I am sitting here on a blue towel on the grass with the sun warming my back in my yard. I am very blessed to have a yard with fruit trees in it, big shady ones. I have a coffee on one side and a Schnoodle called Charlie snuggled in on my other side with this note book in my lap. Finally! I am back out on the grass with no noise other than some demanding magpies who sit like the judges off the Muppet show. I wonder what they are talking about, possibly me, gagging on about my pants and scruffy hair on a Monday morning. What were their names? Gotta love Google…Statler and Waldorf.
An apology is in order; it has been a few weeks since my last blog. I could sit here and write that my child has changed schools, a new range of candles has been launched into the stratosphere, I’ve had a sick relative, but it would all be excuses. Truth is I’ve had a bit of self-doubt. I am not great with small talk and can be a bit deep, and the stuff I am compelled to write about of late is confronting stuff, revealing stuff. I then ask myself who is even reading this anyway?…blah blah blah. That all came to a screeching halt when a very determined Redhead called Kate came to my house and demanded to know why I hadn’t published the said blog, I gave her my lame excuse and she gave me a swift verbal kick up the rump. (I so love my little big sister).
Since I was tiny I have loved stories. Narrative, language and “story” is a gift, this is something I’ve always felt. Stories affect people, somewhere somehow. I have stories in me, and I’ve always written them down. A great teacher who has published amazing books in Oz said to me once that the greatest stories are the ones that have integrity, come from the heart and ring true. For some crazy reason I still don’t quite grasp I have had a 2 remarkable saves and I’ve been able to stick around, this time waking up with a compelling urge to share my story. Every one has one; this is the really cool bit. There are BILLIONS of them!
When I think about what my tale feels like, it feels to me like hope, with bits of love in it and anyone that knows me will tell you that when I like something, or feel good, love or happy stuff I have to share it, I don’t save it for myself. It sends my loved ones crazy sometimes, (yes I Have the new Thermomix and yes I have shown just about everyone I know how quickly it whips up pavalova, and yes it does dry itself with a tea towel and makes hot wet rice)… But the big stuff, the life changing soul directing stuff I get shy about, and get filled with self-doubt about the sharing bit. I think there are so many people out there telling us all how to be, I don’t want to share my story as we wander and ponder together and think I am being all preachy and stuff. I’m not. So as long as we have that straight, I think we will be ok. This is just me telling you what happened, what happens now and if there’s a chunk of truth in it for you, a seed that makes you feel something then that’s really awesome. So shall we continue our walk together?
Death. Yup there is it. It’s a shocking word. There is something this word conjures into the human Psyche that has us reeling in horror, it yells GONE, it echoes NO MORE. Us or our loved ones fading like old flowers and crumbling away, or swept up fast with no warning like a tornado into Oz or nothing. There’s that word again. It feels empty and sad.
People that are terminally ill, there is nothing on this planet that prepares you for when a doctor tells you matter- of- factly there’s not much we can do for you, we can prolong your life maybe, but the outcome isn’t great. Because often that’s how it is said. I know. I’ve been in that room and sat at that table. Luckily I also got a doctor who gave me hope as well. Not making it was high on the list, ‘It’ just didn’t happen yet. I didn’t die and haven’t died. But we all do. Eventually we all do. But what if the GONE bit and the Forever bit wasn’t the case? What if – 100% we knew in our hearts and minds that this wasn’t correct?
I heard an amazing lady I listened to recently say that when she worked with people in palliative care over many years something became apparent. Many of those who were dying became calm; there was wisdom or “something” about them. From her perspective there was peace, or knowledge. When I was in hospital I was in with a man who was told the dire news that followed the script I said earlier. He literally had days and maybe weeks to live. We talked about it. For days the man was surrounded by loved ones going through their frantic motions, devastated and rocked beyond belief. It was tragic to witness. And he asked me how I was, what my outcome might be. He was as ‘Aussie” as you get, big, strong strapping middle aged-too young bloke, he fumbled with his words, trying to express them but the major resonating fact he couldn’t understand was the ‘clarity and calm’ he now felt. He felt really bad for those that loved him, and guilty that he was ‘putting them through this’ (I know that old chestnut really well), but he ‘weirdly felt ok with it?’
