Had I Not Moved

Like many living in the Northern Hemisphere my Facebook feed has been full of recent back to school pictures. The most touching and personal one for me was a friend in Canada who posted two shots side by side. On the left her two girls in Grade 2 and Kindergarten, tiny little people with beaming smiles wearing the cutest blue pinafores with the logo of an apple on the front. On the right her two girls again, now in year 10 and year 12, both of them healthy and stunning young women. While I scrolled through the obligatory “Where did the time go?” comments I kept going back to the shot on the left. The uniforms with the apples on the front. I’d washed and ironed those pinafores before, not those exact ones, but those of our own. That was the first day of Kindergarten for my eldest, she’d been in the same class. They’d played together on the same icy play equipment in a Calgary winter, gone on the same pumpkin hunts at Halloween. My eldest, now 15, has a framed picture on her desk of her Canadian Kindergarten friends cheek to cheek on the stairs of our Calgary home. What once was. I know she looks at their Instagram and Facebook feeds and wonders how life may have been had we not moved.

Had we not moved.

I have no idea what my life would look like had we not moved. Would I be me or would I be her, the girl I look back at in the hotel room in Jakarta,  pregnant and green to the ways of expat life. Would I swear as much as I used to, would I use the same Australian slang that has slowly disappeared from my vocabulary after one too many misunderstandings. Had we not moved would my children be dinky di ridgy didge Aussies without their trans atlantic accents.

“That little girl keeps turning around to look at the kids (my kids)” I said to a friend at the footy recently.

“It’s their accents” said my girlfriend “she can’t work out their accents. Haven’t you noticed people do that all the time?”

None of it is important. Cancer has shown me that I don’t care who I would have been had we not moved.

Had we not moved I would not be here on the page today. Had we not moved I would not have met you. Had we not moved I would not have made connections with women and men across the globe who one day said “let’s do it, let’s go”, and felt the immediate rush of a new adventure mixed with the fear of the unknown path. Had we not moved I wouldn’t have gone to bed last night with the kindest message from a girl called Jo in Singapore “the expat sisterhood is behind you” and woken to a picture and message from my South African mates in Amsterdam.

I won’t lie. Cancer is getting me down today. It appears that my little bit of cancer had quite a bit of bite, stage 3. Now we wait some more while decisions are made by experts. Chemo or not? How much radio to have? More talks on Friday after stitches are removed. There are decisions to be made and I can’t get my head around it all right now. Those four little faces peer back at me through the screen while telling stories about their day, the whole time my heart physically aches to touch them.

Had I not moved I would not have seen this. You. From Abu Dhabi to Jakarta, London to Atlanta. Your messages, notes, hashtags and smiles.JALBOC - all

Had I not moved I wouldn’t have known this.

Thank you xxx

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