CHEMO CHAIR STORIES 4. Lesson Learned Young
Chemo update. Rough start to the last round but we had our Spring Release party at the winery and it was incredible. First party I’d been sober at for a while so my expectations were pretty low. It was so energising and uplifting. Thanks so much for all our friends who came along. It did more for me than I think you know. I had to lay down for two days after and my feet peeled off completely. Now that’s a sign of a good party.
This story is a bit grim but it was a significant experience in my life that taught me so much about living which I am incredibly grateful for. I was born in Newcastle and we moved to Sydney when I was 2. We went to primary school in Sydney and then moved to good ‘ol SA with the old man’s job and went to high school there.
We got the bus or rode our bikes to primary school. It was the last day of school for the year, 1996. Everyone was excited and all my friends decided to walk home as a group. It wasn’t far, maybe 4-5 kms. I suppose it was a bit of a celebration type thing, probably kick some letterboxes over, whip the head off a shitload of Agapanthus and hurled a bit of abuse at passing cars, “school’s out bitches!” or something along those lines. I had to get home though because I had a paper round to do. Fuck I was a good boy. I was the only year 6er on the bus that day and I got the whole back seat to myself. Had never felt so cool in my life, except for right now but that’s more of a physical chemo side effect. All the little kids were up the front including a 5-year-old kindy kid called Eric.
The bus was early as we didn’t have to stop as much because of all the guy’s walking. We pulled up at Eric’s stop and he and another kid got off. I was sitting with my back against the window, leg up on the bench seat and arm across the back seat. I watched Eric run down the side of the bus. He then turned left around the back of it. I turned to look out the back window and watched as he ran behind the bus and was run over by a 4WD. I looked on as the bus took off and the 4WD came to a stop. The bus turned left down a hill. I ran up to the driver and told him a kid had been run over. Apparently, I yelled at the little kids telling them to remain on the bus, and they all did. The driver and I ran up the hill and as we got to the top Eric’s mum came running up the hill from the other direction. As we got there, she saw what had happened and ran to Eric. She was screaming ‘is that my boy!’ over and over and she started swinging at the driver before falling to her knees and punching the ground while crying hysterically. The driver stood over them. It was my Scout leader, Akela.
I can’t remember how long we were there. Only a few minutes I think. There was nothing we could do. We got back on the bus and the driver dropped us all home. My mum arrived a while after we got home. She had driven up to where the accident happened. Eric was under a sheet but mum had seen a small shoe sitting there which she thought was one of ours. It prompted her to charge straight through the cops roped off area so she could get home to see us and hold us.
I was the only eye witness and down the track I had to fly from Adelaide to Sydney to sit on the stand in court and answer a heap of questions. The driver was not charged for anything as I believed there was no way he would have seen Eric pop out from behind the bus. Eric was freakishly smart for his age apparently. He was leaning forward because he was carrying a heavy bag full of books to read in preparation for his next year of school. The 4WD was high off the ground too. Not a suburban car at all. Akela already had a life sentence.
Eric’s mum campaigned for buses to have flashing lights on them to indicate no overtaking and a speed limit of 40km/h. She was successful and now it is enforced in Australia. In Eric’s case the car was coming the other way but a lower speed limit would have saved his life. Great that she had a mission. Eric’s death and her effort would have definitely saved lives since, 100%.
I have a five-year-old son. I love him so much that my heart hurts sometimes when I look at him. I couldn’t imagine what Eric’s family went through. I am extremely strict on the road rules with our kids and we live in a quiet street where the kids can walk to school. It was a huge plus for me when buying our house.
It was a pretty crazy experience and I have few graphic images that will stay with me for a while longer. It’s one thing to learn about death but I think learning about it by actually seeing it taught me on a whole different level, especially at that age. It was very real. I didn’t see a psychologist or anything and have never suffered because of it. I can’t remember the chats I would have had with my mum after it all but she would have said all the right things that helped me take the positives out of it. Seems like there wouldn’t be any positives but if you’re determined enough then there is in everything. I have never worried about the little things. Don’t stress much. Love life. Life is the most amazing gift. It can be challenging at times but how bloody good is it.
We are a concept of ourselves and can view the world the way we want to. I believe these concepts harden into fact the more you embrace the feeling they provide. And that feeling is contagious too. Manifest the good and it will flow. I know it sounds a little ignorant and there is some seriously wrong shit going on in the world right now but good will win, always does.