Rite of Passage Twelve –Flying Solo–
1958 –I am twenty-four years old
Q: Separated: has a large distance ever separated you from your loved ones? How did it feel, at first…when so much about you was new?
Treena and I had been married almost three years to the day when I had to take off for the other side of the world -New Zealand. We both felt the separation acutely and six months seemed an eternity…at first!
And then everything was new…everything!
For the word new, read adventure coupled with the certain feeling that we were leaving painful memories behind as I, like some kind of covered wagon pioneer, was setting out to carve out a new life in a new land.
I simply didn’t understand that whilst I was submerged in the new that Treena, with two-year-old Tessa, was stuck firmly in the old –counting off the days!
When I was single I wrote to Treena every day and she responded. What wonderful letters they were. How deeply we expressed our love and counted off the days until we would be married.
Why then, after such a brief period of three years, did I not write more often and …why did her letters (with so little news) gradually peter out?
Whatever a man sows…he reaps…right?
Within days of my arrival I was ‘up to my neck’ in a completely new way of life. English was the language, spoken with a soft twang, but everything else was unfamiliar…including the way that others saw me, and, for the most part they appeared to be unimpressed by this ‘POM’ (Prisoner of Mother England)…the ‘E’ (as in POME) was left off in New Zealand being more historically correct in Australia.
Yes, I was new to them –and desperate to be accepted!
So…what about now?
I did try so hard…so hard that I took Treena’s distance for granted. I have made a large number of pretty obvious mistakes in my life and I am grateful to have this opportunity to use them to highlight some of the common traps in our shared journey. This mistake was to start a chain reaction of choices that would go from bad to worse over the course of the next seven years…choices that became extremely ugly for another ten awful pain filled years.
Until relief came!
I look back now (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?) and I know that my not finding time (or words) to write to my beloved wife and daughter was the single worst mistake of my life. Yes, I must admit that it beat all the rest into second place.
Love is such a fragile thing; it needs the daily attention that a prized houseplant needs in the dead of winter. Especially when separated by both time and such an immense distance.
I wonder if you would allow me to use this error as a springboard and take a dive into your pool?
Words are so important and when handwritten on a card, or even a one-page letter, are such treasures. Now that Treena has begun her ‘long sleep’ I can go back over our later years’ letters and cards and they remind me of how grateful I am for her love and the ability to eventually share mine with her.
I have our love in writing. Please consider joining me; go beyond the texts and emails, put your love on paper…and do this often?
P.S This week I read Treena’s poem Jesus Was His Name