“Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS but she IS NOT, all at once.

She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”

~Author Unknown

 

Jumbled thoughts scramble to make coherent sense at 2am. No fewer than three subjects of blog posts emerging at the edges of my consciousness begin to form.

Five days on and my girl is still fighting off her middle ear infection and tonsillitis. I’m so spent after keeping vigil while she endures her fitful feverish sleep next to me and getting only grabs of twenty minutes’ shut-eye at a time myself all night, every night, that I go to talk now and it sounds like jibberish.

I think I’ll save talking for another day. But it is time to write.

This article has been on my mind since I read it yesterday. It’s all so familiar that to read it once more, to highlight and quote from, would feel like reliving it again. I don’t need to do that to myself, not today. Instead, I urge any of you reading this to bookmark it and go through it carefully. It’s as brilliantly written a piece on a mother’s grief as any I have ever read – or written (back in the day, I used to write and write and write on the subject myself and, ironically, still didn’t feel heard despite the acknowledgement of supportive comments).

I am staring down the barrel of my tenth year on this Earth without my baby daughter. She would be celebrating her double-figures birthday this coming January. I’d have a moody female on my hands by now! She would have endured untold numbers of heart operations too, even to this stage of her life. We were told she’d never be able to be active, there would have been restrictions on her that by now we would have surely adapted to.

Looking through that piece, and the many comments in response to it, so much is familiar. But I have to ask myself, this far on, who really cares? I hate to tell any of you who are newer to the experience… but you get to a point where you feel a little trapped. You’ve had no choice but to walk on by now. So if you are here, still breathing, moving through your daily existence, and the years pile on… well, surely, you’ve reached your maximum limit of goodwill from friends and family.

Those who have stuck in there with me have changed, as much as I have, in these intervening years. People who had no children or young families ten years ago all, without exception, have offspring now of various ages and stages. Back then, my daughter’s short life and death were sprung on them just as shockingly as it was on me. Some got out of the task of supporting me early on, others remained and carried me through in varying degrees (as best they could). Others were on the periphery, throwing me lifelines every so often up until just a few years ago. But as their lives have changed (as has mine) and their commitments have grown and widened, the contact has waned. Who knows what will befall those families? I pray I never have to support any of them in the same manner they had the call to action I inadvertently gave them in 2004.

The lengthening of my grief began quickly at the hands of someone I thought would be a stalwart supporter. And it shocked me as much as it did rile me, in my burgeoning Anger Stage of grief. See, I was abandoned less than two years after my daughter died by a close relative who had always been the first to call me if she needed my support, including being there through her two newborn phases even while I was grappling with infertility and miscarriage, putting her needs first. That embittered reaction to my own grief response remains in place today, hurts of the other party allegedly greater than that which I was going through (and still carry today). But so be it. For that person’s pain to be so insurmountably great and heavy a burden that I had to be abandoned, it’s little wonder she couldn’t stick around to “cope with me”.

At first it seemed insurmountably hard to also grieve this loss to my life, so soon after trying to find my new normal. But the saddest part about this estrangement to me is the removal of the opportunity to learn and grow together. It simply was not this person’s destiny to walk alongside me, I accept that now. But it has taken years to reach this point.

In the remaining eight years, I’ve had minimal and varied levels of support from my ever-changing circle. It’s no accident that I have now a completely new set of friends. Firm friends, meaningful connections, easy relationships that are not costly on my energy. I can only assume, as these are friends by choice, that the same goes for them towards me.

The thing that strikes me is that over the course of a decade, everyone changes. My family makeup has changed, through deaths, births, estrangements, divorce and marriage. Where some members of my family have stepped away, other relatives have stepped forward and it has been one of the best and timely surprises (suffice to say, I LOVE and adore cousins – one of the unsung and overlooked connections and, to me, possibly more important than the sibling connection which can be so fraught with pain, belittlement and competition). And yet, I’ve still managed to enshroud myself with guilt that I am the one who’s caused all the problems because of the metamorphosis I underwent, beginning ten years ago. I have become this new person since the days before, so much so that they had to stop relying on me for a time. Because I changed the game plan, see. The person I was died in 2004 along with Ellanor.

