Friday, December 08, 2006

5 YEARS IS A LONG TIME IN POLITICS AND OTHER PLACES

Tomorrow is the 9th of December (Thanks Lee, we were just wondering....)

It is also the 5th anniversary of the death of my first wife.

For those who came in late (in my best The Phantom narrator voice) my first wife, Sharon, died from an undetected infection 4 days after giving birth to my daughter Erin. The resulting compensation case is documented throughout my blog. Feel free to hit the archives if you so wish. Due to legal compromise I cannot reveal the name of the doctor in question. If you're pregnant, and live in the Gosnells/Maddington/Armadale/Kelmscott area, feel free to contact me. I have some recommendations on who you should see.

But, the point of this all is: it's been five years. Without overstating the obvious, it's been my daughter's entire life. I can't remember the way Sharon smelled. I can't remember the way she felt. If I concentrate, I can recall the way she spoke, but it's more a matter of the tones and shadings applied to my own voice: slightly nasal, drawling, a sharp cut-through of Strine across the vowels. We had a long history, Sharon and I, but the truth is, she's been dead longer than we were married. It's time to put the past away.

I'm married to a wonderful, beautiful woman: Luscious. We have a vibrant and happy family of five children, including Erin and Connor, her younger brother who arrived two years ago. And for reasons both fair and unfair, much of our life together has had a shadow across it because of what happened on December 9th 2001. And it's time that we stepped out of that shadow completely.

We have an amazing future ahead of us, but to do that, we've got to move beyond some things. Sharon was no perfect person: she had a sharp temper, a taste in music best described as abysmal (Shania Twain was a favourite), was addicted to a soapie-per-night habit, and left her underwear all over the place. She was a real person. The dead, especially those who die before their time, often suffer a sanctification by those they leave behind. I no longer talk with any of Sharon's friends, because we don't remember the same person. They remember a plaster saint. I remember something else: no less worthy, but a whole lot more real.

Erin has a right to know about her birth mother, and she's at an age now where she asks questions and we answer them. Truthfully. And the older kids are interested, and they ask questions, and we answer them, truthfully. There are mementoes, and videos, and certificates, and documents and important things to share, and we will, as a family. It's a part of my past, but it's also a part of Erin's past and as a family, our past.

Just over a year from now we'll be living a continent away from Sharon's resting place, and from the remaining members of our extended family. What we'll take with us, apart from the furniture and Aiden's finches, is an understanding of where we all came from, and a daughter/sister who understands how her life started, who was there, and how lucky she is to have had a mother who loved her enough to give her life, and another who chose to call her 'daughter' (more: to believe in her as daughter, in a way indinstinguishable from the other children. And it is returned: mother & daughter. No steps, no halves, no prevarication) , and who gives her the same love and comfort she gives all our family.

Five years is a long time, but the future is longer. When I look ahead, I see balance and love, and that's what's important to me.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you, dude. And yours.

Anonymous said...

Lee, for what it's worth (and that's very little) I'm sorry for your loss. It seems as though you are handlin' the situation with a great deal of maturity and responsibility. Keep the chin up, and never let the memories fade - even the bad ones.

Anonymous said...

I can sympathize with the plaster saint problem. My father died when I was 15, and my mother, in her grief, has objectified him so much that I honestly can't reconcile my memories of the imperfect but unbelievably wonderful person he was with the paragon of perfection she has painted him to be.

I haven't lost a spouse (dear God above, I pray I never do. I love my husband dearly) but I admire your strength and candor concerning your wife's death. It never really hurts less, just less often.

Your daughter is very lucky to have you. If you maintain the sort of honesty about death that my father did with me, it will help her in more ways than you could ever know.

Lee Battersby said...

Thank you, all. It's been a tumultuous 5 years, and in the best Soviet tradition it's time to put it all aside and make plans for the next 5 years.

I was lucky, very lucky indeed, to find love for a second time, and I've no intention of letting the ghosts of the past darken our future together. Lyn and I have both have a lot of baggage, and we process it together and are honest and open with our family, so I'm happy at what I see when I imagine our years together.

Anonymous said...

That day of the the year that always comes with such a sour taste in my mouth has come and gone again for another year.

Yes I knew Sharon . . .I wasn't a close friend, more a friend of a friend, but she always treated me well, welcomed me into the circle of firends and was always kind towards me, what more could I have ask from her.

I can remember her, how she looked, her mannerisms, how she sounded.

I think it is sad for Erin that you have decide not to keep in contact at some level with her Mum's firends, because I can reassure you they too haven't forgotten their friend and her daughter.

My only hope is that some day when Erin is ready she knows where to find her Mum's friends. Then they can share their stories with Erin about her mum.

Lee Battersby said...

We do what we have to do. And if that's your only hope then you've missed the point of the post entirely.