~ For Chris, and her beautiful family, on this Christmas Day – with all my love x ~
Twelve months ago I uploaded this video tribute to my Daughter Number One to YouTube and shared it here with you. And it’s been quite a year since then. 2016, right? Is it something in the air? The water? Whatever. I know this year hasn’t just been a struggle for me. On a global level, as well as more intimately it has felt like we’ve all been reeling from blow after blow. Events, that if you wrote out a list of them and gave them to someone five years ago, wouldn’t have seemed in any way plausible. Especially not all in the one year. And yet, here we are. And still the world turns.
My little video set off a chain of events for me that meant by early March this year my words exploded across the world. I had a few things going on at the time personally and then, as now, the whole thing was surreal and humbling. In all the media hoopla I was privileged to speak to journalists with integrity, humanity and humour and others who reminded me how easy it is to be viewed as a commodity.
I was touched by the real people who connected with my words and took the time to let me know. I was amazed by the numbers of people visiting here. I was gobsmacked to see my photos and words translated into other languages. At the time my only regular internet access was via my phone and on that tiny screen I watched the whole thing unfold and expand and take on a life of it’s own. And although I still get hits here from articles written then things have largely settled down. At the time it felt HUGE! At the time I guess it was. But I’m still me and those that know me and love me, still do.
So, I’m in the middle of moving, again. This move comes with some security though and the opportunity to settle for a bit. I’m thinking that might be nice. I’m a little weary, if I’m honest. Somewhere to stop for a while sounds good to me.
I’ve been looking back over this year and thinking about what ‘home’ actually means to me. If home is where the heart is then my home is scattered all over the country, with pieces around the world and between heaven and earth.
Home is walking into a house that you’ve seen change over the years, but that feels familiar even so. Where there is a photo of your Daughter on the fridge and one beside the bed you will sleep in while you are there. It is a new tattoo and old friendships. It is fish and chips on a windy day and a death defying swing.
Home is a handful of keys and the trust of a friend and the excitement of two four legged lunatics each and every time I came through the door. Home is being asked what you are doing for Christmas.
Home is an unfamiliar place, with lots of jostling people and a face you love saying words you need to hear. It is the sun on your back and the wind in your hair and your hand resting on black velvet.
Home is acceptance and comfort and shelter. Maybe home is where ever hearts are open to you. Where there are arms to hold you and hands to catch you.
My new place has been almost entirely furnished with gifts from dear friends. I love that I can look around the room and have a physical reminder of them. I have much to be grateful for, and I am.
Son Number Two and I were at an Angelhands event on Friday evening, their Tree of Angels event. I was overwhelmed before we even arrived. There’s moving stuff and health stuff and life stuff and Christmas looming and when I arrived all I was hoping for was to get through as much of the event as I could because even being out of the house was feeling like a bit of an ask.
We got there before it was too busy and found a ‘safe’ place to stand. My mind was with my Daughter Number One and all the Christmas memories I have of her. I was holding onto myself pretty tightly by this point. Son Number Two’s phone went off in his hand and it was Daughter Number Two, ringing to tell us about her singing performance in a Christmas concert.
I realised, my own phone in my bag, that I had already missed two calls from her before she tried her brother’s phone. I called her right back. She was full of excitement and thrilled that one of my facebook friend’s had come to her concert and introduced himself to her before asking Baby Daddy if he could take photos and share them with me.
I hadn’t been speaking to her long before I realised the speakers were starting and I heard the disappointment in my Daughter’s voice as I told her I needed to be quiet and so I had to go.
I tried to listen to the speakers, without actually listening to their words. Keep breathing. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Just breathe. I was feeling the loss and the guilt around my eldest Daughter’s death. The disappointment in my youngest Daughter’s voice echoed in my head. My head started to pound and my chest was tight.
As the second speaker spoke she made reference to being a super mum “as many of us here are” and my Son Number Two patted me on the shoulder, looked down (he is so very tall these days!) and nodded and smiled at me, without a single trace of irony, not one little bit, and my tears choked me.
Speaker number two ended and I dialled Daughter Number Two’s number with my shaking hands and she started telling me her tales again. To my dismay, a few minutes in, I realised that someone else was now speaking and I couldn’t hang up again. I had to walk, in front of the speaker, through all the people, before being able to scuttle to the far end of the room and stand with my forehead touching the cool glass of the floor to ceiling windows and I listened to my little girl and told her about the Jacaranda tree I could see in the distance.
As I hung up the phone a little boy walked over to me, plastic case in hand. He stopped in front of me and opened his case to reveal a collection of super hero action figures. We both knelt on the ground and he introduced me to all of his actions figures, one by one, showing me the lights they had on their chests. I let him finish speaking before steeeing him back towards the main gathering and I watched as he trotted confidently into the group and felt my heart catch.
I found my own little big boy and told him that I was ready to go. We said our goodbyes and went down the stairs and into the warm dusk light and I needed to stop for a minute to catch my breath, or rather, to release the breath I hadn’t realised I had been holding.
When we were leaving the Angelhands event Son Number Two and I were given a delicious looking white chocolate mud cake. On the train heading back to town we resolved to pay the cake forward to someone living on the street. But we got off the train and were met with a mall full of food stalls and people. More people! So many people! One step at a time, one step at a time. Focus on the Christmas lights until you get through the people.
And I didn’t know how we would ever find someone living rough in such a crowd but I guess the thing is, even in this lucky country, if you look, then you will find them. So Son Number Two and I did. We gifted that delectable looking white chocolate mud cake to a guy with a French accent who said thank you but wouldn’t look at us.
And I wondered what home meant to him?
Safe onward travel x