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 Change

“My feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping but I shall go on living.”
( Pablo Neruda)

There was a shift.  So subtle, had it not been her very mindset at that very moment, she wouldn’t have noticed it at all .. but there was a shift nevertheless.  

Records would show it was the hottest September day for a century.  The pair of black awnings outside the pavement cafe she had of late favoured for a lunchtime snack, did little to protect her, the midday heat piercing through the gap between with such intensity that her bare legs reddened in minutes.  Moving the table and chair closer to the frontage helped a little, and she envied the clientele outside the Italian opposite, who had had the sense to sit on the shady side of the street.

The couple on the next table taking a moment to rest from trying to shop with the tiniest of newborns snuggled to the mother, barely an adult herself.  They looked so young to be a family, to have the responsibility of such a precious new life. She marvelled how relaxed they were, with each other, with the baby and remembered those early days with hers, and she was heartened to see them pause, to see them savour this precious time.

On the other side of the street, a ridiculous attempt at parking a silver run-around in a lorry- sized gap.  A woman driver of course, who even asked a man waiting in the next space if he could move back to allow her to manoeuvre, while everyone sitting outside the cafe could see it wasn’t needed.  She watched fascinated as the driver to-ed and fro-ed, knowing of course that, if it had been her, she would have just driven past, rather than face the embarrassment of an audience!  Funny how it’s never a man struggling to fit a parking space.  Are they genetically engineered to be able to park a car?  Just as they seem to be genetically engineered to be unable to stay faithful to one woman.  She wondered if the biker casually sitting by the side of the road in his leathers, was waiting for the driver, a clandestine lunchtime meeting, since she had appeared to wave at him.  Rather too public to be clandestine!  On hindsight, the wave was probably just to warn biker man of her appalling parking skills and the vulnerability of his Harley.  They seemed an unlikely match anyway, and so it was, for as she turned to sip her coffee, he was gone.  

This treating herself to lunch was all part of the looking after herself, of being strong, of moving on. It was still a conscious thing, living life out of curiosity, without fear.  Perusing the menu as leisurely as an hour’s lunch break would allow, she had chosen the “special”, just because she always ordered their ploughman’s sandwich and wasn’t about to become predictable, even in a coffee shop.  How ironic therefore that the owner, a lovely man whose passion for the blend and commitment to his customers’ individual coffee foibles fascinated her, being basically a non-coffee drinker herself …. how ironic that the owner should mishear her and order her the “usual” anyway.  

The heat. The world felt slower, languid, indifferent to the lunchtime rush. Trees lining this old part of the town, perfectly still, dappling the pavement and holding on to their green as if they knew this summer’s day was still to come, when everyone else thought autumn must surely be here.   

She felt calm.  She felt the world around her and was thankful.  For all the hurt and the sadness, just a dull ache now and which she knew from experience only time could heal, she felt glad to be alive and the shift came imperceptibly.  It was the clarity of light, the intensity of the heat, and the sudden realisation that right there, right then, she was exactly where she needed to be.

 

finding Crete

image

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 A Restful Mind

“When we hold on too tightly to our attachments we are trying to keep them just as they are, to make them permanent. But nothing in life is permanent.”
(“The Restful Mind”, Gyalwa Dokhampa)

She always liked to feel it found her, just sitting there, waiting for her to pass by and pick it up.

It happened  one afternoon on one of those days.

When she left her marriage, she had, of necessity, taught herself to embrace solitude, though still the thought of a day on her own had the capacity to leave a dull thud in her stomach and an uneasiness which she couldn’t quite put her finger on.  

Some people have it all worked out, her daughter being one of them.  She embraces her alone time and uses every opportunity to feed her soul, be it reading, creating, walking … an inspiration. 

For some reason, it did not come to her so easily. In those days, after him, and before she knew the life that was waiting for her, she filled the empty hours between work and sleep with a determination to show the world she was getting out and moving on, a determination not to look her solitude in the eye. But there were days when there was nothing, no-one … and nowhere to hide from the panic that squeezed the life from her resolve. Those were the hardest days. The not-knowing-how-it -would-all-turn-out days. The too-much thinking-time days. So, so hard.

On that day, with no plans to speak of, she decided on fresh air and a walk.

The library was less than 10 minutes away …. so not much of a walk …. but something drew her in, perhaps being amongst people but not having to talk or make an effort to pretend.  And there is was, on a table by the door, beckoning to her … a book, “The Restful Mind”.

Later, snugged back home, she read it cover to cover and for the first time in months, it felt like she truly understood how to mend.  It’s all in how we think, she knew that. This book, written she later realised by a Buddhist, really showed her the road to acceptance of change, and how her busy, busy restless mind, so frightened of silence, could become calm, restful …. and truly move on.

Finally, her heart was ready to let happiness back in.

 

 

finding Life Goes On

There’s
a whole extraordinary world
out there

happening anyway
whether

I chose to be in it

or not.

I chose

to open the window

breathe out my darkest fears
breathe in my bravest hopes
feel the breeze ….

… and let it in