Desperation, Delusion, Despair & ….Drunk (21-27 September)

A Life in Words

A Life in Words
…not quite there yet…

This is an unusual way for me to begin a post, but I feel the need to warn you now that it comprises a tragic mix of desperation, delusion, dependence and despair (because it was a particularly heavy week; processing my first ever experience of being dumped). It makes for a juicy read but it’s THE most embarrassing for me to date, by far and away. (The quotes I found all help to describe and/or ‘justify’ some of my feelings about it so fittingly that I decided to include them all). It’s very difficult for me to accept that I actually thought and acted the way I did: the antagonism, grovelling and bitchiness all borne of desperation, (ego-driven) pain …and a clear lack of self esteem. But this (Life) IS a learning process…

 

A Life in Words
…even if it involves THEM?

Monday 21/9/87

I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I know how we should be! [‘Should’ is one of those useless, stress-inducing words; implying obligation, duty, correctness: all of which mean different things to different people, to boot.] . . just like the Christmas holidays → then also those 3 days before the camp. That is, on the holidays, I don’t ring every day; only  be a ‘friend’ and let him decide what, if we do anything, [ugh, in other words be a door mat?] unless I’ve got a set proposition. And at school, I just don’t go up to him at all …except maybe a little bit. I don’t know if I’ll even sit near him in biology. That way he’ll have his ‘freedom’ and, will start to miss me a bit & ∴ chase me more than I do, him [Oh dear. *shakes head* Liss ….where to start?! ….perhaps by not thinking so much?]  Anyway today, ate very little .. my stomach’s shrunk. (GREAT!) Mima & fi didn’t want to do anything today. . I got my hair cut Did scrapbook most of the day. Fiona rang Mark this morning, but wasn’t home. I hope she gets around to it soon. [Seriously? Surely some part of me was aware of the futility of this caper? Getting my friends to try to retrieve information for me (‘answers’ I believed I needed – even though they were all there in plain sight…) was not just useless (why would he ‘open up and spill all’ suddenly to one of your friends? At worst, wouldn’t that in itself indicate that he wasn’t comfortable being truly open with you?) and actually counter-productive: exacerbating his negativity toward you.] I NEED HIM. [Um, like oxygen? I don’t think so.] I’m not sure he needs me now, after all this. [Ya think?] A Life in WordsIt makes me wonder how he could give up that easily. IT STILL HURTS ME. SO MUCH. [It’s still pretty fresh. That’s to be expected.] God, I wish I could turn back the clock. A whole year. [….aaaaand then what?]

Tuesday 22/9/87

In town with Fi & Mima, met Brent. Didn’t do very much really. (I was on the lookout for Trisha F bitch) [Haha, what, to “have a go”? Pffft, talking tough! I don’t have an aggressive bone in my body. I obviously wasn’t completely aware of that back then.] I didn’t have any money until late in the morning; when I found Julia & got my $50 from dad. (Then mum found me and gave me my bankbook & when I tried to swap it over for a cashcard, [yeah, that’s right people, the era of ‘plastic money’ (including Australia’s currency change to polymer notes) burgeoned in the 1980’s (even though credit cards had been around for awhile). ATM machines were slowly popping up – but only at bank branches] they said I had to be 18. That sux. I’m gonna change banks. [Can’t recall with whom I banked back then.] Fi had a doctor’s appointment. Mima, Brent & I got ice cream (gelati – I couldn’t eat it) [Now that’s a serious state of affairs – if I “can’t” eat one of my favourite treats…] Were going to get a video and watch it at fi’s but Stewart didn’t let us!! So we went home. I rang Nigel about the english [assignment??]: we’ll have to work out something. Also Steven, but he was “at the movies”. A Life in Words[Yes it gets worse: I’m now harassing his friends…] So when Jason, Fi & I got there (with Wade, David etc) I saw him and tried to talk. Keith walked past & I knew Mark was hiding. It’s almost as if he hates me. [No, he just wanted space. But in my defense, I literally was there with friends to see the movie, not to hunt him down…] He (when he did show) stayed well away not looking or talking to me at all. It hurts so much. I sat next to David during the movie & Fi & Jason said they didn’t see him, or even Keith look over once. I’m sure he’s trying to hate me. [How easy it is to create anxiety! Attempting to assume the thoughts of others is such a waste of energy: nine out of ten times you’ll be wrong and/or you’ll never find out anyway.] Walked off towards city place straight after→

Wednesday 23/9/87

→talking to Terry outside. We went to Yanks… I didn’t feel like anything to eat or drink. After, we went to Jason’s (just Fi, Mark B, & me) (David came in Jason’s car) and watched Bruce Lee (They still call me Bruce!) A Life in WordsBut we all fell asleep during it at sometime. Raining lots. At home, around 2:30, I bombed- freezing! This morning I was depressed when I thought about the movies, and how mark was. Why is he doing this? [I was so blind…] Keith even came up to me & rubbed it in.. “we were coming over & Mark said “shit!”..” That makes me feel really great. I feel like crying. Today, I watched TV, and did crash scrapbook again. I rang Fi after Steven (Steve said he’d talk when he called Mark around lunchtime) [Oh god, I wish I could shake myself!] So I told Fi Mark should be home around then. I need help. I’m hurting so much. I’ve got a horrible feeling he’s not just “having a break” so we can start again, but “having a break” so that I get used to being without him. [That’s a gut feeling. And for future reference… it’s usually right.] NO!! He can’t. Raining all day today (cool) Cameron & Glyn popped in & we went to Fi’s & then mima’s. Steven didn’t ring me back. [Certainly can’t blame him…] Sharon & I went into town first, then were rejected from Croc Rock. Waited outside freezing, for people to bring out [next page…]

Thursday 24/9/87

→some I.D. for us. Sharon in first. Then I waited ..Linda bought out the same I.D. I talked to Mark. [Privacy omission] “snuck” in. The night, as a whole, was bad. I regretted going now, tho it’s lucky I did. He spent most of his time, when I first saw him, alone, or with no girl. Keith with Angela M. I danced, hung round Sharon. Talked to him a little. Every person I spoke to seemed to be negative (no, they were negative) Fucking [privacy omission] said “he’s a bastard etc.” People all telling me he cheats on me. Even [privacy omission] admitted it. (Sharon left earlier than me) A Life in WordsI got really upset in the end & Mark got shitty (fucking Angela all over him (as good as she’d dare while I was around. The sick bitch even smiled at me all the time- until I fucked her up- dirtiest look – & she avoided me.)[There it is… vitriolic jealousy.] Eventually, to cut the story short, I talked to him ..he was really pissed off. I can’t even give him 3 days without suffocating him & even his friends, too (ringing them up) he’s pissed off I talk behind his back etc. [You totally had this coming.] Anyway, I got home around 4:15. Couldn’t sleep- got up at 8:00. Fi came round after I rang her. Long talk I told her everything, and cried. I watched TV the rest of the day & slept lots up till 6:30 …went late nite with Fi, Liam & Jason, met Pol, Brent, Peter & Mima. (Boring there) then to Jason’s to watch Pirate Movie on video. Made me sad cos I’ve got no one. [Up until this year, you had no one. You survived the first 16 years of your life without ‘someone’…] I’d desperately like to meet Phillip C soon. I need him – he’s right for me. [Oh lordy. Now you need a guy you don’t know at all, but emphatically assume is right for you? Purleeeease.] I know, when Mark’s “had his time” I’ll go back, but mate I’m gonna rev the shit out of him first – laying down the “conditions – regulations & expectations” and it won’t really bother me if he doesn’t want to comply: I’ll have P.C. [Righteo. Utterly warped fantasy. No other way to describe it.] As for Angela M & Tricia – they’ll never get what I have – his love. [Needing to feel ‘superior’ to appease my crushed Ego…]

A Life in Words
So… anyone? Anyone got the feels for me yet?! This succinct Finnish word has no English equivalent. Pronunciation? Ha, good luck! Apparently something like this: ‘moo-er-ta-ha-pay-ah’

