A year ago, you messaged me to tell me you would be here in the morning to tidy up my house and snuggle the cat.You declined my invitation to join us at my Moky dance class, because you had a ‘rather nice casserole made’, but would see me in the morning. Almost exactly a year ago, Simon and I got the call that changed everything, when your dog came home from an evening walk by the stream, a place you loved, without you, which raised the alarm. My cries of denial are etched into our souls for ever.
This writing is intended to honour you as we approach the first anniversary of your passing. I’m just going to rampage it out. Maybe it will ease someone else's pain. I hope it does. It doesn't matter. I'm writing it anyway.
I learned this:
That there is a magic and aliveness in high dependency units, and places where life, literally hangs in the balance. Where one person’s family is being told hopeful news; another that their loved one is at the end of their life. That the staff there have hearts as big as the planet, and courage and sensitivity to hold space for the biggest range of human emotion and reactions. That people who loved me, found the courage to be present with me whilst I got lost in the drama of an intense time. That relationships deepen, when things are tough. That I have the best husband in the world. That friends and family matter. That when you work with a coach willing to witness your raw emotion, you find the way out, through, easier. That in later times, having a coach who is willing to share their own humanity, helps to make sense of it all. We don't have to do it alone. That the heavy sorrow of grief, is like a dense, dark gravity, that pulled me downward and had me surrender to what is, in that moment. No where to get to, no where to hide. The bravest thing to do is to let it have its way with you. There is such healing in being still and feeling it all fully. That grief comes in healing waves, with the depth and vastness of the ocean and is a powerful and necessary part of the surrender. In the beginning, they came fast and frequently and threatened to pull me under with their strong current. Over time, they have become less frequent, but the intensity remains the same, when they come. One came this morning and insisted I write this post. That grief feels like love, and appreciation, and care, and courage. That it is painful, of course, but that the pain is caused by being broken open and because I loved someone. The love remains. That the feeling does have a bottom and we won’t get lost forever in it (promise). That I did find the courage to allow the exquisite intimacy of holding your hand and looking into your eyes, in your final days and hours, and let it be okay that you had a tear sliding down your cheek. I wanted to run from that, to not witness your sadness. I later realised it is okay to be sad when you know you are saying goodbye. To let people experience their experience. That for months afterwards, I would cherish the memories of the way you squeezed my hand or stroked my curls between two fingers, or touched the ‘dear daughter’ necklace you bought me years before. That I would rub away the wording by retracing, over and over, the place where your fingertips touched.
That hearing these things helps - that I will have been everything you needed at the end of your life. That showing up bravely is what I did, the best way I knew how. That grief will ebb and flow in its intensity. How other people loved and experienced you and the impact you had. That our relationship could continue 'beyond this temporal dimension'. Knowing that people were sad, that they were holding space for our sadness too. That there is deep intimacy in connecting over sadness in a way that the words 'I'm sorry for your loss' sometimes feel inadequate, in comparison. That I could continue, broken open, with a big wide open loving heart. That we need to grieve, and mourn our losses. That we gain empathy, because we have experienced the deepest sorrow, and we gain wisdom, because we will find parts of ourselves that we didn’t know we had. That in the first few weeks, I would be too sad to smile, or sometimes, move. That eventually I would be able to go to Moky, and let tears run down my face while dancing to Pharrell's 'Happy', and allow my partners in (dance) crime to hold me in my humanness and tell me I am doing so well, and share their stories of love and loss and let me be exactly where I am. We are hard-wired for empathy. That we are not permanent, in these physical bodies. Even though we act like we have a forever of tomorrows, stretching out ahead of us. That it both matters greatly, how I choose to spend my life, and also that it doesn’t matter at all – since there is no-where to arrive at, and I think it’s really about loving ourselves and others and being kind and enjoying ourselves. That we each get to make our own minds and hearts up about meaning. That I get to build something courageous and wonderful on the obliterated place that has been existing inside me, and that it might involve showing up wholeheartedly, and helping the world have more love in it. That, if I choose to, I can hear you saying ‘when I die, just throw me to the wind!’ and I can feel you when it blows. If I let myself believe that you are everlasting and the essence of you is free and expansive, I can find and feel for you there. You communicate now in white feathers, sunflowers, and ladybirds (we have a shared memory, from the time I collected a hundred of them when I was 7, and they escaped from my jewellery box overnight and were in my hair and bed)
That on the night you died, I felt euphoric. I felt you – the essence of you. The worst was happening, and yet I was feeling more clear, and alive, and purposeful than ever. That when you died, I realised that the only other person who could give me what you gave me, was me. That if I want the magic and unconditional love you gave me, I can give it to myself. I hope your spirit continue to be free, and that everyone who loves and misses you can feel your presence and love with every cell in their bodies. Love, Jacqui Anne.