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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  1. Well…fuck…but we are here to hold your hand through this and hopefully make you smile occasionally.

  2. I’m not an Expat as such. I’m an English girl who went on a round the world trip 21 years ago, got to Melbourne, and, what with one thing and another, got a job, met an Aussie man and twenty years later, here I am living in the Australian bush married to the Aussie man with two kids, feeling both Australian and English! Bugger Stage 3 for your ‘little bit of cancer’. We’re all behind you and totally rooting (not the Aussie version) for you.. Take care xx

  3. Hi Kirsty I was diagnosed around the same time as you, I am also Stage 3 – all picked up from my screening mammogram with no signs at all, no lumps – no nothing. I am having an Axillary dissection in 10 days to remove lymph nodes from my armpit and also some more breast tissue removed. I get to keep “the girls” and will be having radation and chemotherapy about for weeks after this lot of surgery. Early detection is the key and I feel so grateful this was picked up. Sending you much love Marian PS happy to answer any questions if you PM me

  4. Nothing else to say, but sending you much love. xxx

  5. My heart goes out to you. What a scary and surreal time you are going through. So many decisions to make when your head is reeling with all the information you are presented with. May the love and support of your family and many friends keep you going. xxx

  6. I love all the love coming your way – positive energy from around the world alone is going to get you on the road to a brilliant recovery! Don’t let the numbers mess with your head too much: you’re in excellent hands, and all you have to do is just take the next step – one at a time, no more. Hardest part I know is being separated from G and the kids – everything is so much better when you’re all together – I know. xx

  7. Cancer really does suck. Sending my thoughts and prayers your way. As bad as today is, tomorrow is always a chance for a better day. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

  8. Corinne Basmaison says

    Sorry about the bit of kick. Hope the doctors find the solution that works best for you. Sending healing thoughts…

  9. Isn’t it funny how the internet allows us to take a peek inside the lives of complete strangers and makes them feel like friends?? I’m so sorry to hear your bad news Kirsty – that truly sucks (there’s just no other word for it). Keeping all digits crossed for you that things are looking a bit brighter after the discussions on Friday. Stay strong – we’re all rooting for you!

  10. It may not be the best phase of your life,but if I can think of people who can beat the shit out of cancer you would be amongst the top…you have been an inspiration to expat wives like me. You are going to be an inspiration to those who fight a similar battle. Pull those guns out kristy. .my prayers are with you .

  11. The internet is a wonderful place and it’s a much better place for having you in it. x

  12. Jessica Harrington says

    You are an inspiration. Thank you.

  13. Darlene Foster says

    You are the hero of the day Kirsty! As you can see, we all love you. XO

  14. Like the post but not all of the news lovely K stage 3 –bugger that.. Let’s use the Aussie slang hey! You can and will do all you can based on best advice but hard yards ahead with much support here & IRL xxxx D

  15. If we’re brave enough to open ourselves up to the world it will give back so much. I’m glad that you are finding support from all over Kirsty and I’m sorry that the little bit of cancer is more than it should be. Sending well wishes your way. x

  16. Libby Timms says

    Hi Kirsty, I suppose I’m what you would describe as a lurker. I love it when you have a new post but usually don’t comment . I was upset about your diagnosis and want you to know I’m thinking of you. Seems quite wierd feeling like that about someone you don’t ‘know’ but I feel I do! Look after yourself! Xxxxx

  17. Michele Shbat says

    I am humbled by your bravery, Kirsty. We are all rooting for you!

  18. Just caught up on your naughty #justalittlebitofcancer news bad cancer, bugger off. Hang in there, we’re with you. xxx

  19. Kirsty I am so sorry to hear it’s Stage 3. Keep Kia Kaha – ing hun. You got this. You do. And we are here to listen whenever you want to vent, such is the joy of having friends all around the world. Vx

  20. Girvani Manoharan says

    Dearest Kirsty. Due to the moves , I missed your posts. I m so sorry to hear that. I bow to your bravery that how you are facing it. I am thinking of you and praying for your speedy recovery. Anything is possible. Send all the good luck in the word to you K

  21. Kirsty, I have been following your blog for so many years, since before my now 11-year-old was in kindergarten. You moved away from the city I’m in, but yet I still feel like I’ve made a friend that I’ve never met. My heart is heavy for you as you wade through this journey. If anyone can charge through this, it is you. You have too many stories to tell on the other side of this, too many more hearts to touch, it is just a blip. On Oct. 4 I am participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure in Calgary with my daughter, and this year we will do it in your name. Your name on our backs and a prayer for you in our hearts. I can’t wait to read all about what you’ll do next in the next edition of ‘this shamozal life’. xoxo Alana

  22. Anne Pereira says

    Rooting for you and amazed at your humor and bravery throughout the days. Cancer sucks big time – prayers and good thoughts sent your way.

  23. How good is the interwebs sometimes? The good ones shine through just when you need them. x

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