Friday 25/9/87

Let me warn you – I’m still intoxicated at the moment. [Oh Gaaad, yes. You should’ve seen my handwriting in the diary…] I’m not supposed to let Mark know that I spent the night with Glyn & Cameron in town. [Ah… whoops, my bad? D’ya think that secret is a matter of importance 28 years on?] They were meant to go out. But mate, I got drunk & I had an ace time. I started out with Fi, Jas, Brent, Pol & Mim, late nite shopping (hoping I’d either see Philip C out or spend the rest of the night with David (Jas’s stepbrother- gorgeous hunk) [It’s intriguing watching myself ‘grasping’ for something (someone) to fill the ‘void’…] I know Mark’s with someone tonite. He’s a playboy. And he’ll never change. [If “the drunken tongue speaks the sober mind” …why was I hanging in there?] I went grass skiing with Pol, Peter, Fi & Jas. David watched- Dave hangs around alot – Hope he likes me. I think he’s gorgeous. So’s Philip. At home around 3:00- rang Cam. & Glyn …couldn’t find out if Philip was going out.A Life in Words I’ll die if he did. [Really?] apparently lotsa people I know, know I like Philip. […REALLY? Yup. Turns out I’m pretty easy to read…] It’s 12:30. Jo’s comin’ home 2morrow YAY!

Saturday 26/9/87

It’s 9:00. My first night home since Monday!! WOW! (I need the sleep!) Going to the beach with Sharon &, get this; LUCY!! Yeah, she rang this morning, wanting to go out, but this Saturday no parties & no one’s going out So we’re going to Beach party sunday night at Playpen (FUN, FUN, FUN!) Hope Philip’s there! Did nothing today (made lotsa phone calls though!) Went to the Boat Show – boring – saw Mark riding up Reservoir Road, on the way. Sharon said he was with Steven last night & no girls! I couldn’t believe it!! I’m feeling really strange at the moment _ I love him still, but I’m not missing him – I think it’s because I know we’ll get together again. Hope he’s not trying to fall out of love with me. […I don’t think people have to try to do that, Liss…] I’ll shoot him!! Jo came home – yay! Ringing late tomorrow to see if she can come out to Playpen tomorrow. Philip wasn’t out last nite. Was Raining just before – hope it’s not tomorrow. Hope I see Phillip (yummy) C. (or David!!)

Sunday 27/9/87

I had so much trouble getting to sleep last night. 9:00 I got to bed & around  12:30 to sleep. I heard a request to Joannah & it sounded like Elissa or Elisa. [The song requested was Icehouse’s “Electric Blue” …I’ve included a link to it on YouTube (below) if you’d like a listen.] A Life in WordsWondered if that was for us? (No one said who it was from.) [Chances of there being two other friends with our names in a city of about 50,000 was pretty slim, I reckon …especially my name. Oh and I/we never found out who it was either.] Anyway I got to Sharon’s on time (lucky – I got up late) To Lucy’s, then on the bus. It was very windy & grey at Palm Cove. We walked around, taking photos. Jo’s shop wasn’t open. We sat around the shop trying to ring Mr W. It started to clear up around 1:30.. we swam (Sharon & I ..in the “surf” – cold, but great fun) Saw Fi just before Mr W picked us up (just after 3:00) and she followed them to Lucy’s. We got ready after going to Sharon’s & getting her gear (Fi went home) Lucy, Sharon & I walked to Smithfield Tavern – the bottle shop was shut -everything was shut! So we went to Beach Night, sober. Got in back door – no ID asked at all. The night was excellent! Got crowded quite quickly, but there was barely anyone I knew- Sandra F, Carla G. That’s it!! So we raged something unbelievable. I had 10 Tequila slammers [shots]! […the annoying thing about my going out on a Sunday night is that YOU don’t get the full story until the next post… just like a real TV serial, you’re left hanging…]

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Heartbreak Week: the Bus Crash Inquest & the Inevitable Break-Up (14-20 September)

Before launching into this week’s entries, I thought I’d include a copy of a letter that our principal sent out to us in the previous week. It didn’t really apply to me because I was summonsed to appear – I had to go – but outside of that commitment, I think I managed to witness most of the proceedings. My mum had no problem with me attending either, because she spent as much time there as she could outside of her work commitments as well.

A Life in Words

I have also included, where possible, scans of news clippings related to the inquest that I’ve attempted (with my meagre means) to make as legible as possible in case you were interested in reading them. I apologise in advance if the quality is too poor.

Monday 14/9/87

At Steve S’s [my solicitor] at about 7:45, we started on my statement. I told him things (answ. his Q’s) & he spoke into a tape. Downstairs, around 8:30 I waited with Trina while Becca was up there. I hated my statement [the perfectionist in me: but I knew this was an extremely important document so had to relate my experience accurately] so, while Becca & Trina & Steve went to the Courthouse, I rewrote my statement & a lady typed it etc & drove me down. It was 11:00 & everyone was coming out – cameras everywhere ..Mr & Mrs Perrem, Strooper & Fisher [parents of the deceased] all trying to avoid them. Court had adjourned until Guy (the driver) could arrive (they’d waited all morning for him- wrong date issued on his summons) so, killed an hour with Trina & Edith. So, actually started again at 12:00 – stopped at 1:00 for lunch (so boring waiting- the detective on for that hour) Mum dropped me at school- got things from Ms. Forbes. Sat Yr 12 area. Mark went to drive in Fri. night & Tamara’s party saturday “Forgot” to ring me. That hurts. And all he could do is laugh. Mum picked me up at end of lunch hour – I bought lunch, then waited outside again (Glyn, Steven, Trina, Edith, Brian etc..) Finally, around 3:00, Yru first one in. In for 20 mins (shitting ourselves) Recess then Steven L, Sean D & me .. not really scary – I felt like laughing- [laughter is my default stress response…] wanted to be asked more Q’s ..got $31 for it! & photo for Courier Mail! News coverage wasn’t “hot” ..Steven, Glyn were in background!!!!!!!

Tuesday 15/9/87

A Life in Words
Part of Tuesday’s article on the inquest in the Cairns Post. Note Detective Brooks’ opinion (second paragraph)

Today, everything ran according to schedule. We sat in the hearing until about 11:00; the machinery inspector (an engineer) (inspector of bus remains) was in for all that time & basically what came out of it was that there was no handbrake at all, the rear brakes were not operational (the adjustment was very ‘out of place’ incorrect) [To clarify: the bus had, prior to its fateful journey, received a service by Northland’s mechanics specifically on the brakes only a week before, after the driver Guy had complained about them failing at an intersection in the CBD. The service (the ‘adjustment’) was improper; the mechanics were negligent] & the whole frame of the bus was rust infested (hence the roof slicing off) […and this was the fault of the previous owner of the bus (who appears on the stand later on). See the news clipping below Wednesday’s entry…] Did my biol. test .. it was rather easy for the little amount of study I did (some things I’d neglected to look at stuck me, tho I know I’ll pass at least). Didn’t talk to Mark at all at school .. went to Home Ec room with Justine & Fi & had some cake. Fi was really interested in what was going on. She wants a copy of the records, too (a manuscript) [I still have the a copy of the findings in my possession to this day…] I missed out on the guy who saw the bus go over the edge [there was only one witness to the accident, who wasn’t actually involved in it, that is…] & quite a few student testimonies, but after lunch another inspector (a mechanic) took up nearly all afternoon, just re-iterating what the guy this morning had said. Made news again tonight. I wasn’t in the Courier Mail today, maybe tomorrow. [Ah, the Ego!] Rang Mark this arvy . . talked long about (well jokes about) me being evil & horrid & satantistic & him being good & innocent (Bullshit!) Getting warmer (courthouse is airconditioned) [← believe it or not, airconditioning wasn’t standard in all buildings in FNQ back in the 80’s, unlike today. We definitely felt summer in our classrooms at school!] Got my shorts from Kaffa but they’re too short – take em back, but you can’t [I think I meant, I wanted to return them, but couldn’t for ? reason…?]

