Grief and the Seasons


I spoke to a friend on the matter of grief, and she said something profound. She mentioned that those grieving would be best to give themselves a year before making huge changes. “They have to endure the four seasons…when you think about it, each season contains first’s. There are birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. The list of first experiences without their loved one is excruciating. Enduring those four seasons will take all the strength in them.”

 

Grief can be felt in a myriad of ways. There can be grief for what was left unsaid, and for what was spoken in haste. It can present as regret for what never was and for what had been. The relationship you wished you had, compared to the one you experienced. The pain of an empty chair at your dining table, or felt after reaching for the phone to call. It can present as it’s twin, anger. You may be so bloody angry at everything, not least what others concern themselves with. Don’t they know that an angel just died?

Grief is complex; one moment you may feel fine, and the next be in the foetal position on the floor. It is not a linear journey, rather it is a mass of swirly pathways. Grief is messy, it’s trajectory launching you into a future wherein you have to leave the fallen behind. You take only the memories, and the love, with you. I imagine butterflies, dragonflies and fireflies escorting the bereaved as they rest in a cave. The walls perhaps lined with glow worms as they sit and weep. It can be a lonely journey, and certainly a puzzling trip, for which nobody wants a ticket.

Piercing through the hymns, the eulogies, the visual displays and the flowers, is the love you hold in your heart and the promise of what might have been. It sears through the ICU monitors, silencing the alarms and machines. At the end of it all, we leave with only love; that which we gave and accepted in turn. If you can endure the first four seasons of bereavement,  hope and love wait on the other side.

 

Advertisements

Serena.


10733747_864904400210073_4217018992701463406_o

I haven’t been on my blog (or planet earth), for several weeks. It is due to my dear friend, Serena. Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you how it all began. I was at a local park with my daughter eight years ago. The Jacaranda’s were out, and the rose gardens in full bloom. A lady -with hair assembled from the shavings of fragrant cedar- was at the playground with her little boy. She smiled as I approached, and spoke in a delicate English accent. I fell in love with her on sight. Her son and my daughter would hold hands in my car as I drove us around. They did gymnastics together, celebrated each other’s birthdays and local festivities. Serena was a teacher, who had changed children’s lives in the small county from where she came. She had squirreled away her money, and travelled the world. Oh, the adventures she went on, and the beauty she saw! She went around Australia, finally settling in Sydney. She had her little boy, then another blessed bub. She wrote stories, dreamt, and was loved by all who met her. She didn’t take life, nor herself, too seriously, and marched to a different beat. Her dance had an elegance to it, and was certainly independent of choreography.

1507265_860322504001596_5366620154724001302_o

We shared many wonderful escapades, drinking cocktails with friends, seeing shows and movies. I would usually smuggle in a flask for us to share. She earthed this flighty fairy. She loved this country, though gravitated to New Zealand more than once. I think it reminded her of home. We shared our hearts, our homes, our lives. A month ago, I received a message that she had been rushed to hospital. It was her heart. I knew this was perilous. Her father and aunt had succumbed to a rare heart disease, and we all prayed Serena wouldn’t present with symptoms. Even in hospital, she was directing us all not to make a fuss. There was nothing she needed. When talk turned to a heart transplant she was as brave as she had always been. I had some marvellous talks with her. She was always interested in your life, asking how you were, what the children were up to. It wasn’t surprising that her heart worked too hard. It overflowed with love and compassion.

10817030_869546726412507_1947302517_o

Our darling fought, my, how she fought. She was transferred to St Vincent’s, and had a wondrous visage from her bed of our beautiful city. She was relieved. One step closer to a transplant. To having more time. It was after midnight when her beautiful heart stopped. The staff did everything they could. Serena was gone… She had taken off her glass slippers, teetering out of the room. Gone in the small hours, not wanting to make a fuss. You will always be with us. You changed us, putting everything into perspective, especially the holiday season. It is about holding your loved one’s close, comforting your two little boys and your beautiful mother, who has flown over from the UK, and understanding what a tenuous grip we have on this precious, painful, wondrous life. I am finding it hard to catch my breath with the burden of grief I am left with. So many share this grief. Our town holds so many memories. Wherever I go, there you are. You will always be there, my dear, sweet friend. You lived a full life, the half you were allotted. I will complete the journey on your behalf. When I am eighty (twice your age), I promise to imbibe Bailey’s and raise my glass to you.

10477644_869598559740657_3423767334546020975_o

To make a donation to the Victor Chang Institute, which is doing extraordinary work in the fight against heart disease, please click on the link above. xxx