34 years later

When the father of the de Vries triplets turned 34, I said we would never forget his 34th birthday.

Now they are turning 34. The concertina of time tricks my mind.

I wrote this anecdote a few years later.

Lucky I’m such a hoarder. This little gem transports me straight back to that moment and I can have a good laugh at how upsetting it seemed at the time. I can also remember the 29 year old me trying to keep her head above water with no clue of what the future might hold. That future, now elapsed, has been both better and worse than I could have imagined. At that stage, we had not even discovered that Julia (Trip A in hospital) was cerebral palsied.

This is them at around the time of the tipsy tot incident. Michael was not even 3 then; he looks like a giant next to them.

I used to try all sort of things for their birthdays. I had read about triplets when I was pregnant and many said that they had hated the fact that in all birthday pictures, they were all photographed together, that they always had the same cakes and that they were treated as a homogenous lump. I took this to heart and every birthday, I made sure that as well as the group photo, photos were taken of them individually. The joint birthday party was quite hectic so one year, I tried staggering their parties; one from 10 to12, one from 12.30 to 2.30 and one from 3 to 5. What a stupid idea.

The next year, I went for different days; that was also exhausting. In hindsight, I’m not sure any of this mattered. Here’s one of the early ones; notice all the different cakes. That was thanks to my friend, Shelagh who was a whiz at cake making.

Birthdays became easier once they hit their teens; we sometimes did outings instead of parties. This was a picnic at Tala Game reserve.

This was a harbour boat trip.

And this was about a year ago at big brother, Michael’s wedding. They are all big now and grown-up.

It’s a rare occurrence for them to be together on a birthday now, has been rare since they left school. So weddings are when we have the opportunity for group photos.

Despite ups and downs, trials and tribulations, I’ve enjoyed these 34 years more than I ever imagined I would.

no guile

14Searching and seeking and wanting, wanting so much, yet not wanting; hiding and creeping and wanting nothing. Sunny but sad, passionately passionless yet hating, hating. Sunny but sinking, swimming and winding, wailing, wishing for what, what, what? Oblivion, release and peace at last. Having fun, being lazy, lazy lurking alone behind the rock; not being the rock. Yet reaching from the fathoms up to the sun. Without effort, without guile, guiltless, groping. No blindness just calm and peace, perfect peace.

Tentacles or tendrils, the fine line between
caressing and crushing
squeezing and strangling
Lurk, lurch, stumble, trip
hide in the corner, off-balance
is this heart true?
is it stuffed with pearls or are those pips
spat out after the flesh is sucked off
is this a heart of gold?
a bleeding heart that argues and breaks but is not broken
is in one piece
but somehow intact

Become a Lake

Squash it down
Push it away
and slap a smile on your silly face

Let it all gather
that gravelly grief
and form one hard stone in your silly heart

Net all those butterflies
Flitting around, beating their wings
and banish them permanently from your silly gut

Ignore the blood flowing,
pulsing and pumping
It won’t burst from your silly veins

Become a lake
No ripples


In my Skin

Awkward in my own skin
I walk self-consciously into the room
No-one notices me, do they?
Or do they see that I know not how
to walk
I put one foot in front of the other
Like so
But it feels not
Should my hips sway?
or be thrust forward…
why can these hips not
decide on their own
I get there
Slide into a seat
We look at slides
Who is that person on the left?
It is me…can you not see me?
perhaps I don’t look like myself
…an indiscriminate generic person who is on the left in a photograph


Little Girl

She is the one that hurts – the little girl

Look at this:

Bold confident woman striding through life
knocking obstacles
to the left
to the right
What could touch her?

Framed in the past
little girl in the party frock
sucking her thumb

She is the one that hurts
stuck in her frame
She is confined there by wooden lies
screams of dissent
tearing of warmth
surrounded by artefacts that comfort

She is the one that cries

Not me