Safety of distance

Sunday Blog 20 – 16th Jan 2022

June 1999 leaving Perth to live happily ever after with my daughter’s father in Greece. Spoiler alert, happily ever after was done and dusted in eight months.

Recently I had lunch with my friend Trish, we hadn’t seen each other for some time. “Bring photos,” she said. I did and anticipated a joyous romp through old memories. After all, this is someone I have known since the 1980s.

Over lunch, we puddled through the photos, zigging and zagging back and forward across the decades and on occasions trying to remember who on earth the people were in the images. And yes, there was more than one 1980s photo of us dancing on tables.

Trish was the person I was able to seek refuge with when in 1999 at age 34 I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. To a rather Tall Greek Man I had met during my second academic year teaching in Greece. She welcomed me back to Perth where I hadn’t lived for more than a decade. I was five months pregnant and moved into her beautiful Guildford home. This is a suburb with old-world charm that felt a little reminiscent of Europe and helped me somewhat with the discombobulating period of transition. I had an uneventful pregnancy (well from a health perspective, anyway!) and birthed my daughter at a local hospital. I brought my daughter back home to Guildford when she was not six hours old. I stayed in Perth for seven months, the Tall Greek Man came for a visit and I planned to go back and join him, after attending a sister’s wedding.

I don’t recall ever seeing this photo that turned up over lunch. Trish had come along to farewell me at the airport and had taken this snap. There were other photos taken that day that show us with big smiles – one of me and my daughter is still on my mother’s mantelpiece. But this photo tells the truth of the horror of the moment of parting. This is how I really felt about an indeterminate long-term parting from my mother and family. I spoiled lunch a little by having a little weep when I stumbled across it. It’s taken a week to be able to look at it without crying.

Twenty-two years later we live in a world where international travel is still a very risky pursuit. Many people have been separated from loved ones for some or all of the last two years. I feel ridiculously grateful that I have my loved ones close at hand. With the safety of distance, I know that the pain of this indeterminate separation will turn out to be just 8 months. That my daughter would be raised here, that we built two decades of memories together.

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