Today is ANZAC Day, which has always been a special day of reflection in our home. Jeremy’s father serves in the military, Jeremy’s early childhood was marked by Dawn Services, marches in major cities or country towns depending on our posting. He attended his first dawn service at two weeks old, in a wee white jump suit and a special bonnet, bootee and cardigan set to keep him warm as we watched the sun come up at the mouth of the entrance into Jervis Bay in NSW. We have many family members and friends who are either current serving members of the ADF or have served previously.
We have had an interesting couple of weeks in the lead up to today though. Firstly, Jeremy has turned 17. We had a party here and it was a fun evening, lots of food, a group of friends and a bunch of guys staying overnight. It was a far cry from his 16th which seemed overwhelmingly sad as it came at a time when Jeremy felt very isolated. Coincidentally a close friend of ours passed away on the morning of Jeremy’s birthday. It added an edge of reflection to our celebrations, but our relationship with our beloved friend was such that I felt that he would have approved of our party, that lives go on.
As a result we spent our Easter on the road, Melbourne to Canberra after work on the Wednesday before Easter, funeral on Thursday in Canberra, Sydney on Friday to take Jeremy’s brother to his flight and then Sydney to the farm on Saturday. Many many many hours in the car for the three of us. Jeremy saw many people at the funeral that he hadn’t seen since he starting transition. Good Lord we are surrounded with so many wonderful amazing people. Through her tears, our friend who had lost her husband gave J the biggest widest hug welcoming him, other friends were warm and inclusive, and the girlfriends of his brother’s friends took him in under their collective wings at the wake. At such a time of remembering Jeremy’s presence was welcomed and accepted. I know that this is how it should happen, but the reality isn’t always that simple.
The friend that we farewelled had served in the Navy in Vietnam. It was this service that led to his exposure to substances that eventually developed into myleoma. He battled this cancer for seven years and when his battle ended on Jeremy’s birthday we took the time to have a talk about his special journey. Our friend was a kind loving man, generous with his time, experience and personal success. He was open and honest. Most of all, he would welcome everyone. To Jeremy, who knew him from primary school, he was a loving gentle and, as a highlight, taught J to fish. It was on one weekend away that 11 year old Jeremy caught enough fish for breakfast, a very special memory.
When you live your life openly you are exposed. J and I experience this a lot, and we accept the negative because it is so overwhelmingly balanced by the positive. You may never know the influence that you have on others, and I like to think that positive living leads to positive influences on others. Our last two weeks have been a roller coaster of shared joys and tears and celebrations and love. Our reflection on what one lovely gentle man brought into our lives has given us so much joy, even when we couldn’t see though tear filled eyes that those times had ended.