Our new house (that’s really not new anymore, we’ve been here long enough but I’m clinging to the new feeling, stick it out with me) has a beautiful view of the ocean. But this is not the first home I’ve lived in that looked out to the twinkly sea, so I’ll leave the epiphanies I’ve had over an early morning coffee in 2015 (there have been many!) to one side for now.
In fact, my home that looked out to the sea before this one, looked over a city landscape too. With the swirl of a cosmopolitan city splayed out below it, it was on that balcony that I began and experienced a bunch of important life moments. It was where I’d spend many an evening, at first cradling a bottle of wine in my early twenties, and then later, cradling a colicky baby at all hours of the day and night. I still think the scenery helped to soothe her.
But we’re talking about mornings, aren’t we? There’s one morning on that balcony that’ll stick in my mind forever. She was still tiny, so tiny, and I woke up (uncharacteristically, for the mother of a newly minted infant) to see a sprinkle of winter sunshine peeking through the curtains.
I crept out of our room, that was festooned with all the things you’re “supposed” to buy when you have a baby but, really, those items end up being so useless or fleeting in purpose, after all. I slunk away down the passage to forage up a cup of tea, being careful to not let the teaspoon tinkle too loudly as I stirred.
Sitting down on a chair that was probably ready to be retired, I looked at that cityscape and out on to the ocean. With the sun just beginning to do its daily thing, I exhaled. In the calamity of noise that you come home with from the hospital, and the seemingly infinite list of things to do that go with a new baby, I’d felt like I couldn’t quite catch my breath for a while. It was nice to just exhale for a while.
Looking down at my phone, I saw a stream of texts that had clearly gone on through the night, but that I’d slept through as they beeped. They were from my dad, as he lay in his hospital bed not even 500 metres away from me. He’d awoken, confused and surrounded by machines and sick people he didn’t think he belonged near, but was convinced he was on holiday, and would I mind bringing him a ciggie? I giggled to myself, but let my responses rest for now, as I hoped he was.
The thing about terminal cancer is, while it may rob its host of bodily functions or even dignity, it doesn’t take the mind for a while. And when it does begin to consume the brain, it doesn’t grind it into a halt right until the end. No, it explodes it, with colour, light and fantasy. A sort of party in your head that the disease gives you, as one final blast before your curtain falls.
I didn’t know then, that the funny conversations and confusing dialogue my dad and I would have over the months just before that sunrise, and the final ones, this text conversation…would be the last ones we’d ever have.
You never know the last conversation you’ll ever have with someone. Even with my mother, I refused to accept it would be the last time we spoke when we did on a peach coloured afternoon that had left me pacing and desperate.
But as the sun rose up to the sky that morning, and the new life of our family mewed itself awake into the day, the old life, the one that said he “had to make space for the new one” began to slip away.
He would die just a few days after his last text message to me.
It said: “Where am I?”
Oh my darling. I wish I knew.
I’m very pleased to be a part of this collaborative blogging process. Each week, on Wednesdays at 2pm, Dave, Mandy, Brett, Nick, Scott and I publish a post. The same title is shared between us, but we have no sight of each other’s posts until we publish. As Dave says “The point of the exercise is to give a group of writers a title, and then to sit back and watch how their creativity and word skills deliver their very personal interpretations.”
You can read the other collaborators’ blog posts here: