We Are Human

We are all human. We are not girls and boys; we are not young and old; we are not black and white; we are human. Created in a womb and buried in the dirt. We are God’s creation. Skin woven together to hold our organs in does not determine our class. We are blood, sweat and tears, made to speak emotions, not to become a job. We are human. We are united by our similarities. We run on the same energy sources and live lives with the same needs. We wake with the sun and sleep by the moon. Because we are human.

We are not homelessness or poor government choices or malnutrition. We are not words on a page, or enemies or friends. We are human. We are not the clothes on our backs or the clips in our hair. We are not the endless race of who is better and who is faster. We are not broken relationships or torn families.

We are the kindness of strangers. We are the random smiles. We are the endless love that fills new parent’s hearts. We are human. We are the species that has a heart so fragile a simple sound can shatter it. We are one but we are many. There is nothing that unites us more than the feeling of love.

There are insects that spend their whole lives trying to eat children’s eyes from the inside out, plants which can kill us with a small touch; mosquitoes that are only 3 millimetres in length which are perpetuators of some of the worst diseases ever seen; bacteria which cannot be seen, yet we watch them take the lives of our loved ones. And yet what a person has between their legs determines if they are worthy of being paid or not. A person’s age determines their apparent ability. The colour of someone’s skin is the difference between having their say in their life, or not.

We still feel that we are a threat to each other and ourselves. We are our own worst enemy; we destroy ourselves so others can’t. We set up organisations, funds and protection programs with which to save us from us. We have created a world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are.

We are human. We smile with joy, showing white teeth and cry for many reasons with clear and salty tears. Children, reproduced humanity, drink white milk regardless of the hue of the breast by which they lie. Blood, spilled, stored or shared, is still red.

When we recognise our humanity, our similarity, and reinstate dignity and equality, we increase our integrity and solidarity. We create and affirm responsibility and let go of long held, closed-minded thoughts of normality.

We are human and the sooner we realise, recognise and remember, the better for us all.

With thanks and acknowledgement to Tahlya Andersen.

Not my story, obviously.

I can see why some people aren’t sure if Sam’s story is real or not. I mean, I’m a 41 year old woman, not a 16 year old boy. I don’t have the requisite parts to have testicular cancer. This is true. And so is Sam’s story.

“Nuts, A Ball and other 4-letter Words.”

He’s a real person. Not his real name for the sake of privacy. This is his journey for a short/horrifically long period of his life so far. This is the story, too, of anyone who has been dealt the punch to the face (knee to the groin?) that cancer is. It’s also the story of winning. Of not spelling cancer with a capital C. Of making it. Of living life anyway, of growth and regrowth. Of sharing instead of hiding. Of kissing and sex. Of separation and belonging. Just Life. It’s the story of family and yet it isn’t.

I spoke to most of Sam’s family while his personal story bubbled in my head and came flowing out in words both his and mine.

I spoke to his big brother who, although uncomfortable in some ways talking to a relative stranger, made his love love for his family, even an annoying younger brother, very clear.

I spoke with his little sister, who thought I was a little crazy and made a rude comment about my shoe choices….fair call, though. The two of us forged a friendship that was close, for a while, and sang the real lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ ‘Little Lion Man’ really, really loudly, just because we could. Now she’s not a ‘little’ sister any more, but a beautiful, engaged young woman with whom a coffee date seems elusive. And I spoke with Mum.

I wondered if she thought I was odd, a teacher and mother of children of my own, befriending her kids. Apparently not, thankfully. And I loved them. Hearing their stories; getting a little into their lives.

Weird, isn’t it, how quickly that depth of feeling can come? And go. Not the feeling, just the actual spending time. It just drifts off sometimes. I don’t really know why. Happens far more often than I’d like, that sort of fading. Anyway, I’m getting morose.

So Mum let me hang out. And talk to her kids. And to her. She told me all of her experiences of Sam’s diagnosis, treatment, surgery and eventual recovery. I think I expected more tears, more drama. But you’ve already read that’s not her style. So it was fact and explanation of both circumstances and emotions.

I always meant to write the whole story. The whole truth for the whole family, but I couldn’t write Mum’s perspective. When I voiced her, my pen stopped. I, who had children of my own and knew how mums felt when their children hurt. I, who could scrawl out the story of a teenager’s masturbation and fantasy, couldn’t find the words to share this mother’s battle for her boy.

