finding Another Day

“Morning, lovely day!”

She scurried past,
envying the time to sit and stare,
her pace quickening,
clock ticking.

The park,
winter’s fading rays piercing the oaks,
shedding their green,
extraordinary in their autumn coat.

Littered empties, discarded butts
surrounding the bench,
night’s cold and weary secrets,
unpalatable, unseen.

Lone dog yapping
for another stick thrown,
his mornings, a well trodden path,
same walk, different day.

Other workers,
like her, mind full, head down,
unseeing, blind to the day’s
patient calling to be admired.

Breath misting,
tears trapped,
like a silent reminder
of the pain.

Her thoughts elsewhere.

Life’s pulse happening anyway
but everything had changed.

He had gone.

 

finding A Second Chance

“There are no second chances in life, except to feel remorse.”
(“The Shadow of the Wind”, Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Never a good idea, of course. Going back.  But she was the world’s worst at letting go, and if there was the slightest chance that she could salvage her dreams, then she didn’t hesitate to take it.  It was as if, by diving head on into that dark pool of emotional turmoil, she would know for sure if there was any hope, or if indeed it was just a dark black pool that, in all likelihood, would pull her down and down until she ran out of air and had no choice but to rise to the surface towards the light. But still, she had to know for sure.

So, when he finally, after 3 months, responded to a message, her heart skipped and hope shone its faintest light.  She had got so used to hearing nothing from him, that when her phone pinged in the darkness of her car, she consciously told herself it would not be him, to protect her still fragile heart from the disappointment that had gone before.  But it was him.  He said, simply, “Same here, for me, never stopped caring”.

He was abroad now, a flight away, but a flight which he would never take back to her, and would always have a reason why she should not fly to him.  But she hung on to his messages, empty promises of a future together. He still had a hold over her heart, so she tucked these promises away like a warm glow inside, rarely shared with anyone – because she was too afraid they would not come true, and because, in her heart of hearts, she knew they never would.  But they were hope, and hope was all she had.

Maybe he believed it himself.  Maybe he was just stringing her along.  She wanted to believe him … but she would never know if, to him, she became a daily ego-flattering text message.  Though anyone looking in would say she was the fool, knowing him as she did, in the end, she believed he was a troubled soul who really didn’t know what he wanted. And she needed him to want her.  He could not or would not ever commit to that, and true love is not forcing someone to feel something they do not.  He did not want her … enough.  

So, in the end, she had no choice but to swim for the surface, gulp in the life-giving air that was her future without him, and so begin the long journey of letting him go … again. But at least this time, she knew. 

 

finding Crete

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What better for a broken heart than the kind of love that would never let her down … the love of her oldest and dearest friend. Where better for a broken heart than the kind of place that would breathe life and warmth back into her fragile, battered soul.

And so, a month after he’d left, she and said oldest and dearest friend, stepped off a morning flight into the blistering heat that is Crete in late Summer.

It felt as though the tiny family-run hotel just east of Rethymno, had been sent to take her in and mend her.  Somehow, on a Greek island saturated with tourists at peak season, they had managed to find a oasis of calm. Right next to the beach, she could, within minutes of leaving her room, feel the fine warm sand between her toes and breathe in the salty air.  It was perfect.

They fell into the island’s welcoming embrace, whiling away their days under the bluest skies, discovered that Greek salad tastes three times as wonderful when you are actually there, that sometimes it’s fine to seek out foreign lands and in the end do nothing at all, and that red wine and lazy sun-kissed days can soothe a restless mind to sleep. She talked and cried out her hurt while her friend listened, then listened some more, like good friends do.

In the end,  she could talk and cry no more. She would rise early every day to sit at water’s edge.  The tears she’d determined she would not cry for him, fell in rivers onto the sand as she searched for him where the sea met the sky … he was not there, and finally, as Crete’s magic worked its Aegean charm,  she felt her heart starting to let him go.

finding Heartbreak, Again

“Perhaps this is what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt empty and hollow and aching.”
(Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

He was gone.

She always knew, of course, that he would leave to follow his dream – he’d told her that right from the start.  He never said he’d stay because of her … and even if he had, she would have told him to go anyway.  This was something he had to do, and though they’d talked of her following him one day, for now he had to do this alone, to find himself, to find his path.  It was a difficult time, an emotional time, when he needed space to prepare for the journey ahead. She found herself caught in the no-mans-land between the life he had and the life he was going to, and as her vulnerability grew, so did the distance between them.

She knew how it would end … yet she loved him anyway. The waiting game moved to a new chapter, one where she did not know if she would ever see him again. His leaving broke her heart.

The difference this time, she reasoned,  was that she knew she would be fine, she had survived this before. She knew how it would play out, the journey from loss to hope.  She was stronger now. She would not let it pull her down to the depths of despair, fear, longing and sadness she had felt before. She would not give it the head space.  She would be kind to her soul, her very essence of being, and laugh again.  She would accept that he had gone, and live her life to the full, without him.  That was her plan.

But her heart did not hear. There is no short cut from loss to hope.  Days of despair and fear cannot be shortened to just one day, sadness and longing do not give in to hope without a fight.  He had taken a piece of her with him, and so, like before, heartbreak wrapped its icy fingers round her soul, and she lived her life as best she knew how, while she waited for the thaw.

 

 

 

finding 445 Days

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Day 444. His message read, “I’m leaving with the morning tide”.

A lifetime before, it was his freedom of spirit that had called to her soul. Those impenetrable eyes that would always seem to hide his darkest secrets, sparkling then, as he told her of his plans to sail the world, of being brave enough to dream impossible dreams.

