When you are a writer but you can't write?
When just looking at words exhausts you, and inside, you feel filled with silence?
What do you do when some days you can hardly speak or move because the Sad is so big?
When you can see joy, so clearly—it's right in front of you—but it skims over you, past you. It can't get in.
What do you do when you feel thin as clouds?
What do you do when you know you should feel your good life deeply, you should feel it well, but you can't? It's as though you are outside yourself. Watching the smiling and the good things and the sweetness but you can't get to it. You know, logically, the joy is there. You want so badly to have it inside, to keep it close. You wish for it—you will it inside. But it slips by.
Two nights ago, my son said, "Mum, do you think you'll ever feel happy again?"
All I could say was, "I think so, sweetheart. I hope so. I'm working on it."
How hard that moment was.
What do you do when the loss of a friendship brings back your whole history? Everything you've ever feared and everything that was devastating about your childhood—here it is again.
But now you're a Grown-up and you should be able to take it, shouldn't you? Where is your armour, woman? Where is your bounce? Why are you lying down? Why aren't you fighting?
Damn it, get up.
Why can't you stop crying?
What do you do?
Well, I guess you start right here. Right now. With something simple. You make yourself raise your head. You look around. You point yourself towards the good that is. Whatever you can see.
Here, you point. And here
My girl's birthday was on Friday. She's 9 now. She is so beautiful to me.
She had such a great day. She got a windmill house and tiny toy cats to put inside. The paddles of the windmill actually wind up and move. How amazing is that?? Guess how big her smile was all day?
It was this big.
I just held her close and breathed her in.
We went to Taronga Zoo in Sydney on Saturday. With my niece who makes every day technicolour. She is so cool. My kids loved being with her. We laughed and gave hugs and saw tiger cubs! My kids got toy animals from the zoo shop and played with them the whole car ride home. AND we found vegan gluten free pizzas for dinner in Newtown—one of the hippest areas of Sydney. What a fine day that was.
Then it was my birthday on Sunday. My very own. I got cuddles and sweet presents (toy foxes and owls from my kids. So gorgeous). Dear friends came for lunch. They sang happy birthday to me in three part harmony. Can you believe it? It doesn't get more beautiful than that.
After our friends left, I walked the dog. Slowly, slowly, just the two of us, to the park and back. And then—as the kids read peacefully on their beds,
and my husband took a nap—
It's not something I regularly do, or grew up with (religion and faith were not my parents' thing at all). So now I'm a grown up, I visit places of worship with wonder. I go to church services like they're an Event, like an art opening or the ballet. Each time, it feels special. Every time, I feel like a tourist, wondering how and where I can fit. I sit there taking it all in, my mind and heart open.
Just before the service started, I met a woman who has read my blog all year, who has sent me the kindest emails, even given me a book. I walked up and said, "D__? I'm Helena." We hugged like we'd known each other for years. What a gift that was.
The kids were waiting for me when I got back.
"Where did you go, Mum?" they asked. "What did you do?"
I told them, and they said, "That's great. That's cool."
Because, if I've taught them anything, it's to explore.
To learn, to reach for things bigger than them, to dream. To let everything in.
To be open.
I try to live that, with everything I am.
Then on Monday, I had to face our loss all over again.
Friends were meeting up for lunch, but not us—we couldn't be a part of that circle any more. On Tuesday, our regular group met, but we aren't part of that any more either—I can't see how to go without causing stress.
All the lift I'd found—the positive I'd tried to build over the past three days—disappeared.
Monday and Tuesday were deep and hollow.
And I blamed myself completely. I felt (and still feel) so sorry—even without knowing exactly what we did. I keep thinking, Somehow, I missed something. Somewhere, there was a moment I could have turned this around. I could have been finer, more together, been a better friend. I could have fixed it. And then I wouldn't have this loss. I wouldn't be here, on the outside.
Childhood all over again.
Days like these you think, How do I get out? Where do I go?
Where are the ladders, where is the light?
You look out and think you see nothing.
But yesterday, in all that hollowness, I took my kids to the pool. We swam and relaxed, and in that moment my girl—who has steadfastly refused to have swim lessons—suddenly figured out how to breaststroke. Just like that.
On Monday, I took my son to circus class. He laughed with his friends and learned to spin a plate. He loved that.
Tuesday afternoon, I ran my after school writers workshop. Those kids are so fantastic. Every single time I see them I am glad.
Last night I had a date with my husband to the movies. The film was lovely and sweet. I curled my arms around my husband's arm and he kept his hand resting on my leg.
My mother watched the kids while we went out. She is so beautiful. She is staying close—like a mama bird with her wing out.
Each day I have cooked for my kids. I've taken them to every place they needed to be. When I have seen friends, I have smiled.
This Friday is lunch with friends, old and new. I just know it will be filled with Lovely.
Tomorrow is another swim, with other good friends. Another swim to go with the one we had on Tuesday, and the one we had today, out in the glorious summer sun.
As for this moment?
Well, the frogs are croaking outside. The dog lies, splayed out, on the cool tiles. My husband is reading upstairs in bed.
The children lie in their beds with fans blowing on their skin. Their cheeks are so soft. Their smell—I could live inside it. And inside their kindness, their sensitivity, their thoughtfulness. Inside their pealing laughter. Inside the way they reach out to me,
with their wings out, sheltering.
Look at this.
What I have.
What we have, together.
I say to myself.
Look at how it shines.