It's my birthday today.

I am reminded that 19 years ago, I was fighting an insidious,

dark and negative belief in myself that I had no right to live longer than my brother.

I recognised it as a death wish and fought it with workshops, self reflection and help from my friends.

...and two days before my birthday, my brother in law, Charles de Thierry passed away in a truck accident in the South Island of New Zealand.

I put my half - hearted plans for my birthday in Sydney aside and Rose and I hopped on a plane to Invercargill for Charles's Tangi (Funeral)

Rose had taken me once before to a Tangi in Sydney.  It was only a short visit really.

In her Maori culture, they keep the body at home in state, open coffin for 2-4 days.  People come, say their piece, support the grieving family, get fed and given a cup of tea and then go home.

She had guided me so gently through my culture shock and ignorance of protocol,

I was determined to support her through her brother's passing.

We flew down and met her mother at Charles's Marae (meeting house).

We were welcomed onto the marae which could hold around 200 people, and made our way to the coffin to meet with Charles.

It was moving, deeply moving to be there.

Then an elder stood up as we made ourselves comfortable on the mattresses beside the coffin, and he gave a beautiful speech in a mixture of Maori and English.  When he stopped, a group of people came and stood next to him and sang.  It was beautiful, elegant, very human, very inclusive and very respectful.

Rose dug me in my ribs with her elbow and whispered: "You have to stand up and speak on our behalf.  It's our tradition.  We can't talk as women on the marae."

This was no big deal for me, even though I wasn't prepared.  I stood up, addressed the room full of beautiful brown faces mixed in with the wizened truckie pakeha (White people) faces.  I talked about my brother in laws generosity and hospitality, I honored him as a musician, a father, a son, a brother and an uncle.  I shared how I was speaking on my wife and mother in laws behalf and I expressed their grattitude for the wonderful care everyone had taken of their son and brother.  I got through what I said and closed my talk.  As I walked back to my seat on the mattress, Rose said: "You have to sing a song!"

I'd never sung a song publicly.  Never.  Maybe in a Choir at school and certainly when the national anthem was required and I'd sing happy birthday with everyone else.  But sing?  Me? Never.

So I went back up to sing a song.  I was remembering about something a colleague saying to me about being in a conference in New Zealand and how ashamed he was after the Maori had been singing songs about love, spirit, courage and God and how when the Australian contingent got up to sing, they sang "Waltzing Matilda.  I knew I didn't want to do that.

So I sang a song, that I knew the words of, from an little known Canadian Poet, who always acknowledged that he was not a singer or a musician, but a poet first and foremost.

Then I sat down.  I had survived the first part of my transformation.

I never realised that where I was sitting was going to be where I would sleep.  Right next to the coffin.

Now, in my culture, this is something that you never get to do.

It was challenging the first night and I got Rose to be by her brother instead of me.

But the second night, the day was long, I was too tired to care and I laid next to the coffin as I fell off to sleep.

I woke up at 1pm. My first thought was that I was still alive.  I had lived longer than my brother had.

I had made it.  I was jubiliant.  I was celebrating wildly in myself.

I sat up.  I looked next to me and there was my dead brother in law, Charles.

He was dead and I was alive.  It was amazing.

It was ironic, so full of irony, so amazing, so breathtakingly meaningful to me.

I absolutely appreciated being alive, being totally present to Charles being dead.

And since then, I have had a full and amazing 19 years.

My purpose here is Transformation.

I'm here to transform myself daily and to be a catalyst for other people's transformation.

It's been like that for me as a tiny little boy and it's been like that for me every day of my life.

In this last 19 years, I have been a father to Ted Te Rau Aroha Kennedy, I've been a husband, lover and friend to Rosie Kennedy, I've been a son-in-law to Norma de Thierry, I've been a brother to my sister Colleen (she told me this morning that I'd always guided her on the path of her life) my nephews Louis and Max, I got to outlive my mother who died three years ago and I got to spend the last six months of her life by her side, I got to be a speaker, trainer and coach all over New Zealand and helped people all over New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, England and America transform their lives and their understanding of themselves, I've been able to write over a thousand blog posts, I've been a published contributor to newsletters and magazines,  I've been present to my clients in Christchurch as they dragged themselves through their earthquake, I've been present and accountable to all my friends.

I'm really pleased with my second phase of life and this year, I'm here to concentrate my efforts to transform as many people's lives as possible this year.

I need help.  I need your help to do this.

How can you help?

You can share my blog, share my thoughts and share that I have passed though your life and been a catalyst for what has happened to you.

BTW, here's the song I sang at my brother in law's Tangi and my birthday:

"Passin' through, Passin' through,

Sometimes happy, sometimes blue,

Glad that I ran into you - Tell the people, you saw me passin' through!"

Thanks for visiting us here. What would your life be like with some clarity? 
Call me on (+61) 439 979 577 or  email me, Mike Kennedy... to find out if this would work well for you

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