2019 (a year in a poem)

2019. the year of

anxiety & sunshine

& beauty & depression

of drinking good coffee

& soul-nourishing gallery visits

of leaning into therapy & pain

of hours & days lost as buried tears were found sitting on the kitchen floor while Saturn played

2019. the year of

feelings felt & found & held & felt

of grief faced & waves crashing

food uneaten, weight losing

chasms opening

heart cracking & life shaking

of questions asked

& answers found wanting

as festered rage & long-accepted values

were both…released

2019. the year of

pain & striving

for peace

of lost memories found & faced

of emotional breaking & life & self shaking of inner light dimming

& slow sparking match-light reviving

of healing through

the mind-soul-body medicines

of meditation & journalling

of 29minute whatsapp voicenote musings

of beauty & art

& poetry & space

of lush bath-bombs & masturbating

of beautiful smells & netflix binges

& m&s champagne sipped

by fairy light

of radically

abundant

self grace

& the gift of

space

taking

& making

& giving

space to me

to breathe & be

& feel & see

& wonder & wander

Nayyirah Waheed

2019. the year of

taking-up

space

to cry & laugh & rage

the year of breaking

boundaries & beliefs

of (nearly) breaking apart

& being held in the breaking

2019. the year of

losing

& finding

& freeing

of shuddering beauty

& (beautifully) ugly crying

of breath quickening & catching

& deep exhaling

2019. the year of

frustrated containment in white spaces

of colour seeking & power claiming

of being unseen & seen

of being unanchored & held

in grace & love

2019. the year of feeling

& being

more

more

more….

of me

Comfort

Thick,

fluffy,

white bread,

sliced by your soft old hands.

Toasted,

golden brown,

reminding me of crunchy autumn leaves.

Wearing a heavy coat of yellow butter like a duvet,

giving comfort,

and warmth,

and homeliness.

A satisfying crunch and warm butter flooding my mouth,

awakening my taste buds,

and stirring my heart

with warmth that transcends temperature…

This evening,

the weather is mild,

but my heart is cool.

And for the first time in near two decades,

I crave the comfort of your toast…

And you.

Image: myrecipes.com

Secret Daffodil Garden

My heart stilled and swelled

upon seeing blossom trees

and daffodils

in this secret garden.

Cherishing a few snatched

minutes of stillness,

in and with myself,

I picked a bent daffodil;

a keepsake of this Gift to me.

My face turned upwards,

to the bright,

clear,

white

sky

hanging over me like a banner.

My eyes closed;

My heart full

with

gratitude,

love,

and

the pain of longing for you Grandad,

who loved daffodils so.

My spirit open,

with hope of what will be painted

on the blank sky that is

the open canvas of my life

for this year ahead,

As my ears fill with the swell of birdsong.

Image: DLB 6.4.19

Ghanaian Grief

I just had an interesting couple of conversations with my Aunt & Uncle in Ghana whose mum just died today. I called to see how they both are, expecting sad or heavy emotions but, instead, they both answered the phone with their usual cheery banter. Then we laughed and did our usual mickey-taking ‘hello old woman/man’ repartee in Twi, our Ghanaian language. And they weren’t faking or putting on a brave face.
When I asked how they are each, separately, said there fine. But the interesting part was that my Aunt responded saying ‘How can I not be? I have your Grandma here, my family, so I am not alone, we are together and so we are fine’ (paraphrased).

And my ever piss-taking, professional wind-up Uncle echoed that when I later spoke to him, saying ‘Ah but at this age, it is only a blessing, what else will happen? So it’s nothing to be sad or surprised about. It is fine.’

Now to western ears, this may sound cold or ‘in denial’ but it’s not. I think it just reflects the general attitude of ‘joy balanced with pragmatism’ that permeates Ghanaian culture.
They’ll bury their mother tomorrow, within 24hours in line with her religion (not theirs – that’s love & respect). And at her funeral, there’ll be weeping (loudly!) in the Ghanaian style, and there’ll also be dancing…

Balancing the sorrow with celebration. And it will be BIG. And no one will be alone.

That’s the Ghanaian way.

People should cry more…

I cried the other day.  As in *really* cried. Ok, I wept. Then I wept again a few days later.

Why? You wonder. Well yes, I have a ‘good’ reason (whatever that means): my husband’s Grandad died. And I hardly knew him – it’s not ‘my loss’ – but he was ace, and now my husband’s family’s lives have all been shaken and there is a painful Grandad-shaped hole in my beloved’s heart. I cried because my Grandad is dead and it made me miss him… I cried for loss.  I cried because death is ugly, and rude, and inconsiderate, and reckless. It disgusts me, and offends me, and angers me – and saddens me deeply.

So I wept. But I didn’t weep alone; I cried on the phone with a girlfriend. And she…listened.  In near silence (apart from occasional comments to remind me she was there and wasn’t speaking to let cry and not because she’d gone!); she just listened.  As I gut-cried: snot, tears, stomach-holding, breath-shortening cried. And she listened.

Do you have the patience to be that generously uncomfortable and listen to pain uninterrupted?  No advice, no urging to talk (for whose benefit I wonder), no words of comfort or encouragement – but just to listen?  To give in silent companionship a craved shoulder (well a telephonic one in this case!) with no unnecessary words?

And do you cry? I hope so!

Because I hope you *feel*.

I hope you empathise by really connecting, not hypothesising.

And I hope you don’t ‘allow’ and ‘disallow’ yourself to cry.

And I hope that like me, you have a loving friend to listen in your pain.

And that like me you find comfort remembering, as I did in my sobbing, that ‘Jesus wept’ (Luke 11:35) … that’s not ‘Jesus let a solitary tear slide down His face in a manly fashion when His friend died – no: that is snot, tears, stomach-holding, breath-shortening weeping. He understands.