In the days after Tony died, it felt like my phone continually pinged with texts, messages and emails. Thoughts, love, concern sent from all over the world. It was wonderfully comforting, if a little overwhelming, and I found a few safe sentences in reply that I tended to repeat. One of them was that we were heart-broken.
Yesterday I listened to a song and the lyrics spoke of ‘every heart that is broken’ and I had one of those ‘grief ambush’ moments. When you’re least expecting a reminder or a memory and you are blind-sided by it.
I have found myself crying a lot recently. Just because I am sad. Sad and heart-broken. I feel it when I wake up in the morning like a heavy blanket. And it lingers. And grows. And then spills out in tears. Am I crying for myself? Yes. My children? Yes. Am I crying for Tony? Yes. Am I crying for what was, what might have been, what may be, what won’t be? Yes. All of the above. Is there comfort in my crying? No, not really.
But I do hope. I hope that there will be mornings when I wake up and there is a blanket of joy that feels lighter. And I hope for healing.
So, what about the wellies and wheelbarrows then? There is a connection, I promise. Back in the spring as I began to get out into the garden again, I had a real sense that this was a place where healing could happen for me. BBC2 Gardeners’ World on Friday past was all about the healing potential of gardening. It’s even an NHS prescription in some parts of the UK. (I was right!!) There is a communion between our physical, emotional, spiritual selves and nature. A communion that gently soothes our inside brokenness. Where our tears and the rain or the dew on the grass, mingle. Where a weed removed, leaves a patch of soil exposed and ready for the growing of a new plant. Where the cutting away of the faded flower encourages a fresh flush of buds and the anticipation of colourful blooms.
I have worked away in the garden during this summer. Last year I didn’t and couldn’t have done. I didn’t have the physical or mental energy for anything other than getting through each day. I am very thankful that now I can. There is always something that needs to be done. And it is helping me.
My wellies are near to hand (because my garden is quite muddy) and I have prescribed myself time each day to step out and take a dose of nature’s healing goodness.
I had wondered how this season would be. And so far it’s been hard.
All the other difficult days we have faced so far, have been isolated, preceded by days of dreadful anticipation and followed by days of sad processing. But this season, this Advent season is prolonged. Part of me truly wishes to go to sleep and wake up in the middle of January. At the same time, I am struggling with leaving 2018 behind. Because Tony was here in 2018. He was a part of it. He lived in it. And I don’t want to let that go. There have been years, recently, when I have just been so glad to see the end of December. Hoped for something new and better in the next year. But now? I don’t want to turn my back on this year at all. I don’t want to lose that almost tangible connection to him being here.
I anticipated that this lead up to Christmas would feel very empty. I had begun to feel just that, as the rest of the world around me began to collectively become excited, happier, sillier, over-the-top, loud and bright. I have felt empty.
And then, wonderfully, something started to happen that brought us joy like shafts of light. It began on the first day of Christmas. A friend arrived with a beautiful white bauble for our Christmas tree and a written message of love and kindness which remembered Tony. The next morning another friend called at the door announcing herself as the second day of Christmas, carrying a delicate glass angel for the tree. It wasn’t until the next day though that I realised a pattern was emerging. Another friend had come to sit in with my two and she brought with her a glittering angel encased in a glass bauble. As the next days passed, the three of us began to look expectantly around the step of the front door and in the post box for any surprise packages. And over the days we discovered such a variety of thoughtful gifts and messages for us and our tree. The anticipation, the discovery, the delight in receiving such kindness, somehow began to soak up the emptiness. The 12th day saw the opening of a special Christmas Eve gift from the dear friend thousands of miles away who had mobilised all the other friends to this 12 days of Christmas giving! Amazingly friends who didn’t even know what was happening have gifted us with angels for the tree or our home, adding to the wonder of it all. Oh, how loved, protected and cared for we have felt as each one has poured in something of themselves to our little family. Some hope, some smiles, some joy, some kindness. Thank you.