If Moorong was the place of death, what comes after that was meant to be eternity in hell.
3rd July 2003, was my day to go home. It was a mild winter day, dark and cloudy. My new friends at rehab threw me a farewell party complete with bunches and bunches of brightly coloured balloons, breaking up the dark, grey sky.
Going home, would have been a wonderful thing, except by then, I no longer had one.
My rented apartment was given back to the landlord, furniture sold and given away. My clothes and shoes were deemed inappropriate for my condition and I never saw them again. My parents that I was never close to, walked out on the situation by then.
My friends, they were wonderful, but back then I only had the mental strength to stay in touch with them on my phone because their presence reminded me of what I was and what I no longer am.
Back at rehab on my discharge day. Apart from my many bright orange balloons, all I had was a small backpack of belongings. I didn't tell my friends that I was leaving. I didn't have family around. One of the nurses at rehab felt sorry for me, and offered to drive me that day after her shift.
After all the giggles and laughter at my farewell party, I put away my brave face, and got dropped off at this little housing commission property that I will share with 3 other 'young' quadriplegic men in their 40s.
It was about 5pm. Starting to get really dark, my lovely nurse friend unpacked my handful of items, checked I was alright then kissed me goodbye. As she was walking out of my room, she stopped, turned around, she looked at me, I managed a smile, nothing was said, nothing needed to be said.
I sat there. In a room with just a table and a bed. I sat. In complete silence.
Nothing happened. No one talked.
This property was staffed 24 hours, very much like a nursing home. It was supposed to be for "active, young people that require high level care". No one was active.
And after 20 years here, they were no longer young.
It was a time machine into the future, this place showed me in real life what my life was expected to be.
Two of the three men had pressure sores and were not allowed out of bed, the other one never came out of his room except for when he wanted to yell at the staff for tiny little mistakes they made, like putting cushions upside down on a couch he never sits on.
If Moorong was the place of death, this place was hell.
Once you get in here, you’ll never get out. For the remainder of your life, you will have help getting dressed, getting fed, watch TV and sleep. Then wake up the next day and do it all over again.
Here, was the first time I felt alone.
If I died, nobody would know, nobody would care. If I lived, nobody would know, nobody would care.
My friend, if you are reading this from home, with family, you already have a massive head start. And what reason do you have for not living the happiest life you could possibly have? You owe it to all your friends and family as well as yourself. When the sun comes out tomorrow, so comes all the hopes and opportunities , let’s embrace the sun and embrace a better tomorrow.