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The Maybe McQueen Blog

Losing someone or something that you have loved with all your heart, regardless of the how, who or when, will without any doubt feel as though it has broken you. But it is up to you – when the time is right – to begin the curious and open exploration of what it and you might look like when you begin gluing the pieces back together.

About six months after my lovely 39-year-old husband passed away, my curiosity and determination to understand the process of grieving became absolutely paramount.

It began after I repeatedly found myself – being the morning person that I am – rather joyfully waking up to familiar thoughts, like do I have time for a run before the kids wake up? only to be suddenly catapulted back into harsh reality. The person I believed that I’d walk beside for the rest of my life and the beautiful man that our two gorgeous young children lovingly called daddy, had died of cancer and was gone forever.

Not only was I starting each day with an adrenaline-pumped WTF! moment, but it would also on a daily basis prise open the painful scar across my chest, where it felt like my heart had been torn out.

I couldn’t carry on stumbling and bumbling through each day and decided that I had to find a way to embrace what my life and loss was hurling at me.

I began to question my bizarre amnesia, that only ever occurred for a split second upon waking and that back in the earlier stages of losing Andy would throw me into an overwhelming panic from the sheer magnitude of thoughts, worries and unknowns. But soon enough I began to realise that if I didn’t learn how to transition from the grief of my loss into the reality of what the present has to offer, I might not ever be able to fully honour the life of my gorgeous husband or explore how to become the inspiring woman and parent that I had always strived to be.

I recognised a new-found ability to be able separate grief and loss from the day to day frustrations and disappointments that we all have to deal with. A bad day is a bad day – just because the guy that makes my coffee had been rude to me, and I’d received a parking fine, and a rejection for my book proposal all on the same day – didn’t mean that I had to tack that onto the emotional challenges of my past and further weave a story of how sad or hard my life was.

I was clumsily but clearly beginning to decipher the difference between thinking and feeling the emotions of what was now in the past, whilst simultaneously bringing my focus towards the opportunities of the present. I began to be able view everything in my life as though it were happening FOR me, instead of TO me, which instantaneously helped me to leap from victim to opportunist.

I certainly didn’t expect that as a mother of two entering her forties, that I’d actually at some point not only be getting naked with a man who wasn’t my husband, but would also have to learn how to suppress fits of giggles at the sight of another man’s penis; (however impressive it was) after momentarily having forgotten that I am no longer a married woman and that this was not just an embarrassing situation that I had somehow landed myself in. Let alone the fact that all I wanted to do afterwards was call my hilarious best friend, who just happened to be my dead husband, and share with him every detail of what I had just experienced.

Grief is grief and loss is loss; at some point we will all experience losing something or someone that we passionately love. But it is up to us as individuals as to whether we make the conscious decision to dive into the potential of what life still so abundantly has to offer, or whether we choose to remain firmly in the shadow of our loss. There is always a choice, even if it is not the one that we had ever imagined.

Never, ever did I picture myself as a 43-year-old woman, a single parent to two children and the sole breadwinner of my family, who not only would have to navigate how to become the provider, but who would also be solely responsible for inspiring and teaching a young boy and a girl how to grieve, and thrive simultaneously. But here I am. I also never imagined living the most bizarre and surreal chapter of my life so far, as I have travelled all over the globe with a feature length documentary that captured the last year of my husband’s life and death, teaching, speaking and inspiring a shift in perspective into how we experience, approach and honour the concept of life, loss and legacy.

Everything in life happens for a reason, some good, some bad, but always an opportunity to grow.

  • Julie

    I literally just watched this documentary and I was in tears almost the whole way through. I was struck at how calm and loving you both were and how well articulated about the whole thing. It was so very inspiring and I want to thank you both for having the strong will and want to make this film and share it with the world

  • Yaneth Barr

    I watched yesterday night ” Be here now” wanted to go here in Toronto and i couldnt that day..i was wating that for long time ago..maybe i was not prepared cause last year was not easy …finally yesterday happen. You are an amazing women. Super hugs😍
    Yaneth

  • Donna Koster

    Your story mirrors mine so closely. My darling husband and I created a life together in Australia 29 years ago. Sadly that came to an end seven months ago when he died suddenly of a heart attack at 56. I miss that gorgeous man every second of every day. One line from ‘Be Here Now’ resonated with me more than any other when you described how you were feeling as being ‘ripped off’. I hope that one day I can look at life in a more positive light as I know he would not want me to be sad. Thank you for helping me to see a light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel.