In many ways, to this day, and because I feel I can never reclaim the dignity and sense of self I lost along with her, nor can I repay the listening-ears (for effective or not, they were still doing their best to hear me, a walking, talking, seemingly bottomless well of expression), I cannot overcome the feeling that I abandoned them. That in me, they lost a peppy, witty sister who was not prone to bouts of crippling depression, who could always say and do the right thing, who would take the knocks and the jibes with good humour and laugh them off.

Because I changed, because I don’t put myself second any more (for survival at first and then out of newfound respect for my core, original self – the one who emerged from those ashes), because I have worked so hard to constantly monitor and be responsible for what I do and say which is much easier said than done… I find myself on the outer of my family. I have no old history with my relatively new friends.

But am I worse off? I ask myself, in my state of being so tired that I am unable to mask my historical wounds. And the answer is an emphatic and, finally, truthful:

No.

 

Please hang in there with those who are journeying with you as best they can. Let them be there. You don’t have to accept what they say, you don’t have to be pragmatic and say they’re being abysmally ineffective with their words or deeds. But these things will happen, despite how well you try to protect yourself from them. So in the end, it’s not so much what to say/what not to say to a bereaved parent that is going to matter to you. It will depend on whether you can forgive yourself – your vital, natural, original self – for your actions and responses towards those who have hurt you deeply on your walk.

For the longest time, in the back of my head replayed the old tape, “You’re losing your babies because you’re not WORTHY enough. You’re not GOOD enough. You’re not COMPETENT enough. And you certainly aren’t LIKEABLE enough.”

Pretty horrible and destroying, huh?

What if I told you the voice was my mother’s?

It had already, to that point, taken quite some time with various therapists and techniques and well-earned DINK* dollars to get me to a point where I felt I could pass the day as a bona fide adult with anything to contribute to the world. To wash off the seemingly endless layers of external conditioning that had brought me to the point of needing – not wanting – to deconstruct my upbringing.

Imagine how interesting the game got when I then began to lose children. Harder still, when I have been faced with not one or two, but four family estrangements. Not to mention those that have gone in generations before me.

It’s taken everything I have in me to remain on an even keel with “knowing thyself”, not giving in to the darkness. Not allowing that voice (for by now it was not outside of myself but internalised and sounded like me and what I was saying to myself) to rise up and be brought into the light. To be given love. Because it was as simple as that, as it turns out. Infusing everything I did with love and understanding.

That is what ultimately uncoiled my wound-up, wounded Self.

Hey, I can still get all muddled up, still get it all wrong. It is far too easy for me – given my nature, my experiences, heck even my position in the family (3rd of 4 kids and doesn’t everybody, including me, like to have a dig at that needy middle-child and, even now in adulthood, roll their eyes and sigh at memories of siblings in times past; I hear it more often than I ought) – to fall on the sword. To blame myself and only myself for my part in these estrangements. Never instigated by me but long-suffered, all the same.

I go through the months and sometimes years of thrashing it out with that person in my head. “What the…” “What about all those times when…” “And I said NOTHING!!! So how come you get to come in and just….”

Throw it all away.

Throw. It all. Away. It is far too hard, I have decided, to live in angst about these lost loves from my life. I have lived and regenerated myself several times in this one lifetime. I must build and grow as I go.

Tomorrow, Lolly and I are meeting with an elderly friend. My walking buddy, who dutifully meets me at 6:30 every morning with his dog, and we have chatted and merged mornings for that brief thirty minutes for well over two years now. He is taking us on a tour of the theatre where he is a director. When I told Lolly, her eyes almost popped out of her starry-eyed head. It’s all I can do to convince her to leave her tap shoes at home. Because there won’t be an opportunity to get up and tap out a number on stage. Dear oh dear.

But the point is, I count this person as some sort of surrogate. Not father, not relative of any sort. But a conduit who, like so many of our friends since Ellanor who we have made, strengthens my resolve. That it wasn’t all me. That goodness is to be found in the world. That not everybody is going to hurt you.

It’s a very difficult thing, not to succumb to being gun-shy over relationships, when those you’ve had for decades seemingly find it easier to run away and not face their own darkness.

