The Australia I know is green and brown as far as the eye can see. I was mesmerised by the alternate landscapes in Europe. Huge hills of reds, golds and yellow. The majesty of Alps. We have a thing called Alps, it is but an ant hill in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, Australia is beautiful. It’s just that I grew up here, in the country, so I barely notice it anymore. I often change the tones when I edit my photography – blasphemous!
Most of us live in the brown and green bits. Less of us live in the biggest bit in the middle – desert and Outback, red dirt and sands, dingoes and giant red kangaroos, feral camels and pigs. It covers 70%-ish (nobody really knows) of this continent and contains less than 10% of our population. That’s a lot of space. Enough for a single cattle ranch that is bigger than the odd European country or two, the worlds longest fence (to keep the dingoes out), longest stretch of straight road, and straight railway line. Skies so vast and clear that you can see up to 5,500 stars (I’m not sure who counted them).
All of the life decisions I am making right now are about seeing the big bit in the middle. Hitting the road in a 4WD camper and heading in to the Never Never. It takes some planning and preparation – she is unforgiving of fools.
My thoughts have been turning a great detail lately to where home is. In these musings and ponderings I have come to the conclusion that the home my heart feels is irrelevant to its bricks and mortar location.
The places I live are where my son and I move in circles with around each other within comfortable silence. The place there is no need to constantly validate the strength of our relationship through incessant speech. I am never as silent, and as peaceful in silence, as when I am with my boy. It is having a house that others use as sanctuary – a place they are drawn to when trouble strikes. It is preparing them food, hugging them, and telling them that it will be OK even when I’m not entirely sure it will be. It is the friends I visit when the same trouble strikes me, and the people who hold me, feed me and tell me it will be OK, even when they’re not sure it will be.
Home, I am beginning to understand, is the people I love who love me back so fiercely that I have moments when tears well and flow over in gratitude.
The lights were being tested for new years on the bridge last night and I suddenly felt very sorry to see 2016 go; despite having been the most difficult year I have lived. It is, after all, the year my sister took her last breath and there is something about that which makes me reluctant to see it come to an end.
It is through it that I have reconnected with my family, especially my darling brother who is the only other living person that truly understands my experience of this loss. It is the year that my son did such a fine job of becoming my carer – the only person who knew exactly where to place humour during that devastating week at the hospital and when a hug or silence was the better option. The year I saw what a fine young man he had become and during which my brother-in-law gave me the privilege of witnessing grace in motion.
It is the year that I fully understood that I walk among giants. The friends that carried me with such care, tenderness and humility. Remarkable people to whom I owe an immense debt of gratitude. And a year in which new friends were made who have shown such a gentle patience with the chaos of grief that I have been. I hope to add them to my collection of giants.
These are the gifts that came from this year. The bitter sweetness carves a line of immense gratitude and love across the ball of sadness that still remains firmly lodged in my heart. Á bientot sis.