Well, here we are. The 29th, and final, Precious Things post. And I can’t think of anyone better to round off the whole thing than the woman I call ‘Luscious’, Lyn Battersby.
Lyn is a talented author and editor, with a writing voice I think is utterly unique. Her writing has taken a back seat over the last couple of years while she finishes a University degree. She’s currently in the final stages of a post-graduate teaching internship, and as one of the top two or three students in the state, she’ll have her pick of assignments when the adverts are answered towards the end of this year. Once she’s settled in her new job, she’ll be back amongst the pages where she has made her home over the last 15+ years.
For now, however, with thanks to the 28 friends, colleagues, peers, and artists I like and admire who have created this series, it’s time for the artist I love to speak.
Dedicated to Lee and Connor.
And Rebekah Holyoake.
This is my prized literary possession. It’s not a book, or a poem, or a letter from an author. It is a piece of jewellery created for me by fellow Perth author Stephanie Gunn in honour of a story I wrote in the early 2000s. Called “The Memory of Breathing necklace”, it has pride of place in my jewellery collection and is one of the few pieces I own that is mentioned by name in my will.
So, what did I do to deserve such a beautiful gift?
In early 2004, I began work on a story called The Memory of Breathing. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it centred on the execution of a child, brought back to life after being put to death for murder.
The story was a hard one for me to write. I was in the midst of a fierce custody battle for my first three children and facing the loss of my pregnancy. The day the story was bought (by Sally Beasley for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine), I had lost the battle with my ex-husband (he used my ill-health and threat of miscarriage against me) and started to bleed heavily.
No, I didn’t lose the baby and now I have Connor, a highly spirited child who is the life and joy of our entire family. I have a close and loving relationship with all my children and I feel I actually won the war with my ex.
I still struggle with the memory of that loss. The ramifications of the custody battle have taken a battering ram to my psyche and I don’t think I will ever heal from the wounds. Connor is a beautiful child, but his health is never great and I still live in fear of losing him. I don’t take his existence for granted because I know it doesn’t matter how wonderful you are as a parent, fate can easily rip your children from you.
This is why the necklace is so important to me. The twisted stand of beads represents the double-helix of human DNA and it is this which ties me to each of my five children. At the centre of the strand is a large stone, which I see as the relationship that Lee and I have forged. It is my strength when I feel I can’t go on.
I’ve had many moments in my life when I’ve found it hard to breathe. I feel so overwhelmed by life and how quickly it all changes. And yet, there is Lee and with us are our children, the most precious things I have in my life. I wear this necklace quite often, because it grounds me and reminds me what really matters in my life.
Today I don’t write as often as I used to. I have many other things going on in my life and I barely find the time to create fiction. The Memory of Breathing remains my best-known story and even now it sits with a production company awaiting development into a movie. I love that story and I’m proud of it. It reminds me that loss is always with us, but that we go on because of the love we receive from our friends and family.
Thank you, Stephanie, for the gift of my Precious Thing.