A Life in WordsWednesday 16/9/87

Well, Mark was the first up today; there were quite a few students today -Cameron, Brent, mima, Fiona, jason, bella, jaque & Mark to name a few. The courthouse was packed in the morning (Mark stayed for it) but spare seats in the afternoon – boring mechanic (brake specialist) testimony -went on for ages (he was being rather “evasive” – Mr McKenzie said when we talked to him at lunch & were filmed – yeah! I was on T.V.! (NQ10) Lunch went quickly. Still haven’t started my english assignment. SHIT. Due Friday. I rang Mark this arvy, cos’ Fi told me she heard Tricia talking about the Drive-In (I got worried) but he was at Terry’s. He rang back around 7:30 and it was probably one of the best talks we’ve had for ages . . I mean he was being really nice and he said “I love you” again, which made me feel even better. He said he wants to spend time just me & him together on the holidays.. which I also enjoyed hearing from him. Forgot to  take back the shorts from Kaffa today. Must do it tomorrow. […buuuut I thought you couldn’t?] Wore my white mini skirt in public today – actually felt more confident & care-free than I have ever!! [Perhaps because I was attending an ‘event’ that directly related to my scarring. If people saw it, they were more likely to “put two and two together”…and be compassionate. Not that anyone has ever been unsympathetic (or nasty) to me about my scar anyway…] WOW!! SO BORING IN COURTROOM – MAKES YOU SLEEPY!A Life in WordsThe tone of this article (a recap of Tuesday’s evidence) indicates the bus company and the mechanics were at fault: both a government engineer & a transport inspector saying as much.

Thursday 17/9/87

A Life in Words
This is where the inquest seems to make a turn against the driver. Monique’s father questioned the ‘independant’ brake specialist and some of my testimony features in this article, although true to the media’s form, they spelled my name incorrectly…

A Life in WordsIt’s 11:00; I’ve just finished a few ‘choices’ for my english assignment (descriptive passages) Only 2 that I’m happy with, in fact. But it’ll have to do. Who cares? (Me, of course) Today, Glyn, Cameron, Mark came to see Chris (he wasn’t on til after lunch tho’.) (Cameron, Mark & some others were on T.V, too) Well the previous owner was on the stand today & the prick has pretty well laid the blame on Guy [the bus driver]. I heard Guy could get “manslaughter”. It’s not fair he doesn’t deserve it. [Obviously I personally laid NO blame at the feet of the driver …even prior to the inquiry. In fact, from the word go, I never felt an ounce of animosity toward him (and of all those I knew, neither did anyone else). Why? Well, it’s hard to fathom but I think it basically boils down to pure compassion. Knowing this man would live with the deaths of eight children hanging over him for the rest of his life… that burden would be insufferable alone. He didn’t deserve the added torture of others’ ill-will or negativity. I only ever viewed him as a victim, like us. It was the bus’s fault (and therefore the company’s) …not this man.] It’s because he was in too high a gear (3 hi, instead of 3 low) Big diff, huh? [Well, clearly enough of a difference to be used against the driver…] This shithead owner reckons he could’ve made the trip down safely. [Oh.. would that be the same owner whose incompetent maintenance in the rusted out chassis of the bus resulted in its roof shearing off? Not quite a respected person, in my books…] What a shithead. Poor Guy. [What I failed to mention here is that it only took ONE one hour lesson to get a bus license. This previous owner of the bus – who claims to have expertly traversed the Gillies in that very bus many times himself – also happened to have been Guy’s instructor. (See Friday’s clippings) What I really want to know – and it didn’t come up at least in my recollection – is whether any trainee driver would be instructed how to negotiate a mountain range in one one hour lesson? Somehow, I highly doubt it. Yes, clearly I am still biased towards Guy, all these years later.] Mark was being quite a sweetie today – smiling a lot, a little affection I changed those shorts (refund) & got an excellent pair for $36 at GOOD TIME, get this – with a free tan leather belt (after I forked out $12 for one – shit this free one’s even a closer colour to my shoes than the $12) Saw Vikki & Gemila in Big W this arvy ..they’re funny. Dropped ½ my lunch at the Esplanade today (made me angry) God I need sleep. Ate SNAKES in courtroom. Mark, Cam & Keith told to stop talking or they’d get thrown out.

Friday 18/9/87
[Articles from this morning’s Cairns Post, re-capping Thursday’s proceedings…and looking grim for the bus driver]

A Life in WordsA Life in WordsIt’s SHIT. Results of today were absolute SHIT. First, at inquest, we heard the addresses. It seemed certain Guy would get some charge- almost every barrister was against him. But his representative put up a good arguement. Then Mr McKenzie spoke, accentuating the company’s fault. [After all, had Guy not been made to take that company’s unroadworthy, malfunctioning vehicle up the Gillies Range to begin with, his driving skills would never have been questioned.] Mr Perrem & Mr Strooper also spoke (both nervous – Mr Perrem shaking terribly) After recess, the judge related his findings I cried at the mention of Monique’s form of death + earlier when  her death certificates were handed up as exhibits etc.) A Life in WordsThe stupid shithead found Guy to be driving recklessly, causing death [So the official charge against him was Dangerous Driving Causing Death] Cameras reporters outside. Mum was interviewed on FNQ10 News. [She expressed her dissatisfaction with the outcome.] NO ONE agreed with his decision: the mechanics got off SCOT-FREE IT’S UNBELIEVABLE. What sort of dick, prick, cunt, wanker is Trevor Pollock? [One whom I personally believe may have potentially been instructed by a higher power to find scapegoat. Yes, I have my own conspiracy theory, which I won’t disclose simply because it is – of course – conjecture.] Fi, Jo & I after dropping my eng. assign. at school, stayed in town all arvy.. I got some $15 jeans from KAFFA – need taking in at the waist, tho- but they’re great. Mum, Jules & I went late nite: I got a tape, too. See I rang Mark at home & he wasn’t in a good mood at all – last night [privacy omission] So apparently everyone’s shitty with Mark. not his fault. So I thought “great”, another boring night… depending on his mood tomorrow, we might do something sat. night SHIT

A Life in WordsSaturday 19/9/87

[I chose this particular news clipping from my collection because it was the most succinct article, but also exactly highlights the sentiments of the wider community about the inquest results: shock & disbelief that the mechanics & the bus company were liberated of any responsibility. Monique’s father poses the question that everyone wanted the answer to… see the third last paragraph of the article. (I’ve deliberately broken the  article up into segments (separate photos) so that the text can be more easily read.)A Life in Words

A Life in WordsA Life in Words

Today I did very little. . I re-arranged or, re-organized my drawers in my desk, then wrote the overdue birthday thank-you letters. [Yep, that’s VERY overdue: my birthday was in July.] I rang Mark around 3:00, he was feeling better today – [privacy omission] (Bad, huh?) He said he’d ring me back .. by 6:00 I thought I’d ring him, it was getting late. So we mucked around talking – he didn’t know what he was doing – I got upset -he said he’d ring back. I rang Fi & Jo & decided to go to Judd’s party with them. When Mark rang back he said they were going to Steve’s & then if they went out after, would I like to go? Well I said I’d be at Judd’s. Sure enough, they came & Mark was rather drunk. I kept my eye on him.. I noticed him kissing this girl at the bar & I got upset. He smoked a cigar & I was repulsed. To cut the story short; we argued & he broke us up. A Life in WordsI’ve never cried so much in my life. I begged, pleaded & threatened [crossed over to the next page…]

Sunday 20/9/87

him not to do it, but he .. oh shit, it hurts so much. There’s so many things. He kept saying he killed it: 9 months down the drain with [privacy omission] he doesn’t even know (well I know: Trisha F according to Deanne – St Monica’s slut. And I nearly hit her) […now that I can’t believe…] I tried my hardest to talk it out with Mark. [privacy omission] I had to walk home got to sleep 1:30, woke at 2:30, 3:30, 4 & got up at 6:00 – couldn’t sleep & had no appetite all day (did nothing ..some crash scrapbook) SO WORRIED. SO. DEPRESSED SO UPSET. I planned to go to his place to take his denim jacket back & talk. It was so hard .. he wasn’t going to change his mind. I couldn’t understand what he said. .he, I remember, “forget me, elissa. I’m no good for you. You’re making a mistake.” DON’T MARK. How can you say that? [Maybe because he was being honest?] Finally, I convinced him he said we’ll have a break, till he wants to get in touch again.. but I can’t handle even that. I need him. [Urgh. Those words most certainly do not exist in my vocabulary now.] I was looking forward to the holidays with him, so much. FUCK THAT PARTY. FUCK IT [Sorry honey, but that party – and everything that happened at it – was necessary…]

