Monday, October 12, 2009

In the face of it - peace

It is strange how normal life proceeds in the face of death. Valued Opinions sends another survey:

Hi Penelope,

We have a new survey available for you to take. If you qualify and complete the survey you will receive $1.50.

Survey topic: Consumer Goods

I want to ring them. I want to say 'Don't you know someone has died? How can I care about consumer goods? What is the point of $1.50, in all this world with all its pain and loss?' I quietly delete the email.

On Friday evening, after a long day holding it together at uni, in the company of people who did not know him and have failed utterly to notice his absence, my children fight at the dinner table. I hurry to assure them my tears aren't because they are fighting. I am crying because we live now in a house of grief, and I don't know how to find the time and space for it, or give them the time and space they need. Our house is small and suddenly feels crowded. Everyone grieves in their own way. We spend a weekend outdoors in the sun. It seems important. Carrying Una back to the car along a bush track, she leans her check against my shoulder and says, 'I'm sad about Papa.' We talk about what we miss most. Fred says his jokes. She is the only one. Miles told terrible jokes. But I will miss the way he told them. Thinking about the glimmer in his eye makes me smile. Fred has inherited Miles's love of jokes.

The phone rings, emails appear, I go to uni, I buy groceries. Life goes on. Things proceed as usual. As I write this post the phone rings again. It's Kate. And she tells me Josie and the Michael Street Kids has been shortlisted for the Children's Peace Literature Award, along with her book Winter of Grace. I am so happy for her. I am happy for us. I am happy for Josie, such a small book out there amongst giants, a quiet book about the power of stories to connect people together and to heal broken hearts. A story about our own personal maps, how we inscribe ourselves on the places we live, and how they inscribe themselves on us. A story about the last days of childhood, on the cusp of the long hot summer that marks the year between primary and secondary school. If this book has put some peace out there, into the world, then my heart is overwhelmed for a moment with joy.


  1. I found myself getting emotional as I read this. I sympathise, and I wish I could help make it better.

    Sending you all my love x

    And congratulations on 'Josie's' news. Well done

  2. I'm very sorry for your loss, Penni.

  3. I'm sorry about your father-in-law Penni. It's incredible how the world just keeps on rushing by, and how ridiculous that mad dash can suddenly seem. Ameel lost his mum almost five years ago now, but it's still baffling that she's not there to talk to. Lots of love to you and Martin, Fred and Una, and congratulations on the nomination.

  4. i'm sad about your loss, penni. i've been thinking about you. x

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