Sunday, 19 May 2013

It's got its trunk up.


Jude loves elephants. He was only tiny when he made his first elephant noise at Babaar on the telly. It was only after I noticed his love of them that I realised how many different elephant toys he had. I hadn’t even consciously bought them. Of all of them, Jude’s all-time favourites are a pair of rosewood elephants with their trunks up. They sit on my hall stand facing the front door to bring us luck. He gets them down and plays with them regularly, kissing them and making cute little elephant noises. 

Of all the stuff I own, these have the biggest story to tell.

My friend Di, had the biggest collection of elephants in the southern hemisphere (I could be exaggerating but as nobody has evidence to the contrary, I stick by my claim). She started with one little elephant and soon she had shelf upon shelf of them as well as prints and posters on her walls. She once told me she actually wasn’t a huge fan of elephants, she preferred camels but where could she buy them? It was too late to tell anyone about the camels and elephants were now her thing. I don’t know if she was just joking, she liked to make me laugh and I loved to make her laugh. It sometimes meant we weren’t to be trusted with our stories.

After many years trying to conceive I’d given up. Di on the other hand thought there had to be some ancient voodoo that could make me miraculously fall pregnant. She spent way too long googling and the next day when I rocked up to work she motioned to her vast collection of elephants. I say motioned because Di was a quadriplegic and had limited movement of her arms.

 “Andre’s a Leo isn’t he? Take two of the rosewood elephants and put them in the north-west corner of your bedroom sweets. They create the right feng chui for making babies.”
I held no expectations; I’d tried all sorts of things, even heavy duty fertility drugs that left my ovaries resembling cottage cheese. Elephants were not going to work.

One night at work a couple of months later I helped Di with tea and felt suddenly ill. I had no energy and thought I was going to be sick. I was given an early minute but the moment I got home I cooked a steak and ate the lot, then wanted to throw it up again. I was coming down with something, I said. But I wasn’t. Here I was after nearly three years of trying, actually pregnant.

Di was the first person we told other than our Mums. She cried, I cried - then I felt like I was going to spew. It was wonderful. Those elephants moved where we did and always found a place in my bedroom. Until we conceived Nate without actually trying. They soon found a new home facing my front door, bringing luck into the home. Years passed and I changed my d├ęcor. The little rosewood elephants no longer looked right on my new hallstand so I moved them. You know where right? Into our bedroom. Hello Jude.

Although logically I know it can't be because of a couple of elephants that I'm able to have babies now, I'm not risking it. They are now safely back in the lounge room on my hallstand with no plans to ever return to our bedroom.

Christmas night 2011 I had a dream about Di. She was running up the beach splashing in the water. I pointed and laughed, “You’re running!”
She smiled, flicked up a heap of water with her feet and giggled. “I can move everything here. I can even go fishing.” I watched her run for a while before the dream faded. 
I told Andre about the dream because it felt a little strange and the entire next day Di kept coming up in conversation. That same day I was told I was going to be induced. I went home and was packing for hospital when I found out that Di had passed away. I had tried visiting her numerous times in the previous nine months so I could tell her I was pregnant, but she was still sick in Adelaide. She never came home.

Two days later I held Jude in my arms, the smell of new baby and the high of the endorphins washed away my grief for a while. The first day Jude was out of hospital he went to his first funeral. I cried hearing the stories, I mourned my friend and I regretted not having one last goodbye. It has only been recently I've felt a little bubble of grief burst and I guess I'm working out what to do with it. I felt like she needed to be remembered. We often talked about writing a book about her life and how funny it would be with all the crazies she had around (including myself). Now I've forgotten a lot of her stories but the story of the elephants kept swirling around in my head.

The rosewood elephants are watching me type right now. Sometimes Jude points at them and giggles and I wonder for a fleeting second if his Aunty Di is there making faces at him. There are so many things to be grateful for in this life, but today I am grateful for Di and her elephants and all the memories they bring.