Memory Keeper’s Daughter

I recently read the book “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards. Have you heard of it? It is a gut-wrencher.

The basic gist is that in 1964 a Dr’s wife gives birth to twins. A perfect boy, and a down syndrome baby girl. Only the wife doesn’t know there are twins, as she is gassed up and almost completely out of it. Dr. Henry, noticing at once the DS, passes her to the nurse that has helped with the delivery on this snowy, wintery night, the only other person there, and asks her to take the girl to an institution. That was just what was done in those days.

In a split second decision, he tells his wife the little girl died. He thinks this will spare her the grief and pain of having to raise a child who will be ridiculed by society and will, one day in the not too distant future, pass away from DS complications. He lost his own sister when she was just 12 years old and saw the toll it took on his parents.

He is a good man, who thinks he is doing the right thing. But when his wife falls into a deep depression over the loss of her daughter, and plans a memorial for her, he starts to realise he’s done the wrong thing.

Meanwhile, the nurse who has taken Phoebe to the institution, cannot bring herself to leave the baby girl in this awful place. She leaves town and takes the baby with her, raising her as her own until she is in her late teens/early 20s.

The book is a parallel tale of 2 childhoods. The affluent Dr, his disturbed wife and their son, and the caring nurse and her baby girl, who is different to the rest of the world and treated as such. It is a great book in that it makes you think about the choices you make, the reasons you make them, and how things may not always be as simple or work out for the best as you hope they are or will.

There are so many feelings in this book I can relate to. But the greatest of them is the Nora Henry’s sense of fear. Fear that she will lose her son. She lost her daughter, why couldn’t it happen again? I have never lost a child. But the fear of something happening to me, my husband or my son, is very real for me. There are times he leaves our place with my mum, or we leave him at her place, and for a fleeting second my stomach sinks, worrying “What if…”. It is an awful, awful way to live.

My husband and I are going away for 2 nights for our 5 year wedding anniversary. Our son is staying with Nanna. That’s fine, he’s stayed with her before. But he’s never stayed 2 nights, and we’ve never gone 2 hours away without him. We’ve never gone ONE hour away without him! It will be in the back of my mind just how far away we are the whole time we’re gone. And I’m sure I’ll check on him at least 2x a day.

So how do we learn to not think/live like this? I’d love to know.

2010 Review

In keeping with tradition, I’ve decided now would be a good time to write my 2010 review. Even though there’s technically still 10 more days left in the year.

I started the year off on anti-depressants for post-partum depression. I really found they helped a LOT without giving me any nasty side effects. I could still feel emotion, but the daily thoughts and struggles that used to make me want to stay in bed were gone. I didn’t stay on them long, but I’m glad I went on them and was lifted out of the fog. I know some people aren’t as lucky to have medication work so well, so quickly for them.

In April I shot 2 weddings, my very first 2, and they both went well. In July I followed that up by shooting my sister’s wedding. I really enjoyed it, and while its still something I’d love to do for a living one day, accumulating photography equipment is an expensive endeavor and this just isn’t the right time.

(side note: I’m going back through  my blog to help me remember what happened this year and I didn’t even blog in April, June or July!)

My mother-in-law and one of my brother-in-laws spent a few weeks out here mid June to early July and had a great visit. I’m so glad they got to see where we are living, and meet our family and friends here. It was fun to visit Sydney with them and do all the touristy things on the Gold Coast like feed kangaroos and cuddle koalas, etc.

My sister and I mended our relationship after more than 2 years of not speaking. It was definitely a message from above, as about 6 months later, we lost our dad. It was a complete shock and not at all expected. For the 3 of us sisters to be able to support each other through that has been a huge comfort.

So the month of October passed in very much of a blur, and I am glad I made a few posts in that month and talked about the anger, confusion, grief that I was going through. I think its the only way I’ll remember what I felt. The only thing I remember vividly is my sister telling me he was gone and the denial and shock and literally breathlessness I felt in that moment. I remember like it was yesterday. Some days, it might as well have been yesterday.

November I decided to do a 30-day blog challenge in the hopes that it would get me back into blogging. In some respects it has worked, as I’ve written a few blog posts since the challenge. But I still find myself often with nothing to say or write about. For the last few months, well, since dad died really, I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself. I can’t seem to stop thinking that I have been given the short end of the stick, and have a rough lot in life. It’s only been the last couple of days, since I found Lara Casey, that my mind, my attitude and my outlook on life has really started to change.

