Conversation is something we all engage in every day, but it’s those really hard, meaningful convos that stick with us the most. I think there’s a little box in all our brains that stores memories of the times we’ve had to have a conversation with someone about something painful, uncomfortable or life changing and re-visiting them can bring up all those emotions we felt at the time. I remember everything about the biggest conversations of my life; what everyone was wearing, the smells around me, facial expression, tones of voice, everything.
SoulPancake have released a video as part of their 0-100 series with people of varying ages talking about the hardest conversations they’ve ever had. Some are beautifully innocent and others are totally heart-breaking, but they’re all centred around one big thing – love and connection.
Us girls at Show+Tell thought we’d contribute and share our experiences of the hardest conversations we’ve ever had…
I was 17 years old when I moved to America to play Lacrosse in College. I remember my Dad telling me to ‘make sure you don’t meet someone’ (which really meant, don’t date an American ;). He was afraid I would live there forever and never come home.
Now that I have had my own kids I can only imagine the fear he must have felt when he let me go on that massive adventure across the world. It took me just three months to meet my now-husband Mike, we lived on the same floor as Freshmen and both played Lacrosse. I waited a good year until I knew it was serious to tell my Mum and Dad. The conversation was hard for me to broach but I knew they had a pretty good idea what was going on. I saw the fear in their eyes when I told them I was dating an American but I immediately followed up with, “But don’t worry, I’ve told him I’m not living in America forever and if he wants to stay together he has to move to Australia” – and he was willing to.
Fast forward 18 YEARS… and I think they may love him more than they love me. There aren’t many conversations since that one that have made my stomach swirl quite like that.
I think there’s a little box in all our brains that stores memories of the times we’ve had to have a conversation with someone about something painful, uncomfortable or life changing
Losing my dad to cancer back in 2002 was by far the most traumatic experience I’ve ever been through. He was only sick for three months, but those days were riddled with conversations that are super-glued to my heart forever. A couple of days before he passed away, my husband had a quiet moment with my dad and asked for his blessing to propose, which he did, right there in the room in front of my immediate family.
About an hour later, my dad (who was in and out of consciousness) opened his eyes, looked over at my mum and said, “I’m so happy. I’m so happy about Melissa and Mark.” A few moments later, he grabbed my hand and said, “I hope I’m there” and I’ll never forget the look on his face that said a million things that required no words. I said to him, “You’ll be there, Dad,” and even though neither of us said it, we both knew that he wouldn’t be. It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had because in that moment, we were a dad and daughter both struggling to come to terms with the fact that we were losing each other in the physical sense, but making a promise that spiritually, we’d be tied together forever. It wasn’t a long conversation, but the meaning and love behind it has stuck with me forever. And I definitely felt him there on my wedding day.
The hardest conversation I ever had was telling my four-year-old daughter that her father and I were breaking up. We planned to tell her together one Saturday morning and I’ve never felt such anxiety and sadness as I did the night before. Was I about to create the moment she would tell a psychologist about in 20 years? Would she be traumatised by the words I chose? Was I completely wrecking her life? The two of us sat down with our daughter the next morning and explained we were breaking up and that daddy would be moving out in a week. She replied, “Can I watch the TV now?” It’s not that there wasn’t hard times to come or that she didn’t experience pain and heartbreak over her parent’s breaking up, but I think what we were telling her in that moment was something too big for her four year old mind to take in, and instead took small steps and many months for her to understand. Four years down the track I’m just so grateful for my happy and well-adjusted kid but I’ll never forget how terrified I was to have that conversation.
Like Mel’s hardest conversation, mine involves cancer as well (FUCK YOU CANCER). About eight years ago my mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She casually told me when we were out walking one morning and the casual way she said it didn’t make me freak out at all. She told me it was small and that they would get it all and life would go on and I believed her. Mum was right; they got it all and our lives continued on the same for the next two years. On Boxing Day two years later, my sister, step sister and I were sitting in my mum’s back yard soaking up the sun and leftover Christmas pud. I vividly remember where I was sitting, the shoes my mum had on, the weather and every other detail about the surreal and most fucked day of my life. My mum bravely told us that a few days earlier, she found out that the cancer had come back and was on her liver and lungs. I went into complete shock. I looked up at her face and saw her trying to hold herself together and all I could say was “I’m sorry, I’m going to be sick” as I stumbled my way to the bathroom with what felt like my life crashing down around me. My mum is my best mate, my reliable rock, and this news sent me into a world of terror. My nan followed me into the bathroom and rubbed my back while noises came out of me that I didn’t recognise. We are now five or so years down the track and my mum still has cancer on her lungs; she has chemo every two weeks and we live our lives day by day. Today she is healthy and happy and loving the sick out of her grandkids and her life. Heat rushes all through my body when I think of that day, so needless to say, I try to block it out.