    • ShovelThemOut

      My husband also died suddenly of a heart attack in Sydney in 2004 at the age of 63. I don’t know which is worse: losing the love of your life suddenly or having to watch them die as Vashti did. Both are horrible, life-changing moments. Grief is indeed a long, dark tunnel. I have managed to come through it and can remember him with smiles now instead of tears. The first year was the worst: all of those first dates I had to face alone: our wedding anniversary, our birthdays, our daughter’s birthday, our daughter’s graduation from primary school, the first Christmas without him… I can only tell you that it DOES get better with time — and I know that sounds cheezy, but it is true nonetheless.

      • Donna Koster

        Thank you so much. It means a lot to hear this from someone who’s been there. Yes, the firsts are incredibly difficult one of them, sadly, was our 25th wedding anniversary! I know it’s early days and it’s still so raw. I’m ‘working’ through it. I have no family for support here in Melbourne, but some yreat friends who are there for me when I need them. x

  • Kate Mac

    My husband and I were (are) huge fans of Andy’s. We were both so sad to hear he was gone. I’ve been waiting and hoping for Be Here Now to become available to see, and just tonight I found it on Netflix. It’s a beautiful film. Thanks for sharing so much of your journey with us. All our best wishes to you and our lovely children.

    • Kate Mac

      (Sorry: *your, not our!)

  • http://www.kristof.org/ Eric Kristof

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/19562-the-point-of-marriage-is-not-to-create-a-quick

    “The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

    ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

    One of the things that helped me adapt to the loss of my wife and father to cancer and my brother and mother to other illnesses was in realizing the wholeness of their lives: their process; their being; their path is separate — was/is their own. Where the loves of our lives go, we cannot always follow easily or readily, but we can always learn to love the expanse that exists between life and death though our memories and with compassion for ourselves and for those that remain.

  • Emilie Marose

    Merci beaucoup pour tous vos témoignages. J’ai découvert “Be Here Now” hier soir sur Netflix France. Ce documentaire, votre vie, votre expérience n’ont beaucoup touché. Je ne sais pas où vous étes ni qui vous étes exactement mais sachez qu’en France, une personne pense à vous, à vos enfants et à votre beau mari. Je vous souhaite de tout mon cœur du soleil et de l’amour, du courage et de la force, je vous souhaite du bonheur. Sachez qu’une personne en France, moi, qui ne vous connaît qu’à travers un documentaire, pense à vous et vous aime de son cœur pour votre force, votre courage, votre beauté, … pour vous tel que le documentaire vous a présenté à moi. Avec tout mon amour, Emilie Marose

  • Gsst Vanessa

    C’est avec beaucoup d’émotion que j’ai regardé votre témoignante. J’ai été touchée en plein coeur par votre courage, par l’amour qui vous unissait. Je suis persuadée que de là-haut il veille sur vous et vos proches. La vie est si précieuse, peut être si courte parfois. Que ce témoignante donne de la force et du courage à toutes les personnes qui sont en souffrance. Merci du fond du coeur. Vanessa, 39, Belgium

  • KDee

    Saw the Doc- Both you and Andy clearly represent Be Here Now- so open to the journey regardless of the possible tragic outcome. Both so, so, courageous, and what a love story, beautiful couple inside and out! Do me a favor…Look up.. This Life I Live……such a very similar situation/story of a great love and greater loss, and you both have very special “Indys” that touch your life each day! Nothing but love and support to you. May this new adventure with this new person in your life, serious or not, put a well deserved smile on your face! Regards- KDee

