Wednesday, 27 November 2013

And What Have You Done?

You know how sometimes some random thing will bring back a really strong memory? It might be a smell, a song, or even just a word. For me, often, it’s the weather…the feel of the weather at a particular moment. The atmosphere. It usually happens when there’s been a change in the weather. This morning I felt it. A cool morning after a hot night. The sun beating through the bathroom window reminding me that it would get hot again today. Most of all it was the stillness. An uneasy calm after what seems like months of windy days.

It reminded me in general of that still heat of December. The heat I do my Christmas shopping in. The heat that makes me wonder what it would be like to have a white Christmas. The heat that is only just building up to another blistering January.

And it brought clearly to mind a specific memory - a moment from way back in December 1989, just before Christmas. I lived in Sydney. It was fairly early in the morning, maybe 7am. In the midst of moving house, I had just returned to Leichhardt after taking a carload of stuff over to Naremburn. Pulling into the driveway, I was just about to turn off the ignition when I heard on Triple M radio that there had been a horrific bus crash just north of Kempsey. Two buses collided head on, killing 35 people and injuring 41. The breakfast show host Doug Mulray - usually so jocular and idiotic - was just quiet, stunned, and uncharacteristically respectful.

The next song on the radio after that tragic news was John Lennon’s ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’. You know the lyrics … ‘So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over. And a new one just begun…’

I sat there in my car and cried …for the people in the bus crash, for their families, and eventually I cried for me, because I’d had a pretty rough year. But I had come through it stronger and wiser. The tears for the end of an awful year, and the promise of a brighter year ahead, mingled with the tears for strangers in that tragic accident, put things in perspective that morning.

I’m not sure why, more than two decades later, that particular moment came flooding back to me this morning, but it was quite a powerful memory.  
As today wears on, that feeling, the sensation, the flashback, it’s fading. But the song is still in my head – banging home the thought that another year is almost over. And what have I done? I know what my family has done. My children, as befits their tender years, have grown so much – physically, intellectually and socially. It is a privilege to watch that happen. My husband has challenged himself so much in the past couple of years, and I am so proud of everything he is achieving. And me? I am here for my family. That’s what I do. I feed them, I clean up after them, I cuddle them, I love them more than life itself. None of that will change, because it will always be the most important thing to me. But it’s time to do more. So they can be proud of me too. 

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