Today was a teary sort of a day.
We’ve been staying in Coorparoo for the last two weeks. Our original plan was for me and the kids to rent a house for a couple of weeks so I could take them in to see their Mum every day. The poor tykes have been feeling the separation from Tracey nearly as much as her. But rather wonderfully, Tracey was discharged from hospital nearly a full month before they suspected she would be, so we got to stay in the holiday home with her.
As I say, it’s been rather, incredibly wonderful.
Not only did the kids get to crawl into bed with us and kick us at all hours of the night, just like old times, but we also had Christmas together.
There have been tears, sure, but I’ve decided I really, really like happy tears. They’re a balm.
From a young age, men are told ‘boys don’t cry’ and rubbish like that. Bollocks. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness. It isn’t in any way wrong. It has a place in our lives and we should let it in. This is what I’ve learned.
Not that I’m saying I haven’t cried before all this drama. I have. But happy tears are new to me, and I’ve never felt so human and real, and it hasn’t effected my testosterone levels at all. For example, I still have to shave.
One thing which has come out of this experience for us is an understanding of how much family, friend and community support is important in these circumstances. It makes all the difference.
I’ve never really known what to do when things go pear shaped for others, and I’m assuming I’m not alone. It always seems to be the same friends of mine who do things for people and I’ve always marvelled at them for it.
But I’ll be joining their ranks after this, and I’m happy to pass on what I’ve learned from the last three months.
If you hear of someone who is going through a tough time, bake. Bake, or mow their lawn, or buy some groceries, or fold some laundry, or whip up a spag bog, or water their garden. It helps. It makes a difference, and it’s hard to qualify, but the fact you know someone is there to help you is as important as the thing they’re doing.
But even if baking etc isn’t your thing, maybe simply communicate to them. Message them in some way, shape or form. Send a pm, or letter, or card, or flowers, or text, or care package. Whatever you feel comfortable doing. It’s nice to know people care and you’re not as alone as what you think.
Even during the last couple of weeks, walking around Chermside, Indooroopilly and Carindale shopping centres, Tracey and I had people occasionally coming up to us to introduce themselves and wish us well. It was just lovely. Of course, I never know where to look or what to say – it’s really odd when people know so much about you (because of the blog) but you know nothing about them except they have a similar sense of humour and are lovely (that’s a given). It was fantastic and took me way out of my comfort zone, which is always a good thing. Thank you Brisbane! You saved my wife and made us feel welcome.
What both Tracey and I want now, more than anything else, is less drama in our lives and more laughs, more hugs and more normal (whatever the hell that is). We just want to be ourselves again.
Although ‘ourselves’ seem to be a bit altered. I’m calling myself Bruce 2.0 now.
I wept as we left Brisbane (not a fantastic idea when you’re driving) because I was finally taking Tracey home.
Tracey cried as we came into Gympie because, as she sobbed to me, she knows how much this town has rallied behind her family in her absence.
We both cried when we walked into the middle of our house because we haven’t been a family in our own home for nearly three months.
The next chapter in our lives is finally ready to be written, and I’m more than happy to take on the role of scribe. There’ll be doctors appointments and operations over the next year to add to the ten Tracey has already endured, but we’re ready for that and both consider them nothing more than future speed bumps on our life’s journey. The real living will be done between dates with the surgeons – making lunches and checking homework and reading at bedtime and instilling values in our munchkins. Everything else is just fluff.
In the meantime, if you see us out, say hi. Life is too short, so don’t overthink it. Say hi, and we’ll say hi back. We want to. We love it. On top of seeing first hand the marvel of modern medicine, we’ve also been blessed with having so many people wish us well – hoping, praying, lighting candles, collecting pics of bird poo and contributing in so many ways.
Here’s what I’ve taken away from this experience so far – life IS too short and way too unexpected. Your life, or the life of someone you love and care about, can be altered in a moment you didn’t see coming. Live for now. That’s not to say you should quit your job and take up full time surfing. It just means you should consider telling the people you care about that you care about them, and stop worrying about dumb shit. Specifically the dumb shit they do which pisses you off, because I’ve got to tell you I can’t remember a single negative thought about Tracey these last three months, especially when she was sinking further away from me and the kids. If we’ve disagreed on things like floor coverings or the interpretation of yellow traffic lights – and we definitely have – then it certainly wasn’t front of mind. All I cared about was getting her back. All I worried about was not having her around for the rest of my life. All I wanted was for my kids to have a mum.
I also thought a fair bit about the prospect of not ever having sex again. Not proud about that, just putting it out there in the interests of full disclosure.
But I guess I’m saying don’t give regret a chance to take a foothold. Speak up.
We’ve been given a second chance. Next time, we may not.
We’ve always been pretty good at communicating our feelings in this big little family of ours. Still, I suspect that will only improve because of what we’ve just been through. I don’t want to be accused of telling anyone how to live their life, but it would be the most wonderful thing if our experience encouraged someone who’s reading this to do the same – tell the people who matter most to you they matter the most to you.
Thank you all for your support these past few months. Now, let’s see if we can’t find something to laugh about 😀
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”