  • Fran Schleeter

    Thank you for sharing your family’s journey with us. I am glad that this will reach many people. We have been through a similar journey, our 17 year old son was diagnosed with AML in 2011. There were decisions to be made, discussions to be had. These are moments in time that most people will not have to face or do in a lifetime. Though the journey did not end well, we lost our precious first born on December 3,2011. The journey since that day has been long, the love you have for that precious human being is somehow misplaced. You can no longer share it with them, it needs to be placed somewhere else, it that makes sense. I remember his first birthday, December 30,2011, who do I make breakfast for, that was how I always started their birthday, breakfast in bed with a homemade card. Then it would be, what would you like for your birthday dinner? lol, somehow it was always about food, but of course it would be coming from parents who were both chefs. As the years have gone by, we have learned to share that love with the rest of our world. Somehow we had to continue our son’s spirit….D’Artagnan, so full of life and promise, named after the “Three Musketeers” he truly lived up to his name. Listening to your husbands words and feelings through his process gave me some comfort to think that maybe some of these were D’Arts. Some conversations were not had with a 17 year old child that you would have with an adult. However, I had wished maybe I should have. How does one even think of having them with a child/young man? Although the pain, heart wrenching pain and the amnesia, fog brain, as I like to call it, becomes less, there are still days that it becomes visible. #BeThereNow, was what I did everyday for the seven months of his treatment. The destructiveness of what chemo can do to a person’s body, both physically and mentally, and to watch that and not being able to do anything about it, but to be there now in that moment was all we could do. I cherished each and every moment, not knowing or accepting that it would not work and he would get better. But after the loss, I had to take baby steps to learn how to be here now. I commend you and Andy for sharing your personal journey for the world to see. I wish you and your children the best. I am also sending you a great big hug, I find those mean more to me now than ever. oxox

  • Laurie

    Just watched the documentary…Beautiful man, Beautiful woman, Beautiful family, Beautiful LOVE💕 So grateful you shared your journey…such GRACE💗…and so much MAGIC🦋….Hope you will all continue to LIGHT up the world🌎!

  • Maricelle

    My dear Vashti, thank you for giving me the priviledge to see a glimps of your journey together as a family although it is of sad circumstances. I discovered Andy for the first time on the
    Spartacus series and admired him a lot for the portrayal of that role. He was a fantastic actor! I do miss him on screen. He was such a nice and gentle person after seeing the documentary. I could feel the love you have for each other, such a precious thing you have. I wish you luck in the future that is ahead of you. God bless you and your love ones. Again thank you.

  • Nell

    Vashti,
    I felt led to reach out and just tell you that I have never been affected by a documentary as deeply as I was with Be Here Now. The love you two had for one another, how gentle and calm he seemed to be was positively inspiring.
    There is one moment in particular that stuck out. Him and your son were laying on the bad and he asked your son how his day was, and your son responded very politely “It was good, thank you for asking. How was yours?” And Andy responded back exactly the same way. Just that little moment captured how loving he was to you and your children. What an inspiration. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!

  • Cathy Prey

    Vashti,
    I have just watched Be Here Now for the second time. It has moved and changed me in words I cannot describe. I am inspired by your perspective which in turn has helped me work on my own and now I am working on my husband.( a bigger challenge I might add) I wish you and your beautiful children much beauty and happiness.

  • Sue Scott

    Vashti,
    Your documentary is among many things, a tribute to and guiding light to the strength of character, mind and spirit required when life’s darkest moments emerge. I so appreciate the efforts you and Andy made to reach so many people who have experienced the ravages of cancer and the impact it has on one’s life. I completely relate to your journey and while my dear husband is still alive and fighting his battle, you give me a better, more productive way to think about a process that is overwhelmingly frightening and all consuming. My best to you and your children as you work toward healing.

  • Kendra Bull

    Dating! Eek! And wanting to call your best friend to gush all about… I would have those same feelings. What a mix of emotions. Your words are so clear, and honest… Thank you, thank you, for removing the filter. I am certain it feels like an uphill battle, but my goodness, your outlook on life is refreshing, inspiring, and beautiful. Your children see strength, hope, humbleness and love, every day, in you. You are enough. You are amazing. Best wishes to you from one mother to another.. we all have our journey to travel. I will enjoy peeking into this little part of yours.. Thank you for sharing it. We rise.