When you first get told “its not a promising outcome’ it does something monumentally huge to your processing of thought. Once you go there, there’s no going back. You cannot ‘unknown’ what you have learned. Its like an accelerated learning program that is force fed to you in such rapid succession to the point where you feel you will either 1) spontaneously combust or 2) break into a million little pieces 3) go into ridiculous safe passive mode. This part alone I could write PAGES and PAGES about, it’s like a never-ending gobstopper of experience.
Then comes Anger, hurtling down like a pissed off comet ready for maximum impact. I remember this clearly on several occasions. One type was spontaneous anger that had me wanting to throw eggs and plates. The other was inner child anger. I explained to Lothario that it was like a Big Party, the most epic party ever called Life, I had to go home while everyone else got to stay and have fun and that just wasn’t bloody fair. Then the calm comes. I stopped worrying about myself and started worrying about my loved ones. Especially my children.
Understand that getting to this point was intense; I don’t even know if there is a word for it to be honest. I get anxious enough leaving my kids with other people to look after for a weekend, let alone forever.
All of their most important milestones in life to come, what if this happened, what if that happened? Don’t forget to lock the doors and brush your teeth just turned into advising the remaining parent or loved one all your plans for your kids for the next 15 years. (I have been called a helicopter mother before and am a self-confessed worrywart). Pressure much? And this is all while you feel deep down that you actually will be okay, you are strong and you can come through it, hope is King. It’s an emotionally gravity defying process and often a complete paradox.
A counselor whom I also call friend and who is my Obi Wan Kenobi said to write my kids letters. Magical Advice. You hear about movies, videos and letters being made and it feels so beautiful and sad. The cool thing is for some reason, getting it on paper for your loved ones really helps to alleviate the anxiety, its more about healing and anxiety soothing than making a loving statement. For those in this non-enviable situation, I highly recommend doing this; the therapeutic value for mind, body and spirit is significant. You just tuck them away; no one needs to read them yet. If nothing happens, nothing happens. But it does lift a burden from your heart that is good for your self.
People just don’t lose hope easily, they really don’t. You hear so many people say “You just do what you have to”- This is because deep down Hope is our point of call when options are running low. I often thought it was an opportunity too good to pass up, the gift of telling the people you love exactly what you feel and vice versa. I still do and I did do this. You really should not wait to tell people how much you love them. But reality doesn’t always work like that. To share and say what you need can feel dramatic, and the last thing you need at a time of survival is more drama. What if you say that shit and you actually live? Then that could be awkward, there’s a dark comedy idea. Or the other option is that you already love everyone in your life within an inch of crazy and everyone knows it and feels it. There’s a thought. We come to another spot on the road here; another odd experience when mortality knocks…I knew. It was as thought a tap turned on and suddenly I could actually feel the love of others around me more. Like a cocoon of grace weaving around me. I KNEW I was loved because I could feel it. Like you know it’s a cold freaking day because the shiver on your skin and the goose bumps told you. Trust me when I say this isn’t because everyone tells you. Lots of people do tell you but then sometimes the exact opposite happens. People behave in the exact OPPOSITE way you think, now there’s a mind $%^%$.
How you ask?
What are the two biggest pre-cursors to not showing love? Fear and Death. Well you take these two tricksters and hold them in your hand for a bit, spend time with them, take them out for dinner and suddenly you have a bad romance on your hands which doesn’t allow any love in, being sick sometimes creates an antithesis for being loved. People can and do distance themselves on some level because of these companions. They like and love you and there’s some doctor saying there’s a fair chance you aren’t going to be around much longer so start disengaging…NOW.
I worked out eventually that this actually had less to do with me and more to do with them, their dose of fear. And the funny thing is everyone that loves you walks through that bog of stench with you all the time trying to adjust their own sails, because you unintentionally just affected the Fu%^ out of their lives and potentially might screw them up a little or a lot because of it. Some will be kicking and screaming, some will be calm and serene, some will be like angels. Even your nurses, doctors are affected or like me if you have an entire tribe, you are taking people along on your non-planned sudden journey to the left when everyone thought they were going to the right.
It was just after the anger and just before the whirlwind that the calm kicked in. I was comforting those around me, people kept saying “Stop worrying about us, you are the one who is sick.” But I am telling you in my experience and many of those I know and have spoken to, that a calm comes. That calm I spoke about earlier.
I have read countless stories of dying patients who become incoherent- talking to people who aren’t there, but becoming peaceful and almost excited. Not always, I know- not always. Some might argue that this calm etc. is due to a release of some pre-death hormone that brings comfort through survival instinct or biological event. There’s no proof of that. There’s no more proof in that theory than there is that unicorns are still alive and living in Africa, they simply lost their looks, got frumpy and now go by the name of Rhinoceros. Different perspective. Could it be true? Maybe?
