15: A New Year?
After Christmas in 2013, we decided to get in our campervan and head to the coast for a holiday. We didn’t have any real plans aside from getting away from town and spending time with one another.
We arrived at our destination and watched our kids thrive. They rode their bikes around the caravan park, with Brad following close behind, swam in the pool and the ocean and ate ice cream. They had a chance to just, be kids. To the casual observer, our family looked like any other, enjoying a holiday by the beach in the Australian summer.
What they didn’t know was that the night times involved tears and terrors, that Ruby was constantly wetting herself and that the shadow behind Grace and Kate’s eyes were because they couldn’t sleep. Even so, we tried to make the best of the time we had together.
On New Year’s Eve, we lined up with everyone else on the beach for some fireworks. As they began, Kate started trembling and had what was probably her first real panic attack. Brad and I bustled the kids back to the van and fell asleep before we even met 2014.
As the next morning broke, I found that I couldn’t get out of bed. I think that I’d been trying so hard for the past three months to create a “new normal” that it all finally caught up with me. Fortunately, Brad could see that I was struggling and took the girls for a walk.
And I wept.
I cried for the loss of my simple life. I cried that it was a New Year and I didn’t know how to possibly put the old one behind me. I cried because I was grieving the loss of my babies. I cried.
New Year’s Day 2014 impacted on me in a way that a New Year’s Day had never done before. It felt so significant because I couldn’t work out how to put the past behind me when the past was occupying so much of my present and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.
By the time that Brad and the girls returned from their walk, I had picked myself up and was ready to start my fake life again.
Interestingly enough, on New Year’s Eve, 2014, we were surrounded by a wonderful group of friends, both adults and kids alike. As the countdown began, I looked over at Kate to see her sobbing quietly on her own. I knew without asking what she was thinking but asked anyway. She said to me, “Mum it may be a New Year, but nothing has changed has it. This still happened and we’re still waiting to go to court”. My heart broke a little more that day.
I’ve learned over the last little while, that sometimes we have to play down the significance of significant occasions depending on the mood of those around us. I’ve become more aware that sometimes New Year’s and birthdays and Christmas, and all those other “special” days can be a reminder of the things that have been lost or that we may never have again. I still try to celebrate, but do so now with a different lens and with more empathy for those who do tend to find these occasions challenging.