Fern is a writer, a blogger and a mother of three small children. She has been writing since the age of eight when she was given her first diary. Now she is at work on a memoir, ‘Right Through My Bones,’ about a dark period in her early twenties, exploring what happened and how she recovered. This piece was written during a six month NZSA mentorship with Deborah in 2014.
With a clean dry nappy and a belly full of food, the baby is ready for his nap.
“It’s bed time,” I tell him, and he pretends he doesn’t hear me, but I know he does. He understands what I’m saying.
I scoop him up, off the floor and into my arms, and carry him down the hallway to his bedroom. The sun pours in through the window, hitting the glass prism that hangs from his curtain rail, shooting rainbows all over the walls. Some days we go and play with the prism first, spinning it around and around making the rainbows dance. But not today. Today he seems extra tired. Today he seems happy about going to bed.
At his cot I pause and bury my face in the warmth of his neck, before lifting him up over the rail and gently down onto his mattress.
“I love you,” I tell him. “I love you.” I must say that a hundred times a day. It’s never enough. I need him to know it’s true.
He lies on his back, fixing his blue eyes on mine as I cover him in a soft yellow blanket.
“Have a good sleep, my darling. I’ll see you soon. Good night. Good night.”
He doesn’t make a sound as I turn and walk softly out the door. He knows I will be back.
Out in the living room the silence is expectant. The words that are to flow from my fingers are already rushing through my head. Fighting each other. All the words are there, anxious to get out, but I try not to pay them too much attention, not until I’m ready. ‘Right,’ I think ‘get going.’ Starting though is the hard part. Starting takes the longest.
My laptop is waiting on the table, the wireless keyboard sits in front. ‘Just sit down,’ I tell myself. ‘Sit down and write.’ Instead I go to the kitchen, fill the jug with water and put it on to boil. I take a mug from the cupboard and heap in coffee powder and sugar. I think about what I could have to eat. Coffee is much nicer with a little something to eat. There’s no point trying to write on an empty stomach. And I should really check my emails too. Maybe I should quickly put on a load of washing. The floor could definitely do with a vacuum. I’ll get around to the writing, I will. I’ll just have this coffee and a couple of slices of toast, and then I’ll get to it.
My life is ordinary. I’m a typical mum in an average kiwi family. My husband works five days a week arriving home each night by 5:30pm, just in time for dinner. We sit together, the five of us, sharing a meal, talking and laughing and reminding the kids that they do need to be quiet every once in a while so they can actually eat something. It’s all so normal, just as my own childhood was normal. I suppose that is why the story I am about to tell is so surprising. In between the normalcy, were five long years of pain, of fear, of a deep, black depression in the grip of addiction. And yet somehow I clawed my way back. I rediscovered myself and I rediscovered life. There was a time when I didn’t think it was possible to recover and yet here I am. I’ve made it. Marriage. Children. A mortgage. A seven-seater van. A king sized bed. People who believe in me. There is love. And there is my writing here at the computer, where everything is quiet. My words begin to flow. There is life after P.
Mary finds that writing enables her to reflect on experiences and through reflection, gain insight and wisdom to share with others. She wants to capture the stories of family and friends with love and care to keep alive the essence of people in a family heritage, the shared culture and values and the choices made in the historical context of their lives.
When we moved to New Zealand I longed for the people and places of my early childhood; the walks along the River Tamar with catkins and pussy willow, the fields with red poppies, the Cornish coves, the beach at Looe with red valerian hanging from the craggy walls along the way, tall banks of primroses as high as a young eye could see, running with friends through the stinging nettles and seeking the curative dock leaves, striding through fields of long grasses hiding grass snakes, watching out for vipers on the village green, being loved by aunties and uncles who spoiled me with sweets and trips to every Father Christmas in town, and grandpa, who knew the best cure for a wasp sting was to read Alice in Wonderland. He gave me the book to read, passed down now through four generations. These were all the people and places I thought would always be there.
New Zealand was at the far end of the world, surrounded by ocean. I felt orphaned, alone, even though I had parents and brothers and sisters.
Then, after many years, I grew accustomed to Wellington and its bays, journeys around the coastline at the foot of steep hills, running up the Church St steps, along The Terrace, climbing hundreds of steps to houses perched on the hillsides to share music with friends.
And then another move, this time to Auckland, always feeling joy on the return to Wellington as the plane plunged to land between the hills, over the sea and rocks approaching the runway. And now a garden where family and friends meet, a bay tree hedge and olive trees to sling the hammock in summer, a haven created, anywhere in the world, where family and friends come together.
Please submit your story via the Contact page and it will receive a gentle edit from Deborah.