As an afterthought, I decided to include this article from Sunday’s paper, penned by the father of one of my Year 12 classmates (who obviously had a vested interest in covering the inquest) He highlights what is to me an exquisite and genuine human virtue: Selflessness Sun 20 Sep headline

A Life in Words

Emotional Depths & A Message From Monique (20-26 April)

Monday 20/4/87

Um, was woken early by the others getting ready to go to Green Island… we dropped them off, went to the dump &, at home mum cleaned the car.. went to pick up the Dandos (remember them? John & Christine – – not the kids) [I am of course, asking to myself this question; not expecting you readers to know who these people were… Oh, and the answer is yes, I do remember them.] they stayed a while. All I did was finish covering my books & write out my chem. notes…no assignments done at all. SHIT. (all day!) The others came back around 4:00 (I cut mag. pictures & decorated my diary) After roast dinner (early) . . went to Nana’s (6:30) time flew . . at 7:30 I wanted to go ..slowly, so bloody slowly we finally got home 8:00. [I was too young and self-centred to realise that this was the last visit my aunt who lived interstate would have with her mother (Nana) before they left Cairns tomorrow. So very selfish, in hindsight…] I rang him as soon as I got in the door… cutie (short -10 min) phone call, just to hear his voice before school. A Life in WordsAfter shower, watching NORTH & SOUTH & fucking mother turned it off & made us “have an early night” …it’s fuckin 9:40.. thats not fuckin early …what’s the fuckin point? It’s shit. She’s so dumb I’m not gonna get up at 5:00. . I can get ready in  10 minutes → we’re leaving 6:15 … I’m getting up at 6:00. FUCK YOU. [Well there’s a dummy-spit and a half! Kids really don’t like Discipline do they?!]

Tuesday 21/4/87

[My cousin wrote “Bye Lis ♥ Jo xox” on the first line of this page] I was cranky at being woken at 5:45… but, once they were gone (it was freezing at the airport!) [Really? Freezing in Cairns?] I was feeling better [hmm, that doesn’t sound very nice, but I’m quite sure it wasn’t anything personal toward my cousins; I would’ve meant that my crankiness dissipated by the time they left]. .a bit nervous going to school again… dunno why .. perhaps that I wasn’t wearing the bandage? Well, that wasn’t bad at all .. most people didn’t notice (well, didn’t stare when I looked at ’em – I didn’t notice anyone noticing) [Strangely, my self consciousness about my scar had a direct effect on my courage: not typically one to make eye contact with strangers, I brazenly held my gaze upon those who noticed it, as most of them would eventually look up from leg to my face. (To assign identity? Or search for a clue in the owner’s face of the story behind the deformity?) Having grown up believing it was rude to stare, there may have been a certain self-righteousness driving my courage: by catching them gawking was I hoping to embarrass them for their overt curiosity?] s’posed to be 19º tonite YAY!! Mark & I got on v. well!! A Life in WordsSpending lotsa time together (argh – mozzies.) Had a biro fight in biology ..almost serious (was saying to Fi . . I think we can sense (well I do) when our “picking” is getting too close to a fight & thus “back off” at least a little! now Cool, great!) He rang me this arvy – wowee!!! We are becoming slightly more openly affectionate (ie: at school etc in public) Almost had a blue on the phone tonite ..but solved again! I wanna serious talk to him soon.. ask him how I’m going… whether I’m doing anything now that bugs him (I’m doing everything else he asked … talking to him – going up to him – relaxing (I think!)) [OMG, who IS this person?! The proverbial doormat? Why so eager to please, to change, for one person? Even if you’re not one to believe in Karmic debts or patterns, it’s obvious that he was an important ‘teacher’ and that this relationship presented me with some significant life lessons, for which I can only be grateful.] Walked to shop this arvy…got mima & fiona easter goodies. Am getting so fat. . . I think it may be my Freddy soon, that’s the prob! [For those that mightn’t have heard of it before, ‘Freddy’ was (yet another) slang term for menstruation…] Early! Is only 8:55 & I’m ready 4 bed!

Wednesday 22/4/87

I’m really scared. I mean really scared.. about my future. My life. These horrible feelings I have…that life is pointless [uh-huh! here it is..]. .and it all has mainly to do with Mark [oh, no, not what I was thinking…]…he is very bored (I rang him briefly tonight) with life and (we nearly had a big fight tonight) it is getting me… I feel it, too [but Elissa, you are very sensitive and often subject to the moods of others…] and it scares me.. A Life in Wordswe are too young to be sick of life already … and another thought.. no matter how I try, I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone the way I love Mark [well, to begin with, you can’t TRY to love people…] ..even when I go to Brisbane ..I’ll always have him on my mind. That’s scary, too, to think I love him so much, when I haven’t loved a guy before. [There’s always a first, for every one, in every thing…] I am capable of very deep love .. but incapable of getting over a broken love (as deep as that) I’m sure I know what’ll happen – he’ll find someone for himself, who he’ll love more than me & want to marry & I’ll still love him because I can’t get him out of my mind or heart, to love another guy… Or try to. [Good news, people; my pessimistic predictions were wrong… I didn’t suffer a loveless life. What a tragic-romantic!] Boring day. School always is … Life is. I did HW tonight. It rained today. A Life in WordsI got my senior badge. Went grocery shopping with mum after school. Ate a lot of junk. [….and THAT would’ve helped your mood. Not.]

Thursday 23/4/87

I felt kind of happy today. I still felt depressed & scared this morning.. I said I wished I’d died in the crash and so mum made an appointment with kerri [the social worker from my hospital stay, with whom I’d had the best connection] for after school. I actually hung around Mark less today..and I think it made me feel better for it …before school a little, during bio, a little of recess, a little at big lunch (was with Fi, Seigi, Nicole, Juliet the rest _ _ he missed me too: looking for me!) & minute after school. So I was happy when I went to see Kerri.. but talking brought up all my fears, worries & depression. I realised, however, that Kerri was right- I’m depending on Mark only (that’s too much for him) …I know what I need ..spend more time with Fiona, Mima, Sharon .. do the things I used to do…go out, to parties etc.. without Mark .. to free him & get some excitement or change of scene for me.. then I’ll enjoy other things more! [Hallelujah. Yes, Be Your Own Person: Life Lesson 101!] Rainy – pouring late this arvy & tonight. 9:34. A Life in WordsI must have a positive outlook to make me feel better Pessimism always nags me, tho’. I actually started some art today! Getting fat (& periods)

Friday 24/4/87

It’s raining – I love rain at night. Today was good, indeed. I didn’t talk before school & very little at little lunch ..when we did see each other at big lunch & after school.. we were happier ..for sure (well I was!) I think  the less time we spend together ..the more sacred & exciting our time together becomes. And that’s what I need; excitement .. I am seeing a difference in my life .. I’ve acquired a primarily positive outlook! [Wow, that was quick, like the flick of  switch? At risk of sounding like the pessimist I can be, let’s see how long it lasts…] Lotsa HW this weekend..english assignment & art contract due Monday. Went home in Brewer’s combi – Brent drove it to school- stopped at Kentucky Fried! Mark rang – said he’s working 1pm-9pm Sat. night – can’t go bowling (with me, mim, Brent, Fi ..) but we’ll get around that, we decided (HOW? Well, that we didn’t decide)A Life in Words went to see PLATOON Gory – gruesome. Brent, Steven & Keith were there too. (M&I walked around town first- met Gordon C. & Clayton E. & Russell C.) Dropped Keith home as well as Mark. Mark is being so much nicer lately. . .  I have 2 theories as to why ..either it’s because I feel happier that he is, or appears to me to be, [well hello! here’s a hint of the Law of Attraction] OR he has hi’s & lo’s in his personality depending on moods & he just happens to be in a good one

