Dickens, I suspect, was close to being right, although it has been more a tale of parallel universes than of two cities, that has swirled around us for the last fifty days. A sliding door into the not so good universe, is being documented by Kirsten, made more affecting by its clear-sightedness, and passionate intensity.
Let me share with you some of the 'best of times'.
Since that fateful morning of my father's passing, and Kirsten first hearing the solid reality of ameloblastoma, Alannah has, inexorably, glided through 10 months of age, and 11 months of age, and is now bearing down upon her first birthday. It is this young lady who has been the backbone to Kirsten's spine, the laughter to Kirsten's tears, the pathway to Kirsten's future.
Some activities have been shelved, but not out of reach; mainly activities that involve driving, and a passionate intensity. Pain and mental exhaustion, meant sleeps during the early afternoon for both of them! Swimming on Mondays continued where Papa was in his element. Here is a little girl, a girly girl, who loves 'rough house', the wind in her hair, the swing at its zenith. A powerhouse who is hard to pin down on the change table, but able to pull herself from the pool and up the steps to safety. 'Movement to Music' with other near-toddlers, is exhausting at the best of times, that alone when Ally is finding her own voice, and her own legs.
But then, Kirsten devised this wonderful reuse of their apartment: re-engineering, in the parlance. Who needs a dining-room? Out, out, out dreaded spot. Let's eat on our laps. Better still, let's eat out, and convert the space to a play room. So she did! And it works! And what a difference it makes.
In the process, the adults are able to reclaim the living room as their own. The flow is better, the feeling of space is ... spacious.
And so, all the books came out. All the tried and noted books, studded here and there around the apartment, are now down within easy reach. There is still the reading armchair in the nursery, but out here, books are incorporated into the warp'n'weft of play. They are chosen, pulled out, and pages turned. They are 'read'. They are listened to. They are sung. Old books. New books. Good books. Crook books. They are part of Ally's play, just as they were for her mother thirty one years ago.