"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A breather

It's been a very intense couple of weeks, and finally, I've finished teaching for the semester (and for the year!) so I'm taking my therapist's advice and taking a week off work. We've got the sentencing hearing coming up in early November, and writing up my victim impact statement and supporting the girls and El Prima while they write theirs is about the only 'must do' thing on my list for next week.

Apart from that, there will be catching up with friends, planting vegies, playing in the garden and knitting.

Lots of this:

Our front yard - with the sage and lavender in flower and broad beans going gangbusters

* * *

The other thing hovering on the horizon is an exhibition opening on Friday night. One of the odd things that happened with the accident was that I suddenly became obsessed with taking photos... (I'm embarrassed to say this) of myself. At first it was to capture all the crazy bruising and gruesome wounds/ scars - I have a whole album of these ones - macabre but colourful - but then it became something I could do when I was alone in the hospital and trying to make sense of the senseless. (Here's a tip. You can't make sense of the senseless. All you can do is document it)

I needed to work out who this crazy lady in the mirror was and whether there was still any connection with the pre-accident me who felt like a very different person. And, given that a death had occurred within my body, was I really alive, or perhaps I'd missed something and I had actually died in the accident too? (I've seen The Sixth Sense, I know that it is important to check, even if you *think* you are alive.)

I'd had an obsession with Frida Kahlo as a sixteen-year-old, so I knew that she'd also survived a road accident and had lost babies (though not at the same time). So I took her as my 'recovery mentor' and made the decision that I was going to use art and writing to lever my way through. For a while, taking photos and writing was what I did. In hospital, I had to rely on carers to do the most basic things for me, and I no longer had my work to do or a family around me to organise and feed and transport to places. It meant that I had a strange trauma-led renaissance - as though the only way I could handle the onslaught of grief and trauma was by spilling it all from my head onto the page or into images.

One of the outcomes were these strange computer-animated self-portraits which blink in grief and disbelief.

They're being exhibited as part of a show put on by the Transport Accident Commission of artwork by survivors of road accident trauma. (It feels very odd to be a 'survivor'. I used to think that survival was a pretty low expectation to meet, but now I realise what a bloody effort it can be.)

* * *

It is halloween / all hallows eve and I'm thinking about ghosts. Apparently I'm not the only one. In fact it was Angie and Jenni's very apt words that tapped my thinking on this. Come haunt me, baby daughter, I miss you.

(First roses of the season - I've become a big gardening nerd and can't help myself taking photos of plants and flowers.)

** EDITED TO ADD** Oops - for some reason the .gif file is huge. But I rather like the effect when the webpage cuts of half my face, so I think I'll leave it. Please let me know if it does terrible annoying things on your computer.


  1. Beautiful portrait and so very full of sadness. The emotion is so tangible. I would love to see more. I hope the show goes well.

    I think writing your statement and supporting El Prima and the girls while they write their own is more than enough for you to focus on during your week break.

    Feeling nothing more than a survivor today myself. At times...still wondering if I really am a survivor or just a ghost with enough inertia to carry me to the seven month mark today. Yes, I do believe it is important to double check one's corporeal status on occasion...

  2. beautiful portrait hanen, it captures IT so perfectly, i'm jealous of your broad beans mine are only a quarter of the size! i didn't do halloween but today is day one of day of the dead, childrens day, we are having a picnic and creating a shrine in the great outdoors with lots of yummy food and flowers. good luck with the victim impact statements, i'm sure it won't be easy for you all, and i'd like to see more pictures too please xxx anne

  3. Beautiful. Much strength and love to you as you do these necessary but hard things. ♥

  4. @brianna - thank you - I'm glad to know I'm not the only ghost-like one. And thanks for the good wishes. I'm a bit shy about putting them all on the blog (El Prima is very suspicious about google & their approach to intellectual property, so will have to check this), but will try to do a password protected post with more of the pics and will email you & Anne the password.

    Thinking of you and George today. Seven months - ack. We used to laugh when we read the words "alas" or "alack" in novels at school, but now I feel a real need for these kinds of grief words. "Ah me" is my favorite. xxxh

    @ Anne - thank you! Wish I could drop around some broad beans for you! I love the sound of your day of the dead, children's day. Frida was right into that. Painted skulls and picnics in the cemetery. Hope you had beautiful weather and felt Harvey close by and sneaking some of the dip. xxxh

    @ N - thank you - exactly what I need xxxh

  5. Thank you for sharing, you are an amazing survivor.

  6. it's so awesome that you're creating art out of your experience. you really are amazing. good luck with the opening and enjoy your me/garden time.

  7. I just read about the hearing in an article that's on The Age right now - http://bit.ly/9hU0Ya - and I wanted to come here and let you know I'm thinking of you and I'm so sorry that you not only went through such a horrible loss, but have had to talk about it in court. I can't imagine what it's been like for you but I wish you and your family all the very best.

  8. I'm another one who noticed the articles today and just wanted to show my support. Hope you're doing as best you can, and know that there are many people thinking of you.