If you are in the middle of the mess of estrangement, all I can say to you is, remember that until you can meet in the middle with true equality and all the heat is taken out of what has passed between you, live your life. Remember you don’t know all you think you know about their side. And when you reckon you’re spot on, think again… and remember, again, that you don’t! Of course, the same applies to them as well: they don’t know your side/your version/your perfectly justified justifications… and that may well be what is contributing to what is chewing you up from the inside out…

Stop. Let them go. Let it all go and turn your thinking about them into thoughts towards them/your situation. Surround those thoughts with love and send them off into the air, wrapped in that bubble. If you don’t, you will constantly have them on your shoulder. And that can debilitate you to the point of physical illness.

Of course, if that manifests, it can also serve as a wonderful teacher.

Estrangement from family can be freeing. Try and see the benefits of being cut loose. Eventually, the good might just outweigh the bad. In my experience, it’s happened because there has been an inequality or an imbalance in the exchange of energy between you anyway. Possibly for quite some time, perhaps since the very beginning. So use this time to really see yourself.

Blessings, many blessing to be had from this estrangement business. Ultimately.

 

Okay, big Note To Self (shared out loud) over.

 

 

* Dual Income, No Kids

Anyone need a bit of respite from the election? Here’s a little story to distract you for a brief moment… and I really do mean… little. In the grand scheme of the world.

One night back in 2007, and devoid of any other ideas for entertainment, I said to Steve, “Tell me something to ask Google and I’ll Google it.”

After a moment’s pause from both of us and a smirk tripping across his face, I confirmed with a withered look that, yes, I KNOW he knows everything and there was surely nothing he would need to Google… But could we just do it for amusement’s sake anyway. Maybe he could pretend not to know the answer to something? Just to humour me?

So he says, “Okay, Google this: Does Steve know everything” – not that he’s not modest or anything *cough from silent crowd*. He obviously just wanted to ensure Google was up to speed with his vast knowledge of…. well, useless general knowledge shit, basically. I’m down with that.

So I did. I typed it in, exactly like that. Just to rise to the challenge and prove him wrong.

And here – commiserations accepted now, please and thankyou – is a screen shot of the single, solitary search result that was returned on an otherwise blank page:

I mean, how is that even helpful? Naturally, Steve found this hysterically funny. I told him I wasn’t playing anymore.

This must’ve been before the internet exploded because the search term brings up something far more furnished these days…. seems he knows a LOT more in 2013.

The End.

As you were.

This was originally posted on October 23, 2009 – it’s one of those Bigger Picture posts that was time to bring back out and ponder. So here it is, freshly dug up and republished.

 

I have this friend at the moment who is presenting a lesson for me. It got me thinking yesterday, as I mopped the floors (oooh don’t I sound all domesticated), about how people present themselves in my life in order for me to gather information – not so much about them, for that happens as a matter of course and friendship – pertinent to learning more about who I am and how I act and react, how I “hold up” and how centred I am. This learning is synonymous with the colour Red.

It’s an interesting thing I have come to recognise. Where once I never realised how many similar friends I had in my circle, who I would allow to sap, push, pull and mould me, I can now see a definite course through my (at least adult) life; that there are those who have been a familiar “type” and these are the ones who always used to undo me at ten paces.

In my study at Peace Space of both the 13 Human Perceptional Levels (via colour rays) and the deeper aspects of the psychological, ego and psyche via the Masters Colours, I’ve been learning that we get tested (and how). We are given tests of agility, stamina, our will and just how sound that is…. and sometimes, the test feels endless: “Have you got that yet? Have you got that yet?” For instance, it is, mostly, the colour Magenta that will support you through this kind of repetitive lesson (also the colour of Mother love, unconditional Universal love), the vibration that will be recognisable within these lessons and be the ‘cruel to be kind’ teacher. Hey, it’s no coincidence my username (elsewhere) is what it is. It is a constant reminder, to me, that my journey to parenthood was a “Got it yet??” series of agonising months and years stringed together. And that it wasn’t merely about how well I held up while we waited and lost, waited and lost, over and over. No. There was untold learning in my lesson/s during that stage of my life. Hence, my online moniker in certain communities.

So I have this friend here at the moment. And I am keen to rush in and do and say what I normally would. Take the current crisis on as partially my own to carry with that friend, I suppose. But I have seen a pattern in these crises, as well, and I can’t ignore that now that I see it. I’m left pondering the ebbs and flows of people reaching out (and whether they are really asking for help or simply needing to be heard) and what I duty I have as friend to not only them, but to myself.