I am no longer afraid of dying. There, I said it. Why? Okay this is where my beloved friends and family who are self confessed Atheists or folk who think this is ‘IT’ need to turn away quickly, EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AHEAD: Because something happened to me and some close people around me that day, that validated everything I thought I believed and turned into fact. I am telling you there is more to life than just here. It does NOT end here. I know. Will I share that here? It’s powerfully personal. As Forrest Gump once said “That’s all I have to say about that.” For now. I think everybody’s experience is different so going into detail gets away from the point.
Life does indeed go on. How? Don’t know. Sorry. But it does. The sooner people start to grasp that concept fear will be a less important hurdle, blocking point and we will start doing our ‘thing’. The concrete footpath we walk on called life becomes more shiny, the cracks look different, the people we walk with look different, possibilities become endless and we will flick the unnecessary fear off with a look thats like shoo-ing an old fly away. The grief and agonising horror we experience when a loved one is ‘lost’ becomes ‘unlost and not-so-far-away.’ Peace comes. And I don’t know about you but there have been times in life when I crave peace like water to a parched mouth.
Before Pythagoras people pondered as to why we didn’t actually fall off the edge of the flat earth, which then turned into ‘why we didn’t fall off a round earth?’ No one knew. Brains weren’t quite there yet; therefore the science to prove or disprove a theory wasn’t there yet. Either what I am saying is true or maybe I was affected by some crazy hormone release and am psychologically imbalanced but my assessment came back peachy and apparently I still fall into the “normal as can be expected” percentile.
And now I am here. I got to go to the Party a bit longer, or a lot longer, of which I don’t know. The gratitude I have for this is beyond a word. I don’t have it. I am absolutely completely unafraid of the process we call dying. However because I am abundantly human I don’t like being physically separated from my children or my loved ones I want to be here longer. For that I am hopeful.
“IT” has changed me irreversibly. As I said earlier you cannot unlearn this. It overflows into my life; it impacts on all of my decisions and choices. Infecting my life like a positive and weird Herpes and I didn’t even eat any frozen berries. (Bad humor-my bad). I can’t go around telling everyone what I have experienced, even though I feel like I’ve actually seen how the miracle works and want to yell it from every street corner, seriously have you seen some of the people that admit this stuff? They are whacked out and lose all credibility. I’m not ready to give that up just yet. I like my cred, it fits like a nice suit, whacked out I can handle, but cred? Nope.
I am LESS tolerant now, more impatient in odd ways. Not sure how that works. I am trying new things, and boring no longer sits well with me. A downside is my idea of ‘safe’ has changed massively. However I have to respect my loved one’s wishes and go a bit easy, even though I want to do the complete opposite. I have always tried to hide, in many things- in life. Hide away, don’t be too loud, don’t shine too bright, don’t, don’t don’t. This is where my old friend self doubt sometimes gets a leg in. The Don’ts are now fading into Why Nots? Shine as bright as you can, nurture your inner worlds, love people, find out more about yourself and those you love. Think, feel. And if you have been given “the news” please try some of the things I have mentioned, take peace in the fact that you are not alone, there are people just like you right now all over the world, find your calm place, a peaceful place, let yourself feel all the things you need to. It’s all a process. (And trust me you will get sick of the word ‘Process” just breathe through it if you can) You are loved. You are very much loved, and this is the reality. This really truly is- all the matters and counts. Allow the crazy to go on around you and try and focus on the love. I promise with all of my heart that you are not alone. I will leave you with that as I too take a big breathe from the sharing I have just spilled from my guts. Heavy stuff peeps.
To give you the back story- I wasn’t really keen to this event thing last week. I thought I was walking into some Motivational thingy of do this and do that high end business coaching, which I generally find very unappealing. I had heard a little bit about this lady and her work and was curious, but still reserved. Well that little preconceived idea got thrown out the window pretty quick. It turned out to be a whopping helping of soul food with a healthy sprinkling of inspiration that held a no-bull straight up framework, which I might add has stirred within me all week with loads of Ah-Ha moments that I have to say will most likely resonate with me for many years to come. If you ever get a chance to meet Heather or go to one of her events I would strongly encourage you to do so. Her name is Heather Yelland and she gets stuff.
