I am grateful for memories, for friendships that exist beyond this life, for the everyday reminders of those we miss. I will forever honour and respect the memory of my dear friend and her little angel every time I kiss my daughters and hold them close. I had to write a mother daughter letter to Kate and hand it to the camp leaders for an intensive girls night out session they were having this last week. A letter of affirmation, pride and for me, gratitude. In writing my letter I ended with the words to Martina McBrides song, In my daughter’s eyes. It is my favourite mother daughter song, most especially because it was shared by my friend to farewell her sweet little angel and will forever sit in my heart. As will they.
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.
I thought quite seriously about getting a tattoo at one point. To celebrate life. A flower chain on my wrist that I would add to every year since I finished treatment. I thought about it seriously for a minute. Naah. One, tattoos are not for me. And two, I was so determined not to be defined by this, not to be Lianne Cawood, cancer survivor. And that tattoo would help me do that. And I do so like to define myself in concrete ways. Which is not a good thing. And anyway, it’s there whether I like it or not. The cancer survivor thing. But it’s only a little part of me. You see, yesterday was not only our anniversary it was also the anniversary of my mastectomy. 5 year anniversary. And that’s the reason I am so glad I never got that tattoo, because that is all that would matter. Every day. But yesterday we mattered, not it. Now I love the sudden reminder, the wow can you believe it was 5 years ago feeling. That was then, this is now. I’m writing about it because it was a wow moment and I love that, and hopefully someone will get hope from our ability to smile now. And also because I realised I haven’t quite put this tattoo thing to bed yet.
I’m trying to understand why women do it. Stay with men who abuse them. Physically or emotionally. Stay with men who repeatedly have affairs. It saddens me that perhaps its because they feel thats as good as it gets. That they are more fearful of being alone, of not deserving more, of not being financially sound, of what people might think, of shattering the illusion of happy families. It all just saddens me because it is just sad, when a persons hopes and beliefs about love and care and trust and respect are continually shattered. I do understand the need to protect and provide for our children, but accepting abuse is not doing that. No matter how much you love. Or are loved. It is teaching your son its ok to treat women in this way and teaching your daughters that they don’t deserve more. Imagine how much taking a stand might teach them. It will be sore and devastating and often financially debilitating but it has to be better. In ways you won’t know now but your children will one day thank you for. What saddens me most is all the excuses. It is simply not okay to abuse anyone. No-one gets to avoid taking responsibility. Everyone, everyone has a choice. Not to do it. And not to accept it.
I am very grateful to my niece Georgia who is doing an assignment on life changing experiences and is using me. I am grateful not because I think I’m worthy, but because it sent me on a trip down memory lane as I had to source photos for her. And it reminded me especially oh how much I love and am grateful for my never straight never curly hair, my not quite as thick as they were eyebrows, my sparse eyelashes. Oh, and my health. Thanks Georgie for reminding me how much I still take for granted and how much I have to be grateful for. And that includes you.
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?