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?