The grief after losing a child is unbearable, it changes you. In 2002 our daughter was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and soon afterwards our journey to keep her as happy, healthy, and comfortable as possible began. She was so strong, but we lost her to the disease in 2011 and our lives changed forever. My husband and I did what we could to find peace, but the pain was too much, and our marriage began to break down. I became unhealthy and unmotivated, and I pushed friends and family away. I had always been an avid photographer, but after that day I packed my camera away – I don’t have many photos or memories of the next few years of our lives.
In 2016 I overheard a conversation about geocaching. I was so intrigued I downloaded the app and asked just enough questions to be annoying! My son and I walked to our first cache on Valentine’s Day, and Cupid must have followed us because we fell in love with that little PVC pipe. Inside the cache we found an army figurine and an old coin that we traced back to WW2. We also found a story about an officer who was somewhat of a local hero. That is all it took, we were hooked!
The kids and I started caching together after school and bought bikes to ride trails on the weekends. Almost overnight, we were outdoors and active again, we were visiting new places, and noticing things in our own neighbourhood that we had never seen before. We were happy, talking, and spending quality time together again. And even though we were separated, my husband got involved in caching and would hide his own multi’s in the bushland between our houses and leave small gifts. He sent me coordinates one day at the end of a poem and had set up a romantic meal (it was take-out, but romance is subjective!) in the bush, complete with balloons and a cache full of glittery things (my favourite)! That was the geo-moment I knew we could work together to get back what we once had – nothing says love like a personalised multi!
Before geocaching we had never left the country, I had gotten to the point where I didn’t even want to leave the house. Fast forward through 3 years and we have been to 7 countries, including 19 states of America and all the states and territories of Australia! I’m now on a committee for a mega event next July just south of Sydney, and I have thousands of followers across social media from all over the world, some who have become my greatest friends.
I don’t know where I would be today if I kept down the path I was headed and hadn’t discovered geocaching, but I do know my biggest inspiration within the game was the first geocacher I ever met, who is still a much-loved friend of mine. She gave me her Instagram account and showed me how to use it, at the time it had less than 100 followers, but it was full of love. I changed the name to eat.sleep.cache.repeat and started to document the moments that made my family smile. I hoped to inspire someone else to get out and explore the world and find their happiness. I believe learning about geocaching saved me in a horrible time of my life, and I would love to be able to give that gift to someone else through our pictures.
I share my life as much as I have time for, and my advice is to share your life journey too, never keep secret about how you are feeling, and never put off an opportunity for a geocaching adventure with friends, you never know when the chance to enjoy life will be taken away from you! As well as my geocaching page, I also have a trauma recovery blog which you will find through my personal Instagram page @sammykateh, where my inbox is always open!
How has geocaching impacted your life? How has geocaching made you smile?
Samantha, aka EatSleepCacheRepeat, lives in Brisbane, Australia with her family. You can find her adventures, stunning finds, and creative hides on Instagram: @eat.sleep.cache.repeat and Facebook: eat sleep cache repeat.
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