All is not as it seems

Small candle
Just as a light starts to shine, the darkness of grief descends once again

I had been warned that the second year of grieving could be worse than the first. I did not believe this as overall these last eleven months after the first anniversary of Michael’s death have been ok, and sometimes more than ok, with moments of real joy and sense of achievement and progress outweighing the dark moments.

But then I had not factored in the Christmas season, never my favourite before Michael died, so if I could confine it to Room 101 now I would. But it seems there’s no escaping the general atmosphere of jollity attached to December, believe me I’ve tried, it’s hard work.

It’s not that I’m a Scrooge but I have for quite a few years now had a feeling that all the excesses and seemingly hedonistic gift giving was so out of step with the reality of a huge proportion of the world’s population, it felt somewhat false and wrong.

But I digress…

I have been busy living and helping my children thrive rather than merely existing and in that process the grieving got pushed to one side, “don’t have time for that” I kind of said to myself.

As time has started to draw nearer to Michael’s second anniversary I have the inevitable hump of Christmas and New Year’s Eve (also Michael’s birthday, he would have been 58 this year) to get over. I am finding that with more time and a clearer mind to reflect, the grief monster has once again reared its head, grabbing me by the throat and pinned me to the wall with a very clear message: “you will grieve, you will feel this pain, because you cannot run away from it forever”.

So I find myself unable to function and not wanting to make decisions, wanting to simply wave some kind of magic wand to make this month disappear from the calendar, wanting to hide, as any form of human contact right now is a painful reminder of the man whom I loved, still love and who is no longer here.

The performance

The performance

The curtains rise up

You start your act

Your lines delivered

With confidence, you enchant

The audience is wrapped up,

Captivated, entranced

But, wait! Have you stopped to ask

Who is writing the script?

Who is directing the cast?

And how comes you are

Part of an act

In which you’ve had

No say, no choice, no freedom

To write?

And whose performance is it?

You ask

And why must you stand up,

Pretend, act?

Whose life are you living?

The one you want

Or are you really just following

The words, the scenes, the acts

Neatly typed up

Convenient, conventional, acceptable, mainstream, banal

Where are your dreams, ambitions,

Hopes, intuition?

All gone, hidden, forgotten, buried, suppressed, discarded, incognito?

Why the performance, the acting?

Are you scared, frightened?

Of what you’ll find

If you step out, walk away from the limelight?

Your soul, your mind, your heart

What’s hiding inside them?

Dig deep, find out, discover

Reveal your own script

Write your own lines

Own your act

Cause life is not a rehearsal

And you have no understudy

Get off that stage

Find your own show

Don’t let the curtains fall

On You

Be bold

Fog

My thoughts are locked

Completely blocked

Don’t seem to know

My words anymore

I’m stuck in limbo

Ideas revolving

Dissolving in

A murky, thick fog

I can’t make out

Nor shape or form

The flow has gone

I know not where

I’m going to drink

My favourite tipple

Would it work magic?

I doubt it

But at least 

I will feel sleepy

Unexpected, unsolicited, relentless…

I wrote this post on 29 January 2017, but never published it, it was too raw, too difficult for me to read back, let alone to allow it to be read by people out there in the ether of the online world.  I have done a lot of personal healing and growing since this very bleak day earlier this year, so now I feel I am ready to let it go and allow others to see the raw emotions that made me write it in the first place.

It was spring and something changed; I had survived my first winter in a foreign land. Cold like I’d never experienced in my life, the kind that gets inside your bones and sinews and no matter what you do it never leaves you. The culture shock! I spoke the language but somehow couldn’t communicate with people, words seemed to have a different meaning to the one assigned to them in the dictionary. Sarcasm, irony and mockery were the order of the day but it made understanding people’s intentions nigh on impossible, were they being friendly or trying to take advantage of me? I was working so hard just to keep the wolf away, money was tight (sometimes not enough to feed myself) and yet I knew that if I could hang on for a little longer I would make it a success. I hadn’t migrated nearly five thousand miles searching for a better life just to flounder at the first hurdle.

We met one Sunday morning, I had travelled from up north to London; for the first time since arriving in this country I had the opportunity to see the big city and marvel at its amazing buildings new and old and bear witness to what every migrant must feel when faced with its famous streets, that indeed they are paved in gold! Oh the opportunities!

My friend, your friend, our friend, had arranged a meet up for breakfast at your local cafe, where we were to meet you and his sister.  I assumed you and our friend’s sister were a couple, so was taken aback when your attention seemed to be solely directed at me and my daughter, but hey I was in a foreign land and when in Rome do as the romans. So I reciprocated by directing all my attention, out of politeness, to you, ignoring our mutual friend and his sister. That didn’t go down very well with our friend, so instead of building bridges I had burnt one. Of course I didn’t realise at the time that our friend’s interest in me was more than for friendship, I was naive.

