Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 19 June 2011: The one about Georgie and Red Nose Day
I debated writing this column today.
Mostly because in some ways it defeats the reason – or one of the reasons – why Brad, Ava and I moved here, to Adelaide, in the first place. Why we packed up our belongings in January and redirected our mail and moved across the country leaving behind all our family and friends in Brisbane to come here where we knew no one. Or, more specifically, where nobody knew us.
Of course Brad’s job and the wineries and the restaurants and the festivals and the markets and the Adelaide Hills were all big drawcards. (And frankly the Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly with green apple, wombok & dill salad at The Pot on King William Road should really be part of your tourism campaign.) But mostly Adelaide represented a fresh start. A chance to have some breathing space. The City of Churches, we decided, would give us some time to heal as a family of three.
And it has. We have. Alone in this windy city for the past five months, we’ve blazed our own trail; discovering for ourselves favourite playgrounds and parks. Cafes and cake shops. We’ve worn a path to the Adelaide Zoo. And, err, our local Tavern, if we’re going to be completely honest. We’ve relished the chance to rug up in coats and scarves and watched Mother Nature put on an autumn show with the trees and leaves that rivals anything on the Las Vegas strip. And we’ve happily bunkered down on many a cold evening in front of the telly trying to work out what the hell AFL is all about.
But there comes a time in the healing process, at least according to my mother, when a cut or a scratch or a graze needs to be exposed. When the bandaid must come off and the wound left open to fresh air and sunshine. To life. Does it feel vulnerable to the elements at first? Of course. But that cut, my mother would always say, needs to be allowed to breathe.
I’m beginning to suspect that emotional wounds are no different. Eventually we need to uncover them to truly let them heal. You can’t, or at least I can’t, hide out forever hoping hoping hoping – please God hoping – the hairdresser won’t casually ask how many children you have while she washes your hair. That the friendly mum you’ve started chatting to at the park won’t innocently question if Ava is your only child. That the childcare assistant who works at the crèche at your gym won’t want to know if your toddler has a sibling.
Because what will happen – what always happens – when you are asked how many children you have is that you will give one answer but silently think another. And it will be that way for the rest of your life.
Our daughter Georgie was stillborn last September. Ava’s much-wanted little sister unexpectedly died just 10 days before she was due to be delivered. That was nine months ago. And not a day goes by that we don’t miss her.
Next Friday 24 June, is Red Nose Day, a day we all associate with the pivotal role SIDS and Kids has played in reducing the occurrences of Sudden and Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
But what many people don’t know is that SIDS and Kids fund medical research and provide a range of bereavement support services to anyone who has suffered the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or child under the age of six, regardless of cause. Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Cot death. Accident or illness.
There are thousands of parents silently grieving lost pregnancies, babies, children. Please buy a red nose this week or give generously at www.sidsandkids.org If you have lost a baby or a child and would like to talk to someone, SIDS and Kids operate a 24-hour Bereavement Support line. Call (08) 8369 0155.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.