  • Jennifer Gaskill

    I just watched it. It touched me to the core. I’ve been going through my own health issues. I’ve put everything off since I was told there is a red flag. Mostly out of fear. I guess I thought if I listen, I go get these rest done, then I was saying ok. I’m sick. I haven’t been ready to do that. Not even with feeling so sick. My fear of what might come out the doctors mouth was just way to high. You and Andy just gave me a boost of courage, I didn’t think I had in me. Thank you and Andy for being so brave to share such a difficult time in your lives. You are such a beautifully strong women. God bless you and your family. #BeHereNow!

  • Karin Badenhop

    I’m so sorry, my English is not so good. I’m from Holland. But Vashti, I think you are such a strong, wonderfull and loving woman and mother.
    Andy must have been so proud of you! With so much admiration, and tears in my eyes, I have been watching “Be here now”.
    And now reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing your stories.
    They have been so helpfull for me.

    I wish you all the best! And ofcourse also for your beautiful children….

    Lots of love from Holland❤❤❤

  • Lorraine O Brien

    I don’t know how I would cope in your shoes ….your strength is an inspiration .much love to u and your beautiful family xxx

  • Kylie Anderson

    I watched your documentary yesterday, so inspirational. I thank you for sharing and to you and your family Love n Light ♥

  • Binah

    You beautiful, loving, glowing soul! The events in your life have gifted you site but it is you that chooses to see. May your light always shine bright. From one mother to another; I send you and your children an enormous hug.

  • susan mangan

    So good to read one of your posts again. And they’re still as amazing and heartfelt as always. Welcome back lady!!
    Also, received “Be Here Now” in the post a couple of days ago. So worth waiting for !! I have been re-inspired…. Thank you xx

  • Kimberly Wing Hodges

    An amazing and inspiring woman! The documentary Be Here Now was heart wrenching (knowing the outcome) but also an amazing love story and shows what special people, Andy and Vashti” are….. posted with article on fb.

  • Samuel Nicol

    I watched the incredibly inspiring story of the journey that yourself and Andy went on together. Every story is different, but there were similarities with the life and rerelationship of my wife. I am from the UK, and met my wife travelling and now live in Australia. I was diagnosed with cancer two months after the birth of my first child and although my diagnosis now is very good, I remember having similar attitudes and conversations at the time. The documentary inspired me to enjoy life as it is now and not wait for something in the future. You are an incredible person.

  • Grg Hazel HarmonySuryanshi Spe

    I saw the film too and I see so much of me in you .Strong , fierce and extremely supportive on the outside and yet vulnerable, soft as a petal and easily broken inside .The strong self that you had to portray for your family , the brave face you had to put up every waking day while getting choked up and wanting to just break down , there’s nothing more courageous than that other than the one actually going through the pain.Your children are so lucky to have you as a mum, and Andy was so blessed to have you as his soulmate , because without you, his journey would have been sadly in vain. Because you were there , he went peacefully , because he trusts you , because he believes every word you say .May he always be with your family….❤️May you meet again 🙏🏼

  • Eida

    You’re strong.. I don’t think I’ll ever be this strong to lose a best friend and the love of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever be as strong as you are, I did not lose anyone I love yet – I hope I don’t because I know I’ll never be strong.

  • Agata

    You are an incredible individual. Good luck t you and all the best to your beautiful family!

  • Pamela Domzalski

    I love you. Thank you! You are an amazing woman. I needed to hear this!

  • Claire Davidson

    Hi Vashti, I Would Like To Say What An Inspiring Strong Woman You Are! I Have Just Seen Yours And Andy’s Beautiful Love Story And It Reminds Me Very Much Of Mine And My Husbands. I Also Lost My Best Friend, Soulmate And Husband 3 Months Ago And I Look At You And You Inspire Me To Keep Moving Forward, Which Is Terribly Difficult After You Have Lost The Love Of Your Life. I Absolutley Resonate When You Said You Got to Spend Those Amazing 12 Years With Andy Because I Was Also Blessed With Spending 20 Amazing Years With My Hubby. We Were Not Lucky Enough To Have Children Together, So I Do Find It Hard To Sit In My Big Empty House Without My Husband Here To Fill The Silence. I Think You Are Amazing. All The Best Claire Xoxox

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