Eighteen years ago today I was lying on a sun lounge around a sparkling swimming pool in a quaint little village in Germany named Friedrichsdorf. A place with cobblestone streets and a busy market, and the best pizza restaurant I've ever dined in called 'Mario's'. We lived there for four years because of Peter's work. I remember it like yesterday. You see eighteen years ago today my only sister Tarnia gave birth to her first child, a son, Alexander!
I remember the Fraulein from the hotel dashing out to the pool waving a phone, telling me there was a call from Australia......I remember my Mom's excited voice exclaiming Tarnia had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. And I remember how carefree and easy my life was back then, when all those I loved were still in my world.
So today, I'm feeling mixed emotions, I'm excited that my nephew whom I adore will become an adult, that he can do all the things he has been waiting to do. In Australia, at age eighteen you can vote, legally drive a car and most important to him, enter an establishment that serves alcohol.
Alexander was eight when his Mom died. He and his brother Fraser, who was five and his twin sisters, who were babies of only six months old, were all strapped into their car seats for what should've been a lovely trip to the beach near their home on that fateful day. We'll never know what happened on that windy deserted road that leads to a magnificent stretch of beach in Australia, where there is seashells scattered everywhere on white sand and wild rolling waves, adding to its beauty.
What we do know from Alexander is that when Tarnia's car rolled over and over and finally smashed into a huge gum tree, the car ended up on its roof. I try not to think of the chaos that would've been going on in the car with all four children hanging upside down.....the twins screaming, Fraser crying, how terrifying it would've been. Also, how brave Alexander was at such a young age, courageously kicking out the car window and running to the road , flagging down the first passing car. What an amazing little boy he was!
He hasn't changed, over the past ten years I've watched him grow and mature into an amazing young adult, seemingly unaffected by the loss of his loved Mom and grief!
Alexander worked hard and entered an exclusive private school in Australia with a scholarship and went on to become an honor student. He diligently works two jobs, delivering medications on his pushbike around his town for the local pharmacist and washing dishes, as a 'dish pig' as he says, at a local restaurant. He's been like another adult in his family after Tarnia's tragic death, caring for his little sisters and showing such responsibility the past ten years. And at the end of this year he'll be off to University somewhere......
I can only conclude that his strength of character is because of how amazing the human spirit is. That we can seem to bounce back and strive to be better, even through such a significant life changing loss. Along with a supportive loving family and the counselling he had through his school after Tarnia died, leads me to believe he will continue to thrive and accomplish great things in his life and meet any challenge he is faced with in the future.
I love him like my own son and feel happiness for him today, swirled and mixed around with a sadness that Tarnia isn't here to hug him or tell him how very much she loves him as she always did.
And usually, when I phone him on his special day, I remind him where I was was when he came into this world, of the pool and Germany and how besotted his Mom was when he was born....and every year he laughs and tells me "Yeah, yeah, I know, you were sitting around a pool in Germany right?" And we both laugh!
But today when I call, on his eighteenth birthday into adulthood, I'll tell him the things his Mom can't. Like how special I think he is and how if his beloved Mom was alive she would be just so so so proud of who he has become. He's never talked about the accident with me, just of how he misses his Mom some days........
I'm sure if she can, Tarnia will be sending him some sign from heaven to make him aware, that somehow, she knows and misses him too! x
Tarnia and Alexander..........