In February 2007 my brother went out riding his bicycle at about 6:30am and became a paraplegic not long after when he was hit by a car.
Well his life was turned upside down on that moment. Our family's was. I can't claim to have suffered like Michael, or Gabrielle or their kids or Mum and Dad- but it was one of those times when suddenly I saw everything differently.
I couldn't go to church anymore because I just cried. And after 43 years of being a very good Catholic, suddenly I wasn't. And no one came to look for me. I find one fact as startling as the other. So I mourned for my lost faith as well. It wasn't that I wanted to believe, I just missed it. I wished I could pray for Michael to get better. It made me happy when people told me they were praying for him. I was happy for them to have that faith. I missed mine, it had helped define who I was.
Stripped of my faith - it was like a river no longer contained by its banks. I had been following the only course and suddenly I was - free.
Not irresponsible. Not without care. But I was free to look at my life and see what was working and where I was and where I was heading and decide if that was going to make this life worth living.
The casualty was my marriage. For a decade I had felt alone in it. I had not been nourished by it and I felt I had given everything for it. We probably both felt exactly the same way, except I had no feelings left for it at all. Now, having seen Michael nearly lose his life, it was important to me to grab the life I had left.
The coincidence is that in 2006 I had stumbled into an online world. And became Audrey. The amazing thing is that while other people used their avatars to be someone else, I used mine to be me! And I loved it. I loved being me. Probably this is what all those American analysts mean when they say love yourself.
I was astounded to find that people liked to be with me. I had been so lonely in my marriage that I had long since stopped believing in myself. I think my ex-husband believes even less in himself, so he has never been strong enough to hold up my saggy ego.
All this was bubbling along at or just beneath the surface of my life. And then I met Mark. There is a story of meeting him for the first time but the thing I remember most clearly was hoping to meet him again. He intrigued me. We played together in Fathom, my twilight island. We played with Xavier, and Des and Reese and Eleanor and perhaps Corcosman even wandered by?
I know I told him I had no interest in pursuing a 'relationship'. But I got used to the tiger who came and sat with me and watched the moon rise.
And now in 36 days time - three and a half years later - he is coming to visit.