Anyway, that’s it for me this week. Much love from this whacky candle-maker who writes too much. PS- I’ve been out here too long, sun is affecting my brain and the Schnoodle is looking at me with a concerned “Lassie” look.
PS- No I do not think the magpies are actually talking about me, it was my imagination.
PPS- No I am not crazy and yes I am allowed to drive a car.
PPPS; This is for Jacqui and anyone else that wants to read the next instalment of Short Naked Latte xx
‘Sometimes it was worth all the
disadvantages of marriage just to have
that: one friend in an indifferent world’
– Erica Jong
Fluorescent light gleamed down on the young man’s face, accentuating his stubble and few small pimples. His mouth opened wide and he looked uneasy. Jennie patted his arm.
“Don’t worry love, you’ll be fine. You’ve got the best dentist in Pinnebrooke” she said.
The young patient did his best at nodding with his head leaning back. He was a new patient and was in for some fillings. Jen suspected he had not been to the dentist in a very long time judging by his nervousness and number of holes in his teeth.
They had eight patients to get through, all surgical. Jen preferred a busy quick day to a long slow one. She hoped today would fly a bit quicker; the fleshy pad of her foot was sore after standing on a piece of glass last night. It was giving her ‘curry’ and it was only ten o’clock.
Jennie had worked at the clinic for the past 20 years and loved her job. When the children started school she had decided it was time to get back into the swing of working.
It did not take long.
Dr. Jones was an old family friend of her father’s and mentioned he was looking for someone to help him out in the office. He asked if she would be interested and she told him yes, but she would have to check with Cess first. The job started and lasted for another 20 years. Timothy Jones was a gem.
When Doc Jones announced his retirement he encouraged Jen to stay on with the replacement doctor. Jen met “the replacement” and knew his arrogance and demanding nature would wear thin. So she applied for a reception vacancy at Pinnebrooke Dental Clinic. Successful; she began her new career as a dental assistant.
Two months into the job along came Alec. On holidays from Sydney; he fell in love with the countryside in Pinnebrooke. Two months later he bought out the Pinnebrooke dental clinic; taking Jen on board as part of the package.
Jen wasn’t sure about him at first. She wasn’t too keen on city people. But after a cup of coffee and some conversation she decided to give it a go. He enlightened her with a quick wit and adorable manners. Alec was a lovely young man, and Jen became very fond of him. She mothered him constantly and they gave each other a bit of cheek, which always put a smile on the patient’s faces.
A year into their new team-ship she invited him to a family BBQ. He met Beth; two years later they married. So now Jen was his employee and his mother- in- law. Some would have raised their eyebrows at this; mother-in-law and new son-in-law? Working together? Must have rocks in their head. But they were the exception to the rule. A good healthy dose of respect kept the two occupations separate.
Jen could not have been happier for Beth and Alec. In fact she was elated with their courtship. Cess jibed her about it being a set up; she feigned innocence and told him to not be ridiculous. She was not going to admit that the thought occurred to her on more than one occasion. Beth was her baby, and like any mother Jen wanted a nice man for her girl.
Puzzled on why a city boy would want to give up the high life; Jen slowly realised how much Alec needed the country. He grew up in Sydney and experienced the full private education, wealthy parents, high expectations deal. Jen met his parents only twice, and at the wedding she still could not fully warm to them. They were very uppity and each time they stood outside they looked like they wanted to scrub their hands. Beth tried her best to form a relationship with them, but found it difficult; she was so down to earth and they thought they were ten storeys above her. Jen knew they were the ones missing out; however she concluded that they had brought up Alec; who was the opposite, so they couldn’t be too bad. Jen was disappointed they didn’t treat Beth like the gem she was.
Alec had started a successful practise in Bondi and was in the process of a messy relationship split. She was a girl Alec’s parents highly approved of. Her father was a partner in the Surgery unit Alec worked in. Two weeks later Alec’s younger brother was killed in a car accident. It seemed this was enough to open Alec’s eyes to the life around him. He took off for two months; driving around the Victorian countryside and stopped into Pinnebrooke for a night. He didn’t go back to Sydney.
The locals really took to him, which was a bit of a shock. Like most little towns you need to live there at least 15 years before being considered a local.
Alec and Beth were now expecting their first child, and Jen was thrilled. Her eldest son Tom was still a bachelor and her youngest son Kevin was dating a nice girl from Adelaide, but at this stage it was nothing serious.
