The Memories to Come

Every year we gather.’s a reunion, of sorts.  At least it is for the Hardie family members from up and down the southern Queensland Coast. A family who, for reasons that plague all busy families, can often find it difficult to rendezvous all in one place. At least, not as much as they’d prefer.

But this is a special occasion. For the past eight years (minus last year’s South American sabbatical, of course) we always find the time. This, even though, as far as reunions go, it’s not the sort you’d prefer to be entitled to attend…

This is because one of the pre-requisites  for attendance is someone has to have passed away first.

The occasion is the annual Donate Life commemoration ceremony where families of both organ donors and recipients gather to simultaneously say thank you and remember their loved ones.

Kaia has been to three of these ceremonies now and, of course, up till now,  she’s been too young to know what it’s all At one we took turns holding her. At just over two, I spent most of the hour and a half ceremony just outside the main auditorium trying to contain her with Kaia no doubt wondering why her father was so adamant she not run wild in her usual vibrant, bubbly manner. Why she needed to be quiet when we periodically ventured into the auditorium to hear snippets of the tearful stories of gratitude and loss.

Now, eight years on and with Kaia a little more than four, Kaia is still blissfully unaware.

But I can only wonder for how much longer? How much longer we will have to wait before trying to explain the events that sees us returning here each year?  An explanation that, if I were a betting man, will be prompted by the simple question of, “Why are mommy and Poppy crying?” then, how to best provide answers to the question of where is mommy’s mommy?

Which will no doubt lead to the telling of the sad circumstances that brought a sudden end to a caravanning expedition around Australia for a madly in love couple in their mid-60s. About the event that turned the Hardie family’s life upside down while providing the miracle of a second chance for a loved one from what we’ve since learned was five different families.

A chain of events that, when all was said and done, would essentially pave the way to Kaia’s birth here in Australia.

There will be much to tell, of that I am sure. Because, though my time spent in Joyce Hardie’s presence would amount to little more than one month, it was enough time to see and feel what really matters: Joyce’s love of her family and her family’s love of her.

In time, with a bit of storytelling by her family, Kaia will come to understand a bit more about this solemn annual pilgrimage up the M-1 Motorway to Robina. She’ll come to understand the tears and, assuming we’ve done our jobs properly, hopefully share a few of her own.

Because only by embracing the memories to come will Kaia begin to realize what it was that was lost.

And, at the same time, come to grasp how special this reunion really is.





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