The phone call that parents dread came on the 29th June 2008 at 11am. “Mum, Simon’s had a car crash, he’s in a coma.” Compounding this awful news was the fact that Simon, my son-in-law, lived at the other side of the world in Australia.
I start my diary while waiting at the airport the following morning. I somehow know that writing it all down will help me deal with the worry and the loneliness on my long journey to be with them.
In Sydney I find I have many empty hours to fill. Sleepless nights and the lonely hours waiting for Ruby to wake from her naps means I can turn to my diary frequently.
Natalie, my daughter, spends all of her days by Simon’s side at the Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney, whilst I care for my tiny grandchild in a small apartment just around the corner.
There are tears, and there is laughter too, but above everything, there is love and hope. Simon has many injuries, the worst of which is massive brain damage. The diary is a record of his emergence from post-traumatic-amnesia, through my eyes. Natalie’s deep and overriding love and positivity are closely shadowed by a thread of my own insecurities and fears about what the future might hold now, for my child and grandchild.
From Simon’s point of view, he awakes in a bizarre place full of strangers, and doesn’t know why he is there. His yesterday is ten years ago and the only memories he has between then and now seem to be no more than hazy fragments. However, his first words to Natalie when he wakes from the coma are, “I love you, honey.” Even though he doesn’t remember who she is, he knows that he loves her.
Amazingly, his emotions are still intact, even though his memories don’t support them. He has no recollection of his wedding day, or of his daughter’s birth, but the love he feels for his wife and child are overwhelming in their intensity.
So we use Simon’s emotional strength and Natalie’s inspirational positivity to form the foundations of a future we can only begin to imagine.