Shooting Stars on a Timeline.

Photo by Juskteez Vu on Unsplash

A New Year, a new decade has dawned and I still spend a significant part of my waking hours searching the night skies for some hope of an understanding of everything or even something. I have the same degree of eagerness when I survey the seascape at the Guillamenes, viewing the immenseness of ocean before I lumber into the cold water that will bring all sorts of peace to my being. Viewing the skyline and the rocks, quietly desparate to have a sighting of one the comorant birds who fish just off shore from where I swim. My rational and sometimes logical mind has resisted the significance with which I imbue sightings of the comorant at ease in the winter sea or a shooting star in a clear night sky. Shooting stars are not regular occurences where I live, but I know enough of the annual calendar of meteor showers to know when to pay special attention. I have yielded, I have stopped resisting. I accept that sightings of both, lift my spirit and provide me with moments of comfort and peace. Moments where I can indulge in a willing suspension of all my disbeliefs and feel an elusive but definite connection with John.

Our second new calendar year without the physical presence of John and our first new calendar decade. Our second Christmas. My mental maths of mourning continues. Dates, times & numbers are very significant to the fabric of my grieving. My life before and my life after. My internal clock tick tocks along keeping company with a persistent timeline that spans all possible tenses. A timeline that has kept running in my head since May 12th 2018 and keeps track of his absence while simultaneously remembering dates of our lives.

I was struck one sleepless night how similar the tracking process of the absence caused by death is with recording our time from birth. With each of my childrens arrival, their time present with us from the moment of birth was initially counted in hours, days then weeks. It gradually shifted to months and then years and no longer neccessitated an exactitude in measurement. It has been similar from the moment of John’s death, but the passing into the year mark brought no simplicity of counting. My heart will never allow for rounding up or down; there can be no celebration of time passing.

At time of writing this, I have lived two years and nine days since I last saw John alive on New Year’s Day 2018. Living that encompasses happy times,dull times, worrying times, fun times, exhausting times, sad times, quiet times and busy times. Times of an ordinary life, days of everyday living. It seems such a vast amount of time -two years and nine days. Some of those days and nights were very long indeed. Of many of those days or seasons, I have no real memory at all. Little or no recall of the details of life contained within or the substance of my being. I feel I occupied a flimsy space of presence in my own life. Drifting in and out of conscious connections with my day, my actions and the people in it.

A vast amount of time that seems to have passed all too quickly now that it has passed. Moments of connection have increased. Life and my roles in it, demands it of me. I can look back, review and regard the shape and form of my grief that occupied the days already passed and my being in it with a certain overview now. As disquieting as I find it, I can compare and contrast the beginning and the now. I am grateful for the gentler days where I can carry the loss of John and my resulting grief more lightly. I am grateful for the connections, the love, the continuing life but there will always be a BUT. That unwanted ever present BUT. How can there not be?

My grief although caused by John’s untimely death seems separate from his death. His death will never make any sense to me. My reaction to his death makes perfect sense. Time passing has ensured that the permanence of his death is made more real. His death is not some temporary exile from our living breathing selves. There are no possible permutations to this permanence and that is so hard to sit with.

My grief feels like an entity now in its own right. I am more accustomed to its presence. Sometimes I think of it as yet another invisible blanket that I wear, sometimes tightly and heavily enveloping my being and other times more loosely draped but everpresent nonetheless. An inticate blanket, woven with memories and in part from my tattered cloak of protection and stitched together with love. I am more accepting of its continous presence, more adept at honouring it. It is fluid and variable, it can be unpredictable, overwhelming or managable and it is mine.

I said goodbye to last year, our 1st full calendar year without John with a cold water winter swim. I stayed up this New Year’s Eve to mark the midnight passing of time. I sang ” Auld Langs Syne” outside of our house, directing my off key singing to the midnight sky. I made the 12 youngsters, whose companionship I shared, link arms and sing along with me. I introduced them under a cold night sky to the artform of the Noble call. We managed a sing song with a guitar missing a string although that wasn’t without its difficulties. The cold air eventually drove us inside and me to my bed. Sleep did not come easy.

On the 1st day of this New Year 2020 as I remembered last year and the year before and other years long past, I returned again to The Guillamenes and let the ocean keep all of me afloat. In my heart, I am always swimming for two and I think that the comorants know.

Comorant at the Guillamenes. Photo by Jillian Quinn

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