It’s an interesting thing, sitting still. OOH, gosh, I just realised something about that previous post and the card the LGBB gave me. Hmmmmm, maybe there was something not so random in that after all! Because I spent much of the afternoon yesterday, while I was cleaning, thinking about how my inaction may be perceived just letting it be as it will be this time, without even rushing in to smooth things over or defend myself for not giving more and all the rest of it.

Preservation of the Self first. It’s the most important thing, more important than giving, to me (for giving comes so naturally that I have had to recognise it more consciously)* – I have come to see that, since Ellanor came along – it’s been one of the biggest lessons for me out of losing her. Me, looking out for me. I never really did it before knowing her. And if she had stayed, I still wouldn’t have done it. Not that it’s a good enough reason, on its own, to lose my child. Of course! But it’s definitely in that suitcase of gifts that I rummage around in. I’ve tried so many things on from that suitcase and almost everything fits so far. What a lucky girl am I, to have it.

Have you ever found yourself waking up and realising you have unwittingly become a rescuer? What did/do you do? What’s your pattern? (You can email me if you like, if you want to share but not online – I’m always ears… er, eyes…)

 

* not that I’ve quite got that lesson, for I still don’t always recognise what I give and when, although I do now notice the sapping/draining/leeching of energy feeling and, I regret to say, sometimes that happens with my posts here which is why I often don’t post what I was going to, when I really need to conserve my energy is when you see a barrage of funny posts here.

For the life of me, once I saw this I could never look at this baby book the same ever again.

In fact… I can’t even make eye contact with that very…VERY…happy monkey.

Do you see what I see?

 

The following is an old trip down memory lane, originally posted on Sept. 5, 2008.

 

Sitting at the kitchen bench this morning, the LGBB was chatting to her Little People and making them take turns with each other (“No, iss not your turn, iss MY turn…” “No! Not MY turn, iss MY turn!” Geez, are they bossy… and slightly confused) while I was writing in her baby book for the first time in ages.

I was full of happy, recording some of the things she had done, when Lolly came up to me as I was taking a sip of tea and held out her curled fist. Wassat? she asked, curiosity in her voice. What’s what? I answered. And then I did a dumb thing. I held out my hand to receive what was in her little hand.

That’s when she unfurled her fist and let a little pebble drop out into my waiting palm. A strangely organic-looking pebble. Hmmm…. animal, vegetable or mineral? Oh. Actually, last night’s dinner, I think.

“Ummmm, darlin’…. that’s poo,” I said calmly, my mind ticking fast. She’s not become one of those kids who reaches in to her nappy and does a bit o’ painting has she? She’s such a neat little girl, that’s so unlike her. As I looked past her slightly worried and concerned upturned face, her eyes searching mine to see if this was a good, bad or indifferent interaction we were having, I caught sight of another larger “pebble” on the floorboards over where she’d been playing.

I rolled up my sleeves for a bout of impromptu cleaning, sighed and then carried her to the nearest bathroom. Poor little poppet was SO sure she’d done something wrong that I had to stifle a giggle as she lay there making the sweetest, most obviously embarrassed, distraction-tactic small talk, complete with little chuckles over garbled words and hands flying to her mouth in mock shock over whatever it was she was trying to relay. But I had to correct her when she said very clearly that she was silly. I explained what had happened and she listened intently as I let her know she had not done anything silly or wrong and that her nappy had, well, malfunctioned. Although I think I probably said it was her nappy that was the silly one, or something like that.

Best start setting to and clean her up, I thought, looking down at her still twittering away to herself (probably trying hard to imagine herself anywhere but here). I braced myself and began to delicately unwrap the present so kindly laid by the LGBB for me. But there was nothing. The nappy was empty. This was a case of *cue dramatic music and echoey microphone* Phantom Poo. I saw the track marks down both her legs, which promptly reminded me of Mr Hanky bouncing all over Kyle’s bathroom and leaving brown squelch marks wherever he lands as he sings merrily… but no more pebbles. Anywhere. It certainly was curious. For some reason, “On Top Of Spaghetti (all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed…”) started playing in my head. Those little pebbles couldn’t possibly have made such happy trails on their own, down her little legs and out the door. Could they? I was certain it must be at least meatball-sized, whatever I was looking for.