Jen’s first grandchild was on the way and she had already started knitting. She knew that Beth and Alec would be wonderful parents. Bethy was a gentle girl and had always been very affectionate and instinctive. She was a naturally sunny person; always trying to see the world in a positive way. Jen thought she handled the pregnancy well after losing the last little one. Jen was desperately worried for her. Beth’s experiences had always been pretty sunny side up until then and to Jen’s surprise her girl proved to be much more resilient than anticipated. She handled it well and took time to grieve. When the next pregnancy was announced, Jen sensed apprehension. But this eased it seemed.
Now Beth complained a bit with aches and pains, but that was pretty normal stuff. At least it was going smoothly; unlike the last time.
They were getting another ultrasound in a few days and Jen couldn’t wait to see it. There was never anything like that when she had her children and to actually see this little life inside her daughter’s swollen belly would be amazing.
Cess was as excited as hell. He adored Beth, doted on her constantly and was not very good at hiding his favouritism. From the moment she was born he lost his senses each time she cooed or smiled. He loved his boys in a rough and tumble way, but you could see the magic when he spoke to Bethy. Jen always knew when it was Beth on the phone; Cess lit up like he had Tattersall’s on the end of the line.
Jennie hardly remembers when Cess lit up the same for her. Too long ago. The two of them played out a wonderful façade to everyone around them.
Her balding and grumpy husband had grown one too many hairs from his nostrils and ears. Cess enjoyed a multitude of indiscretions during their thirty-seven years of marriage. He acted as though Jennie never knew. Jen knew. She knew who the woman was.
She had been outraged and gutted when she discovered the tryst. The idea of Cess touching another woman or kissing another was a filthy feeling. The betrayal tore at her very core. She was his girl, his love and he took his love and put it with someone else.
But each day she didn’t confront him; the courage to walk out the door withered. The original passion with which she wanted to tear this woman’s eyes out was replaced by a disappointed denial. Ignorance and closing her heart to expectation was the only path that seemed bearable.
Marriage was forever. Warts and all. The idea of being a single mother with three children in 1985 was not attractive. Denial and the will to put her head down and keep going left her with one option: stay.
It all had its good and horrible sides. She had succeeded in remaining married and keeping her family together.
To her knowledge the children were oblivious to any of it. She worked very hard in maintaining a pleasant atmosphere in the house and always kept any animosity toward Cess behind her eyes. Pinnebrooke was a small place and she was sure there would be those that would know and talk about it. But it was important in a small town to keep your proud face on and walk tall, to which Jen succeeded nicely.
Even though their intimacy as a married couple failed; Jennie could see that in so many ways; staying married to Cess was worth the sacrifice. The kids grew up with a mother and a father, they’d been financially secure. Cess and Jen shared their children’s lives. They saw them walk for the first time, 21st birthdays, first cars, first boyfriends & girlfriends.
They had an indifferent companionship with each other. They were a habit of history.
The disease in their marriage started in their early thirties. Pregnancy took its toll on Jen. After three babies her firm and supple body softened and rounded. Her breasts; ample and upright had eventually become heavier and spongy. He wasn’t as attentive and she soon started to join the dots and worked out it was because he was no longer attracted to her. He didn’t want her anymore. She didn’t like herself, didn’t like what she saw in the mirror, so why would he? Actions spoke louder than words, and his actions were obvious to her.
With Cess’ long hours at the factory and her concentration on the children, Jen’s confidence and effort as a lover to her husband waned. In quiet moments of sadness she thought maybe her lack of libido was to blame for his infidelities. Her mother always said as a wife you needed to be “a cook in the kitchen and fancy in the bedroom” to keep your man from straying. Some part of her thought this was shallow and cruel, surely men weren’t really so fickle and physical? Surely love conquered a changing landscape in a marriage?
She saw him look past her when she was naked, where once he was impressed and eager to devour her. On outings she would see him admire younger women with a look that he once reserved solely for her. If she had a new hairdo or dress he would say “Oh that looks nice love”.
The weather was supposed to be bloody nice in Spain too.
Big kisses at the front door became dutiful pecks on the cheek. Like brushing your teeth and wiping your backside; their affection had become subconscious tasks. Attention to detail was apparently no longer required. She didn’t really miss the sex any more; apparently if you didn’t use it you did lose it. Jen didn’t think she was really missing out on all that much. Her kids were her life, and her work kept her busy and amused.
