What I remember about Tracey
by Nicole Heffernan
I was only 5 so I dont have the same memories as my incredibly brave parents but here's what I do remember.
Going to bed while the party my parents were hosting for christmas eve was in full swing. The christmas turkey defrosting in the oven. The next thing I remember is my dad waking me and pulling me out of bed.
I dont remember the howling wind but I will never forget the look on my fathers face, I had never seen him afraid before or since. He was a veteran of 2 tours of Vietnam, Borneo and the Malaysian conflict, there was no training for this sort of nightmare.
My sister and I were put in the bath in the bathroom with a mattress over us, the bathroom was meant to be in safest place in the house. When the tiles started falling on us it didnt feel very safe. I dont remember how or why, but next we were in the kitchen, the whole family including my 7 month old baby brother, huddled under the dining room table. Somehow my parents managed to hold the table down to protect us even after the roof had been sucked off the kitchen...how did they do that??
As a five year old my strongest memory is telling my mummy that I need to do a wee, her response? "You'll just have to go in your pants darling". This should have frightened me, but my parents were there, they were looking after me, that was their job. I did my wee and cried, wouldnt daddy be mad? During what I now know to be the eye of the storm, my father carried us all down the stairs to the car where we spent the rest of the night.
The next morning only the inside walls of the house were still standing, behind one of the walls was my christmas present..a bike! Still standing and undamaged!
We lived in Darwin for 10 more years after Tracey, it changed all of our lives.