Before my brain could command control of my hands, I shook the pj’s I was holding at the exact split-second when my brain registered they were a tad heavier than they ought. Why? Why did I give her pants a flick, dear reader? Of course you know what happened, don’t you? The weightiness was all made perfectly clear as it flopped onto the floor at my feet.

TA-DAH!

I could have cried. But it was so funny that I almost whistled while I cleaned.

I am going mad. Can you tell?

 

 

 


This chair was never scary-looking to me as a wide-eyed three year old. It was my very own special chair.I loved it so much I’ve kept it all these years. And then, as a baby the LGBB seemed unperturbed by it too. Although now looking at it, I do find the characters quite disturbing. They have grotesque faces and black noses. What’s happening there? Did they get frostbite??Still, something is appealing and timeless about them obviously, as it continued to enthrall the next generation (or maybe it’s just a genetic thing I’ve passed on).

The 'Neigh' plate. A favourite. Very feet-worthy.

The LGBB was so enamoured by it that she would put her feet up on it. Anything that was good or fun or given the Lolly Seal of Approval was deemed thus with the stomping of her feet upon it.

Avocado on toast = feet on plate, kicking it (and getting toast on slippers). A page-turner of a book (like, say, Five Little Ducks) = book on floor, feet on book, stomp-worthy. A kiddy chair with two “Friend” on it? Well, it’s very difficult to get your feet up on something when the surface is about half a foot higher than your seated nappy-covered bum. But on this day, she did it. For two precarious seconds (it’s a hard position to maintain).

And while I was scrambling for the camera to take a stealthy photo – which I was too slow to get as it turned out – Lolly decided she was, in fact, so taken by her new Friend chair that she offered it the ultimate in seals of approval.

She took a dump in its presence.

Now that, I got a photo of.
Do you have something you cherished as a child but now you look at it, it’s kind of quite ghastly? Do you still love it? Do your children love it?

Hey! ‘s been a while! You know you’ve been off your blog for a long time when you have to log in for the first time in almost forever and you forget the password.

So much to say, so little headspace to tell it. I seem to still get grabs of things that would be so good to share. Then the moment escapes me. Or the nerve eludes me when I get the moment. Or the thought doesn’t come back when I have my hands at the keyboard.

So I haven’t bothered.

Most of my distractions of late have been work, ill health, work, recuperating after the death of a loved one, more work, school issues and… yeah, a bit more work. To be honest, for the first time in my years blogging, to have spent much time doing any writing would have felt grossly selfish.

Not now.

We came, we saw, we twirled on dark winter days along the Great Ocean Road

 

What appears to have happened, on the back of a ridiculously refreshing week-long sojourn down the coast at the end of July, is perfect timing. Those clever stars have aligned once again. On the drive to the LGBB’s new school this morning, we pondered the sequence of events that led to  her coming here – to the new school, I mean – and how amazing it was that “where one door closes, somewhere a window is opened” (to paraphrase Maria’s Mother Superior).

We received a “no” that sent us on a search and we didn’t have to look far for our “yes”.

Dust is still settling, but I have to say, my girl is coming back. There is not so much of the dark circles, grey face that had begun to descend upon her. Nothing specifically had caused it but a mother knows. Her light had dimmed somewhat. And truthfully, mine had started to as well. I felt a bit stifled where we were, for it is never just a simple case of you dropping your child off and picking them up from school – the whole vibe of a place, at least for the LGBB and me, seeps in and permeates everything including your home life.

I had begun to hide around corners. Stop myself from speaking my truth. Avoided involving myself in entire areas of my daughter’s daytime existence. It was similar to being back at high school, exposed and vulnerable, and I had thought I was immune to it. Turns out, if the environment doesn’t suit you, you are affected. You become affected. Nobody is immune to that. And you can either move with it and change yourself to fit in or you can shuffle along and find the better fit… for you.

I’ve never made a move like that before. I’m the type who goes down with the sinking ship, loyal and stalwart to the end. But this was not about me. This was about my child. I had to put on my big girl shoes and walk in and do the deed after she had made the decision to move schools. I thought I might self-combust at the idea they might think I was deserting, defecting. So be it, I had to say to myself. This is not about you! And I found I had to do quite a bit of reassuring of others as well, that this was “not about them”.

Aren’t we funny sometimes, us humans?

