
I have been struggling with some major life decisions lately, and these moments yesterday are reminders how life needs to be lived as an artist. Each moment is a work of art. It is precious. It is these little moments, like brushstrokes on a canvas that make up a rich and rewarding life.
It is the moments that we experience with those we meet on our life’s journey that leave deep lasting impressions in our heart. These impressions or heartprints are with us always. They are embedded deep within us as cellular memories. Incidents like the phone call can release this energy as memories for us to relive.
Catching One’s Breath
Life for many of us has become so busy as we furiously work on our goals and aspirations and it is often moments of sadness that can knock the wind out of us and bring us crashing back down to earth.
It is these moments that remind us to slow down and catch our breath. That life is lived not through achieving big goals but through the everyday moments. While we are busy wanting to conquer or save the world, life happens. It is in that happening that we can find the true meaning of life.
This Sunday morning I decided to go for a bushwalk after yesterday’s plans was laid to rest with the two unfortunate pademelons. I was still feeling the sadness of the events yesterday and needed quiet time in nature to reflect. I wanted it to be a special time for me to honour the memory of my dear friend and to reflect upon life, death and the meaning of it all.
It was to be a spirit walk. My friend may not be physically here but he was with me in spirit.
I had planned to do the Ilimbah Track up at Binda Burra but when I arrived it was still closed after many months so I decided to do the 12km Daves Circuit.
As I started on Daves Circuit I thought about how life is a series of cycles. From a cynical point of view it is easy to see that often we repeat life’s lessons as some days, months, and even years feel like Groundhog Day. But on a deeper level, death is part of the cycle of life.
Our lives are constantly changing and never standing still. There are endings and new beginnings. There are gains and losses, and in between, we experience life and hopefully gain wisdom.
Walking In Spirit
With each step I took I felt as if Zek was walking with me and giving me little signs that he was there and answering my thoughts.
As I walked along the escarpment edge I saw a big black butterfly resting, and then I started seeing numerous butterflies of different colours.
In some European cultures, butterflies are said to be spirits of the dead. They are also symbols of transformation, and I thought of Zek’s soul leaving his body and flying free. It reminded me that life is about movement. Nothing stands still.
We are all caterpillars, some of us learn the lessons we are meant to learn in this lifetime before we die, and become butterflies while still living. Others of us must repeat lessons for many lifetimes before they are fully transformed.
Along the escarpment edge I stopped many times to hear the sound of the wind blowing through the leafless charred skeletons of heath and shrubs that clung to the slopes. A bushfire had swept through here a couple of years ago and with the recent rains I have never seen the area looking so green.
As I stood there I instinctively knew that Zek was there. He was in the wind. He was reminding me that life is about change. That things don’t stay the same forever.
Throw Caution To The Wind
He was reminding me to live now. To cherish precious moments with those around us. That in our pursuit to reach our dreams that we need to live every day. To enjoy the smell of rain on the wind, to throw our fears to the wind, to never forget about living the gift of now.
Along Daves Circuit there is an outcrop of rocks that I always climb and sit on the top and enjoy the stillness. Today was that more special as I remembered Zek. The fresh breeze tempered the heat of the sun beating down, and the views helped me see a different perspective.
As I sat there, I thought about how every moment we are breathing is a precious gift. I thought about how it is up to us to gift ourselves. To surround ourselves with opportunities to be showered with abundance. Our family and friends can give us incalculable riches through experiences in shared moments.
It is these moments that leave heartprints within us. Each moment is another step we take and the opportunity to leave lasting impressions in the heart of others.
Life is full of surprises. As I sat there remembering my old friend who was there with me with the wind, I thought about just how important it is to slow down. Life is just too short!
Slowing down gives us the time to reflect.
Sitting on Surprise Rock I thought about the Jewish tradition of placing stones on a deceased person’s grave instead of flowers. Stones are a symbol of lasting memory.
As I thought of this I understood the importance of Surprise Rock in remembering my friend and I let out a little chuckle.
Each time I do this walk, no doubt this will be a cairn that reminds me of the way, to enjoy the little moments with people, non-human beings, and places.
Cairns along a bush track remind us that we are on the right path and often show us the way. Life is filled with cairns, little moments in life, that f we take notice can have a profound influence on our lives.
Surprise Rock was an oversized cairn for me. From this rocky viewpoint surrounded by the wind I was able to gain a new perspective that went beyond the existing view that surrounded me.
Along this entire walk I felt Zek’s presence and couldn’t help but smile as I thought about his warm character and the way he would throw signs right in front of me that others may have simply dismissed.
Yesterday, as Rod told me about Zek’s passing, he mentioned that 2-3 hours after he had died, his son’s wife gave birth to a baby boy.
I couldn’t but help but say to Rod that Zek isn’t finished yet with this thing called ‘life’, that Zek may have been reincarnated into the baby boy.
I can’t imagine the mixed feeling of joy at the birth of his son and the death of his father that Zek’s son must have gone through. Yet, knowing Zek, he would come back to be with the ones that he loves.
Stopping yesterday on the side of the road and picking up the tiny cold pink joey and placing it in my warm hands reminded me of the power of choice.
The decisions we make have an incredible impact on the course of our lives. For instance, by making the choice to drive a little slower possibly the pademelon and her tiny joey may still be alive.
Me stopping to check out the dead pademelon (I was going to check her pouch) and seeing the joey on the road left an indelible memory in me. It changed the course of my day. I would have never thought before Heidi started volunteering for Wildcare Australia to stop and check a marsupial’s pouch for live young.
It is the little choices we make daily that determine the quality and richness of our lives. It is the accumulation of these little choices that have big impacts on our lives.
Ashes In The Wind
Rod also informed me that Zek’s son would come to Australia in 2019 and scatter Zek’s ashes on the Gold Coast and if I wanted to attend. I let him know that I definitely would love to be there to remember and honour his memory.
Somehow I believe Zek has never left us, he is with us, around us, within us. Zek is in our heart, in our memories.
He has left a heartprint that could never be erased. His legacy will live on with all those that were touched by his warmth and generosity. By those who felt that they could be themselves in the presence of someone who was so non-judgemental when I am sure there were many who would have judged him for his life decisions.
Zek is all around us. He is in the wind. He is the wind and the butterfly that floats upon its breath. He is in the air we breathe, the water that quenches our thirst. He is consciousness returned to the great consciousness.
Zek is the breath. He reminds me to breathe. To let go of fears and throw them to the wind.
Zek’s reminds me of what it is to have courage. To love and live in the moment.To make choices and live with the consequences. To be a good person.
Zek reminds me of the art of the ‘heart’ of living. That each moment we are alive is an opportunity to touch another’s heart and in turn be left with a lasting heart impression.
In Loving Memory
One of the last images that Rod left me with was that Zek had died of a heart attack in his partner’s arms.
These words are dedicated to the memory of Zek Brewer, a man who touched the hearts of many. May we be so lucky to leave heartprints in those around us like he did.