Barbies, Biscuits, and Brain Injuries


Taken from the game of nerds

Audrey A (Year 11)

The passage of time terrifies me. The idea that we cannot even temporarily stop the relentless train of life leaves me with a dreadful sinking feeling in my stomach I can’t quite fully explain.  

 When I was 5, I had no conception of what was going on with my family. In 2011, my father donated a kidney to my twin and was left with a hypoxic brain injury due to medical negligence. I don’t remember much from that year, but glimpses of foul-smelling asparagus soup by the hospital bedside, pristine white bedsheets and memories of visiting an unconscious Dad blare loudly in my mind when visiting hospitals still to this day. But during those first visits at my tiny age of 5, my head was too coloured with Barbies and dunking biscuits into Grandma’s tea as she took care of my older sister and I to understand what was happening. 

 Until I hit the age of 10.  

 I never really cared or understood the severity of how that brain injury impacted my family dynamic until I hit upper primary school. I was bitterly jealous and obsessed with comparing other people’s dads to mine, and my 10-year-old brain was filled with frenzies of: 

 “Why can’t Dad drop me off at school anymore?”
“I want the old him back!” 

“No Mum, I don’t want him to come to Father’s Day, he’ll say something stupid!” 

 Safe to say I hated growing up. 

 Recently, I spoke with my 10-year-old neighbour about what she thought about growing up, and she yelled, “I’ve been wanting to move out since forever! I’m sick of not being taken seriously ’cause I’m a kid!” 

And I thought she was full of it. 

 If you asked me what I would like to be doing when I was 10, I would’ve probably replied with, “Watching Barbie with my grandma, thank you very much!” and if you were to ask me the same thing at 12, I would probably reply with a dry:
“It sucks.” 

 You’d be pleased to know that now the miserable emo 10-year-old me makes me want to rip my hair out, and I eventually was abruptly shocked out of my pre-teen pity party. I distinctly remember my mother having a conversation about my twin after her friend had abruptly passed away. 

 “Do you think Ashlea going to get sick like Him?” I asked. 

“Her Kidneys are working great right now. Let’s trust in God to keep her safe. But if you’re worried, we can pray for her to stay healthy.” 

I’ve never really believed in big magical moments where everything becomes clear.  But it was then I realised that growing up I had been so obsessed with losing my innocence, that I had become blinded from how lucky I was to be growing up and losing it at all. Not when a beautiful 12-year-old boy was taken from us. Not when that could be me or my sister. 

As humans, I believe that we will always carry past versions of ourselves with us, and if you ask my grandma, she’d agree with you. She’ll say that she carries the same love for baking and singing she grew up with, and that if you think about it, not much has changed at all.  

I think I agree with her now. I am still the little girl who sat on her grandma’s lap dunking biscuits into her tea, singing Princesses Just Wanna Have Fun in fairy dress-ups, and I will always get excited about playing mermaids with my friends. But I am also warming up to things I used to dread. The idea that I will one day get to move out and start my own family and give my mother a chance to properly put herself first after years of taking care of us no longer sounds frightening. And I guess being taken more seriously than a 10-year-old sound cool too.  

So maybe, we shouldn’t dread growing up so much after all.