Yesterday I woke up feeling ill. My specialist has put me on a new medication, and I know I have to give myself time to adjust. It was bitterly cold and the sky was grey. Someone had smeared the sky with charcoal. My stomach was distended as the endometriosis grew, fed by this new drug, which I need. “Look at the big picture, Raphie,” I urged. Always look at the big picture. I felt the urge to scream from the pain, and the desire to clean and discard. I did both. Why the hell do we keep the things we do? Old numbers on scraps of paper, old ways of being. I put an angel who had lost her wings into the pile of donations. I had stored my maternity clothes in a special drawer. I looked at them, and wondered why I had held on so long. My subconscious must surely have been seared every time I went past that drawer, even if I was unaware. As I washed up, I exhaled heavily. A burden had been lifted. I then heard the ‘snap’ of my spine as I was dragged along the ground after my fall. It was as distinct as though it were happening then and there. “Oh my God!” I cried, bursting into tears. I sat with the memory a while. I assured myself that it was natural to have events, sounds, smells and more clamour to the forefront on the anniversary. On White Ribbon Night.
After school pickup, a friend popped in. She hugged me, and said how sorry she was that today was “the day.” It meant the world to have it acknowledged. This lady knows all about “those days.” The pain ramped up, and I was in a holding pattern of agony, fevers and chills. There was to be a meeting of gentle souls around the corner that evening, and I determined that I would go. I didn’t want to be home with my memories. The hostess is a vegan, and she had made this delicious main meal.
We laughed and talked about foster kids, homelessness, travelling, art and beauty. We sipped coconut water and made sure room was saved for this.
I didn’t stay late, and I gave my gorgeous friend a tight hug and thanked her. My mind had been summoned to wondrous places, leaving that dark building on a winter’s night. The pain was softened by the graciousness of a nourishing meal and a room full of good people. I went home and hugged my little girl, smoothing her tendrils of honeyed hair. “May your world be markedly different, my darling.”
On this day, and on this hour, almost two decades ago, I was being bustled into a car, my head pushed down. I felt the cessation of life as I understood it. An event out of my control was going to slap me hard, and I would fall to my knees. Today is the anniversary of my being kidnapped. The bitter cold always reminds me, before I acknowledge the date. It was so cold… Life inside the old hospital-where I neither belonged nor felt at home- was contracting in. Within a few hours, the large ward and long staircases were replaced by a tiny bedsit, bars on the sealed windows. A butterfly already held in a glass jar was having her wings pinched by tweezers. Pins were about to be put in.
Tomorrow heralds the night I fell. I couldn’t fly, as my wings were pinned down. “I am embarking on the last adventure,” I reassured myself when my pleading was ignored. “This bastard has merely sped up my departure by sixty or so years. God speed to you, kiddo!” He hated the bemused smirk which spread across my face. I was holding my own. He hadn’t taken my power. He had tortured me in every way possible for several months, day in and out, but he couldn’t take my spirit. I was terrified, but even as I acknowledged my fear of heights, of pain and death, I kept my own counsel. July 25th is White Ribbon Night. I will commemorate those I have lost to violence. I will celebrate survival and hug my little girl. I will be haunted by memories and recall what it felt like to have soft rain tap my face on the way to the Catscan machine the morning of the 26th. I wept and I smiled. It is possible to have great sorrow and great joy coursing through your body at the same time. There is nothing like the anniversary of your kidnapping and attempted murder to inspire both. If you see me over the next few days, I will be the wild creature hugging everyone and throwing back her head in laughter. I will be the sorrowful girl keeping her own counsel and shedding private tears. I am both, and that’s okay. http://www.whiteribbon.org.au
I found myself in an odd position on the weekend. I’m writing a novel with fairies as some of the main characters. And someone I hold in esteem told me that writing about fairies was not only unimaginative, but that children were no longer interested in such things.
Hmmm, I thought to myself. I know I’m not a child but I’m interested in fairies. And many of my friends and clients are too. In fact, whenever I write about fairies I get flooded with enquiries about them, and how people might get to know one or…
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
Thank you Michelle for inviting Words for the Weekend to join in your “Life is a Highway” series! We’re honored to be featured with so many talented writers and friends. We hope you enjoy the personal journey selections we curated for you and your readers. May you all find what you seek in your journeys ahead, and may the road rise up to meet you all. Love, Christy and Jennie
I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers
Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter
I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go There’s no starting over, no new…
I am content.
My birds are tweeting happily.
My daughter fills me with joy.
Booked the flights to Paris, New York and London with bubs!
Feeling the best I have ever felt.
I love inspiring people.
I love you all dearly.
New book shall be out in spring!
I love my new home.
Nothing is needed to complete this moment.
Raphaela is alive and content.
This life is beautiful.
The demons have been vanquished, at last, at last.
I am content. (Did I mention, I am content)?
You were a thing of beauty. I brought you home and proudly found a place for you, your green leaves redolent with sheen and strength. Did I not feed you the right preparation? Did I hover too much? Just as neglect can cause life to wither then die, so can hovering, over-feeding and watering and generally being cloying. Please don’t die! It’s disheartening to have failed in my quest to nourish you. If I cant keep you balanced and healthy, can I nourish myself? I am tired too, but I cant give in, I won’t. I want this same determination from you, my darling plant. Defy the frosts and gale-force winds, the summer heat and my little birds scratching at your soil. Stand proud with a sheen on your leaves. You are symbolic of new beginnings. If I see you resurrect yourself, I may too.
I found this marvellous book at Ariel’s Bookstore in Paddington. There was no earthly way it was being left on the shelf.
Let’s start at the very beginning. 1. What can happen in a second?
A life can be taken in a second, or spared. I know of a child who pushed a sibling to safety in a split second, thus saving his life from a speeding car about to make contact. I know a girl who was thrown off a building and went soaring through the air within a second. A moment’s lapse of concentration, a thoughtless word, birth and death… We look for grand gestures and symphonies as harbinger’s of change. We expect earth-shattering changes to occur over a day or week, and to hear the trumpeting of angels overhead. The truth is that it happens within a second. “I’m leaving.” “Will you marry me?” The birth of babies and the final gasp of the dying. To be attuned to the subtle nuances of people and events taking place is to be aware of the shifting of light. It all falls into shadows, then the light appears come morning. Fog lifts, rain ceases. A second is a valuable marker. Use it wisely.
We met a dear lady and her little girl, and were strolling the streets of our home town when my daughter asked to visit the local pet shop. There he was. The new life we both craved and needed. I burst out laughing as this little man with a fluffy bouffant and skun-like tail sauntered along his pen. “He looks like Pepe Le Pew!” I said to my friend. “Can we get him? Can we?!” my little girl begged. “Of course my darling,” I said. He was placed in a box, which was unsealed by the time we left the pet shop. The two little girls had turns holding him, and took him to the park.
This six week old gave such joy to both my daughter and her little friend. They played with him for hours in the park, and when we got home, my daughter lovingly fed him. Death and destruction occur, and as much as we try to shield our kids, pets die and pain comes, unannounced and with swiftness. New life and unexpected joy then arrive, like an angel’s trumpet, heralding all that is good. Meeting Peppi was our symbol of hope.