Throughout the year, I managed to complete my graduate certificate in business, and did so earning 3 distinctions and a high distinction. Now when I am feeling ready to complete my masters degree, I should be able to get into any program I want. But until then, I’m going to take a little bit of a break.

I also switched jobs, after being made redundant when Palm Meadows closed. It was a blessing in disguise for me as I have ended up working at a place where the staff and members are so great to work for and be around. I’m very lucky!

I hope that 2011 is going to be full of positivity, happiness, good thoughts and feelings, and really focusing on enjoying life, rather than moping about everything that is wrong with it. I think as long as I keep finding inspiration, and keep reminding myself that if you want to be surrounded by positive, happy people and things, you have to be positive and happy yourself.

Australia Vs USA

There are several differences between Australia and the US that we’ve noticed since moving here. Its mostly small things, but they’re small things that can take a lot of adjusting to. Here are some examples:

Cell phones are called mobile phones and their plans are completely different to those in the states. It costs more to call a mobile phone, but it doesn’t cost anything to receive a call on your mobile. Our plan is what they call a “cap” plan. Meaning I pay $49 a month for my phone and I get $300 worth of calls and txts for the month. If I go over the $300 worth of calls, etc. then I am charged on top of the $49. Seems complicated, but really its not. I don’t think I’ve gone over the cap since we’ve had them, so I’ve paid $49 a month. Mike is on a $29 cap, but he knows far less people to call, and his phone includes Skype and 4000 free minutes of Skype calls.

You can pay anyone directly from your bank account, regardless of what bank they’re with. We pay our rent by making a transfer from our account, to my mum’s account, once a week. We are with the same bank she is, but even if she was with another bank, we’d still be able to do it, so long as we have her account info.

Internet plans. Yes, you need a PLAN for your internet. Its not like you pay $60 a month and you’re connected and good to go. Internet plans give you a limited number of megabytes or gigabytes of data usage. You can get 2 gb of data usage over a slow connection, or over a faster connection, or you can get 50+ gb. You pay more the faster the speed and the more usage. We’ve found one provider who will give you unlimited access for as little as $50 a month, but its very slow, or faster unlimited for $100 a month.

We don’t have cable (or “pay” as its called here) TV, because we can’t really justify the expense yet. I’m not going to get my TNT with Law & Order reruns, so there’s not much point. Everything we watch is on basic TV.  But Foxtel, one of the providers, just got the tivo/dvr equivalent. They call it “PVR” (personal video recorder). I’m not sure if it works exactly the same or if its a little different.

Back on the subject of our bank, while being able to pay anyone or anything directly from our account is neat, it is NOT neat that there are practically NO stand-alone banks, and no drive-thru ATMs. It is a royal hassle to get cash out. Basically, you get it out when you get groceries, or if you go to the mall you get it out then. Because there’s no other quick place to get it from. And they charge you to make more than 5 bill-pays online a month, that sucks too. But you can open a sub account with them that earns 6.5% interest.

Fast food…it may sound GOOD that there are few fast food options, but it, too, can be inconvenient. The closest fast food to where we live is 15 minutes away and its McDonalds. Your fast food choices in Australia are Subway, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Red Rooster, Noodle Box or fish and chips, if you count that.  There is no Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Atlanta Bread Company or Wendys (well, there is, but its an ice cream shop).

Going out to dinner is a once-a-month occurrence, rather than a 3-times-a-week occurrence. It is nice to eat at home, though, and its much too expensive to go out to eat a lot here anyway. It will be especially nice when we move into the townhouse and Mike is 2 seconds away from work. This afternoon we sat in traffic and I was highly irritated by the time we got home. I thought we left Atlanta to get away from crap like wasting time in traffic!

I’m sure there are more things I could add to the list, but those are the ones that we’ve noticed the most so far.

Some things, however, seem to be constant across the world…like bad drivers. There are some major IDIOTS on the roads here, just like in Atlanta!!  People are still inconsiderate, kids still have poor manners, companies still treat their employees like crap (but most have decent holiday plans!), and really, no matter where in the world you live, you have problems. I thought moving here would be the answer to everything, but it has come with its own downfalls. But being so close to my family with baby Nicklas on the way more than makes up for it all. Its just interesting to think that I had the Gold Coast and Australia in general on this pedestal, and it hasn’t quite lived up to it. We’ll see how the next 6 months go, maybe it can still make it up to me!