Dusk Masthead

And then I fell into his arms…

Emma Grey

During the week, I opened the front door to a lovely man from Jim’s Mowing, who had arrived with his team of four to mow our lawn.

A caring friend had organised this as a surprise, because she remembered being a single mum and working and running a business and a family and a house and feeling like it was all too much at times.

With opening night of the Unrequited Musical Theatre Project this Thursday, rehearsals most days in the last week, a tonne of exciting work with My 15 Minutes, the three kids’ birthdays this month, and my next book due to the publisher in December (a week after my rescheduled hysterectomy — don’t ask), I was definitely feeling the pinch.

I’d signed a building contract earlier in the week, which is a positive thing but means saying goodbye to the place where we had our wedding reception and brought our baby home to, and the place where my husband, Jeff, died last year, and where we were protected as we were plunged into grief. Driving out of the car park after signing the contract, I turned the playlist onto ‘shuffle’ and it tossed out “Somewhere only we know” by Keane which finished me off completely (if you don’t know it, listen to the lyrics and you’ll see why).

I’d just been indulging in a spot of overwhelm about the 30 cupcakes I needed to bake for my seven-year-old’s birthday at school the next day, after a rehearsal for the show which was followed by a recorded hour-long interview that evening with the wonderful Amanda Alexander, in the UK … breathe, breathe … and that’s when my friends stepped into the breach.

One, who lists ’emergency baking’ as her favourite activity, volunteered to bake the birthday cupcakes. Another offered to get the laundry picked up, washed, folded and delivered (I didn’t even know this service existed). The other sent a bunch of flowers, a card, and called in horticultural reinforcements.

When I saw the ride-on mower making light work of the jungle out the front, I burst into tears. I threw myself into the arms of the mowing guy. Literally. I’ve been worried about snakes with our dog, and the longer the grass became, the less equipped our small lawnmower became to deal with it.

The guy was covered in dirt and oil and grass clippings but I didn’t care. He hugged me back, and wiped the tears from my face with his muddy hands, as I explained what this unexpected act of kindness from my friend means to me, and that I have a lot on my plate and my husband had died and I have three kids and it’s been a huge year (and then I sobbed!).

He told me Jeff is here, watching, and my kids need me and this will be one thing someone else can take care of, and he’ll do a makeover of the garden before we sell the house, and then I cried even more, out of gratitude that someone else was thinking of even one of the things on my very long list.

And because people are beautiful.

Managing things (in a normal week when I’m not involved in the craziness of staging a world premiere of a musical and building a house) trundles along okay most of the time. I’m usually good at prioritising and saying ‘no’ and asking for help and having boundaries, etc. It’s when people are unexpectedly good or kind, or when a stranger is empathetic or someone says something comforting, or you sign on a dotted line that effectively ends a chapter of your life, or you do all of this while celebrating a boy’s birthday without Daddy … that’s when you lose it.

My point is, thank you, stranger, for being there on Thursday on my doorstep, with your open arms and kind heart. You are the salt of the earth. Our interaction may have been brief, but I have a feeling I will remember your compassion for the remainder of my days.

Tickets are available to the Unrequited musical this Thursday, Friday and Saturday here

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son.

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