My mother and I went down south yesterday for an overnight visit with my younger brother’s family on their beautiful, remote block of bushland. Ming was supposed to come too but he is still struggling with post-op. pain and that horrible post-anaesthaesia blah so I left him home (and the little break was good for both of us!)
It was the first time we had seen the kids minus their various braces, splints, crutches and wheelchair (due to injuries sustained in the accident in October in which Ming was the driver). Of course, they are not completely recovered, but they are certainly getting there in leaps and bounds.
And they glow! These three children, one 13 years old and the twins, 12 years old, have always has a special glow about them. They are high achievers (as was evidenced in the school report cards they eagerly showed us), but they are down to earth and philosophical about the trauma they have been through. I watched my mother relax into their antics – watching them swimming in their beautiful, blue dam, making crazy jokes, doing card tricks, riding the 4-wheeler, munching out on my brother and sister-in-law’s amazing steak, potato salad, coleslaw and then pavlova, and my heart did a few somersaults.
We exchanged our Christmas gifts with each other and everyone loved what they gave and received, and I bantered with my nieces and nephews, unable to keep up with their clever witticisms, as usual! My brother’s quiet chuckle and my sister in law’s loud laughter (she and I are both rather loud and vociferous), and the children’s glowing eyes, were like some sort of blessing.
Another bonus was seeing my brother’s second oldest son who is a young replica of his dad. He adores me of course but soon needed to leave to see his mates – haha! As he was leaving, I said that I had a Christmas present for him and I wanted one back so he said have a beer. It was only later that I discovered that they weren’t his beers to give – cheeky, gorgeous brat! My gift to him was super hot chilli sauce – mmmm – he might not adore me so much any more! On a more serious note, it was great to be able to hug him after so long.
Driving back home through the forests of karri trees, my mother and I spoke of how this visit had helped to lighten the load of unbearable grief and anxiety. I am not a grandmother (and probably won’t be for some time!) but I can imagine how horrific it would be to be the mother and grandmother of so many injured (either physically, emotionally, or both) by the biggest mistake in judgement Ming will ever make. The relief that four out of the five injured are almost back to normal is immense.
Now of course the hope is that my other brother and sister in law’s daughter, whose recovery will take longer, will soon be back to normal and I have never realized before how beautiful ‘back to normal’ is, until now. She, like the other children, has a quirky sense of humour and has been heroic in wearing a head-to-hip brace for soooo long now, with style and stoicism beyond her years.
I don’t think anyone in my family has ever been through a more difficult few months. Geographical distance, misunderstandings, frayed emotions, private versus public dilemmas, forgiveness, underlying resentments, joyous reunions, hugs and recriminations, guilt, fear, love and bewilderment have all factored into the way we adults have coped in the aftermath. So the recent past has been ghastly, the present is sliding into a cushion of peace, and the future is, as it always is, uncertain.
The cushion of our visit down south is what I will rest my head on tonight because sleeping properly has been impossible for so long; my mind races back to that night constantly. Tomorrow I have decided to wake up, smile, and live again.
It is all getting better, not worse: recovery.