When she first touched on the subject of working all those years ago Cess demonstrated his contempt clearly; the idea of her flitting off to work in an office was ridiculous.
“It’s not the done thing Jennie, your job is here with the children. Who will cook the meals? Who’ll take care of the house and keep the boys under control, and anyway what about Beth? She needs her mother around!” he stormed.
Jennie had turned and walked up very close to him, looking him straight in the eyes.
“I will be working while they are at school. I will be home when they get home. I will still keep up with my chores here. And besides, it will keep me busy. It will keep me OCCUPIED. Which I am sure Cess, you would appreciate.”
After this last comment, Cess grumbled something and went to the pub.
That was the end of the subject and Jen started work the following week. Cess accepted her new position with a few rumbles and little argument and soon got tired of being rejected from their bed.
Now they had separate bedrooms. When Beth enquired about their sleeping arrangements Jen was quick to put it down to “your father snores like a sack of grunting koalas.” Beth accepted this with laughter and joked about it with her brothers. Cess went along with it all. Unspoken truths kept the blackmail alive.
Then last week her world tipped on its axis.
She was stocking up on pressies for Christmas at the yearly bush market; and ran into no other than Vicki Buxley. THE woman.
In the 1980’s Victoria Buxley was an extremely voluptuous sultry blonde; desired by every man in a 20 k radius of Pinnebrooke. She had a reputation to match and was renowned for her prowess in the bedroom. Vicki was also one of Cess’ close friends in the sack some 20 years before. There were whispers and flurries of gossip all around town. Vicki left town shortly after and Jen did not see her until now.
As Jennie stood at the shop counter she glanced over the road.
Surely not. That can’t be.
“I just read your mind!” said the lady beside her. Jennie turned to see Mrs.Gerta Bridges looking at her through steel glasses. “Yes that is her, the notorious Victoria Buxley.”
Jennie did not reply, she flustered and left the store, looking over at her nemesis.
Vicki Buxley was now some one hundred kilos of greying wrinkly woman with missing teeth and what looked like a dodgy hip. Jen knew that fushcia lipstick and those leopard print leggings anywhere. Those Double D perky’s were belly button warmers now. Her once blonde bouffant hair was straggling and flaying in the wind like a crazy person. Cellulite tuckshop lady arms dangled like aged orange peel about her sides as she flicked through an outdoor clothing wrack.
Jennie pretended she did not see her and quickly darted back to her car, bags in tow. As she got to the privacy of the rear car park; Jen briefly looked around to make sure she was out of eyeshot. Then she did a victory dance. Plastic bags flapping around her stockinged legs, arms flapping joyfully.
Bob Maxwell, the bottle shop attendant saw her.
“Happy with your bargains are you Jen?” he was laughing.
“Something like that Bob!” yelled Jennie. Her face grew hot at his discovery of her happy little jig.
So Victoria Buxley had turned into a beefer. Beth often talked about Karma, and Jennie guessed this was what she was on about. Haha, the lovely luscious Victoria Buxley was a big fat old beast.
Jennie sat in her car and comprehended what had just happened. Then it hit her. Her joy evaporated as quickly as it had appeared. Absolute and utter shame. She was sitting here more than 2 decades later having a happy dance over another woman. She was actually sitting here taking pleasure in judging another woman’s unfortunate appearance. She internally argued with herself, she was entitled. That woman stole her husband.
You aren’t any oil painting anymore either Jennifer. She didn’t steal him, you still have him. Well you are married to him, you don’t have him, he isn’t a car…He’s a man. Yes that’s right, a stinking lying filthy fickle man who turned from you to her. He wasn’t getting any, you got fat. It’s all relative now isn’t it? He’s bald, she’s fat and I’m happy… As it should be. Hmph.
Now a whole week had slipped by and Jen was still thinking about it, the satisfaction soothing like a tabby scratching its back against warm bark.
As Jen helped the young man rinse his mouth in the dentist chair, Alec noticed the large grin on her face.
“What are you smiling about there Jen?” asked Alec amused.
“Nothing young man, nothing at all” said Jen.
“You look like a cat that swallowed the canary” said Alec.
“No my darling, just an old woman with some vindication” she replied.
As Jen walked out to reception to finalise the patient’s visit, Alec tilted his head in confusion. He wondered what that was all about.
Jen wanted so badly that night to taunt Cess. To tell him his bimbo Vicki must have eaten one two many Easter eggs in the past few decades. They had never, not once spoken of it. Now it burned in her like an inferno ready to explode.
