My dearest A
How reassuring and consoling to receive your email and sms. As you’ve heard,
I’m well having suffered the minor inconvenience of being without power for
Just over 24 hours. Too embarrassing to mention, really, and only done in order to explain why I’ve been un-contactable.
I’d often thought that in a crisis, the first things I would sorely miss would be my ability to stay in contact with people via mobile phone and the internet and the loss of power confirmed that.
Unable to recharge my mobile phone and laptop batteries, I was briefly without my primary means of non face-to-face communication, which on most days is my only form of communication with people locally and overseas.
I really have no words for what has been happening here, but of course, like most others in Brisbane, I feel a need to tell our stories.
It truly is a shocking sight, these houses, vehicles and entire suburbs submerged in watery mud. It was shocking to see and hear this raging brown serpent rip through our city.
Wasn't this the sane river that had flowed peacefully through our city for as long as I've been here, providing us with a quiet, soothing backdrop for our weekend picnics and daily business activities?
I'd always seen her as a gentle creature, lovingly keeping us company. I'd never seen her as anything but a friend and even as I watched her yesterday morning and again at night, I was finding it hard to see her as a threat – an uncontrollable beast let loose.
But that is how she has behaved these last few days, crushing us with her power. Without warning.
Which makes me think that something must have happened to cause her to turn against us. Or is she just doing what she’s expected to do when conditions force her hand? I’m sure it must be that. I’m sure she really means us no harm for if she did, why would she have waited so many years to do it?
I’m sorry. Perhaps you don’t wish to hear this particular story but it’s the one that I feel the greatest need to tell right now. I’ve been telling the other stories about submerged houses and suburbs, floating debris and cars, hurled boats and helpless animals.
And yes, stories of people in various states of shock, survival and recovery. Actually, I’m not at all sure about the recovery.
What will we be recovering from? Shock? Loss? Disbelief? Anger? Helplessness? Fear? Fatigue? Punishment? Upheaval? Disbelief?
Disbelief keeps coming to mind. Has this really happened? Have our lives changed forever? Has mine? Will I ever feel safe again? Will I ever allow myself to feel safe again? Has feeling safe put me in danger?
Will I ever trust you again my friend, my Brisbane River?
I wince at the fact that this thought even occurs to me. But now that I’ve seen you do it, I know that you can and I fear that you might again. And it scares me. And it hurts me to know that I fear you now and trust you less.
I’m sorry, dear A, I seem to have got carried away in my own story. But I want to pick up something that you’d said – that Mum had dressed me in white and blue for the first three years of my life as her way of consecrating me to Mother Mary. An act that you believe has kept ne safe all my life and in this recent catastrophe.
I first heard about Mum’s consecration of me to Our Lady two years ago when I was with you all at Christmas. Then, it was D who recounted this part of my history to us. Well, it was recounted to you all but I was hearing it for the very first time then. And it made me think then as it does now, how very strange it is that other people can know parts of your story that you yourself do not know.
I’m not sure why I find this particularly poignant right now. Is it because it makes me realize that we are never the sole keepers of our stories? That there are things about me that I don’t know but that others do? That feels so very odd, almost bizarre.
And in a rather weird way, I wonder if I now know something about my friend, Brisbane River, that she herself doesn’t know - the terrible amount of damage she has caused? Does she know that, do you think?
Thank you for bringing this episode of my life to my attention again. In a strange and inexplicable way, it has given me a reason not to lose faith in my friend.
Perhaps, as Jesus said of the soldiers who crucified him,
‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they do’
I too might be able to say,
‘Forgive her TB for she knows not what she does?’