Saturday 25/4/87

I woke around 9:20!! Wow! Watched TV & listened to music & doing (little) homework all day… rang mima twice, Sharon once. She rang me once again & I rang Mark & he rang me. Well, I had a shower etc when mima fi & Brent came, Sharon was late. Off to Kentucky Fried (yummy! laughs!) Bowling was fun! I came last in the 1st game, but 2nd in the 2nd! Big jump! .. I needed to warm up first, that’s why I did badly 1st game. [Also, I’ve never been a star athlete… but if I try my hand at something I can usually master it, over time.] Well I rang Mark from the alley to say we’d be a little longer. It was O.K. . he’d only just got home. (Found out I’d forgotten to change before I left home..thought all night I’d leak ..but was so surprised when I got home .. NOTHING at all!!! Only night 3, too!) [I guess there’s no need to explain what that was all about?] Picked Mark up . . party boring, very boring at first ..but soon we started holding hands etc. almost got ‘there’ [no, still not what y’all think!] but this guy came up & talked to him for ages..so I had to go.. he came to say goodbye. . only 1 big kiss Poopy! said he’d ring me tomorrow (rainy weather still!) Oh, I wish (!!) Fi & I once on our way home realised (we both had wanted to stay!) we had enough $ between us, to get a taxi home. TOO LATE!

Sunday 26/4/87

Today was boring, but something very freaky happened tonight. I woke just before 9:00 & spent (what time I did) the day doing my art.. have 3 left to do. . . argh! (Mucking around, otherwise) Mark rang me during my dinner ..at work (he was) talked briefly- a customer came in. Oh well .. I was doing my work, listening to the radio [via my walkman, so I had headphones on] (at the dining room table – Julia in her armchair) I heard a “thump” [it wasn’t loud, I saw something out of the corner of my eye…] ..looked at a 45″ record (single) on the floor. Took little notice for a few seconds ..How did it get there, from being wedged in the mantelpiece thingy? Turned off my radio [removed my headphones] & bent down to pick it up. A Life in WordsGuess what it was .. Walk Like An Egyptian… the only 45″ we own, that was one of Moni’s favourite songs. I was a little frightened, but mostly bewildered & shocked. FREAKY ..or just coincidence? Wow. when I told Jules, I could tell she was scared (not very scared.. just shaken up.) [We put the record on, to ‘acknowledge’ her…] Anyway, I feel spooked a bit, thinking about it..but I’m not scared.. If it was Monique .. I’m glad she let me know she’s there. [There’s no doubt in my mind that it was Monique. I analysed the situation over and over and there’s NO other explanation. The windows were closed so there was no air movement. And our numerous 45″ records were firmly wedged by a basketful of cassettes into a recess (shelf) in “the mantelpiece thingy” (which was directly behind me as I worked at the dining room table). Further inspection revealed that the shelf inclined towards the front (opening) so anything rolling forward out of it would defy laws of Physics. What are the chances? What are the chances that of all the singles records we owned, the one that meant the most to Monique, rolled out of its cover, forward out of an up-slanting shelf, to land right-side up, by my feet? I’m sorry if you’re a skeptic, but that shit doesn’t just happen. That’s WAY beyond coincidence.]

More Trauma, More Surgery, More Drugs… (23 February-1 March)

Monday 23/2/87

Shit. I slept well last night…ready to finally go home..had shower, then the nurse took off my dressing for the doctors. They came, Talked. Then looked. MY STITCHES BURST, I HAVE TO HAVE A SKIN GRAFT ON WEDNESDAY. [In other words, I had to go under the knife again: to have the procedure I was meant to have in the first place. Not just insensitive & arrogant, but also incompetent surgeons?] I couldn’t stop crying when they left – mum & Kerri the social worker were with me. A Life in WordsI didn’t realise just how much I was looking forward to going home, till I couldn’t. Bastard. Bitch. I hate my leg… I’m going to have the biggest scars & a totally deformed thigh. it’s not fair. I’ll miss out on the carnival.. wednesday night. I hate my leg, I hate that bus, I hate life. Everything’s going wrong – my health, my “love-life” (Mark), my schoolwork. [Because I was so distraught about ‘everything’ by the end of the day, I failed to mention the tortuous consequence of the failed surgery; the removal of the stitches. It was horrendous, quite possibly the most physically painful experience in my life to date. At least I was in shock whilst pinned under the bus. I was given no local anaesthetic, no heavy-duty painkillers… just a couple of pills (‘digesics’) before the nurse began tugging (albeit as gently as possible) at the sutures stuck in the raw flesh around the entire circumference of the hole in my leg. You have NO idea…] I had a few visitors ..Justine & Angela & their mums, Yru & Mr Gordon & Dad came. [Dad] Got back from Adelaide today. God, I’m hot. And pissed off & depressed. Oh life’s a shit, a bitch. Imagine my scars .. to think I would’ve liked to do modelling [I’m not sure that I had ever really desired that myself: I think this was more of a notion inserted into my consciousness by others…] Everybody’s telling me it mightn’t (most likely it won’t) be bad… [being optimistic for me] They’ll disappear/fade with time. But I haven’t got lots of that. [? What did I mean by this?] It’s not fair. And Mark…that’s not fair, either.. we need to get on better.. I want to walk & go out …SHIT I’ll be here at least another week, I’ll bet. Not fair.

Tuesday 24/2/87

I was thrown into depression again, today. After showering I went with Kerri down to her office We had a talk about the crash etc. Fiona & her mum were waiting for me outside ..walked back to my bed.. A Life in Wordsmum came with the letter from Mark. It said “goodbye” & envelope contained the necklace which he “washed”. [Thanks for the ‘double whammy’, Universe. Talk about Murphy’s Law…] He was really angry about me sending him away. I got rather upset. Fi read it … I wrote a note for her to give to him & the photo of us… I was so upset. The rest of the day went slowly. I watched TV but wasn’t ‘there’. This arvy Miss Stephenson & Mrs Connors came & talked. Mark came up, while they were here. I had a heart attack – honestly, I thought you could see my chest pounding. When they left, we (or I) talked (mostly) He’s coming back tomorrow. We have quite a bit of sorting out to do. He can’t understand that I “don’t trust him”- ANYBODY. I’ve got to explain, but I’m afraid he won’t understand & will say goodbye for good. [Actually, I’m not even sure now what my reasoning was…] Had lots of visitors tonight. Is 9:30. Big day tomorrow – skin graft. Huh. Great. And bloody carnival I’ll miss out on.

Wednesday 25/2/87

A Life in Words
I’ve no idea why I decided I needed to keep this bottle of ‘Hibiclens’ pre-op soap…

I am rather ‘happy’ compared to yesterday & Monday. I slept badly last night – I mean, I couldn’t get to sleep to start with. This morning I had my pre-op soap shower & put on my lingerie (ha, ha!) (op. costume) about 10:00 I think, they started wheeling me away – but I stopped them: I wanted my pre-op needle!! [Junkie!] I got it. Waited less time this time, outside. [By now an old-hat with the pre-op experience, I had decided it was time to try to fight the grogginess and remember everything I could.  The wardsmen had stationed me right beside a tropical fish tank in the surgical waiting area and with my head lolling to the left for better focus on the aquatic life, I remember thinking “gotta count the fish”. Did I remember how many there were? LOL] At 10:55 they knocked me out totally. I remember being put back into bed.. When I woke, Mark was here, with Jules, Leanne (J) & mum. We talked well. He came up during lunch. .spent rest of the arvy with me. said he’s coming tomorrow too! YAHOO! He left me a letter, you see, telling me just how much he loves me. It is a gorgeous letter. Few more visitors today. (Jaque & Trina!!) BLOODY SWIMMING CARNIVAL on TONIGHT I’M MISSING IT. SHIT. NOT FAIR. I’ll be laid up in bed for “about 5 days”. Great. Huh. Little hot. I come out of anaesthetics pretty well, pretty quickly. [Like I said, I was a professional by now…] Am feeling slightly more confident about my scars now. Have a feeling I’ll get rid of them rather quickly! [Hmmm, seems I still didn’t understand the extent of my injury?] Hope so. Damn missing the carnival. Damn. G’night!

