You know I appreciate you, right? Even you passer-by readers who never stop to comment but come to my blog as soon as I hit ‘publish’. In fact, in recent months, that’s the majority of (non)interactions on this site. But I don’t mind. I feel like this blog isn’t mine to own any more. Hasn’t been for some time now.
While I settle in to new life in 2013, one that looks vastly different to 2012, I want to take this moment to say a big resounding THANK YOU. To all of you. My life has irreversibly changed, the moment I walked in to that hospital room in Castlemaine in November and my stepmother laid her sharp, clear blue eyes on me and let me back in to the fold. Her fold. Tears shed, faces well watered, by the end of that visit I knew I had stepped up a notch as a human being. I got it then. I had reached the other side of a 10 year-old estrangement and discovered, post-humously via the diaries she left me to read, that her views and assumptions and opinions of me and what she surmised about how I felt about her – something she’d gathered from a few words I spat at her during an argument in a tiny flat in London in 2003 – were not able to be explained. I couldn’t take back those decade-old words. She was dead now. I couldn’t even correct her. Couldn’t even explain.
She accepted me anyway. In the end, as she said, “Minutes. Wasted minutes. Every one of them from now until the end. Don’t waste another one.”
It helped me chase away the remaining doubts I had about whether I should do more in the face of estrangement. In the face of any other person’s opinion of me (or recollection of conversations they supposedly had with me, ever, in the history of our association) and whether I had any right to try and correct people in that opinion.
If I do or don’t, it doesn’t seem relevant to me any more. One of the last sentences my stepmother (“there is no step any more, you are simply…. my daughter”, she said one day a few weeks ago. One day, I too may be bold enough to remove the step, although she will never be considered my mother. Sister, perhaps…) said to me that final Sunday was, “What you’re doing, here, right now, is upgrading as a healer. It’s bitterly hard. But to go through it is to hold a hand out to someone else once you get there and show them the way through it.”
How can I deny this? For, surely, it’s what we all do after a major loss or trauma. We just have the choice whether we stand in service or move on and not. That’s the only difference I can see.
So, again… Thank you for reading as I share my realisations here. Heck, it just sounds so trite that I haven’t done it in a long time. But what else can I do? If I don’t say a simple (yet genuine and deeply heartfelt) thanks, I’m coming off ungrateful. If I do say it… well, I overstate it. Like now.
Heh… Heh-heh. Moving on.
Before Christmas, in the flurry of driving overnight visits and bedside stays, on one of the rare days I was home we noticed the fish were gone. All gone. Every last one of them. It was something I decided I would have to put mind to feeling sad about “later”. I didn’t have time to be sad about our lovely 12 month-old fish in our memorial pond going missing. Presumably to the birds. A few weeks passed and Steve and I decided we needed to rescue the pond from the fate of consumption by string algae (a nasty, invasive and persistent pond killer once it takes hold, unless you remove it diligently and treat the water). For weeks now, it had become somewhat of a meditative weekly (if not back-breaking) practice – scrubbing the pond…. not a euphemism.
When Steve lifted out the filter to give it a good clean, all but one of our fish scurried out from beneath it. They had been there all along, probably frightened at one point by a hungry but inaccurate bird of prey. We could cope with one lost goldfish. We rejoiced! And bought three more, which Lolly named.
Oh dear. I worry when kids name fish and guinea pigs and other little flaky animals that may or may not survive. Poor little “Carly” turned belly up within the fortnight. However, Lily and Steve are still going great….
And the goldfish we have decided to call Ditzy even turned up. From somewhere. I found her yesterday, hovering in the water current and mistaking her breath bubble for food. Over and over. “Oooh! Food! Oh no, it’s just a bubble *spit* Ooh! Food! Oh no, wait… it’s just a bubble *spit* Oooh! Food!” Perhaps we ought to have called her Dory.
The peace and tranquility of fish is undeniable. I wanted to resist, I did. Steve and I built our first pond the year Ellanor died. The fish were great to watch, growing and having babies. We had to leave them all when we left that house. When Pepper died last year and I dug that big hole, I started to see this very pond in my mind.
Now, twelve months later, the plant life is responding and the fish are growing. They’ve even had two babies who have so far survived. Teeny tiny little things (they start of almost invisible, transparent as they are, but the largest of the two is now just barely 2cm, if he’s lucky). I go and stand above them, letting them reset my stressed mind. I relax into watching them float and dart and twirl their impromptu dances. Swishing and swaying in the pond currents. Beautiful.
And I thank them too. But they don’t respond much either. I’m okay with that, they’re doing what they do.
I hope you’re receiving my thanks, truly, as you go about doing whatever it is you do when you visit this blog.