She stood at the stove, stirring gravy. Her irritation caused her to move from foot to foot. She was on her third glass of Red wine and it wasn’t working. She felt twitchy and agitated. She was irritated with herself, for letting it all get to her after so many years. Her thoughts bounced erratically. Why had this resurfaced? Why was Victoria back in Pinnebrooke? Why couldn’t Jen just forget about it? It hadn’t bothered her for 20 years or more, why now? Who gave a shit really?
Cess walked into the room and sat roughly at the table, he kicked his boots off and put them on the chair next to him.
“When’s dinner ready?” He grumbled.
Jen took another swig of her wine.
“Dinner will be bloody ready when I say it is. Don’t put your bloody boots on the chair, for God’s sake Cess” she snapped.
Cess looked up at her in total shock.
“Well, what’s your problem tonight? I was only asking” he responded.
Jen swung around and threw the wooden spoon in the sink. She turned to face Cess.
“My bloody problem is you Cess. You are my problem, you and your stinking boots and your come-in-here-demanding-tea is my problem” she stormed.
“Don’t worry about tea then, if that’s your attitude. Bloody women!” He flung back from the chair and headed for the door.
“I saw your old girlfriend today” she said quietly to his turned back. She lent on the sink behind her. Her bare feet felt icy against the polished floorboards and she pulled her cardigan tightly around her front.
Cess stopped in his tracks. He did not turn around. He stood still with his arms by his side, one fist clenched tightly.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“You know exactly of WHOM I am talking about” said Jen, the wine was starting to kick in now and she was over all of this. “Victoria Bloody Buxley” she added, the sarcasm etched into her voice like steel.
“God you talk some hogwash Jen, you really do. I’m going out to wash the car, I will come back when you are over yourself and whatever it is you are going on about.” Cess started to walk again.
Jennie walked over, picked up the saucepan of gravy and through it into the sink. The clatter reverberated through the kitchen like a brittle bomb.
“AM I CESS? AM I REALLY FULL OF SHIT?” she yelled at him. Her body felt totally alien, absolutely blistering with anger.
“You might like to know; she’s certainly not the stunner she once was. Very unfortunate looking creature now, overweight, tarty. Pretty gross actually” Jen seethed.
Cess swung around, his face contorted with anger.
“What are you playing at woman? I do not know what stupid idea you have in your God-forsaken head, or what the hell you are insinuating but you might want to give it a rest” he returned, his finger pointing at her.
“Don’t talk shit to me. That’s all we do isn’t it? You and me? We pretend, talk crap for the sake of the kids, ignore each other. Well now, it’s going to stop, it’s time to stop playing stupid games and lying. What do we have left Cess? Huh? You tell me, c’mon. The kids have left now, so what happens when we both retire? Then what? Silence, silence and more silence? This BULLSHIT silence and things never being talked about? Well, I have a news flash for you Cess, I won’t have any of it!” she yelled at him and could actually feel her whole body shake with rage.
“Oh ok, I get it, you want a blue do you? Is that what you want? A bloody blue over silence? What are you trying to do?” he took two steps toward her and pointed his finger at her chest. “What EXACTLY are you trying to do?” he growled at her.
“I want the truth” she replied. “That’s all Cess, I want the truth. Surely after all these years and after everything you have done, I deserve the truth” her voice softer now and firm.
“You want the truth” he swung around and walked toward the window. “She wants the truth” he said to the air, his arms dangling wildly by his side.
“Okay, I will give you the truth. The truth is, when those kids were born, I was like air. Nothing but bloody air. I didn’t exist anymore, you, you would look right past me like I didn’t ever exist. I couldn’t talk you, I couldn’t touch you ANYMORE” he boomed.
“Oh right, so you thought once the sex was gone and the after baby fat kicked in it was ok to betray me and take what we had with a floosy like that?” she interrupted, spluttering.
He glared at her, his face glowering dark purple, the veins in his temples pulsating. His entire body was tensed like a snake ready to strike.
“I NEVER HAD SEX WITH HER! And you, you sit there and accuse me of that? Of being with someone else? You never gave a shit after you had the kids, you wouldn’t have even noticed if I was here or not” said Cess.
“They were your kids too! Other than Beth, you didn’t pay any attention to the boys, half the time it felt like I was raising them myself, always off at the pub, shagging some thing you came across” she screamed.