So here we are, embracing a brand new atmosphere. Lolly told me the other night that she is most happy just walking around outside, joining this group or that, and making no specific friend (yet, anyway). We knew it. I knew the moment we saw the place that no matter what, the trees and the green would look after her. She is warming her new nest, nurtured now by the natural environment that her school is nestled amongst. And strangely, lately I feel compelled to create again. I have just finished painting on canvas for the first time in about six years. I’ve begun developing an idea for a new blog, where I will share my Earth work and findings, a space completely different from this one. But more on that another time when it’s found its feet a little more.

It feels brand new. It feels very good. We fit much better in all our spaces now. For the moment.

I’m looking forward very much to a good Spring clean in a few (hopefully short) weeks when the chill leaves the air.

Hurry UP, Spring!

Over the past eight years, I’ve shared a number of songs here that have meant so much to me. Music on the whole has always shaped so much of my life, like so many of us (if you know me well or have read here for a while, you know this too).

After Ellanor died, so many brilliant songs suddenly sounded completely different. They became vital. Beacons of proof that I was still able to be moved, that all of me was not shattered, utterly lost and forgotten. Somewhere in there, I was still the teenager who laughed her way through high school with a bestie who loved to recite movie lines as much as I did; the child who had kept an imaginary horse in her yard and snuck sugar cubes out to it; the girl who spent countless hours upon hours dancing, dancing, dancing to music.

In the beginning, the very thought of getting myself to move was impossible. It felt WRONG. Laughter, though it had peppered my every day before, was bitter medicine, if not “the best”. Slowly, my body needed to dance. The flow of life force couldn’t be stopped, it seemed. It wouldn’t allow me to stay down for long.

So I began to dance. It was painful and hard. It was all part of my new normal, a very difficult “first time since Ellanor…” to overcome.

Beloved music. Promise, hope, upliftment. But now, the lyrics took on greater purpose. Love songs felt as though they were trying to explain the inexplicable: Our physical separation, as mother and daughter, although the bond would forever remain. They became messages from me to her and I seemed to be able to find meaning in every one. Today I want to share one of the ones I would sing, smiling through tears as I moved my body and danced through the house. Such a strange mix of unbearable yearning and uplifting euphoria. So much, in fact, that my grief would be suspended for the duration of the song.

And yet… I was crying so hard.

Every feeling – good or hard  or even indifferent – was just so intense around that time. It was as though I had never properly felt every emotion available to me until that point in my life.

Did you feel that? Are you still stepping through that part?

This is one of those songs. It is a great song. Computer speakers do it absolutely no justice, of course. This thing needs bass to be properly consumed! Mind you, if you’re not a Daft Punk fan, it might never reach you no matter how sorely I try and convince you (or how awesome your speakers are). But oh. How I danced and danced and danced to this around my empty house in 2004. And now, not even a bittersweet angst remains when I hear it. It’s just the sweetest upbeat song (to me) that makes me want to move. That’s good music if it can hunker down with you in the deep troughs and then catapult you over the peaks of your journey so you can soar high.

Happy of happy joys, this week I’ve introduced Lolly – very belatedly – to Daft Punk. It’s not hard to see why she, too, is now a fan of the song. As if the song wasn’t cute on its own, check out the cool film clip!

 

What’s your best happy song? Tell me in the comments!

 

“Digital Love” – Daft Punk (from the 2001 album “Discovery”)

Last night I had a dream about you
In this dream I’m dancing right beside you
And it looked like everyone was having fun
the kind of feeling I’ve waited so long
Don’t stop come a little closer
As we jam the rythm gets stronger
There’s nothing wrong with just a little little fun
We were dancing all night long
The time is right to put my arms around you
You’re feeling right
You wrap your arms around too
But suddenly I feel the shining sun
Before I knew it this dream was all gone
Ooh I don’t know what to do
About this dream and you
I wish this dream comes true

Ooh I don’t know what to do
About this dream and you
We’ll make this dream come true

Why don’t you play the game ?
Why don’t you play the game ?

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever; you just have to live.” ~Natalie Babbitt

 

 

It seems the ways in which I can have the wind knocked out of me when Ellanor’s name is mentioned never completely go away.

“Are you pregnant?” Lolly asked me last night with a bright and hopeful expression. It came from nowhere, delivered upon me as soon as I entered the bathroom. She was in the bath. I was preparing her pyjamas so they would be warm when she got out.

