During the dark Winter months of the 2020 pandemic, I received news that one of my mother’s neuroendocrine tumours had become aggressive. I live in London, although my family home is in Australia. Dreams overlapped with memories of my childhood home, as I tried desperately to travel back to my mother and the rest of my family. The bath in my London flat became a spacecraft in which my six-year-old son, Adelchi, and I imagined flying home, guided by the stars and kept safe by the light of the moon. We searched for a path through the night sky, knowing we were linked to my mother by its womb-like containment. Winged creatures took on new significance as we remained trapped in London, and unable to fly home. The bath changed from a vessel in which to float and dream, to a solid porcelain cage, the hard edges becoming a border which we were not permitted to cross.
As the months trickled slowly by, my longing to be home in Australia grew unbearable. The landscape of my childhood home mixed with memories of my mother, and the two became inseparable: one clinging desperately to the other in my mind. Trees became my mother’s fingers, holding me, reaching for me.
After several more months of cancelled flights and logistical nightmares, Adelchi and I managed to fly home in late February 2021. After 15 days in quarantine, we could finally see my mother and the family. My parent’s bed became a place of comfort and dreams, as my son lay with them, held with love and tenderness. I watched, while the stars shone down on me, their glow mapping my journey, and holding me still.