Tag: life


After listening to my friend Darren’s speech at the Cystic Fibrosis Ball last night, and hearing him regale how his Mum managed to look after two boys, work, cook and do everything that a wonderful Mum does, I had to post this about my own Mum, Jewel. Yes – named after the gem.


Certainty is often equated with death and taxes.

I can slice certainty two ways. I could say there are no certainties or guarantees when one is sick or broken, or I could say that there are many certainties and guarantees when one is sick or broken. I’ll not take sides, so I’ll take a little from column A and a little from column B.

Living with a dis-ease can be trying. There is the certainty that you will probably die. There is also the certainty that you will live. There is a certainty that nothing is certain.

The most important certainty I had growing up was my mother. She was and still is, the spine of our family. She would look after everyone else except herself. You have to remember that my mother was not only looking after a sick child, but she was also raising another as well as shouldering the deaths of C.F kids she had grown to love as her own.

I do not know how she did what she did with such grace. She would be up in the ward when I’d clocked off at the hospital school for the morning, then she’d dash back to Jindalee to make sure she was there at 3pm on the dot to pick my sister up from school.

Then she would have had to cook dinner for my father and sister.

Then she would have helped my sister with her homework.

Then she would have cleaned up.

After that, I don’t know what my mother did. It pains me to think about my mother’s private hell with this routine of wake up, get daughter ready for school. Make school lunch and ensure daughter has everything she needs for the day. Drive daughter to school, drive home to finish chores. Drive to the hospital and trawl for a car park. Spend time with other daughter whose I.V has tissued and packed it in. Go with daughter into treatment room to be repeatedly cannulated. Talk to other mothers and cuddle other kids. Kiss daughter goodbye, rush back to school to pick other daughter up, prepare afternoon tea and talk about the day which may include problems or celebrations for any achievements. Cook dinner, help with homework, clean up, talk to husband.

It’s like a bad dream and it loops over and over and over where I can see my mother sitting with me in Turner Ward. I can see her coming to collect me from the hospital school early so we can sit outside in the park with our lunch; I can see her biting her nails to the quick. What I can’t see – and what she wouldn’t let me see – is what this was doing to her. How I ache.

The other certainty was my Dad. He wouldn’t stay long – maybe twenty or thirty minutes – but he came up every night. If I was off my hospital food and wanted something special for dinner, like most kids I’d ask for KFC or Macca’s, but instead of bringing me a burger, Dad would bring enough food for all of the C.F kids – burgers, chips, chicken nuggets – everything. A bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and my father was an instant hero. Not many people know that he did these things. People know him as a generous man, but Dad would be the last person to tell someone what he had done.

He probably didn’t think much of it at the time, or ever for that matter, but to us – especially me – it was everything. To the nurses, he was just a man visiting his daughter in hospital. To me, he was my Dad and that meant sustenance through love – a relationship galvanised by actions where he offered wisdom through silence, and the ‘never give in gungerdin’ attitude I still look to whenever it is time to fall apart again.

I get cut open, my family stitches me back up.


Jealousy burns; seethes through my chest.

Seeping into the hollow of my stomach,

it runs a gauntlet through my breasts,

piled high but grafted to thin bones.


I whittle away, because you’re almost here, but just about gone.

I must learn to sing euphorically;

to jelly roll into the sea.


Water snatches at discarded ropes and crab pots.

You circle awkwardly like a drunk shark,

a sea crown jammed on your head.


Hills roll into the water,

you turn into driftwood,

light scratches at the gap between the door and the floor

and I taste the opening of the earth.


It was always ashen

clinging to its scalp,

the roots no longer dampened.

Peeled away by the brush of winds –

not torn like rough paper with unsteady hands.

Sheathes the bones –

each one captured,

never to lash air for

the skin enfolding it.

Raw, vermilion canvas,

bones poke through skin.

Starving calves

on skeletal plains.

Metallic in taste,

it wraps around my chalky tongue,

drips down my throat

‘til it settles in the vestibule of my gut

and curdles with sour juices.

Three tiered picket pierces my lily hands,

while matchstick fingers splay with veins.

I crush that mottled arc into ash;

its fragility a mirror

into which I will not look.

our hospital system

All the hospitals.

All their patients who think they’re in hotels.

All the patients who feel like they’re in jail.

All those days not remembered.

All the unchanged beds.

All the dirty pillowcases.

All the trays of cold food and curdled tea.

All the bedpans in bathrooms, waiting to be emptied.

All the unanswered alarms.

All the wet sheets.

All the sad, heavy and stinking flowers.

All the shit on the walls.

All the overwrought workers.

All the underpaid nurses expected to parent the sick

tells me something is wrong

transplant: a little detour from life



When you’re thrown back into life,

you’re thrown from a moving train.

That first thump and roll; the aches and bruises that follow

untether you from your carriage.


Going from an empty husk of a woman – all lily-white like a hollowed out cockleshell –

empty but for the roar when you nurse it against your ear –

that was me.

My tender armour covered a pod of barely working organs

where there was a flicker of movement in the rattle of wet lungs and a clogged throat.


I would see things from my bed because I couldn’t walk anymore –

muscles melted into pockets of goo.

I’d bend my head to see the leaning moon,

so still on its haunches – lazy, laconic and deathly still.


I had always shunned the sun and walked to the moon.

Silently I would call it; aching for it to speak with me or move just a little,


but there it sat like a mute friend – giving me the answers I needed –

a silent partner to ricochet off my rattling chest and bag of bones

where I’d reach into sapphire skies and pray for Bedouin.


tied up on the wrong end of the dream, dripping time like Dali’s clock


My chest cut open and sewn back together like a clam – a cautious cut.

Hurled back into life – that rattle now silenced and replaced

by the pulse of machines breathing for still bleeding lungs,

taken from another who was now dead,

and lowered into me like the hull of a virgin ship into water.

A rekindling; the universe wanted to keep me.


In the daytime, I would wake up

with eyes like a hunted here,

knowing I was alive because I could feel

that hose in my mouth and its slink down my throat.

But more, I felt the fire beginning to burn on my chest.

I’m at the coal face of my body,

wondering how I came to be here – alive and hurting –

all dry lipped surrender.


Mad as a circus cat,

it was an exercise in patience until the next time I woke up –

snapping and grabbing at the tube

until a milk filled syringe was emptied into my neck and I knew the fight was over.


When the tube was pulled, my cough was a projectile.

A triumvirate of doctors, gathered in the corner like vultures,

laughing about some dialectical shit.

My first words – ‘get the fuck out of here!’

I was crying and trying to shout with my wretched vocal cords.

They moved to the desk and I shouted ‘you disrespectful cunts!’

I never saw those doctors again and that was probably best – for them.


This was the first time I’d been thrown.

Thrown onto an operating table, flung into recovery,

sucked back into the furnace of theatre and ferried out again.

Funnelled into a solitary pod, the hose wrenched from my raw throat

and then I – throwing doctors out on their asses.


I was back.