I was recently watching the story of Stuart Diver, the sole survivor of the Thredbo avalanche disaster that took place 20 years ago. At the time it happened, I was only 11 years old but I remember the moment when he was pulled from the rubble and making a mental note that this was a really important event in Australian history. What I didn’t know was that after the loss of his wife in the accident, Stuart met another woman and fell in love and that they had a little girl together. His new wife was then diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away, leaving Stuart a widow again, this time to raise their daughter alone.
Watching his story on 60 Minutes, I was absolutely enthralled. Hearing the life stories of other people always fascinates me. Humans are incredibly strong and resilient creatures. It also got me thinking, what would I do in that situation? Would I have the strength to keep going? Alee and I remarked that surely losing two wives would be enough to scare you away from wanting to find love ever again, for fear of being broken once more. But then isn’t that a sad and lonely life? He deserves every happiness in the world, and surely his wife would have wanted both he and her daughter to one day have someone special in their lives, someone who can teach her daughter the things she will never get the chance to do, like tell her that her first broken heart won’t be her last, explain periods and how to use pads and tampons without embarrassing her, cry when she gets ready for her school formal, one day help her dress in her wedding gown and be there for the birth of her future babies. All the things that those of us fortunate to have our mothers or someone who fills the mother role take for granted.
As always, my mind had about a million different thought processes happening at once and I then thought about what my death would mean for my family. I reflected upon how, if you took me back a few years, like most people I didn’t want to die. But this was for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to die because I still had a life to live, I wanted to have a family, travel more, learn new things and dying early just did not fit with these plans. I didn’t want to die because it did not suit me. Now, as a mother, I don’t want to die because I don’t want to leave my child alone without me to guide him. He needs his mummy here to help him navigate through life, to guide him to be a good person and respect others. It is no longer the thought of death that terrifies me, but the thought of my child having to grow up in a world without me that I truly fear.
I can only imagine a life, even now at 31, where my parents don’t exist. I still call mum to ask for cleaning and cooking tips, for parenting advice and now again for pregnancy support. She was there as I brought my son into the world. I remember the instant relief I felt the moment she walked into the birth suite. Alee was always by my side, but I was in pain and like most of us, when sick or in pain I instantly revert back to my childhood self and want my mummy. She walked in while I was mid-contraction and she came over, held my hand and stroked my forehead, just like when I was little and home from school with a fever. She gave me renewed courage that I could get through labour drug free and that I could trust in my body to know what it was doing. She was at the business end as Oakland made his entrance into the world. She saw him even before Alee and I did. More recently she was there the day I committed myself to Alee. She helped me slip my wedding gown on, she zipped me up and helped put my heels on and it was one of those moments that I imagined is like something off a movie. But it was real life.
Sure, I won’t have those exact moments with Oakland as he is my son, but he will have moments that are just as special. He will have his first love and heart break one day. He will have sporting or school achievements. Maybe one day he too will be married or have a family of his own. Sooner than that though he will have his first haircut, he will be potty trained, he will start school and learn to read and write. He will bring home books from school and need help to sound out the words until one night he will be reading to me. All moments I shared with my own parents. The thought of not being there for every single moment and for him to not have me to share them with is heartbreaking. It is funny how in the space of a few years, one single life event (becoming a parent) has changed the way I view everything. I have gone from being a self absorbed person, to putting myself last in every way. My world no longer revolves around me, but has expanded into an entire universe that is this tiny little toddler. Having a child changes you immensely, in the most beautiful and astounding way. Mum once said to me she was unsure how I would be as a mother as I was always so selfish (I was the only girl with 3 brothers, so I blame her!) but she was so proud that I turned out to be the best mum she knows. Hearing those words of praise from my own mother was a very weird and surreal moment for me. It cements even more to me that I am determined to be here for my child. I want to be there for his life as long as I can. And if I can’t be, I want Alee to know that it is ok for her to move on. I want her to. My child deserves a loving family. Everyone deserves as much happiness and love in their lives as they can get.