Wednesday, 12 November 2014


I went to Newtown the other day and pretty much hated it. I did three pieces, got cheers, a few walk-outs. Got supported and loved by Dave, but the real reason I trudged around Newtown and breathed in breath that my brother had expelled there over the years? Was to meet Hassan.

Dave was sitting on the grass with Opie right before I was about to hit the stage with Strong Bones, a HUGE piece about the suicide of my brother and I was freaking, looking around at the people sitting on the grass not knowing what they were about to hear on such a nice day. Stop talking and death and pain Eden, you're too grievey!

"Hon! I'm embarrassed! I'm about to talk about death and ash and desolation!"

Dave just says "Hon, you'll be fine. It'll be good for people to hear some real stuff."

So I walked over through the gate and this security guard with a bright yellow high-vis vest on clocks me and just starts dancing. It was impolite to not join in, so I walk straight up and start dancing back. He LAUGHS and then stops, grabbing his knee.

"What's wrong with your knee?"

He looks up at me.

"Age. Old. Too old to dance now."

And I tell him something that was pretty trite and as soon as I said it I thought, really Eden?

"Well, some people never make it to too old."

He looks at me. Grabs me, says I tell you something and man do I love it when people need to tell me something. He says to me,

"My son die last year. My life? IS FUCKING OVER."

And I look at him - in him.

"My brother - he die last year. MY LIFE? IS FUCKING OVER."

And when I was supposed to be spending the next twenty minutes practicing and gearing up to perform I talked the biggest talk with this guy, this dancing man called Hassan. His only son died in a motorbike accident last February. He showed me a photo - a beautiful 20-year old young man, gone.

"What's your sons name?"


"Is that A.H.M.E.D.?"

"Yes! You good fucking speller! My son - he good boy never trouble NO TROUBLE! He never even say fucking! My life - OVER."

I tell him about Cam, only a little bit because Hassan? All he wanted to talk about was his son so I listened, and listened. I'm a good listener. Shit at housework, patience, long queues. But I am one HELL of a listener.

He told me about the last time he said goodbye to his son but didn't know it would be the last time. That the cops knocked on the door at 2am but the accident happened at 8pm.

"Why? Why all that time it took to knock?"

Hassan stood on the grass and re-enacted his actions after the police left telling him his son was dead, how he walked into Ahmeds room not believing it and he just looks me straight into the eyes with the exact same pain I feel every moment.

"He not in his bed. He gone. He gone forever. My good boy. My life over."

So Hassan's there, in his high-vis vest, working a shift at a festival that's probably boring him shitless but somehow getting up in the morning. A new security guy came up and told Hassan he had to go to another stage now and I asked to take a photo together because I always want to remember him. I told him I wished he could hear my poem.

I love Hassan. I love how he started dancing so I danced back and this whole exchange happened and we got a snippet to share our pain.

Halfway through performing my piece I look down and there he was, staring up at me with emotion and I spoke straight to him. And I spoke straight to all the other people who had their hearts open enough to listen.

After I finished the lead singer of the band behind me just grabbed me and hugged me and told me "that was fucking awesome." Such a nice thing for him to do.

I walked down the stairs straight over to Hassan and hugged him tight and kissed him on the cheek. We were kind of both too choked up to talk but he told me he liked my poem. I told him I'm so glad to have met him.

I hate Newtown. I told Newtown I hated Newtown in my third piece which I'm SO embarrassed about now but it's done, never to be said again in that incarnation. I'll take a few sentences from it and drop it in other things but it was too long, I hadn't edited it properly because it hurt too much to go into google docs and look at the pain on the page. It was a rage against the town I was performing in. Dave filmed me and he said at one point he thought people might start heckling me but they didn't - I made sure to tell the people it wasn't THEM I hated, just the town. Newtown stole from me. I will never forgive it .

My friend Vee took this photo and didn't even realise it was Dave filming me until she recognised his tattoos! We both had husbands with cancer. Her husband died. Mine didn't. It was emotional to introduce them. Me and and Vee snuck into Nepean Hospital a few years ago like ninjas and put up her husbands artwork in the cancer ward. I read that blog post out at BlogHer in San Diego in 2011 - people still talk to me about it. According to recent reports, Alex's art is still there. I love you Vee. 

Dave almost dropped the camera when I read the line "Who am I going to talk about choads with?" We wondered if anybody listening knew what a choad was. I didn't, until Cam told me. Oh god that moment Cam told me the  word "choad" existed, after I told him a particularly unsavoury story? That was one funny, funny moment. Sometimes I'd just text him one word - "Choad." He'd text back - "Yep. Choad."

Those were good times, sharing things with him. I always told him to never kill himself because he'd miss the ending, now look what he's gone and done.

He's missed the fucking ending to his own life.

About an hour ago my friend Megan sent me through a link to THE BEST THING I have ever read in my life. I remember skimming it months ago but today? It got me. I got it. My goodness. The most powerful, liberating, extraordinary piece of writing.

"If everyone felt, honoured, respected and trusted their true feelings, this world would be a different place. Instead of reacting, we would respond. Instead of judging, we would see ourselves in everyone. Instead of consuming, we would notice that we cannot fill the gaping wounds inside of us with trinkets. If instead of pretending we are okay, we would take the time to wail, to weep, to scream, to wander the woods day after day holding hands with our sadness, loving it into remission so it doesn’t turn cold inside of us, gripping us intermittently in the icy fingers of depression. That’s not what grief is meant to do."

And this next bit? Reading this only days after I stood in front of a bunch of confused people in public spilling my words like the crazy woman I am, clutching a folder with "A Fairy Tale" written ironically on it because my brothers death is so, so not a fairy tale?

"You are a character in a story that is over, and since this never happens in the fairy tales you were fed in your most formative years, you are lost. You no longer fit in the world, and there is no star that can grant your truest wish."

So. I am actually going to Africa for World Vision soon. In honour of my brothers life but also my life. I'd go even if I wasn't up to it but I really actually am up to it, mentally preparing myself every day. I need to keep going and do things the best I can. Cams story on earth is over for him, but mine is not. I will take him with me, grieve him over there. Cry Ugandan tears from the Ugandan water I drink.

And I'll meet a lot of people in a lot of difficult situations and I'll think of how me and Hassan and millions of people all over the world bear the unbearable but keep going. Every day.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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