Continuing last year's Summer Times quest to find out
what was the best day of people's lives (except the birth of
their children or the day they met or married their partners),
another eight Otago residents tell their stories.
SOPHIE BARKER, of Dunedin. Photo by Jane Dawber.
With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight the best day of my life
was also the worst. The old cliches, what does not kill you
makes you stronger, fire forges steel etc, abound.
It often takes a crisis to unmask the truth of your life. The
incredibly bittersweet-memory of the best-worst day of my
life is branded in my mind forever. It began lightheartedly,
returning from a successful sales trip, on a high from aceing
business and enjoying colleagues' company. The emissary
appeared, a letter was delivered, a job lost, the family
split, my perfect world cracked.
Foisted from the gilded cage that I had inhabited for 40
years I was fledged to build my life anew. Friends rallied,
friends disappeared. Hands of help were offered from
unexpected places. Gates were closed and the proverbial doors
So why do I share the best-worst day of my life with readers?
To show that often it is not the rosy days of happy memories
that shapes our lives, but the searing swing of life's
realities. Being baldly forced to find independence, freedom
and self reliance. Finding your aloneness and making it a
strength. Reassessing your priorities and realising that the
one thing that matters to you is creating a safe loving
platform for your child.
Finding the strength within to withstand life's random slaps
is a gift. A gift that I certainly did not realise at the
time and which was wrapped rather poorly. This was the kind
of gift, that, like a lump of coal on a warm summers
christmas, requires the right set of circumstances to
appreciate. The gift only became apparent when I was
diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and syringomyelia. AKA a
brain defect and a large spinal cyst. Alone, facing,
surviving and recovering from three risky brain operations in
15 months requires an inner strength and serenity.
To face three surgeons. One explaining that you have a
condition that inevitably causes paralysis. The other two,
that your surgery failed and you need your head cut open,
again. Mentally staring fear in the face and not flinching.
Taking the risk, signing the papers and open-eyed accepting
the consequences. Looking at your beautiful loved daughter
and wondering if you will see each other again. And still
going ahead with the risky surgery.
Showing a cheery face to the world and not giving into
heart-wrenching fear. That is the gift of the day of
fledgling. The best day taught me to appreciate the
momentariness of life. To place one foot in front of the
other until the bad moments recede. To stop, breathe, look
and enjoy the world's gorgeous moments. And to ensure that
thoughtful moments are shared - like this one with you, kind