I don’t like having family scattered all around the world. Lately I have been missing them. My cousins, Aine and Jessie. My Aunt Jo. My sister Shelley.
I am finding it harder to cope with missing them as I get older because I am acutely aware of how quickly time passes, how impossible it is to hold back the years. Sometimes Australia just seems so far away from the rest of the world. Air fares are pricey. And none of us can afford to travel wherever we wish to in this economic climate.
The past year has been a very tough one for me in an emotional sense. I have friends to talk to but it’s not the same as family. The sarcastic, sardonic, irreverent sense of humour that I get from my family just isn’t there with friends. There is also that element of not wanting to bother friends all the time with anxieties and frailties, with the burden of what can at times be a bleak, despairing illness.
I am trying really hard to be positive. The happy, smiling, life- is -good vibes fly free like hundreds of butterflies released from nets. But I can’t catch them. Or hold onto them. Or absorb their power. The good feelings go more quickly than they come. It is exhausting looking on the bright side. I can see the morning light but the bright sunshiney day doesn’t belong to me.
Every day unfolds under false pretenses. Let’s pretend is my favourite game. People don’t like it when they know you’re ill. They don’t know what to say. Cheer up sounds so ineffectual against night time thoughts of sharp kitchenware.
I’m not mad at the world, I’m sad at the world. And often I feel it’s just me. Looking out at the garden.
I am a bird sitting in a tree. For years I sat with my flock – just chirpin’, just chillin’. Now they have flown away, following the sun. I have remained behind, disconsolate, not even noticing the tree I am sitting in is bare.
On days like this I throw myself on the mercy of the gods and ask for a sign. Most of the time the gods do look out for me. It kind of freaks me out, but they do. The sign came in the form of a phone call. My sister called from America. She made me laugh as she always does. ‘It could always be worse,’ she said. ‘You could be a nymphomaniac spinster with an artificial leg, a penchant for polyester, and a fanatical devotion to Kenny G.’ No one can crack me up like my sister.
Suddenly the world didn’t seem like such a big place after all. Suddenly I remembered that the people I love are all just a phone call away. And they miss me as much as I miss them. There’s comfort to be had in that. And the promise of peace of mind.