Somehow, I could never get the timing right when it came to telling you about myself, the HIV diagnosis was no different.
Mum, I and the two elder girls had all agreed you should not be told before your HSC at the end of 2000.
Ah, the best laid plans!
Towards the end of winter in 2000, you, Jassie and I went to Bowral for a weekend away.
I had hired a house for two or three nights, we were all looking forward to this time away. Just Dad and two of his daughters having special together time, it was also a great opportunity to give you a break before the hard slog of study was to begin.
The trip down on Saturday afternoon was a cacophony of hair brush microphones with Springsteen trying vainly to compete with his own songs.
We wandered out for dinner and bought some food to make a big breakfast in the morning, before coming back to our little cottage for a movie night. We hadn’t planned on the weather turning wet and icy cold but it didn’t matter, we were determined to make the best of this precious time.
The soundproofing of the house was not great and the 2.00 am pills and spew session obviously filtered through from the bathroom.
There was nothing said next morning or over the rest of the trip, but Jassie told me later you had been asking questions.
There was no room in our family for secrecy anymore and I knew I had to bite the bullet and tell you. The worry and suspicion would be worse than the facts.
I went down one afternoon to pick you up after school and we drove out to the Audley Weir for an ice cream and some time together.
You were prim and proper in your crisp uniform complete with Prefect’s Badge and I was dressed for work in shirt and tie. We must have looked an odd sight, sitting on rocks above the water licking ice creams and deep in conversation.
You have never been a pushover darling, and this day was no different. You searched for the right questions and I told you about the combination drug regime and the hope for this new treatment.
It was hoped this regime would have the effect, of reducing the impact of HIV from a death sentence, to a treatable chronic disease. We spoke about the trial and the impact this level of poison was having on me.
We hugged and didn’t speak much afterwards, as I drove you home to Mums.
I didn’t come in this day, I wanted you to be free to speak to Mum on your own if you wished to.
I drove the hour home to my place, deep in refection and sadness that I had been so stupid as to have brought this on our family.
This was just one of the times in my life when I seriously wondered if the journey to honesty was worth the pain.
I have spoken about Jassie and Annie being two ends of the see saw. To continue with the playground analogy,you darling, are the slide; complementary but delightfully separate. There can be fear and trepidation at the top of the slide, but usually; we end up with joy and exhilaration before the ride has ended.
I sometimes dread the fear and trepidation involved in our “deep and meaningfuls”, but I would never swap them, if it meant losing the love and closeness we share afterwards.
Love Ya Heaps