Twenty five years ago, you turned twenty five. It’s a bit of a milestone birthday, halfway to fifty, quarter of a century, but I don’t remember there being much of a fuss made. We didn’t know.
Twenty five Bastille Days have passed by, and you have been absent.
A lot has changed since 1992. The way that we communicate, the lens through which we view the world. Internet, mobile phones, social media. The streets of inner city Melbourne.
Our family has changed, by form and measure, contracting and expanding, transforming, evolving, for better or for worse. Perry Road is the same though. The slaughterhouse still stands, incongruously beautiful, despite the prosaic grimness of its past purpose.
Mama is gone, and Papa is as fragile, no, more fragile and ravaged than the slaughter yard itself.
I am twenty five years older, I surpassed your age many years ago. Soon I will surpass Dad’s age too. We are all older, but not you, not Dad.
Twenty five years. If you hadn’t have died, it would have been the sum of half of your life up until now, but instead, it is unchangeably the total of your years.
Some things don’t change at all, and there is comfort in these:
The stars (they’ve been dead for millennia after all), and although I know that that’s a lie – they do change, the stars are as mysterious a thing as anything in the universe – still if I was to lay myself down on the cold Winter grass in Rushworth and gaze upwards to that ever- astonishing view, the experience would be timeless.
The day-time skies still come in the familiar varieties.
Trees remain as they were. Eternal.
(I’m not sure that we could call the seasons the same.)
I know that the past is not a not a faded version of where we are now.
Though you are immutably of the past, the thought of you is here, in the present, and whatever number of twenty five years we might get to pass in this lifetime, the things that haven’t changed yet will still be no different, and we will keep on thinking of you, and speaking your name.
I wish you were here, my brother.