Unexpected, unsolicited, relentless… you made your way into my life and took a keen interest in everything I did, planned and dreamt of. I had no idea what your intentions were and had far too much turmoil in my personal life to really pay attention, so I just dismissed your efforts. I didn’t know where admiration ended and mockery started, so I remained distant. But you didn’t give up, nowadays your behaviour would be considered stalking, back then it was just sweet, I was naive.

I was not looking for a relationship, I was already in one which I wanted desperately to end. So no jumping out of the pan and straight into the fire, I said to myself. But you wouldn’t give up, it was so hard for me not to give in. And when I did, your love was beautiful, gentle, tender, all-consuming, loyal; I was not used to it, until that point in my life love had been hurtful, deceiving, betraying. Your kind of love made me feel scared because it was so different, unexpected, unsolicited, relentless.

You showed me how to be kind to myself, how to accept the kindness of others, you brought calm to my soul and held my heart safely in your hands. You made me happy. You made my world complete. You made me a better person and because of your love I was able to love you back in the same beautiful, gentle, tender, all-costuming and loyal way you loved me.

And so we started our lives together, enjoying each other’s quirks, making each other stronger, making plans, falling in love.  You were in a hurry, you said, you were not getting any younger and until you found me you never thought you were going to marry or have a family; you were so happy to be a father to my daughter and proclaimed that I was the best mother you had ever met. Marriage, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us apart, we promised; followed swiftly by two beautiful children and making our forever home together, I still hungry for adventure, you content with allowing me space to follow my dreams, because as you said, yours had come true the day we met.

And so fifteen years of domesticity, every day hum drum, paying the bills, bringing up the children, “who is doing the shopping this week?”, “shall I cook tonight?”, “it’s in the calendar, so it’s happening”, just trying our best to keep the love alive.

And then everything changed, dammed blasted alien took hold of you, unexpected, unsolicited, relentless, invading your body and your soul. It attempted to destroy everything we had worked so hard to build together. It really did try its hardest to get in between us, and I had to put all my strength into reminding you of our sweet, tender, all-consuming love; our promise was tested, oh we were tested! And just as we thought there could be no more tests, we had shown our promise to be as strong as iron, the same invading alien took hold of my body. It devastated you, as you knew the alien was robbing you of your life and your strength at the very moment when I needed to be cared for, yet you couldn’t be there for me. Your body was ravaged, where once stood a strong, athletic, powerful man, the alien consumed you, leaving a paralysed mumbling wreck, taking you away from me, from your children, from your friends, to a land where we are not allowed to visit

And now you’re no longer here, I try so hard to hold on to the memories; eighteen years and yet all I can see is how everything changed.

Shadows

I see these deserted shadows 
which touched my life
chimeras of a time once lived
without care nor worry
no pain or sorrow 

I see these shadows 
which touch my life
reflections of the light
projected from behind me
‘cause now I care and worry
For I have felt pain, grief
Loss, sorrow

These shadows follow me
they are part of who I am
despite the worrying and grieving
I am smiling, dreaming, hoping
dancing, loving, living

Visceral 

Storming her world
With sorrow’s wind and rain
She found herself enveloped
By a love so visceral
So vain

The kind that lashes
At the window pane
Incessantly, pulsing through
Her veins

Uncontrollably forcing
Its way in
Her heart, her mind
Her body
No longer belonging
To herself

Lurch

I lurch from certainty to doubt
From all consuming passion
to trying to work out
Is this real?
Or is my head in the clouds?

Embers

You capture the light
contained in my eyes
reflecting it on paper
You read my soul
with words so bright
and set it alight
like fire on wood
my heart you ignite
and I burn, slowly to embers

Patchwork 

Insidious
fastidious
and sometimes fictitious

Fractious
the patchwork
of feelings, emotions
thoughts and devotion

Vicious
vivacious
unrelenting madness
images, words
speeding in raucous
sadness

Trapped in a life
you thought fulfilling
you opened your eyes
found the thruth
blood curdling
bone chilling

Home

Home is the pillows you miss
Where tea is brewed just like this
Home is where
A smiling face
Awaits
A train journey, jelly legs
A pounding heart resonates

Home is where you long to be
Where nowhere else will do
Home is where your heart,
your mind, your soul
Rest at peace

Home is where you sleep deeply
Safely knowing you are loved
Accepted, respected, completely

Home is where coffee
Tastes much better
What is the secret?

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