Five years is a long time. Five years is a great time to be cancer free but not so sure if it’s a great time to have been away from where I come from. Congratulations have been offered and accepted as my family and friends all knew I was only staying for two years. OK, so they and I knew I would stay longer but happily went along with my self delusion because they all knew it was what I needed. It’s not a great time, because it is a long time and so much and so many people have changed. The gap we seem to have left for some has diminished. And that was inevitable but also sad. But actually it is also great. Because it has helped me on my journey. To truly understand impermanence. And attachment. I have definitely learnt the lesson I have oft referred to in my musings, the gift I have finally accepted. The acceptance of change. Which often is loss. I think after 5 years you get a real understanding of what mattered, what matters, of who matters and of whom you matter to. And that it’s all good. I can now smile at this journey, from the absurdity of the first visit home to the authenticity of this visit five years later. Five years is a long time to be away from where I come from, but a great time to grow.
26 December. I unwittingly tried to minimise change in my children’s worlds. Tried to protect them from the one thing they actually needed to learn to deal with. The one constant in the world we know. Change. I blame my control freak tendencies and forgive myself because my intentions were good, my motive was love. So I am grateful, so very grateful that I have learnt that whilst change can be painful, it can also be beautiful. If you embrace it. It is liberating, you grow from it, you learn a lot, not only about yourself but about others. And I most especially learnt what I was capable of. And not to be fearful. I know my girls have grown immeasurably too. I knew it for a fact today when I stumbled across this passage Kate had found meaningful enough in her book to capture. Things do change. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. I am grateful my girls know this. Really know it. And more importantly embrace it. Embrace the adventure of life, the ups and downs. And are learning not to take what they have right now for granted. And I’m grateful I no longer feel guilty they had to face fears I would rather they hadn’t, I now see it as a gift. To us all.
17 August. We have always been close but I am grateful for the increased intimacy between Jem and I at the moment. It seems she is also feeling the space left by Kate being away and wants to be even closer to B and I. I am grateful for this little reprieve from time. I know how fleeting it can be and will cherish it. I am loving the little air of fragility about us all, and the awareness it brings. Life is precious.
I embarrassed Kate again today. This time because I started crying over my cup of coffee. We had a fabulous girly morning shopping. Then went for a coffee at Canteen. I always feel quite melancholy when we go to Canteen because this was the place I used to hide out in when we first arrived in Noosa. Not really hide because no-one knew me to look for me. Hide I suppose so it wasn’t obvious how lost I was. Or lonely. Or how invisible I felt. We weren’t set up at the house yet and Canteen is long and narrow and dark and cosy and at the back are computers you can use at your leisure as long as you order a coffee. Well, order anything. If any of you got those early I’m ok, I promise I’m ok emails, which I hope you never really believed, well they were from Canteen. Anyway, I think I felt a little of this emotion today, in fact I know I did, cos I always do. Then I checked my facebook, only cos Kate checked hers and we were waiting for our coffee and milkshake and anyway we’d been chatting non stop all morning so we had nothing left to say to each other. I read a status update from the Matt Golinski tribute page (for those of you who don’t know about Matt, he is a local hero and chef who tragically lost his wife and three daughters to an horrific house fire) which was in essence a plea for people to support an initiaitve to provide solace to those lonely or isolated, mostly the aged, by writing letters. Just a newsy chit chat letter from a stranger. With or without a reply address. Just an act of reaching out and making a difference to someone. Kate asked what I was reading so I started reading it to her and started crying. She said mom it is sad and you should write but stop crying now, its ok. And it’s embarrassing. It was but it just breaks my heart. That someone is so sad. And lonely. And that it can take so little to make someone smile. Just the act of someone seeing them. Even just a stranger. I think thats what really set me off. Because I know how sore it is not to be seen. And my guilt at knowing how much easier it is sometimes not to see someone. And my guilt at being away. And maybe I do need to up my meds. Anyway I’m going to write some letters. Maybe you want to too.
Mmmmm, this is quite a touchy subject. There have been a few moments lately when I have felt my hackles rise but true to the new me have breathed. Before responding. Also to be honest, the response might be seen in a very defensive light, and that is not intended. I am referring to the ignorant, misrepresented, without knowledge or understanding, generalised comments always levelled at South Africans who have apparently fled to Australia. I am over it. You don’t know me, or us. I do not need to explain myself to you or anyone else. But, my biggest failing in life is a need for fair representation for all, fair treatment for all. Failing because I always feel the need to speak up, I simply cannot let it be. So, don’t judge and don’t misrepresent and don’t hide behind your own fear. The fear that makes you ignorant and judgemental of others. The fear that makes you need to justify your own actions and denigrate others. The fear that makes you need to feel better than others. Because you are not. Nobody is. You may still be there but does that mean you are contributing to positive change. To a better future for all. No matter the colour of your skin. What difference are you making? We took up an opportunity. To make a difference. To our children lives and to the lives of those we left behind. And to those who suffer at the hands of prejudice. Yes, we sponsor families, we support and contribute what we can to Africa financially, we care. But the important bit, is the bit we are doing for our world. For a hopeful future. By bringing up children who are tolerant, who see equality in all, who are kind, who are charitable, who share, who believe in taking responsibility for their own actions, who believe in love, who do not judge, who do not believe anyone should be celebrated or punished for others misdeeds but that we should all look to the future and be the change we so desperately crave. For humanity. And that we would do no matter where we are. How about you?
A friend of mine who has only just started the journey we have been on for the past three years and eight months (I’ve finally stopped counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds) is struggling. She knows why it is right to be here away from family, friends and the familiar. So many of the same fucked up reasons we all share. I tried to reassure her that it does get better, that change is essential for growth, that her girls will love her for the resilience she is instilling in them without even realising it, that people who matter will always be there, and those that don’t will disappear, which will make it even easier to be here. And not there. But to be honest, the only thing that makes it get better, is the only thing she doesn’t have yet. Time. Time brings new shared experiences. Time enables you to find the friends who get you. Time makes you realise you don’t have to be polite anymore to be accepted. Those that matter will get you, even if like me, you have a potty mouth (the best birthday card ever, Susie, reminded me of the card the advertising agency I worked for did for me when I was going on maternity leave to have Katie … the headline was “Fuck, my mother’s in advertising!” Yip, I’ve always had a potty mouth). Time makes you realise things might not be the same here as at home, but often they can be better. You can be better. So, my friend, hang in, keep your heart open, but your eyes too, take one step at a time, don’t look back and you too will find friends that get you, here. The new you, ready for the adventure of the unknown.
Being with heaps of South Africans last night made me think. Everyone knows I never wanted to come here and only did so because I was too scared not too. Scared of being the one not brave enough to embrace the adventure. And because I had no fight left in me. And because B believed so much in it. And only on the proviso that I could and believe you me, would, be going home in two years time. On the 15 may 2012 we will have been here for 4 years. Well, the girls and I, B will have been here for 4 years and 9 months but that’s another story. I am not sure when being here became easier than not being here. I think it was the realisation after many trips home that even though my heart will always be in Africa life there is moving on without us. And our life is moving on here. There truly is no going back, and I don’t mean geographically. So now I feel a bit like I don’t really belong anywhere. But then as Ilona and I realised last night, I actually belong in both places. And even better I’ve realised I simply belong. Less attachment. My world has expanded. How cool is that. Not sure how significant this is, but on 15 January 2012, 42 months since we left South Africa, I put my mac to oz time.