I have looked forward to a different future for some time and yet, there is something poignantly sad about this new stage in my life. It seems to have come faster than I had expected even though I have been in expectation of it for a long time. In just over a week, my youngest child, Johnny, turns eighteen and I have officially 'finished' parenting - whatever that means.
Spending the last sixteen years of my life as a single parent, I seem to have muddled my way through to this point with laughter, heartache, anguish and joy. Like most parents, I have many regrets but I desire to change nothing, grateful for the time that I have shared with all my three children. This time with them appears to have gone in a heartbeat and by some miraculous sanction, they have all survived to become the young adults that they should be.
Below is a poem written about a near drowning event at the Mossman Gorge in 2005 after heavy rain. At the time of the incident, Johnny was eight and his cousin, Rita, was 14. Reading over the words again has helped me appreciate the fragility of life and fills me now with a deep and abiding thankfulness for what I have experienced. I welcome the future and all that it might hold.
He was aiming for the rock,
He goes out too far,
He goes under.
Counting seconds - 1 1000, 2 1000.
She see him go,
She is so close,
Now they are both gone.
Counting seconds - 4 1000, 5 1000.
On the bank, no air,
Voice catching in my throat,
Then running and screaming.
Counting seconds - 9 1000, 10 1000.
Everyone is frozen, still,
As if in shock, unreal,
Except me, only me.
Counting seconds - 20 1000, 21 1000.
Scrambling over rocks,
Slipping, sliding, paying no heed,
'Catch them! Catch them!'
Counting seconds - 40 1000, 41 1000.
Chanting like a mantra,
'Remember your first aide,
Remember your first aide.'
Counting seconds - 60 1000, 61 1000.
My heart, my brain, my cells
Scream 'Help me! Help me!'
I know that I cannot catch them.
Counting seconds - 80 1000, 81 1000.
Like two corks held under water,
They explode through the surface,
And cling to the rock. Exhausted
Stop counting - 90 1000, 91 1000.
A frozen man melts,
We swim them from the middle,
He and I, the only two.
We walk back through rocks,
And silent, gawking, frozen people.
I shake his hand, the unfrozen man.
I thank him, but I am shaking.
Wrapped in towels, we walk back.
At the car, I ask 'How?'
'How did you find that rock?'
She says, 'Someone pushed us.'
'Who? Who pushed you?'
She says, 'Someone just pushed us.'
We drive home.
Everyone is silent.