Contemplating my navel

Today is ANZAC day in Australia, similar to Remembrance Day in the UK, we take time with a public holiday to pause, reflect and honour the fallen, acknowledge the work that still continues overseas by the military and remember that we didn’t get to where we are now without many 1000s of servicemen and women sacrificing their lives. The first conflicts I became aware of as a child were the Falklands War and Northern Irelands troubles, but despite the 24 hour coverage of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, war has had little impact on our lives, in the grand scheme of things.

Men are not being conscripted to fight, are not being buried in mass graves, food isn’t rationed, bombs aren’t flying overhead and despite the active service required of the military, particularly in the Middle East, we’re very removed from the whole process. It is having little or no impact on our daily lives. Unless your loved one is away from home, then it suddenly all becomes very real.

The MIL and I are home, pottering about the house as both FIL and Hubs are marching in the ANZAC parade in Brisbane. They both got up early to attend the local Dawn Service, FIL delivered a speech at the War Memorial, they then headed into the city to assemble for the march. I met Hubs when he was long out the Australian Army, but last night watching him pin his medals and Return From Active Service badge on the suit he married me in was emotional for me. After a discussion about the length of the day, up at 4am, home around 6pm, we decided that it would simply be too much for me to cope with. I would have been asking to go home, or wanting to find a quiet corner to go to sleep in. Neither of which would have been fair, or practical. I wanted Hubs to enjoy today, and not be worrying about his pregnant wife and how she was doing. This was his day, not one for me to give him something else to worry about. I had a series of text messages from him to tell me where he was marching, and we turned the TV on in time to see them both clearly march past the dias at the end of the parade. Both us girls jumping up and down and squealing with pride to see our boys on national television.

With a quiet day at home, I’ve re-read two birth books, making notes as I went to help form our birth intention document, our 30 week scan is in early May and we will have to hit the ground running when we get back to Melbourne, so took advantage of the time I had to hand to get some thoughts and notes down on paper. I’ve studied a bit, listened to some Desert Island Disc archive podcasts and if the rain holds off, I’d like to go for a walk this afternoon. But mostly, I’ve enjoyed that my monkey mind is quiet. I’ve no random thoughts running through it, over and over. I’m relaxed and happy.

We’ve three more days here, before starting to head back on Thursday. Spending time with Hubs is always a pleasure, you can get caught up in domestic duties all too easily when you’re at home, so we’re relishing this break away. All four of us drove out on a little tour yesterday, Hubs and I were in the back of the car, holding hands and insulated in our own little bubble of bliss. He’s rubbing my belly more and more, (let’s face it, there’s more of it to rub!) but aside from happy being pregnant together, we’re just plain old happy to be together.

On this day of reflection and remembrance, I’ve taken time to think about people I know who’ve passed. Not least the recruits who went through ATR Winchester that I watched Pass Out at the end of their basic training, who later died in active service; but also my grandparents; and to friends, Helen and Jen particularly. But ANZAC day juxtaposed with Easter and all things being reborn, renewed and refreshed, my thoughts then turned specifically to the little boy inside me. For my parents, their first grandson, for the in-laws their third grandchild. As my belly dances and moves around him, my navel is literally turning inside out, as soon will our lives.

Remember those who are no longer with you, but be joyful they were here and left you with memories to remember them by. Don’t be angry they’ve gone, be grateful instead. Death is the opposite of birth. It is not the opposite of life.

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