Thursday 26/2/87

Mark didn’t come up today. But I wrote a letter for him this morning. Numbness of my leg wore off at 2:00 this morning – I woke – my leg was ‘burning’ – stinging so much it felt on fire. I got a needle & my leg hasn’t hurt too much since. I wrote a letter to Roger [my cousin]. Got a letter from Lucy- she’s coming up at Easter. Nothing much happened … Keith came up! So did some others – mima – told me about some notes [privacy omission] had written in [privacy omission]‘s biology book – something like “I heard Elissa & Mark have broken up- I feel guilty but I’m so happy.” Ha, ha! He loves me! She’s skint! I gave Julia my letter to give to him tomorrow. I wish he’d come up today. I might be out Monday according to the doctors & “how I feel” A Life in Wordsso hot ..have to have washes in bed ..no more showers – & bloody bedpans – I did a poop tonight – hate doing ’em in bedpans. SKINT [privacy omission]! mark – I love you!! Conversation mostly about carnival- I missed one hell of a night DAMMIT!!

Friday 27/2/87

He came this afternoon ..no kisses, but holding hands.. yum, yum, yum ..I’m in love! Julia said she gave the letter to Lynette C to give to him & Sharon told me he got it. (Mima, fi, justine, megan, sharon came at lunchtime) I did a little bit of work today, listened to music, watched TV … all the same boring stuff. Oh, he’s coming tomorrow, too. Can’t wait till I’m out of here. Longing. A longing to be with him as much as possible. My leg’s annoying. Needed a needle last night again . . woke 1st – got digesics (??) [oral painkillers] 2nd time given the needle. Wowee! Police Academy’s on TV now UNREAL!! ♥ Mark. Trina visited. I’m getting used to the food – I eat most of it now that’s how long I’ve been in hospital. Oh dear. All I can think about is Mark. I’ll bet he liked the letter. I hope. YUMMY – hot afternoon. Pain-in-the-arse leg. Oh, I wish time would fly. Am sleeping badly. Lucy’s coming for Easter hol’s – so are Jodie & Michael & A. Hilary & Delanie should have moved back up here my then too! WOW!

Saturday 28/2/87

mark spent about 3½-4 hrs with me this arvy- left at 5:30. (Although Andrew J & Martin J interrupted for about ½ hr – I think I gave them the hint … I didn’t know what to talk about – so didn’t say much… Mark mucked around with the stuff on my bedside table!) [How completely uncomfortable, but inexcusably rude. I am retrospectively embarrassed.] It was funny… affection now & then, (no kisses, though … not even goodbye) but mostly “buddies” …Crabby came up tonight and, believe it or not, Marney & Nola R! But I kept talking to Wayne I don’t believe how well we get on! He gave me a goodbye kiss, cos it’d be the last time I see him for a long time. They’re leaving for their leadership camp tomorrow afternoon. I want to go home Monday, for sure. I want to get better really quickly so I can walk & dance, at least. Even if it’s a limp. I want to go out & get with Mark; something I haven’t down for nearly a month now. I think, in a strange, twisted sort of) way, this crash has made me more “well known”….people being more friendly ..and perhaps (guys) noticing me. But I’m for Mark. I know how [privacy omission] feels now .. heaps of guys you’d love to flirt with, get with for a night – but the one guy you love and want forever. No one will ever replace mark. I wish we could have a future together – I mean life-long, you know. But it won’t happen … I’m sure. [A fairly safe prediction, that one: teenage romances burgeoning into lifelong partnerships are as rare as hens’ teeth] HOT again. Can’t wait to have a proper shower again!

A Life in WordsThe diary I used in 1987 was a generic one (not specific to the year) so it had a page for 29 February (perchance the owner happened to use it in one of those). Since ’87 wasn’t a leap year, I had extra space to write for Saturday… but underneath this very important notation:

Sunday 1/3/87

He didn’t come up today. In fact, besides Justin, Mr McKenzie & his family and  (of course) mum & jules, no one did. Boring! I watched TV, read magazines .. that’s about it. God, I hope this is my last night here. I really don’t think I could stand much longer – one more night. NO! I need to get out ..get better quickly.. I’m dying to go out & do things again. I wonder when I’ll see Mark again . . . would he come to our house? I wonder! Talked about the crash with Justin- I’d love to find out what happened- when. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put back the hands of time. But, no, I shouldn’t think that. What’s done, is done. [Nice little hint of Wisdom there] I hope it doesn’t hurt me to walk on crutches again… I want to be able to do it so I can get out. God, I want to go. I’m still in a bit of pain… but not near as bad as thursday  I still need tablets (digesics) but I can roll over at night again. I’m looking forward to a shower again, too (wash my hair!)

 

Her Funeral, the Public Memorial & Raw Meat Pie (9-15 February)

Monday 9/2/87

Mark saw me 2 times today!! Came up in his wheelchair! He was chirpier and only stayed little whiles. I was shitty in the morning – woken early again cos I couldn’t roll over – so bad – makes me restless so I’m still tired & cranky. A shower and I still felt bad – exhausted. But I put lotsa pressure on my left leg – put all my weight on it (nearly) GREAT! (But dad reminded me tonight about the crack in my femur – don’t wanna make that worse.) [In the long term this injury amounted to nothing: at some stage I recall a doctor saying they weren’t even certain it existed: the crack was so fine that it could have simply been a scratch on the X-ray itself] They also dressed my right leg (the deep puncture) today – Tania C (who was here all day – 10am to 8pm!!) and my fav. nurse Alison “comforted” me but I made heaps of noises – it was bad. [I’ve already ascertained that my vocal chords are not inhibited in times of Stress…] My leg was put on an electric exerciser – it was great – bending & moving my right leg!! I was wary at first. God changing the dressing was hell-ful. I also did my first shit in one week or ≈8/9 days. [Ok, for new readers, I need to explain: my family – dad in particular – was not very inhibited with regard to discussing bodily functions. To the point that (perennial comedian he is) he coined a phrase for the phenomenon: the “Coxen Bowel Fetish”. If you care to better understand this unique family trait, there’s a fuller explanation in this post from my 1984 archives] Quite a few visitors perked me up. We watched video of Friday’s school memorial & tree planting. Sound was terrible couldn’t hear anything. Cried anyway. [Naturally] Mark got his tube out of his lung. Am tired now – hoping I can roll over tonight. Glad Mark visited me “a lot”. I really do think he likes me a lot – that letter says it all & so has he. It’s about […and then I forgot to fill in the time..]

A Life in Words
Goodbye my beautiful friend x

Tuesday 10/2/87

I went to Monique’s funeral by car around 2:30 I thought it’d “do the job” – but I still don’t think I’ve cried enough. I realised I lost a true friend – a person I met & related with so soon, but trusted quickly & forever. She lives in my heart & mind. I need her to live with me. I met Kerri; saw Mr & Mrs P. I cry when I see them & Camille & Kerri. [I think this was the last time I would see Monique’s mother for a very long time. Apparently she refused to see me because it was too painful, because it was always with Monique. Of course this upset me, but how could I fail to understand that?] Kerri & her mum came to the hospital tonight. She doesn’t say much. [Kerri was Monique’s ‘previous’ best friend in Brisbane. With hindsight I now understand she may not have “said much” because she too would have been in shock and grieving…] I felt really cranky after the funeral – my leg was sore. people all looking at me [I’m hardly an exhibitionist, but I can tolerate a certain amount of attention. Things mustn’t be ‘rosy’ if I am shunning the ‘spotlight’…] – went home in a stretcher in an ambulance. Rolled over (partly) last night! But woken early by nurses anyway 6:00. ooooh! Bumsore! Legsore! Change of dressing was bad again today. I hate it so much. [I still hadn’t the courage to look at the wound: I have always found that one method of tolerating (physical) pain is to not look at what’s causing it. For example, I still can’t watch the needle piercing my dermis in the act of blood giving, for example…] Tanya (C.) & Alison “helped” me again, tho’ I bit Tanya’s back today. Umah. [Clearly it’s not just my vocal chords that respond to stress: so do my jaw muscles…] Funny – having Tanya in all day. (And yesterday) She’s good company. [She really was one of my Saviours] Mark came up little while once. Tonight for longer … gave him kiss (little) worried – Jaque & Michael B both say Tricia spends 2hrs a day with him. I must trust him. Exerciser again – bending knee higher. memorial service tomorrow. Will it do the final job of recovering me? Will it get me out of shock? [Oh the naivety… if only it was as easy as ‘flicking a switch’…] must be with mark 4 it. about 9:00

