September 30, 2010
The Message finally got through.
It wasn’t an ad campaign.
It wasn’t the plethora of adults just trying to save us some pain.
It was a Friday night.
My sister’s boyfriend failed to pick her up from work.
Usually she’d be furious, but instead she was just concerned.
A knock at the door late at night.
Her boyfriend’s cousin delivered the news.
A tree and a VW Beetle car – not a good combo.
My sister spent days looking for the right black hat
for the funeral. But really it was just about something to do because it was too hard to think about the reality.
And now my kids are driving age.
Six is my message to them and their friends and every other young driver
who deserve not to be a road statistic.
It’s not about going crazy on the road
but about making bad choices.
I hope they get it.
September 20, 2010
By the time I was a teen I’d moved away from the shrine to a lost boy
and the sad droop of his mother’s shoulders
to the leafy green suburbs of the east.
It was a busy time of life.
and in amongst all that stuff
two young men,
second cousins by marriage,
added to the stats of those injured in teen accidents.
Both accidents on country roads.
One boy left by his mates, who thought him dead.
Both with brain injuries.
Two warnings. Take care.
But there was so much to do.
So we wept and reflected and
let life’s current sweep us along .
It was sad, but things like that happened to other people.
Bad things only happened to other people when you’re a teen.
If you were lucky.
Sometimes stories just arrive. You don’t really think about where they came from and mostly you don’t need to know. Then there are those stories that demand to be written. That hang around until you finally give up and give them a voice.
That is where I found Six.
Six began in 1971 when I was a kid. (Don’t do the maths, it’s frightening.) My friend, a neighbour across the road, lost her brother in a car accident. We sneaked into his room one night, a shrine to his memory, scared we would get caught by her mother still grieving.
This is what I remember.
A Daddy Cool poster on his wall.
A tidy bed.
Shoes lined up neatly.
The stale smell of nothing.
Guilt that we had intruded upon this special place.
But mainly disbelief that this person’s life had ended so abruptly.