Breathe In, Breathe Out.

I was watching David Beckham on a chat show a few years ago, someone asked how he felt about all of the derogatory Beckham jokes that seemed to be on high rotation. Did it worry him that everyone assumed he was as thick as the proverbial brick? His response was to tell a few of his favourites. He told the story of how he supposedly went to the hairdressers and refused to take his head phones off. When the hairdresser asked if he could remove them just for a moment to cut around his ears, David Beckham gave a definite “no” explaining that his headphones were a matter of life and death. The hairdresser couldn’t bear it, he had to listen. He bent down to Beckahm’s ear and lifted the ear piece only to hear a voice giving instructions – “breathe in, breath out, breathe in, breathe out”.

In my last week in Doha, I needed some headphones. I forgot to breathe.

The horror of the fire at Villagio meant that I lost perspective. I watched friends support others while quietly falling apart themselves, and struggled to understand how or why something so unthinkable could have happened. We’d all been to that nursery, we could all see ourselves there, picture our children in exactly the same position. The world felt a little surreal to say the least. How do you go to the Grade six band concert or the class party when others are organizing funerals and saying their goodbyes? I watched a lot of things happen in that week in Doha that made my stomach turn, self promotion and grief porn made me angry, while the stories of those who were quietly mourning broke my heart. There are so many sad and torturous stories that came from that day, so many people have been affected.

The flight over was consumed by a sick little traveler who went through four or five vomit bags before passing out. Our overnight experience in Melbourne was a blur of electronic hotel cards that didn’t work and internet access that never happened. I changed flight times over the phone and then crawled into bed with the boys. And then something happened. I woke up a few hours later, it was still dark but I could see the flicker of an Australian flag billowing outside my window while the tails of Qantas planes shimmered in the distance. I realized I’d made it. I was a long way away from where I’d been, in more ways than one.

I’m on the other side. I’ve entered a different world. On morning television people talk about Billy Connolly movies, football games and storms that are causing damage across the country. The normality is heaven. I listen and watch familiar faces with familiar voices while I sip my morning coffee. I continually look at my watch, which is still set at Doha time. I think about the girls constantly. Did the orthodontist appointment get changed? Did G buy white bread for the fairy bread she needs for her class party? They have one and half days left. When they get here, I’ll adjust my watch and my thinking, my thoughts will all be in the same time zone.

Our beach house is about forty five minutes out of Adelaide, there’s a familiar conversation that happens here, it’s about the road that leads to our little piece of heaven, the road that automatically makes your shoulders drop and your blood pressure decrease.

At the end of the road is this

I don’t need the headphones anymore. I sit at the beach with my boys and a cup of coffee each morning, and I breathe and I breath and I breathe.

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