Once upon a time, a red-haired girl was having a dreadful childhood. When she turned 16, her stepfather of eleven years killed himself. This happened four years after her "real" father had died of his alcoholism. So, it's fair to say that family life at that time was dreadful. The love she had for her younger brother kept her going - never before had she felt so black. Finally she was growing closer to her two older sisters, but they packed up their pain and grief and took it to the big smoke. The mother was a violent, nasty, self-obsessed bullying alcoholic.
So, a friend of this girl offered her a ticket to go and see a band that were playing at Sydney's Entertainment Centre. She went, not too excited, but glad to get out of the house and do something different. The band was called U2. The red-haired girl went with her friends and her cousin, sat in the second back row ..... and was absolutely blown away. Something happened - Grace, maybe. Her soul was filled to the brim of Power, Love, Faith. U2 have a world-wide reputation for touching their audience extremely intimately, and that night in 1989, this girl got given an outpouring of Hope injected into her soul. She will never forget it. Bono's voice cut through all the black, giving her a glimpse of light.
Now, this girl was itching to finish school and get the hell out of the hell that was home. She left her poor bro, and didn't look back. Finally - she could start taking drugs and drinking EVERY NIGHT, just the way she wanted to. Now she could be happy! The highs were so high! She was funny, pretty, with the longest, reddest, wild red hair you will ever see. She was also angry, bitter, dark, and melancholy. The lows didn't take long. The comedowns, regrets - she quickly grew out of control. Through all of these wild years, she always went to see U2 when they came to town. Always drunk and high - they still reached her. She had all of their albums, knew all of the words. How did they manage to write songs especially for her? (Please, Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car, Stay Faraway So Close).
By now, the girl was living in a wasteland. Gaunt and empty and broken, she started doing the detox and rehab shuffle. Once, she got locked up in a psych ward for trying to kill herself. She knew she had problems - but what was the cause? The unforgiving start to her life, or the booze and drugs? She would drink and drink and drink and pop pills - but one day discovered that just one shot of junk would take her exactly where she wanted to go - complete oblivion. She was a mess, a lost cause, a basket case. She was the person you would look at on the street and quickly avert your eyes from. But there was always the U2 songs - Bono would sing to her, lull her to sleep, give her hope.
Finally, after many, many years out in the wilderness, she knew she had do something. She entered rehab - for the last time. On that same day, U2 released an album full of amazingly hopeful songs of renewal, and grace. (All That You Can't Leave Behind). She ran to buy it before she went in to rehab (again!) and would listen to every track every night under the covers at bedtime, crying and praying. Her boyfriend of eight months (Mr TC) promised he would wait for her. She hoped and wished for her poor head and heart to get better. Songs like Walk on and Grace helped her immeasurably.
Well, what happened when she got out of rehab? She accidently fell pregnant! Everyone around her was aghast - EVERYONE - but, she knew, for the first time in her life, that she was ok. This will be ok, she would tell herself, as her belly swelled. But, she was worried. What if she was only staying clean while she was pregnant? What if - what if. Her stepson came to live with them too - suddenly, she had her own family. It was so important to stop thinking of herself and her own pain, and start taking care of others. She grew - spiritually, emotionally. She talked to like-minded people of her experiences. She became honest. She was so clean, so fragile. The baby came. She was saved by a power of a love she had never known before. Holding him close, breathing his breath. Grace.
A U2 concert was announced! But then cancelled. The girl became a woman. Respected, loved. She started writing - she always wanted to be a writer when she grew up - not a junkie! Finally, U2 were definitely coming. She was having a particularly dreadful year - her husband was very sick, her marriage in a bit of strife. And all she could think about, was the ache in her soul for another baby. She hadn't felt such sadness for years.
The day of the concert - she got to the stadium at 6.30am. There was only a few people there. Feeling a bit self-conscious - she was a grown woman! A mother! She quickly made friends, and waited the whole day in the blazing heat to get as close to the Best Band in the World as possible. Finally, they opened the gates. She ran, and ran, and ran. FRONT OF THE STAGE!!! At the end of the catwalk!!! Giddy, and high, and excited - she waited.
Now, the start-up song came on, lights went down. Behind her, were 60,ooo people. Never, ever, had she felt so elated, so triumphant, and so awestruck. And - not a drink or drug in sight!!! Bono walked on stage - walked, walked - when she realised that he was so close she could reach out and touch him, she cried and cried. Words cannot describe the concert that night. Every lyric, every song, every heartbeat. Every rotten thing that had happened, every miracle, every tear. It was all there and all accounted for. A celebration of life! Her soul was in a Rapture.
Halfway through the concert, Bono was walking slowly up to me. (Yes - this story is true and about me. Did you guess? Ha!) He stopped in front of me, knelt down, and gently took my hand. The crowd crushed me from behind. He was singing a song called "Love and Peace or Else". He stayed there, kneeling, looking deeply into my startled soul for about twenty seconds. It seemed like an eternity. We stared at each other. I was smiling (serenely, I got told later); thanking him with my eyes.
This was no accident. It was like my reward. I could feel Angels, whispering. The birth of my son was the most life-changing, love-giving moment. But that night was just ..... indescribable. Powerful, affirming, intense .... it took me a whole lifetime to get there.
If Bono can stop a concert to kneel down and hold my hand ..... ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, in this crazy, scary, amazing, mysterious world. Anything.
** Wow - that was a bit long, and I had to stop a few times to cry. Must be the hormones! I feel so grateful and amazed for where I am at in my life right now. I can't believe it, truly. Tomorrow I will be 6 weeks pregnant. I'm still shocked that this has actually happened. I can be such a morbid thing - for many years, I would wonder what stage of decomposition my fathers body was in as it lay in his coffin beneath the earth. I'm used to being negative about things - I want this pregnancy to work out so much, the thought of a miscarriage or a blighted ovum or downs .... frankly, is scaring the hell outta me. So different when I had Tiger - I pissed on a stick and wondered what pram to buy!! Oh, how I'd love some of that sunny optimism now!!!
Whew - well done on making it through this whole post, thank you. It's dedicated to anyone who has overcome, or is still experiencing adversity in their lives. Infertility is a bit like drug addiction - hell to go through, can either make you or break you. Makes you a stronger, deeper, and less-judgemental person. Maybe infertility is worse - a drug addict can give up at any time. (Plus, at least you get high!!)
To a fellow U2-lover, Von, who has the joy of being in her 2WW. Go Thelma and Louise!!
Here are some pics .....
Ok - see the big manhand that Bono is about to grab? That. Is. My. Hand.
Jubilant, but a bit ugly! Can't believe I was so close!