“No,” I said, matter-of-fact – the best way, I’ve found, to respond to her regular honest inquiry. “There will be no more babies for Mummy.”

“How many babies have you tried to have?”

“Fourteen,” I replied.

“Including me and Ella?”

“Yup.”

She raised her eyebrows, looked at me silently for a moment and then returned to playing her game. A Pollypocket was attempting to jump through a plastic ring on the back of Rusty the mechanical fish. Death-defying and delicious fun. I watched her for a moment, immersing myself in her free-form fantasy before picking up my shattered mother heart and retreating with the dustpan and brush to the kitchen where I requested a hug from Steve. I told him what had happened.

“You know Ellanor was conceived ten years ago this week, don’t you?” I asked as I broke the embrace and busied myself with tidying the kitchen table.

“Ten,” he said, the wind visibly knocked out of his sails. “My God. That’s unbelievable.”

We pottered in silence for the next several minutes. I had finally let the impact of it settle in. I knew this year was coming. I could see it in the distance about five years ago and gave thanks that I had time. The buffer of time to get through first, second and third anniversaries (not just birth and death anniversaries but that of passing milestones like when Ellanor would have started school, what grade she would have been in when Lolly started school, and so it seemed to go on and on). We’re well through those.

But this. Double figures. Ten years. And to think, when I fell pregnant with her Steve and I had already been together ten years. It feels almost like two lifetimes; certainly two different ones.

I have been through myriad emotions this past fortnight. Coming to the exhausting yet liberating realisation that blood ties/family are not a given, cannot actually be relied on any more than any other relationships you choose and, in fact, sometimes by their very nature, probably should be relied on even less so than others in your life (blood may well be thicker than water, but I for one prefer to use the saying this way: Blood is thicker than water… and water is a hell of a lot stronger too!). I choose not to reduce or dilute the spiritual ties I have with friends and loved ones by considering it lesser – mere water – as if blood is superior when, quite simply, it is not.

Then, pondering my inner world as my 38th birthday approaches and reminiscing how long it has been since the pall cast over my life, the experience of the death of my firstborn child seeping into every cell of my being and every aspect of my existence. Forever. That will never change. Have I changed? Immeasurably. Would I take anything back? Not one skerrick, not even part of it… not even any of the strained relationships and estrangements.

When my stepmother died earlier this year, I wrote a line in a post that came from somewhere just beyond my conscious awareness.

I feel I am back in true service after quite a long lull. It’s not that I didn’t already have great purpose before, but this is a renewal of life-giving energy for me that had become depleted by simply “living the daily grind”.This is the beautiful thing about death. It enlivens the living.

Once it was out and on the screen, I appreciated it more and more. I always knew this. But sometimes, we need the reminder don’t we? So I’m giving it to myself again.

Ellanor and all the experiences she brought with her are like a blanket over my life. A warm, familiar, nurturing coverlet that allows me to feel safe from the inside out. Through her, I have learned to begin my walk again – renewed and shining my own truth. Letting this be the light that guides me on my way.

I’ve been pondering all things “blogging” and the social media black hole. I’ve been wondering if there is any purpose left to serve in this blog of mine. I’ve been chatting to fellow writers and considering my future direction; has it served every conceivable purpose I had in mind when I began it eight years ago? Did I even have a direction eight years ago? (I did not, I’ll tell you that right now).

And then a week like this comes along. All at once, I get the bigger picture again. All the insecurities that surface late at night when I wonder if I’ve shared too much over the years, bled my heart too much for all the readers who’ve come and gone, admitted my faults (as one half of an infertile couple, now with a thriving child and beyond my own child-bearing years), tried to keep up with the Joneses who have gone through similar loss experiences to me but who don’t bear all – and I’ve questioned myself so many times about what it is that drives me to continue to share, when others continue not to share – and I have aimed to balance the divulging of my darkest points with the flipside joy and hope of not just living, but immersing oneself in the life one finds themself in.

Ultimately, weighing it all up I see the deeply important gift for readers that rely on knowing there is someone who carries a lantern on a walk that is deeply impacting and never truly over.

Especially on weeks such as this. When that torch-bearer who willingly bares all meekly requests of the sometimes cold and always boundless Internets: “Hold me?”

 


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