Another year passes and my senses focus back in on the dream that was borne and lost so long ago now.
It has been nine years today since Ellanor was born and made us sit up and take notice. Of ourselves, of each other, of the significance in the life in all things, right down to the finest blade of grass by the roadside. In these intervening years, I have sought strength and comfort in a great many things, my aim being to share what I found and how I actually came to (quite early on) find my peace. I’m still unsure if I ever explained all that adequately, but it will have to be enough. But if I ever thought the magic in her coming had been well and truly done and dusted now, I would be mistaken. This life is orchestrated so minutely, the present so interwoven with events from long ago, that only once I reach the point of closing another door to the past do I fully appreciate the absolute beauty of the learning that is to be found in all sorts of painful lessons.
One of the few teachers around me who would have had the strength not to shy away from this ordeal was actually out of my life this entire time. For ten years, we were estranged by … well, I still don’t know. Besides, the reason is no longer relevant. The point is, this person wasn’t there. And yet… she was! Just tantalizingly out of my reach. I’m not talking about Ellanor this time. No, I’m talking about my stepmother. Although we had not been on speaking terms (rather, I wanted desperately to speak with her and have a relationship with her but she had stepped away most definitely and remained mysteriously and consistently distant and cold for reasons unexplained and still largely unknown to me), it was she – even through the estrangement – who wrote and offered us this most magnificent story which might very well have Ella’s, Steve’s and my names in it but is a message with universal implications, all the same.
If you haven’t read the true fairytale “Little Ella: A Universal Love Story” yet, it’s about time you did I should think. Especially today, in honour of her 9th birthday.
Anyway, all this time while I have been reading and studying and learning, I have felt separated from my stepmother by some necessary, unexplained, force. It’s not been the first (nor is it possibly the last) estrangement of its kind in my life. But this one has smarted the most. She was my closest confidante when we parted ways, if not physically (for there was always the common connection of my father) then certainly energetically. I was confused and would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes wonder how it could be that someone who seemed to “get” so much of how this strange and beautiful world ticks, and sought meaning in whatever she didn’t understand yet, could be so seemingly callous as to not even come together with me over my child’s death.
Most of all, I wondered how it could be that I had this word scholar (one of two in the family, this one married in, as you might remember Dad is a dying breed of top notch editor) who would never read the book I had penned about my universal journey through grief.
Well. Never say never, I’m here to remind you. Two months ago I got the message that my stepmother is dying. Is, in fact, very ill with secondary tumours that are taking hold quite vigorously and giving her a good chance to get last affairs in order. There was no question, I needed to go to my father’s side. But the unknown was… would I be welcome at hers?
Without thinking about it terribly much, I moved through the doors of my own pained ego and stepped into the embrace of a dying person eager to reconnect. The spell had been broken – although for the record, I never saw a frog prince get kissed – and the shackles dropped away. Being who we are, because this is just what we do, the two of us immediately came together eager to draw a defining line in the sand that symbolised “No slipping back” but allowed room to ask burning questions or express pains. I had just one: “You never read my book and when I found out you were dying, I thought you never would.”
Her tears sprang out like jetstreams. Of course she would love to read it! This Plant woman, who has spent a lifetime reading and studying and learning, this fount of knowledge on the Plant Kingdom and the energy of the Faer Realm, this believer of the importance of spell-making and spell-breaking, all for the sake of the continuation of this golden planet we live on… she is going to read my offering now. I’m almost choking on the opportunity here and couldn’t print it off fast enough for her. Time’s a-wastin’ when you know you’re leaving soon!
Significant paths through any – ANY – hardship or estrangements in your life are being constantly given to you. Sometimes, with all that has befallen me that is just so beyond my control even if I wanted to try and control it (for who is powerful enough to control or prevent death?), I have to remind myself while I am in it that this too shall pass. This is not a test, not in my view. This is life. Simple – and simply complicated – as that. No stage rehearsal, we are living the real thing every day. When it’s shit, yes it’s shit. And it can get really… really shit. But it’s still not a practice run. You don’t get to do over that exact day ever again. In some respects, thank goodness for that, ‘eh?!
I have learned one thing from this reconnection if nothing else: Life is a fairytale, if we choose to see it. Fairytales aren’t always sweet and light (but they have their moments). They can be dark and downright grisly. They can be scary and confronting. The messages are there, and it is our choice how (or if) we interpret them as we go along with them.
And as I type, my daughters’ story – and that of Steve’s and mine – is sitting in transit somewhere, most likely in the post sorting plant, on its way to the lap of a woman whose insights I have highly regarded since I was 15 years old. May her spark and her will be with her until all her Earthly plans have come to pass.
They may be gruesome and downright sad at times. But fairytales can also come true, you know. And in her own words, my stepmother quite accurately says:
“People can eventually handle things when they have the common language of story.”
What’s your story?
(and don’t worry, that’s merely a rhetorical… unless, of course, you want to share in the comments)