A lot has happened since I last posted on this blog and it has been hard to resume the blog. There are many happy, funny moments that I want to share, but before I can do that, I need to write about the saddest thing that has happened, the loss of a great guy named Trent Skinner.Cancer robbed us of a friend on 2nd July 2010. It was a dark and painful day. But however dark it seemed to us, it must have seemed a million times worse for his wife Leah and three beautiful children - Chelsi, aged 5 and twins Nicholas and James, aged 3...too young to fully understand what is going on but old enough to miss their Daddy :(
In the days leading up to his passing and in the days that followed it, many memories of Trent came flooding back...snippets of time that I wanted to freeze and remember every detail of. When I think of Trent I think of him throwing his head back and chuckling...he was always ready for a laugh. Indeed we always had a laugh when Trent was around. I'm sure it was the same for all that knew him.
I remembered visiting him and Leah at "RoseGhetto" just after they had Chelsi and visiting them in hospital after the boys arrived...how proud he was to be a father. It seems so cruel that they have been robbed of growing up with him to teach them and guide them. I hope the memory book that Leah is compiling will give them great insight into the man their Daddy was.
For me, my clearest memories are surprisingly ones where Trent was serious, usually telling me about projects he had planned or had completed - like the dining room table he built and the deck he built. In fact, the very last time I saw him, at Nicholas' and James' 3rd birthday party at McDonalds, I was enthralled by his description of how he built his and other dining room tables. At the time I was trying to convince my husband, also a carpenter by trade, to build one for us so I guess I was hungry for information. Trent explained in detail....how the actual frame was simple and could be put up within a very short time and how the tedious part was the sanding - all the while stressing that despite this, it needed to be done and done properly because of course that made the table. I'm jealous of the people who own one of his tables because I know they were built with love.
I was so excited about the whole thing...I remember going straight home to Sam (who was helping my parents make sauce that day) and relaying all the information to him. I told him we had to go out to Leah and Trent's place so that Trent could show him the table...I promised Leah and Trent as well that we would go out there, but regrettably that day never came and that would be the last time I saw Trent :( If only I had known, I would have stayed there all afternoon listening to him...
In the last 2 weeks of his life, Trent remained positive, telling everyone he wasn't going anywhere...and I guess we all wanted to believe him. I kept in daily contact with Leah, usually through text messages, as she sat by his hospital bed enduring the unthinkable. It was a roller coaster of emotions...one day we would be filled with hope and the next with despair and so it went on. I will never, ever forget some of the things Leah said to me during that time...it was so clear how desperately she would miss him. My heart breaks for her, and as I said to her many times, she is living my worst nightmare. I wish I could take her pain away.
There were light moments too. We must have sent a thousand texts...between Leah, another friend Geni and I...one of the funniest was when Geni told Trent there were enough good looking carpenters in heaven and that they didn't need another one :) Apparently, it got a bit of a chuckle from Trent and we were grateful for small moments like that.
I also told Leah to let Trent know we had started levelling the block for our new house and that I expected him to visit. He replied that he would be there to do the final inspection. And you know what? In that moment, I truly believed him. I thought that even if the cancer was going to eventually win, he would somehow pull through to the new year and indeed he would visit our new place. Again, it was not to be. The slab was laid the day before he passed away...
I can't claim to have known Trent well. I only really knew him through Leah. But his passing has affected me deeply. And I know it has affected many others, some of whom didn't know Trent at all. I still can't believe he is gone...I try to make sense of it, but it's impossible.
Only a couple of months before his death, Trent was best man at one of his best mates weddings. That friend put together a moving tribute using footage from the wedding. It was played at his burial and for those who didn't know him, gave a sense of who the man was. For those who did know him, it was a reminder of how much love and laughter he brought into this world...and how deeply he will be missed. If you click on the image below and are a Facebook member, you can view the clip. I have attached it with Leah's permission.
Rest in Peace Trent xxx
P.S. I have always admired Leah as a person and as a teacher. Over the past few months, my admiration has only grown. Despite having her heart and soul ripped out, and despite having her world crash down around her, and despite her own pain, she has risen every day with the resolve to honour and keep Trent's memory alive and to look after her children and keep their world as normal as possible. I don't know if I could have done the same in her situation.
Leah, you are amazing! Keep putting one foot in front of the other...we are all here for you xxx