A Life in Words
The Civic Memorial at St Monica’s Cathedral spilled out into the street

Wednesday 11/2/87

A Life in Words
A photographer captures my feeling during the civic memorial

packed day. Slept badly again-rolling a little isn’t enough … I went for a shower (reluctantly almost) and stood on my left leg to do so (I went to the ladies for the 1st time – out of a wheelchair – on a seat for the bath.) Then after using the loo- yes, proper loo! for a shit, yes, poo! (Talked to Trina – both of us for 10mins!) Ambulance men came. Mum hadn’t come with my uniform so Jaque let me wear hers. I felt terrible at first. I was smiling & waving at people [well… you were free of your hospital room for the first time in 6 days, and since visitor numbers had declined, seeing familiar faces after ‘so long’ would have been quite refreshing] & couldn’t cry – but later, during the eulogies, it all came out. Monique was my 1st best friend in about 6yrs [I can’t think whom I supposed my previous best friend was… six years earlier I would’ve been in Year 5 or 6 at primary school] – I think my first true one [indisputable]. I love her & I’m gonna miss her so much – not gonna be there (physically) anymore, when I need her… left in tears (news crews there – I was on the news – Mark too & others) They made me get on crutches – walk today. It hurt so much…even more (?? not sure) than dressing the wound ..I screamed but it was better today than “ever”. [“Dressing the wound” was a tad more complex than you might think. Still unable to bring myself to look at it, all I knew at this stage was that they had to ‘pack’ the wound daily with saline-soaked cottonwool, around the two plastic ‘drains’ that were buried in there. That may begin to give you an idea of the extent of the injury…] Lotsa Smithfield people came becca p, Karen & toni & Jo B – gave me a record voucher & chocolates. [Yes, black vinyl. We still had record players in the late 80’s, although cassettes were more predominantly used (in our walkmans, right?) CD’s were pretty much unheard of’.] Isn’t that great? Um, saw mark little – another kiss. He’s going tomorrow. hope he sees me at school lunchtimes. I wonder if Tricia kisses him when she sees him. Bitch – spending too much time with him. [The Green Monster] Hope nothing happens back at school. OH WOE!!

Thursday 12/2/87

I nearly fainted on the crutches this arvy – I decided to try and walk to the loo – but the pain in my leg – the blood rushing to my wound my feet – by my wound – made me light-headed weak, dizzy. After drinking water – I was wheeled to the loo. SHit. I’ve been eating choc-coated peanuts they made me shit 2 times more this arvy. [I can’t decide whether the ‘SHit’ was an expletive because I failed to get to the bathroom on my own & had to be wheeled in, or whether it was an introduction to the statement detailing my bowel movements…] After loo, I went to see Mark – talked & mucked around. He went home. (after long (??) time) But he has to come here 10pm – stay the night so they can check his leg in the morning. Hope he visits me. Said he’s going to movies tomorrow night – & it only just occurred to me: with whom? TRICIA? NO! He CAN’T. WOULDN’T. COULDN’T. might? Oh dear; I hope he visits me lots. I’ll miss him – I already do. Doctors undressed my leg today so I had no painkillers WHATSOEVER. I let out a scream & one doctor revved me. [I was immediately stunned into silence; why did the doctor snap at me? How could he be so heartless? So rough, insensitive & unsympathetic? Aren’t all medical professionals meant to be caring? I was a kid for chrissakes, with a hole in my leg …to which the dressings stuck fast every day. Was I not entitled to react to Pain? I literally dreaded the doctors’ rounds thereafter, and even tried to arrange bathroom sojourns in order to evade them. This experience may also possibly underlie my partial aversion to the clinical medical industry…] I saw the wound – unpacked. Yukky. [That’s a bit of an understatement. A Life in WordsThe only way I have been able to describe it to people is in this light: imagine you took the pastry top off a meat pie, and discovered not only that it was uncooked (red-raw) inside, but that there were also two bits of plastic tubing staring out at you. That was what my right inner thigh (about 10cms above my knee) looked like. It’s a real shame we never managed to take any photos of it.] Then waited ages till the nurses brought the stuff – to repack themselves I was much better today I think. Took stitches out of my [left] knee. God I wish my muscles would work themselves. [That’s what every lazy person wishes with regard to physical activity!] It’s 9:00. I need an early night. So I can hack walking or even standing tomorrow. I hate it. HURTS SO BAD. ♥ u mark!

Friday 13/2/87

My bruising appears to be going down – it’s fading.. I got on crutches lots today… walkies!! and I didn’t scream or even yell when my dressing was done! (I had the Finnish sister – she’s really gentle – doesn’t rip off stuff that’s stuck to the wound- soaks it in NaCl+H2O [saline solution] and gently prys apart.) But the best bit was… MY CAMERA WAS FOUND & THE HORNETTS PROCESSED THE FILM! I Have PHOTOS! 20 photos some good, some boring – but all are great campshots. Not enough of Monique. A few visitors today. Mark came up before he left. 2 goodbye kisses. I’m gonna miss him. He’d better come up tomorrow. If he doesn’t I’ll bash him!! Ha, ha! (Not going to movies- he’s going to dinner with family- “WELCOME HOME”.) Getting rain lots now. Think periods are over, thank god. Ms Mars. came up & gave us (Trina & I) [art] work. Pizza (from dad) for tea. Jaque’s going home tomorrow. Will be boring-er [meaning: more boring] when she’s gone. Yowie fell out of bed last night & Mark almost ran him over today. (in wheelchair) God, he’s lost weight – skinny runt. Restless sleep last night …couldn’t get comfortable – couldn’t roll over much. Shitty right leg. hurry up & heal! about 9:30.

A Life in Words
Sometime after the back-biting incident, I was presented with this teething ring to use during dressing changes. (I think my mum bought it for Tania’s sake!) It was clearly well-used…

Saturday 14/2/87

VALENTINE’S I got from him a red rose, a balloon-on-a-stick (saying “I love you”) and a card (and even a little letter-which is great, considering he finds it hard to write) he came during the last 15mins or so of my dressing- I didn’t know for the first 10 mins. and was babbling on.. Ha,ha. He stayed quite some time- about 4 or 5 kisses altogether today. Love that guy… can’t wait til I’m better & we’re both back at school. Cried more for Monique today. Realised how she’s the only one I’ll really miss – she’s the one who was most part of my life. I love you Monique. I wish you were here. I thought about being dead today. If I’d died, I wouldn’t’ve minded – cos moni’d be with me.. I’d feel none of the pain I get with this leg etc [The contemplation of Death is unavoidable in an experience such as this. You meet with it yourself, you lose your peers to it, you can’t hide from it. Up to this point in time, I naturally hadn’t formed many beliefs (we were never a highly religious family). I hadn’t conceived of much: ‘Where’ exactly do you – did they – Go? Heaven? What is Heaven? Does it even exist? The Fear of Death is simply the Unknown, so it’s clear that in one (very odd) respect I benefitted from Monique’s death: it removed an element of Fear about the Afterlife (or simply, ‘After’). I believed I would not be Alone, and I would not feel (physical) Pain…] ..Few visitors ..boring day cause JACQUE LEFT at 10:30. It’s so different without her. Ate lotsa junk today Hospital food -yukky-some alright. Kentucky from Trina’s parents for tea. I still will cry for monique I don’t think I’ll ever stop – slow down maybe, but never stop. [I was right. But the tears much, much fewer and farther between, because… Life Goes On.] Easier on crutches, esp. tonight.