“Yes Jen, yes they are my kids. But newsflash! I couldn’t get close enough to them with you around, you wouldn’t let me even hold them half the time. You were so bloody hostile. A complete stranger. Have the kids, then BANG! No more us. And stop the crap about me sleeping with other women, what a load of absolute rubbish!” Cess angrily put his hands to his head and paced kitchen floor, shaking his head slowly in disbelief.
“Bullshit Cess, don’t come the innocent with me. You didn’t want me anymore, you made that obvious. And everyone knows you were with her, the WHOLE BLOODY TOWN knew! How do you think that made me feel?”
Cess turned and looked at Jen. He dropped his hands to his side.
“They do, do they? The whole town knows what? Saw what? A moment? Why do you think she left town Jen? The innuendo, the bullshit this town makes up and my wife swallows. I rejected her for Christ’s sake!”
“So Cess, you admit it then, you did have a thing with her” Jen demanded.
“Ok, you want the truth? I will tell you the truth you so desperately want to hear. Vicki liked me, she liked me, bald head at the pub, the whole deal.”
“Oh here we go” Jen interrupted.
“DON’T interrupt me! She paid attention to me, she made me feel special, and she was a nice lady. She tried to kiss me at a work function and you know what Jen? You know what? I wanted to. I WANTED TO KISS HER BACK!” he yelled.
Jennie gasped, she felt like he had just slapped her face. Her bowel felt like it dropped to her ankles. Here it was now, out in the cool truthful air. The truth. She wanted to run out of the door right now. Run and keep running.
“But I didn’t. That’s right, your good for nothing scumbag husband didn’t. I rejected her. I walked away and never spoke to her again. And she left town. END OF STORY! So you can take your gossiping bullshit you have heard and hung on to and wear it like a fricken necklace if you want to, but I will be lies yer wearin,” he stomped through the kitchen door and out the back.
Jen stood at the sink stunned. She felt momentarily stuck to the bench. She heard the back door slam shut.
Oh shit, do I go out there? Do I leave? Do I even bloody believe him? How did this all happen?
She stood there for what felt like hours rather than minutes then turned and started washing the gravy stained saucepan. Her clothes felt too tight, the air felt too thick. Anger started to build up again as she thought of his yelling and hostility. SHE was the one who had been betrayed. She wasn’t at the pub, she was at home looking after their babies, she was respectable, honest and decent. He had no right, no right whatsoever.
She walked purposefully to the back door ready to verbally pounce, then stopped.
Cess sat before her on the back step. His head resting in his hands, his shoulder’s hunched over.
He was crying.
In all the 38 years of marriage Jen had never seen Cess cry. Watery eyed yes, but cry, no. His shoulders gently shook, as he sat sobbing. She paused, she was totally dumbstruck with what to do next. She had never seen this, she didn’t know what to do.
She stepped forward and sat next to him on the step. She did not touch him. She put her hands on her knees.
He sensed her and tried to stop the tears.
“I was never taught. I wanted to, I wanted to hold them so badly, but they were so tiny and fragile, like glass. I thought I would break them, and you were so precious to me. I was scared that after having the kids, I might break you too” he said so softly in between the tears that poured down his face.
“What do you mean?” asked Jen, she was confused. Who was this man sitting beside her?
“I thought you didn’t love me anymore, didn’t need me anymore. You had the boys and you were so hostile and cold. I thought I must have done something terribly wrong, or you must have thought you made a mistake marrying me, I just didn’t have the guts to ask. I didn’t have the courage to ask, because I thought you might leave. And I couldn’t bear that Jen, I could never bear that” he sobbed again.
Jen felt like her own heart was crumbling. The world she had clung to for most of her life was now falling away like a broken jigsaw puzzle.
“You didn’t tell me that Cess. You never told me that. I thought you didn’t love me anymore, weren’t attracted to me anymore. You didn’t show me any love, you didn’t give me anything” she said quietly and gently touched his back.
“I swear to you on our kids’ lives, I swear to you on everything I have never been unfaithful to you, not once, not ever. You were beautiful to me then and you are beautiful to me still. All I ever wanted was you.”
Jen put her closed fist to her mouth and started to cry. She squeezed her eyes closed tightly as the pain ripped through her chest.
“I don’t know how to love right Jen, I don’t know how” he cried softly and rocked.
She turned to her husband and they wrapped their arms around each other. The tears followed their course and they held each other.