Why?

I’m sorry that I couldn’t find your voice with my pen. I’m sorry that I couldn’t express your fear, or the knowledge that you just had to do what you had to do. I’m sorry ’cause I wanted to tell of your courage, your love. I wanted to write more. I don’t think I could go there, you know, because it would have been bloody hard. I haven’t looked at my notes in years, but I have one thing that I’ve always remembered.

When mums hug their children, we often put our hands on their heads, ruffle their hair up a bit. And it’s a sign of affection, of casual ‘love ya, mate’ warmth. But for you it became more. Discreetly, under the guise of casual, you’d check your not-so-little boy’s scalp and neck for the telltale heat of fever and bumps of possible infection. I already knew how I felt when I held my ‘babies’ and I think I couldn’t find your voice cause I didn’t want to even imagine having to watch them so closely, so scared. I knew I didn’t know, couldn’t even guess and I didn’t want to do you or your feelings injustice.

So there it is. Honesty. I’ve finally made myself look at it as more than just writer’s block.

If you haven’t read Sam’s story yet, you could start here.

Love,

Mandy. 🐛<<
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Another child arrives

This morning, for the first time in a long time, all 6 members of our family have piled into the van. It’s quite fortunate that this hasn’t happened any earlier, as up until last Wednesday, I had the back seats rolled down and the back of the van absolutely chock-full of costumes for the upcoming school musical, ‘The King and I.’ I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow them from a friendly teacher at another school just before the holidays. We’d picked them up, stuffed into the boot, with all good intentions to go home and sort, select and allocate them. This did NOT happen.

We got home and left them there. For two days. Then they were unceremoniously dumped into a spare space in our house for 6 weeks. Untouched. Then piled back into the car for the short drive to school….for the whole week BEFORE I went back to school. They’ve since been taken out, and so I have the opportunity to head out in the family van, with said family. We don’t want to rush these things.

(I share this with you not because it’s necessarily important to this story, but in the interests of being real. I found out that I’d ‘scared’ a friend with my plans to sort, select etc. Far too organised for holidays apparently. Never mind Miss J, I promptly went home and began real holidays. Novel reading reigned supreme! So, in the interest of not having what I term a ‘Facebook status’ type relationship with anyone, I like to share the reality of life, disorganisation and mess and all its glory!)

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Back to the titular role of this post; we are expecting another child today. Mr 16 is from Thailand. We are volunteer hosting him for the whole of this school year. He is the youngest of two boys with parents who are a doctor and professor of paediatrics in a university city. Mr 16 has been an excellent student at his school and expects to follow the rest of his family into the medical field. He would like to experience the world, see what other options are available in the world and improve his English. And he’s chosen to do this with us!

Having Mr 16 stay with us was definitely a God-driven experience. Miss 15 is particularly keen on participating in an exchange to the US next year. She and I went to an information evening to see what was to be done to drive this. In the midst of other information, we were given a sample profile sheet. This was to show the prospective students how their information would be displayed to their possible host families. As we read through the profile, Miss 15 and I enjoyed pointing out to one another the things that would have fit in to our family: he liked games; he liked nerdy card games; he enjoyed anime etc. Whilst still listening to the presenter, I texted my husband in the normal detailed way that usually accompanies my spur of the moment ideas: Hey, want to be host parents? Pause. Sure. Great.

And then I prayed. God, if this isn’t the right plan, please don’t let it happen.

At the end of the presentation, we asked questions relevant to Miss 15’s exchange. We explained how we’d enjoyed reading the sample profile and that we’d have liked to host that student, but we’d apply for hosting anyway. The presenter smiled, “We aren’t silly. He’s the last student we need to place for January.” And so they did.

We’ve chatted via Facebook with Mr 16 and his mother and I’ve been so excited to have him arrive. Today’s the day. Mr 2 ran straight to him and gave him a cuddle! Icebreaker achieved. We’ve spent the day together, just sharing ideas, playing with playdough and getting to know one another. We Skyped his Mae and Papa, who were very pleased to know he’d arrived safely. We’ve established the few basic house rules that we have and are now all safely tucked in (some sooner than others) for a reasonably early night.

What will the future bring? I don’t know, but it looks pretty good from here.

😍 Eski