So how it would end, was written from the start.  A cautious heart with any sense of self preservation would have wished him well and moved on.  Hers was neither, and in that moment as she fell under his spell, the pendulum set in motion, marking their days.  

The other lady in his life had stood proud and tall at the marina’s edge when at last they were introduced, and later, as the three of them glided out into the heady blue, the wind caught the mainsail,  and their spirits soared as one.  Anchored under the stars that night, time, it seemed, stood still.

The months passed. She waited and watched in awe, while he poured over tidal charts, swathes of blue surrounding tiny dots of paradise, and lavished his every waking hour on resolutely fettling his dream into a reality. She breathed his salty air as it seeped into her very core, and, for all the voices that told her she was crazy to give up everything she knew for his dream, she believed him when he said “meet me on the other side”.  

The last day. He silently slipped the ropes, a morning fog wrapping its icy fingers around the bow, stealing her heart and the promise of their tomorrows. She held her breath as the pendulum caught the final whisper of the prevailing breeze, it’s heartbeat faltered, and stopped.  

He took with him a piece of her, lost to the heady blue and the whim of the salty skies ….. and was gone.

First published by Reflex Fiction (Spring 2017)

 

finding Hope

“Patience means knowing it will happen . . . and giving it time to happen.”
(Susan Jeffers, “Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway”)

Hope comes in all forms. Those who love us, truly love us, are there no matter what. To listen, even when they’ve heard it all before and they knew, truth be told, that this was how things would end. It’s the knowing that they are there, no matter what, that forms the foundation for the journey forward. The knowing that their support will never change. Those kind of friendships are the precious ones, the ones we should never take for granted, the ones we should treasure.

What surprised her however, was the hope that came from the most unexpected places, the most unexpected people, those unexpected drops of hope that ripple out, and change the course of things forever. Hers came from a wonderful colleague, someone she saw every day, who, unbeknown to her, had observed her from afar, and felt troubled by what she saw. It is extraordinary how our emotional state manifests itself in our physical being. She’d seen it herself in another friend, an elegant, beautiful woman, full of exuberance and sparkle, who seemed to have faded away, had lost her very essence of being. She recognised the signs right away. A woman does. “He was so beautiful” she’d sighed. And he had broken her heart.

She felt it too, but did not realise how it showed, until that colleague gently stopped her one day at work, and offered her a book about facing up to fear. The generosity of the gesture overwhelmed her. So humbling to receive such kindness, such care from someone she hardly knew.

Little did she realise then, but that simple gesture, that tiny fragile drop of hope, changed everything. It had never before occurred to her, that, at the very time when she felt so very afraid, that her life was so out of control, that her heart would never mend …… she had the power within herself, to control it all. It was nothing short of a revelation.

She saw, as if for the first time,  the incredible love that surrounded her, and started to accept the things she could not change. And she finally released those tears she had held back for long, and breathed out his betrayal like a black soot from her lungs. She was beginning to mend.

We are all the sum of our journey, and the person she was with him, created, for better or worse, the person she was now. Hope was not lost, it was just that hope with him was lost.

Letting go took a year, almost to the day, but she was still here, still loved, and still had before her a whole extraordinary life to live.

There is always hope …

finding Her Inner Resolve

He took my fragile heart
so starved of love that, with his slightest touch
I flourished and grew,
radiant in the joy of our most contented days.

He took my fragile heart
and threw it down,
then stood aside, and watched me writhe
in the exhausting agony of my tears.

He took my fragile heart
and threatened to engulf my light
in the shadows of his wearisome self-pity
and cool indifference to my pain.

He took my fragile heart
but it did not break,

for I saw that, all along, it was strong
that I was worthy, I was enough
that I was loved.

He took my fragile heart
but I crawled out
from my dark and loneliest hours,
spread out my arms and felt the warmth on my face
of the astonishing light

…. of my own being.

finding Acceptance

“Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido” (Pablo Neruda)

More than anything else, the acceptance of change, the letting go, was the hardest thing. To leave the hurt behind, to treasure the present and look forward to the future … it seemed so simple. But the hurt was all she had left of him, and she wasn’t ready to give him up, not yet.

They say that it takes one hundred days to break a habit. No contact for one hundred days. The first day was so hard. And then not contacting him on the second day, then the third. And just when she began to feel she was getting somewhere, a momentarily lapse, a longing, a sadness … so she messaged him. He did not respond of course. Did he even read her heartfelt words, or just press delete? Did he think of her at all, or was it really that easy for some people to just move on? She felt frustrated, ashamed, angry with herself for being so weak. And so, she deleted his number, and went back to day one. And the cycle would begin again. A resolve to move on. Then an overwhelming sadness. A demented search for his number which she had hidden away, but couldn’t quite destroy. An unanswered message. The hurt.

She did all the right things. Eat, sleep, repair. Life goes on. Eventually, after more day one’s than she could remember, she gave up. He was gone. The days became weeks, then months, and the moments they shared felt like they had happened to someone else, someone she didn’t know.

She could not see it then, but it is true what they say that time heals. Hope is like a drop of morning dew, slowly tumbling from a fragile leaf into a deep, dark pond. A broken heart slowly, slowly mends while life goes on around it. The sun rises, the day happens, the sun sets, time to sleep and forget … and so it goes on. And all the while, those drops, the light catching them as they fall, those tiny drops of hope, land and ripple, until the surface of the pond changes for ever, bringing light into the darkness. Drip, drip, drip …