In the space of a week, I have lost a beloved uncle and employment from February next year. It’s been a lot to come to terms with as much as both events, while seemingly sudden, have been building up over the past few months and years. My Uncle Peter has been grappling with pancreatic cancer for three years – one of the more deadly cancers in terms of mortality rates and sadly, La Trobe University has been rocked by COVID-19 since the start of this year – not a terminal condition but one that has had serious consequences for the Uni and the sector. Fixed term contracts in my area will not be extended and sadly, more roles will go over the next 18 months while the Uni goes into survival mode until a vaccine is found and international students return to Melbourne.
Having said that, it’s not the end of the world. I have stared down a number of challenges in my life a couple of times before and one thing I can say is that it is possible to reinvent yourself and life goes on. While I haven’t necessarily had a Plan B job-wise, I will look to continue the philanthropic journey if I can (just probably not in higher education!) and use my communications and engagement skills for good at an organisation that will benefit from what I have to bring. Design thinking and human-centred design is also something I will further investigate study-wise as I look to the future. Having worked for a diverse, dynamic and progressive institution, I’m keen to work in something that is more future-focussed and experiencing growth.
One thing I will say is that you find out who your real friends are when these things happen. I’ve received not one but two lots of flowers this week (some from French Blue Flowers by my work friend Laura who sprung Mr Rosanna and I still in our pyjamas on Saturday morning!) and the other today from my uni friend Martha delivered by LVLY. Along with numerous calls, texts and messages – it has meant a great deal to me to know there are those who really care all around me. We are never alone.
Nature continues to be a great source of solace at this time and I celebrated my Uncle’s life sitting under a tree surrounded by dancing white butterflies in the heart garden at Heide I in Bulleen on Monday listening to Andrea Bocelli’s Time to say goodbye with Mr Rosanna, which was beautiful. While sad, the song is also triumphant and joyous in many ways and if there is an other side, I hope to meet my uncle there. For now, life goes on, the sun still shines and I live to fight another day.