Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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Lily and the mobile phone guy

What do you do on the anniversary of your daughter’s death? It’s not the sort of question I imagined I’d have to deal with when I held my 4 newborns in my arms. But it is something I have to think about every year now.

June approaches with stealthy feet, all blossomy with foaming elder trees and blowsy roses, tangled hedgerows of campion and stitchwort and budding honeysuckle, and I get the same feeling of strange dread and an opening heart.

The weeks before have been tumultuous emotionally, flare ups and misunderstandings, journalling and outpourings, private tears and heart connections, jagged, raw poems that can never be seen…realisations and illuminations.

But today, the anniversary of the day 4 years ago that they did the brain stem test in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, to see if they should turn the life support machine off, well it seemed strangely normal and so so hard to feel any connection with deeper emotions.

Its hard to feel and connect when I’m busy. Doing not being.

We were up early to rush back from a mini break in time for Hugh to go to work, so sweeping caravans and packing at seven instead of a quiet reflective time.
Shopping with the kids for groceries….trying to have a moment of thought over pancakes in a cafe …..jarring with children who were slightly hysterical and tired….
And then for God’s sake, meeting the mobile phone repair guy in the supermarket carpark at 4.30. My date with normality. Drawing me into its web with its dulled ravening claws….rushing away from a painting hour where we created angels and doves for Lily’s grave…to meet the mobile phone guy, and buy loo roll.

But maybe that’s ok. Maybe I don’t have to create a perfect hallowed day on June 11th and feel like I’ve let Lily down if I don’t. I did need my phone, we did need loo roll. We did connect over the painting and we did visit Lily’s grave…..and we do have spontaneous moments where we feel.

Curled up in a little grassy place we go to sometimes where the younger kids feel safe and relaxed, and say how they miss her.
A moment alone to pick flowers for her table where each blossom seem to glow with the essence of her love for it. Where the world swelled and condensed to a tiny distilled fragment holding Lily and me in its tender embrace.

A chance conversation sitting in the car in the rain with all of my children, remembering, crying, little forgotten details recalled, healing tears…..soothing our struggles alone.
Messages from friends, a kind word which helps grief to flow.

And that is the challenge. To create the space to let the grief move how it will, without dams or blockages or  avoidance tactics, or just the practical demands of daily life. To let Lily into everything. To allow the joy and grief to weave and flow around our lives, the tears sparkling among the breakfast dishes as the laughter ripples into a walk to the garden. No separation. No compartmentalisation.

It is a challenge.

When I meditate, or spend a moment seeking a connection with nature or myself, the tears and emotions are very close to the surface, waiting for a chance to escape the rigid confines of my busy hours where I rush without feeling. I know that the more I do this, the more emotion can flow naturally in my life and become more balanced and help me and my family to heal. I’ve made a commitment to do this more.

Spending time in nature, in this beauiful place that is our home now,  sitting with a flower, a tree, being quiet and receptive to the spirit that is in everything and in us, makes my heart much bigger and makes me feel that anything is possible. Spending time connecting with friends old and new, in deeper ways, more nurturing ways, makes me not feel alone. Makes me feel the beauty of life, the endless possibilities that are always there.

I guess Lily would just laugh about meeting the mobile phone guy, she just needs us to love her, remember her, connect wih her, just like always. It’s another day, like yesterday, like tomorrow.

A day for us all to connect with something more than our mind driven rushing, to open our hearts to a deeper level. Its a huge tapestry of glowing, luminous threads we’re part of, all interwoven with the practical homespun browns and greys, the vibrant reds and pinks of daily activity, the soft iridescent violets of our connection to the spirit which is in everything, the subtle greens of nature unfolding….we never stop weaving…

Do you manage to hold all the threads of the loom together…..is it easy for you?


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Valentine’s day

Huddled by the gas cooker at one end of our cabin last night, waiting for the water to heat for our hot water bottles, Hugh and I had a hasty discussion in low voices.
‘God, it’s Valentine’s day tomorrow, have you done anything?’
‘No have you?’
‘Nothing.’
‘Well,’…. a hesitation…’shall we just… do nothing?’
‘Ok, if we both promise.’
‘Cool…’ we poured the hot water bottles and went to bed, but it felt wierd.

It’s not that we usually indulge in lavish displays of gifts and meals out, but we usually make a card and write a poem for each other, and Hugh usually picks some flowers and I might buy some little edible treat to share in the evening. A tangible reminder of our love and appreciation of each other in the midst of the turmoil and rush that our lives can sometimes be. Cutting through the hasty communication and barbed retorts, the rumbling resentments and sniping that it is so easy to fall into, despite our best love and intentions; the Valentines day poem never fails to reach the beautiful core of why we are together, and warms the cold February morning.

I put aside the futile and petty moans about what I think he should or shouldn’t be doing and appreciate not only the practical genius of a man that has, after all, almost singlehandedly built our home, but the understanding , encouragement and acceptance he extends to me.
The man who reminds me, even though its really up to me to organise, that I need to take some time to myself, and look after myself..(my back, my sleep deprivation, need for solitude)
The man who accepted me and two children who weren’t his and happily loved them as his own and then loved the two that we produced too! And who lightens a tense moment with craziness and laughter.
The man who has brought so much wisdom and love into our family and works with me as we guide the children through the maze of our life together.
The man who slows down when I speed up to remind me that really, is it that important? (yeah I admit this one is challenging!!)
The man who quietly carries out a myriad of practical chores evey day which easily become invisible until he goes away for a few days…
The man who breaks the rules and breaks out of the constraints of duty and ‘shoulds’ because that’s where the gold is.
The man who loves me…

But now we’ve agreed….we’ve just moved, we’re still struggling with water and toilet issues and a multitude of practical  (more on this next post Laurel, promise) we’re both really busy, do we really have time to create beautiful poetry  before bed?

So we woke up today in a very ordinary way, and I came to town to write in a cafe where there is power, and I suddenly realise that Valentine’s day is tomorrow! We got the day wrong! It’s not today.
Now what?
Better get writing…….