The most frightening thing a man can read, particularly if you have kids is “I’ve taken the kids…”.

A few years back, while living in Melbourne, I spent a few nights going out which I thought was harmless. It turned out not to be.

I had just come out and I had told Dawn that I was and would be respectful of our situation. I overstepped the mark by staying out overnight one night which then evolved to the whole weekend.

There was a note when I got home, sitting on the coffee table. I didn’t notice it at first, so it lay there mocking me as I walked around looking for my sons.

The apartment was silent. It was twilight and the bay was twinkling reflected golden light through the windows. It was a daylight haunting.

I grabbed the note. I can’t recall the exact words. I am frightened to bring them back to my mind:

“I’ve taken the boys to my Mum’s. I need a few days and so do you … we’ll talk when I get back …”

I remember feeling fear. Fear for what was going to happen, fear for the unknown and fear for knowing what an upset woman can do, especially when she has two tiny babies to deal with. It was the Cuban missile crisis of Brighton, Victoria circa 2005.

I called a friend and we let the situation cool off. Dare I say it, I actually enjoyed the night away from my responsibility. Shocked to know I felt that way, shocked to know I could care less that night back then.

Those days feel so long ago and Dawn and I are impossible to pull apart nowadays. The important reminder is not written on paper sitting on a coffee table any more, it is the fear from that night on the bay that sits in the back of my mind.

Today’s peace is a result of the breath-holding and trench warfare from another era. Our memorials are alive and growing with smiling dimple chins and furry heads.

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