I went to the most beautiful party last night. I lay on the floor on a cushion beside a kind man I didn't know, looking up at a grapevine-covered conservatory ceiling wound through with tiny lights, while listening to another man with a fairytale hat and a beautiful voice singing the kind of sad songs that make you feel lit up inside.
I woke up feeling wide open, like the interesting people I spent time with last night made the walls I've been using to protect myself tumble down. It's not an easy space to find myself in. With the walls gone, I notice how grey I am right now. How I'm kind of blunted and the world is watercolour, not bright blue like I'm used to. I guess my brain is doing that sensible thing and shutting me down a little so I can deal with our first christmas without her. I figure the colour will return in its own good time. Just gotta keep going with this process. Can't go over it, can't go under it. Gotta go through it.
I went for a walk this morning. As I crossed over to the riverside, I passed a man. He had headphones on, singing. Beautifully. He smiled at me as we crossed paths. His singing - and the singing of the tui in the tree above my head - cut through my sadness, reminded me that there is always loveliness in this world, if you choose to look for it.
Two men singing in the space of few hours. How delightful.
In what's likely to be the last post of 2017, I want to thank you for bearing with me for the last few months. IRL, have had my close friends and family of course, but this writing I do helps me in a way I can't explain. The particular kind of grieving you do around death is new to me, and I'm finding my way through it blindly, with no particular grace. I feel fortunate to be able to write some of it out into the ether like this.
I went for a walk just before, wrapped in her jacket, having first attached the wee teapot in the photograph to my necklace with a dodgy bit of thin black wire. I wanted her as near to me as I could get this morning.
My parents went on a world trip when I was ten. My Mum bought a sterling silver charm bracelet to remember their travelling days by. This teapot is from that bracelet. It had fallen off and Mum gave it to me a couple of months before she died. I played with it as a child - it would be on her wrist and I'd be playing with the rotating enamel interior, fascinated by the movement in something so tiny. It seemed like the earth turning.
I know the holiday season is a lovely one, full of love and family and friends and fat men in red bringing new treasure to children. But no matter how happy we are, how much love we have, we all have our shadows trailing along behind us, seen most strongly when the light is brightest.
Grief for the love we've lost, for the love we never had in the first place. All those knife-sharp hurts that come just from the act of living.
That's why it's so important to treasure what we have that is good and lovely.
Even if right now that's only the sound of a man singing beautifully as you walk on by.