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Tomorrow I Remembered. PART ONE. The Hole. Chapter 6. Jess. A Peter Stevens book

Dilluns 3 Abril 2017

“I suspect you have called me in to fill out some of the blanks,” I said. I had been doing some counseling of people who had sustained major injuries, and I knew what Liz needed to know to fast-track Chris’s recovery. I wanted to know too, I loved him deeply, but his erratic behavior was getting difficult to stay ahead of.

“Yes, that’s right, I get the feeling he needs to work things out for himself, he has repressed something way back, and every now and then he goes into a tail-spin. Liz was fishing, and I was happy to let her fish. I needed answers fast. No, Chris needed answers. “So, how did you meet?” Liz was direct. I liked that. “I was a patient in the burns unit at The Alfred. It was after the Black Saturday fires. It was near the end of my treatment and I was allowed to go for walks in the park across the road.” Liz interrupted,

“Yes, it’s a nice park there, I used to watch the staff soccer matches when I was off-duty. The nurses’ home was not exactly a fun place to spend spare time.” I assumed from that, that she had done some training at The Alfred at some time, maybe the psych ward, but I didn’t ask. She had, at least, put me at ease.
“So I was pushing myself as fast as my injuries would let me, and I spotted him. Sitting on a bench, sobbing. I just had to sit next to him. I didn’t say anything at first, and when he realized I was there, he stopped and stole a look. My legs were covered, and I was still wearing the compression gloves at that stage, so he didn’t see the scars, but the walker was quite obvious. Straight-to-the-point-me, I asked him if he was OK. ‘Nope,’ was all I got, so I sat there until I got a response.”
Liz interrupted again, but I was happy to let her. “You are a stubborn gal then,” she laughed. “I have to be, Liz, if I wasn’t I’d still be languishing. There’s enough stubbornness mixed with a fair bit of anger, still pushing me to be an advocate for victims. That’s my life, now. Standing up for those who can’t.”
“How so?” “Do you know what happened to me?” I asked. “No,” Liz replied, “Is it relevant to Chris?” “Well, I’m not one to big-note myself, but my experience with grief was instrumental in saving Chris, so I suppose it’s relevant.” I was getting a tad impatient, so I told myself to pull my head in and go along with Liz’s line of questioning. “Go on then, Jess, fill me in,” Liz leant forward, and I eased up a little.

“Seventh of February, 2009. Black Saturday as it was to become known. Biggest loss of life caused by bushfires recorded in Victoria. We were at our week-ender in Marysville.” “Who’s we?” Liz asked. “My first husband Dave and son Alec. He was sixteen.” I walked over to the water cooler in the corner and gulped down a few mouthfuls. I gritted my teeth together; that always stopped the tears.
“The house was well-prepared, gutters cleaned out, flammable things moved away, grass cut short. Warnings had been issued that that day would be bad for fires. We decided to head up there from our house in the city. Dave worked on his PHD research while Alec and I did the clean-up. We were convinced the house was going to withstand a fire. What we didn’t know was how ferocious the fire would be. We saw the smoke, and had been listening to the warnings on the radio. We had decided the night before that we’d stay and protect the house if a fire did come. Now, I realize just how naïve we all were. You just cannot fight such a monster.”
“Yes, we saw media reports in England. I remember seeing aerial views of Marysville. Complete devastation,” Liz was intent on hearing more.

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