There is a fairly well known radio programme on the ABC here in Australia, called ‘Tears on Toast’. In actual fact it is a programme about Opera (the tears part) done early in the day (the toast referring to breakfast, part). I just like the metaphor and the possibilities it conjures, especially at this moment in my life. Five years ago we moved our daughter to Adelaide, 1000 miles away, to attend University. She was 18 and even though I went away to University at that same age, I was not living in a big city and trying to manage an apartment at the same time. The day we left her in Adelaide I felt as if I was leaving my child in the city jungle, to the ‘wolves’. We knew she was probably not ready for the particular situation in which she very purposefully placed herself, and I was heartsick knowing the difficulties she would likely encounter. I remember saying goodbye, tears streaming and looking back at her walking away, alone, toward public transport to take her to her apartment. We drove a few hours that afternoon and spent the night in the town of Port Augusta.
The next morning Don showered early and went off to McDonald’s to get us a McMuffin for breakfast. As I sat and tried desperately to swallow, the tears streamed down onto my McMuffin. Is there anything much sadder than tears on food from the place that has a meal called ‘the happy meal’? Maybe that’s where I went wrong… should have had the ‘happy meal’.
It took a few weeks but gradually I began to pick my way through the days and morph my life into something approaching enjoyable. It was a difficult time for me physically as I had to undergo a third in a series of three surgeries, so healing physically and emotionally were happening simultaneously.
After 6 months Allison returned to Alice Springs, but not before considerable heartache and difficulties for us all. Still, we welcomed her home again to try and see how we could help her move forward. And move forward she did! She grabbed both study and work opportunities with both hands and has gone from strength to strength ever since. It has been the most wonderful pleasure of my life to be so close to her and watch her develop into a responsible, intelligent, compassionate, delightful young woman.
This morning as I shed ‘tears on toast’ (the tears actually fell on the shirt I was ironing) it was for a different reason. I no longer have the same fears for her I did five years ago, for she is now ‘Diana’, Goddess of the hunt, armed for her trip into the city jungle. The tears are for my own grieving, for the loss of a beautiful energy that is in my life daily. I know she will stay close in heart but just as certainly I know our lives will be changed forever. The only thing I know for sure is this, we have no idea what these changes will turn out to be! It is a seminal time for us all, and one that deserves to be honoured as one of life’s transitional experiences, including the tears it brings. C’mon girlfriends, and don’t forget the tissues!!