What really matters

My eldest daughter turned 12 today.  There was a time when it was very unlikely I would see this day, or certainly, see it feeling relatively well as I do now.  The day before yesterday, when she still had two days left of being 11, she came and got into bed with me when her dad left for work.  She tucked her body into mine, her head level with mine, her feet…level with mine.  She was caught in that strange world between childhood and burgeoning teenage-hood.   She plays less and less childhood games with her sisters, I mean, she has to be REALLY bored nowadays to wade into a game of mums and dads, and she spends much of her time on her iPad chatting to her mates about netball and bands, as do many children her age.  But she still needs to press her body against her mums when mum has been out of her sight for a few nights, and she still brings her battered teddy with her that she has had since she was three.  Last year, she went on camp and she lost “Ted”….she thought she had left her there and for weeks she was desperately sad, while wanting to acknowledge that she was too old to need a teddy anyway.   A few weeks later we were going away and she shook out her sleeping bag and Ted (who is a GIRL) was in the bottom.  The delight and the relief was touching and genuine and she has found her place next to her in bed again.  And, I am glad.  I will hang on to what is left of this first baby of mine, with all my might, before the world makes her a little less mine.

I did a lot of reflecting while away in Sydney and Brisbane, about how different I am now.  I was wondering to myself whether the book launches being over (though there will certainly be more book publicity and excitement), and the writing “work” on it being done would leave me on a bit of a downer.  I mean, it’s a big thing to come “down” from, months of excitement, having a dream of a book with your name on the cover come true, being interviewed by Australia’s biggest current affairs show, meeting celebrities, having a three week family holiday, getting on and off planes like they were buses, being picked up at airports by privately engaged cars that had drivers that met me with signs with my name on it.  Staying in magnificent hotels, having wonderful authors and celebrities and friends make beautiful speeches about ME, meeting people I have wanted to meet for years and some I have only known for months, or moments, but meant just as much to hug and have in front of my very eyes.  Standing in the middle of a massive Sydney bookstore and seeing your book prominently displayed.  Being introduced as “the author”.  Finding myself in a bookstores “top 10″.  Having hundreds, and hundreds of friends post photos of themselves with my book on facebook page.  Messages of love and encouragement and love for the book.   I mean, how does one “come down” from that?

But, as it happens, I didn’t find it very hard at all.  I knew that this past week especially was the best one I was going to have for a while, with chemo starting again Monday and not knowing how the new regime will impact my tidy plans for my life I am currently making.  Outside of trials, this regime is my last “powerhouse” line of defence against this cancer, and I would be lying if I said that didn’t scare me.  But it doesn’t (and I was worried it would while I was away) consume me.  I truly have become adept at living in the moment, and all of those moments I listed above were enjoyed for what they were, and not mourned when they were over.

I had a night in my hotel room alone on the first night in Brisbane, not that I noticed it much as I fell asleep on top of the bed still half clothed, after a day that started in Melbourne recording a podcast with Meshel Laurie, and ended in Brisbane after a packed and emotional book launch event.  The next day, Gaz met me in Sydney and we got a gorgeous night without the kids at the quirky QT and enjoyed my second launch in two nights.  The next day we flew down George St to Circular Quay and then I popped him in a taxi to the airport and I went and had a massage at the very classy day spa and then a 1.5 hour bath with a glass of wine.  I did some authoring stuff with Kelly in the afternoon, visited a friend in hospital, and then returned to the QT for a night of blissful aloneness in the lap of luxury.  I took myself to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and then slipped in between the huge thread count sheets and turned on a truly diabolical movie (San Andreas….for fucksake don’t do it to yourself), and I was just drifting off to sleep when the phone rang.  It was my girls.

Indi burst forth first “Mum, I have taped both episodes of The Bachelor. DON’T YOU DARE WATCH IT”, wait until you get home and we can watch it together and have a snug.  By the way, I’ve seen the ad for home visits, it’s going to be INTENSE!”

Then Dakota “mum, omg this is exciting you are not going to believe this but you know how it is my birthday on Saturday and I am playing in the netball grand final and it’s the Baxter market day well I just found out that Bianca Chatfield is going to be at Jubilee Park on Saturday on MY BIRTHDAY omg you have to take me to see her or I will die” (believe me, it pained me to do that without punctuation, but that is how it all came out, in a big rush!)

Tana got on the phone, crying “Mama, I just need to be with you”…and I had to assure her many times that she would be with me really soon, while fighting my own tears and wondering how she will cope when she can’t be with me at all.  But then I said no, that hasn’t happened, and you don’t know when it will and you haven’t lost that yet, neither has she.

Georgia, well she didn’t say much, but I am told she smiled when she heard me on speaker phone.

Those are the moments I have come back to, and they are the ones that matter.   Everything else is just a bonus.

No pics in this post, I just wanted to get it down, while the feelings were fresh, and I am returning to my moments.  There is a roast in the oven, a Freddo Frog cake for dessert, and the birthday girl gets to pick a movie to watch on the big screen.

I hope that there is someone nearby who loves you….if so, step away from your screen, and go and have your moments that matter.

8 Comments on “What really matters

  1. I love all your posts Julia… And of course your book! But I especially love your last line, about stepping away from the screen & going to enjoy “moments that matter” with loved ones ❤️❤️❤️
    So very true !
    Thanks for keeping it real xxx

    PS – good luck for Monday – will be thinking of you.

  2. Hi Julia, I’ve been reading your post for many months now, at first it was via Sandy Mittens posts, I’m new to FB only been on it since February and still not very savvy with it but l manage, sometimes after a few choice words l find you. I really don’t know what to say to someone l don’t know in person, except through your post, l feel like you are an old friend, so honest, so raw at times but Julia you are just so amazing and courageous. I’m still trying to find a copy of the book and when l do l know it will be as amazing and l wont be able to put it down. I truly believe you will be here to see many more of your Fairies and Fellas birthdays and all those other wonderful mile stones in life. Take care Julia, a huge XOXOXO Veronica Banen-Blumfield 💕

  3. Oh Jules, another gem from you!. I love that last line, and the line before that and the line before that….You are nailing the important things in life and smartly side-lining all that stops you from truly enjoying the moment.
    I want to live the way you do. Thanks for your trailblazing ways. XXXX

  4. You write so beautifully Julia. I admire you resilience and living in the moment attitude. Your book launches sound awesome.
    The QT is very very quirky.
    I’m going to lie down with your book tonight.

  5. Im crying like a baby Julie. You inspire me more and more everyday. I haven’t met you but I feel like I have xx

  6. What a beautiful way to end a post. Hugs to you and yours, while I go off to hug those who matter. Wishing you much strength today xx

  7. You are just awesome.
    Your kids are just so real and grounded. You and Gaz have done a great job with them.
    I hope the party was an extraordinary success and that Chemo goes well for you.
    We have a friend up in Brisbane who is into his third round of his battle with prostate cancer. Treatment two weeks ago was a bit of a strain, but last week’s was so much less revolting. So, we are hoping this week goes like week two as well. Hopefully yours will do its thing too.
    Fuck Cancer.

  8. Such a beautiful post and you are right, they are really what matter and everything else is just a bonus – a beautiful heady bonus it’s true, but still just a bonus. Stepping away from the screen right now and hugging my loved ones! I hope it has gone well for you this week xx

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