It is quite wonderful how things can change. From the lowest low to a gentle rise of goodly spirits. This morning, the first day of Spring, I wake to birdsong and the Snow Moon. She hangs in a misty sky, a rainbow corona surrounding her not-quite-full circle, lemon yellow and bright as a lighthouse beam. She smiles me. The garden slowly lifts in response showing me new shoots, tulips, daffodils almost in flower and snowdrops by the squillion, survivors of some sharp frosts, the plucky little mites. Much like me, like you, for if we have survived this past year, we are indeed lucky and plucky.
2020 saw this home locked down on March 16th and I can barely believe a nearly year has moved beneath my scurrying feet, for they did indeed scurry over such great swathes of time as I took care of the one who could no longer take care of himself. I look back with pride and no guilt at all for that time even if I was sometimes angry, upset, frustrated, snippy and downright exhausted. In that time I learned how to build my boundaries, stone by heavy stone. I would take the work, accept the demands, work with his confusion and upsydownsy mood swings but I would not take attack of any sort. I was ready behind my wonky wall for I am no construction expert and there were times when a stone wobbled off to land with a laugh at my feet. It took concentration and dedication to detail, to the logistics of wall-building but I did learn and my wall stands firm now. It is not to keep people out nor to keep me in, but simply there to remind me of what I will take from anyone and what I will stand against with words of my own truth, my own respect of self.
Reflecting back over the years, I find memories of times for which I am not proud, times when I wasted precious energy on trying to persuade a rigid thinker that my way was better than his, or when I defied, lied, pretended, gave up and ran away. But it is a soft reflection. From this distance I can see what I did and what I didn’t do, how I twisted myself into storm enough to upset the whole family or worse, when I turned in on myself and everything went black. I thought, back then, really believed, that I was solely at fault, that if only I gave more, did better, complied with everything, life would be wonderful. I know better now. I know that when a couple fall in love and decide to spend a lifetime together, they are stepping into a world they cannot possibly imagine. It begins, usually, with the first child. Suddenly mother is no longer the girl of my dreams and father is decidedly lacking in his ability to support effectively. We both spend many quiet moments, hours even, wondering what on earth went so wrong. Of course a child is always a joy and more, a thankfulness for his or her safe arrival and healthy body and mind, but how to hold onto these truths in the face of sleep deprivation, constant demands, endless screaming and lack of experience, is oftentimes impossible. We weather the changes and if we are able to deny ourselves all the freedoms we once enjoyed, and together, we have a chance to hold on to each other through the shit storm. But many of us change too much. Many cannot let go of the ideals we began this whole adventure with, those certainties. We will be fine. We won’t do it that way. We are invincible. Well, we all thought that.
And now Spring has come once again, as she always will, as sure as eggs are eggs. New growth, new hope, new light, new freedoms too if we can believe that one. I have read words he wrote in his diary. I know how he felt as I pulled away and immersed myself in motherhood. He doesn’t write much but even a short sentence can reel me. I suppose I knew he was feeling the way he did, but why didn’t he say? Why didn’t I ask? All I can remember is being exhausted all of the time and furious with his inability to change. He adored his children, there was no mistaking that. He adored me too. But his way of communicating that adoration was not my way and often clumsy. Neither of us was in the wrong. We just struggled to find mutual language. I allow that thought to float about me as I continue to look through the things, the words and thoughts he left behind. And I think this:-
We loved and we lived. We raised five extraordinary individuals who made us both proud, made us laugh, made our life as colourful as the rainbow corona around the Snow Moon, and as circular, endless. We survived right up to the end of it. My work now is to hold those memories, thoughts, words, good times, bad times as precious gifts, to bring them into my own days and nights and to fashion a new ground for my old feet to wander into a newly enriched life.