Have you ever been there? Have you ever dreamed of or even thought about going there?
I remember a report I did in the 5th grade about duck-billed platypuses (or is it platipi?). You know, those crazy mammals that lay eggs. Don’t they live there? Australia has kangaroos and koalas. Before this happened, before Cameron died, I’d never known anyone who lived in Australia. I didn’t know they had “states” like we do, didn’t know they had American pop music, “Australian Idol” and “Top Chef Australia.”
Now, in the land of “after” of “forever,” I now have family there. “Family” in a place I have never seen, a place I have never been, a place that would have made my list of places to see but one that didn’t draw me in as it does now. I think about Australia a lot now. (They call it “Oz” amongst themselves. That seems to fitting.) I think about Australia every day. I don’t think I could go through a day without thinking about Australia.
Yet, this new me, with so many things on my mind, with so many things that have changed still has room to wonder and, literally, I find myself wondering if Alexander ever made it? Surely you remember Alexander, he of the “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?” Remember, he told his family he wanted to move there? His mom kept writing books after that one. I just Googled her and she actually wrote a book about Alexander as an adult – his coming back home to live with her. I wonder if she mentions his wanting to go to Australia in any of her subsequent books? One thing I know for sure, if Alexander made it to Australia, he also made it home.
Like Alexander, my daughter wanted to go Australia. She made it but she didn’t make it home. She died there. She was 16. That’s why I am writing I guess that’s also why you are reading. Do you want to know what goes on inside a mother’s mind, inside her life¸ inside her heart when the unthinkable happens? Is reading about someone else’s loss akin to the fascination rubberneckers have with peering over at the accident by the side of the road? Is it like moviegoers flocking to horror flicks and violent movies? Do humans feel drawn toward experiencing, voyeuristically, what it is like to be in those terrible, terrible places – from a safe enough distance that it doesn’t hurt or even affect you? I understand that. I accept that. Better to be a voyeur than a surviving loved one. You aren’t one of those are you? Someone who has also experienced love and loss? If so, I welcome you, in fact, I want to embrace you. As someone said, there is enough room for us all on this “mourner’s bench.” More that that, I hope you find something in what I have written to be healing, even in the smallest, tiniest, infinitesimal way.
Let me be clear, I welcome the rubberneckers and the survivors. But I do have one word of caution. If you think that by reading this, about her, about me, you might be able to keep tragedy from happening to you….if that’s what you want, put this down now. Stop reading. It won’t help, it won’t inoculate you or your loved ones against harm; random, deadly harm. The scariest part of her story is bigger than what happened to her or to me. It scariest part is the realization that no matter what you do, who you are, how much you love, how much money you do or do not have, there is NOTHING you can do that can guarantee your child is safe. That’s right, NOTHING. I’ve watched grown men, tough men, brave men break down after realizing that very fact. So, if that’s the lesson you needed to learn, you got your money’s worth right here. Just as I have learned that “there are no coincidences” you must learn “life offers no guarantees.”