When I was a kid, my little brother used to follow me around the house asking me questions. “Why?!” he would say. “Just because.” I would reply, my nose buried in some how-to manual or Gerald Durrell novel. “Why?” “Because!” “But why?!!!” “I said BECAUSE!!!!”. It would go on and on, driving my mother absolutely demented.
Well this Christmas was a pretty existentialist one. Why? Because.
The day before Christmas Eve, Mark and I had taken the kids to a circus in Melbourne and we were driving home when I received a call from Sean. “Mooom.” he said. He sounded really groggy and strange. “Mom I’m really hurt. I had an accident on my bicycle.” “Are you going to be ok Sean?” “I don’t know Mom.” And then this lady came on the phone and said “Hi, your son is covered in blood on the side of the road, no cars were involved but I need to take him to hospital now.” We didn’t have time to think and just sprang into motion, calling our neighbour Tony who was down the road to pick Sean up and turning the car around and heading for Frankston Hospital.
Sean ended up needing 3 operations and 2 nights in hospital between then and Christmas Day but thankfully nothing major was damaged, except for his face which needed plastic surgery having 3 deep gashes and 4 smashed front teeth which require root canals over the next few weeks. He looked like a huge wet mess though.
Once word got out about Sean’s accident, everyone kept on texting me, why? How? Sean doesn’t remember skidding or hitting anything. What we do know is that the two metal front spokes that attach the wheel of the bike to the frame appear to have had a manufacturing defect that made it snap. He went over the handle bars and hit the road on his face, making impact with his helmet, cheek and chin. Thank goodness for that helmet.
Sean’s biological mother and her family flew down from Hong Kong on Christmas Eve to see him arriving at 2 a.m. in the morning on Christmas Day and we checked Sean out of ER at 9 a.m. sharp. after the kids had opened their presents. Dylan rushed in and gave him a very solemn hug. All the damage is on the other side of Sean’s face so you can’t really see it in the photo below, other than his swollen lips.
It wasn’t a perfect, Kumbaya, Martha Stewart Christmas by any means. Christmas was a maelstrom of driving to the hospital, buying last minute presents, wrapping things, carrying on with our Christmas eve party for 17, frantically making guest beds and moving furniture around and runs to the pharmacy, cooking for two families, cleaning more crap than you can believe, dogs getting into the rubbish and kids going batshit crazy everywhere. Every two hours Sean’s wounds needed to be swabbed and sluiced, every four hours he needed to take a cocktail of meds.
Dylan watched three episodes of Eloise when things were crazy busy and I was feeling sort-of-but-not-really-guilty about using the TV babysitter but then again she tottered out of the TV room and pronounced “Christmas is about sharing and caring for your friends and family.” and went off to check on Sean. Which it really is when you think about it.
So shit happens and you ask the universe Why? But the answers are as changeable and subtle as the wind.
Because on one level this was a horrible, terrible, no-good Christmas but yet within it Sean had one of his biggest wishes come true – that he could spend family with both of his families instead of having to choose.
Because Dylan saw Sean’s mangled bike but she still said that she wanted to learn how to ride anyway.
Because Finn made a new best friend in Sean’s little half-brother from Hong Kong and more importantly, learned to forgive when he deleted Finn’s Terraria world on his iPad that he had spent a year building.
Because the amount of help, support and friendship that poured out from our friends and community around the world has been frankly quite staggering. I guess Facebook can be a good thing too. Thank you thank you and thank you everyone for everything.
Because we did our gratitude ritual around the table and everyone had something to be sincerely grateful about.
Because it was actually really cool to have Sean’s mother’s family with us and show the two little Hong Kong city boys life on the farm.
Because life goes by too crazy fast with kids sometimes and this Christmas every day felt like an eternity.
Because life is so precious and so bloody delicate.
Because Sean knows that he is so loved.
Mark wrote me a note when we were dating many many many years ago. I still keep it tucked into the frame of my mirror. It says “Beautiful things do not come into being easily, but are formed by intense heat and lots of pressure.”
This Christmas I asked Why and and the answer was because there was beauty, despite everything. Happy Christmas everyone.