Sunday 15/2/87

Mark did come in today.. was boring for him, I could tell..reckons he won’t come back or see me for 3 weeks… I reckon he’ll come back. Has to. I’ll bash him if he doesn’t!! [What’s with all this ‘bashing’ Liss? A bit aggressive…] Love that guy. He came in before I went for a shower and had my dressing changed – saw the hole in my leg. Crabbe came in yet again…and Tania, but what’s new? Missing Alyson (nurse) quite a few new nurses now Did my daily exercise – crutch to loo shower, clean my teeth, to the “lookout room” at the other end of this floor & other miscellaneous crutch expeditions. Here I was thinking this diary would be just big enough. Next year I’m gonna get a thick book & write when I feel like it…probly every night, but more often if I feel inclined. Slept quite well last night. Talked to lotsa people, Justin, Daniel A, Dad, mum about their side of the story; what they felt ..what happened to them. [I believe ‘sharing’ experiences assists in the grieving and/or healing process. I have been surprised by the number of readers who have, through their gratitude to me for these blogposts, expressed this. While she wasn’t a ‘diariser’ like I, Mum managed to maintain a journal for a few weeks after the accident and I intend to transcribe parts of that in another, separate post in the near future. Reading it myself is difficult for two reasons: not merely identifying with (or trying to imagine) her experience, but also because she has now passed, her absence (my Loss) is accentuated.] I realised I haven’t dreamt since the accident. 2 weeks almost. Wonder if that’s [a] mental side effect. Will ask a social worker tomorrow. Eeek! Doctors tomorrow looking at my wound. No escaping it! Aaagh! Ate a fair bit today. Ooo-er! Rainy, cool… I think I’m getting better physically… mentally no.. I’m depressed… I’ll be in here at least another week.. I reckon 2. Everybody else’ll be gone by then I bet.

The Day After: Heartbreak (5 February)

Thursday 5/2/87

8 died. Monique has gone. Erica too, Mark F, Mandy G, Judy F, Jody & Lee-anne & Liz. 7 of them were sitting up the back [but notably, all 8 were sitting on the left hand side of the bus; that which would have borne the weight of bodies & debris thrown from the right-side side at the first moment the ground fell away beneath us]. I can’t believe Monique is gone. It’s unbelievable. I know she is, but I can’t comprehend it. Today was very busy. Heaps of people came. I have a big “hunk” out of my left knee, a small crack in my left femur and a huge gash in the back of my right thigh, where the bus was on me. […almost correct…] Mark is in intensive care. I hope he’s alright. I got a letter tonight – note he wrote before the camp. [privacy omission] I cried a fair bit today. Esp. when dad told me about monique. No one knew about her [in that, whenever I asked after her they all answered that they didn’t know, or hadn’t heard. I can’t imagine how hard that would have been for them: to lie to the face of someone to whom they knew the truth would cause so much pain].. didn’t tell me so I was kind of guessing.A Life in Words Rather late night. Food is disgusting. My head and arms are badly bruised. Cameron, Jason P, and Yru are next door [there was an adjoining ward to ours]. Fi (broken collarbone) Kay & Ms Bowles were released at different times today.

[There are 6 pages dedicated to this day in the scrapbook but they are mostly filled with clippings from a variety of newspapers; mostly from the local ‘Cairns Post’.]

Woken quite early to have blood pressure and temperature taken, then no one (except Fiona, of course) could get back to sleep, so we talked. I was quite determined to find out as much as I could…so asked lots of questions. I remember only Jacque, Ms. Bowles and Kay being interested in the conversation…however not seeming (Ms. Bowles, anyway) too happy to recall the events she remembered.  Jacque said she knew 3 of the dead, but refused to tell me when I asked at first. Eventually she told me Mark, Mandy and…Erica. A Life in WordsI said I knew Erica died (but I hadn’t really, had I?) When the papers arrived we realised exactly how major the event had been (we’d all missed the TV news the night before and had been wondering if it was ‘national’) The headlines greeted us:

“Cairns High camp ends in tragedy: 8 Die in Smash”

The Cairns Post reports virtually dominated the complete paper: front page headlines, continuing on pages 3 and 7.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s reports were very similar to some of the articles printed in the Cairns Post. [I knew nothing of media ownership (eg, Murdoch) back then.]A Life in Words

After breakfast, bedpans and bed washes, people began arriving: lots of people, mostly school friends, came throughout the day. The Brewers were one of the first to visit.  Mum had come, but left Julia [with me] when she had to do some business calls. Dad came.

I remember having asked Mrs Brewer about Monique, and she replied, “we haven’t heard” or “we don’t know”.

Strange: everyone seemed to have been saying that. I thought she was either so okay that she’d gone home straight away, or…but I didn’t think it was that.

I remember the nurses drawing the curtains around me, but, talking to Jemima (Mrs B, Polly & Julia standing nearby) I didn’t take much notice, or wonder why. [assuming more blood pressure tests or something of the like…] Apparently the whole ward was cleared of other visitors. [People have since confirmed this: all visitors were ushered out of the wards into the corridor, and it was jam-packed] I’ll never forget when my Dad came through the curtain: his eyes were quite moist. He said (and an eerie silence fell over the place) “They’ve released the names of the dead…”

I knew it…I had to accept what I had subconsciously known all along….what I hadn’t wanted to have to believe…

“Monique..”

I said it at the same time, my eyes brimming…

“was one of them.”

A Life in Words
Ink portraits of Monique traced from photos, in my scrapbook

The suspense was too much for Jemima, who broke out in (those, oh, so familiar) sobs, and I could sense every other person silently crying. I took a deep breath and wailed for the world to hear –

“MONIQUE, NOOOOOO, MONIQUE, MONIQUE…”

I don’t recall how long I cried for, but apparently, I was sedated and slept for quite some time…

[I have to admit I’m disappointed that my father assumed the role of informer before my mother had returned from her business calls. Knowing my mum, I’m certain she would have desperately wished to be by my side in that moment of need. It feels unfair to me, that the news was broken in her absence. In his defence however, he said he had consulted with the medical staff and it was jointly agreed that I needed to be informed sooner rather than later because of the sheer number of visitors: they expected someone would ‘let slip’ and they clearly wanted to ‘control’ the situation for everyone’s ‘psychological’ sake… the question is, can anyone ‘control’ anything??]

The rest of the day, after I woke, was a blur of people (SO many!) tears (over Monique) and flowers (the first of many I was to receive).

I had not yet a clear understanding of the injuries I’d sustained, thinking I had “a big hunk out of my left knee, a small crack in my left femur, and a huge gash in the back of my right thigh (where the bus was on me)” [clearly I pulled this directly from my diary] It was clear however, that my head and arms were badly bruised, and chest, hips and legs. [I have always bruised easily so this came as no surprise. I ended up with numerous contusions, the largest of which were in the soft flesh above my elbows. The haematoma on my left arm actually left a scar (another physical affliction to which I’m naturally pre-disposed) in the form of stretched and slight ‘greying’ of the skin.]

Fiona, Kay and Ms. Bowles were released at different times during the day…Fiona still oblivious to anything going on around her (still in shock).

In fact, I would have been in a deeper shock over Monique. The tears flowed nearly the whole day…and to any visitors I kept repeating and stressing how I needed friends now, because Monique was gone. They all nodded, eyes watery, in sympathy. [I had just lost the only real best friend I’d ever had. My very own best friend, who’d considered me hers too. It’s all I’d ever wanted, what I felt I’d lacked in my life to date. I was keenly aware that I was the ‘third wheel’ in the friendship trio with Jemima & Fiona, so Monique’s departure not only ripped open a gaping hole but infused it with past feelings of loneliness and alienation.]

Again, most visitors left after the close of visitors hours, including my mother and sister, who then went to visit Mr & Mrs P. [Monique’s parents] for an hour or so afterwards.