How quickly we are expected to slip back into our normal routines after life changing events. Understandably we are all busy, workplaces require our return, study shouldn’t be put on hold, household chores need our attention and pets can’t look after themselves. Still, there are days when it would be a blessing to cry uninhibitedly on someone’s shoulder or to have the ability and the opportunity to completely shut down or to ‘crawl into a hole’ as the saying goes. For some of us, some of the time, keeping occupied is a comfort. Indeed, I have just spent the last eighty days of my youngest son’s absence focussed on a job I love with a passion while desperately trying to do more than my best in order to not only remain distracted but to begin the holidays stress free. Unfortunately running a business from home is rarely straightforward and I am not resting as easy as I’d hoped. Nevertheless I am fortunate to be in a position where I could do whatever comforted me the most today, aiming to put aside any teaching issues while I tried to think positively and share photographs of a ceremony that for better or worse has altered our family dynamics, tugged at our heart strings and at the same time made us all proud. I am certain by the look on my husband Mark’s face and by his quietly spoken words as he left for work this morning that he too found it difficult to accept normality on the second day of this new era – an era that began yesterday at the march out parade or perhaps a few months ago with the signing of a form or even years ago with an unfulfilled dream and a goal. So once again we wished our youngest son Michael a safe journey, even more significantly this time, because he was no longer an army recruit but an Australian soldier.
Sadly, in the past few weeks we have heard through friends and family members of four lives tragically lost under various circumstances unrelated to war. May they rest in peace – and we thank God that no matter how real our concerns, ours is a very different kind of heartache, one that is possibly based on a fear of the unknown.
I have been a part of many life changing events in my 54 years such as moving house, moving interstate, school transfers, taking different study and career paths, miscarriages, early menopause, debilitating migraines, relationship breakups, losing touch with a sibling for a while, seeing my beloved sister ill after her heart attack, having my own heart health scares and losing both of my dear parents to heart attacks. But the biggest life changing events in anyone’s history must surely be the births of our children and in the years that follow the different paths they choose to take. At the moment I am struggling with, among other things, examining and making sense of our strong reaction to Michael’s particular change in path.
I have watched daughter Amy leave home to raise a family and start a career, son Tim to study further in Melbourne, son Geoff to live and work in the UK for almost two years, son Patrick to work and travel several times in the USA, son Samuel to play gridiron in American Samoa and son Michael to play drums in Japan. With every wave, every goodbye and every wish for good luck it is like a piece of me is leaving or altering amidst mixed feelings of worry and of pride and joy. I believe that is being a mother and I would not give up my protective maternal nature for anything or anyone.
I don’t want to hear reassurance that it will all turn out for the best or empty promises that Michael will stay safe. I don’t want to be told I’m over reacting. I want people to know that grieving for a 19 year old son in the armed forces does not make me weak. I want someone to listen and tell me they understand how I must be feeling. I want permission to feel the way I feel and I want time to adapt. I want to know what my father would have thought about his grandson joining the army. I want to cry with my mother like we did when my brother had to enlist and fight in Vietnam. I want to write and think and remember and look at photos. I want to make sure Michael’s sister and brothers understand this is not because I love him any more than I love them.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
From ‘Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)’ by John Lennon
Keep smiling Mikey.
We love and miss you xo