The Smaller Day’s Words.

I have been thinking, it is something I do a lot, it is something I have always done, my internal world containing a kaleidoscope of thoughts, chasing themselves at various speeds around my head. The purpose of this activity when there is a purpose, is to figure out what I feel about something, to tease some information out, to get things straight in my head or often just to sit with big concepts of living life so I can arrive at some sense of knowing, some sense of what I actually think about them. Mostly it is random idle musing, with no pressure to generate ideas or actions and more often than not I don’t arrive at any definitive conclusion. Thinking is an underrated past-time in my opinion. Sometimes I worry that I live too much in my head and sometimes I worry that I don’t actually give myself enough time to think. I value my thinking time more as I get older.

Although we are in the fifth month of 2022 , for some reason it still feels like the New Year even with the days lengthening their gift of light, the clocks going forward, the air temperature sometimes rising, with summer like days trying to stealthily sneak in the backdoor of the Irish spring and the sea, as ever gracing me with her seasonal delights. There hasn’t been much inclination to transfer some my internal thoughts into some sort of coherent blog in this New Year. I have been more drawn to my scribblings and journals and even enforced time at home couldn’t seem to draw me to the keyboard. I have been focusing on the ‘smaller days’ wrapping them up with words that trickle softly and slowly onto the page. There were more bigger days than I wanted in the start of this year. Riding on the back of a sudden, tragic and out of order death of a child of our village in December, which left our entire village grief stricken, New Year’s Eve, the 21st birthday of my oldest daughter saw us keeping vigil as my mother law, Mary was dying across the St .George’s Channel and many many miles down a motorway across the Severn Bridge. She died on January 5th 2022, and our death watch was our entry into this New Year. Her death didn’t become quite real until we travelled to her funeral in February, when we turned the key and our feet landed on her parquet floor and her house, her home was empty of her but filled with her presence.

New Year’s Day 2022 also marks the fourth year anniversary of when I last saw my brother John, and it is always a big day in my head and heart. The arrival of a New Year brings so much of everything to everyone, for those whose bodies harbour a grieving broken heart, there are layers to the greeting of a New Year that are hard to explain. Time, one’s constant companion becomes a nuanced frenemy, what ever its’ pace. March brought its’ own big and small days of hospital corridors and desert island marks and made me stand on the sea shore sidelines waiting to refloat.

Then, I find myself in April, returning from an Easter visit to England to lay Mary’s ashes to rest, helping with the preparations for ‘The Darkness into Light Walk’ and I find my tummy somersaulting downwards, catching me off guard. An internal plunging so deep and rapid, similar to what happens when you reach the pinnacle of fear on some ridiculous fairground ride or in my case just watching my children in an exhilarated state fly high above me whilst I remain firmly on solid ground. The lurching sensations are so strong that I am sure they must be visible. Four o’clock in the morning becomes a familiar time zone again and the moon and my birch tree become my touching stones of calm. My body remembers my mental maths of mourning before my head is ready to create the space to really acknowledge it. In the weeks leading up to tomorrow, May 12th, my head and my heart play catch up.

Here I am, four years on , marking the last full day that my beautiful, lovely and much loved brother was alive. Reframing some photographs, waiting to rehang them on my wall, waiting for tomorrow to come and go like the previous three May the 12th’s. Four full years, how did we get here so fast? The passage of time highlights the permanence of John’s death. I don’t think I will ever be reconciled with how we got here at all. One thousand, four hundred and sixty days and it’s the smaller days that in a roundabout way are the hardest. With grief-time I have learned to plan for the bigger days, I brace myself but the smaller days of living on are more plentiful, more relentless in their existence, more unpredictable, more mundane, busy with the business of living, filled with longer pockets of ease that can knit themselves into days and braid themselves into weeks but are always laced with grief and yearning even when full of laughter. These smaller days, they begin and end with thoughts of John. My gratitude for his life and his love and his care of me which is immense doesn’t outweigh, negate or counterbalance my loneliness and longing for him to be living on too. I am pretty sure it never will. I do accept that there is no ‘making his death better’ or his absence from our lives more palatable. The living with the grief aftermath does change, my grief is not static; it hardens and softens, dims and dazzles, expands and contracts as the smaller days demand their own space.

On Feb 1st 2019 I wrote in my cream hardbacked journal with my specially chosen pen;

"Yesterday, an ordinary day
I missed you upon waking
Walking out my front door
I missed you in the rain.
Standing still
I missed you,
I missed you
as I drove,
Peeling spuds
I missed you
Drinking tea
I missed you
The ordinary days are still not normal
I'm not sure they ever will be again
I don't want them to be,
Unless it meant that you were not dead"

I think it will ever be so, in the core of my internal world but there is now a respite to be had from the intensity of resentful feelings that life for us here, in all its beautiful mundanity continues on. So tomorrow, I will head to to the place we love and give myself over to to the feelings of yet another unwanted big day. I will swim and remember, I will swim as always for two , I will swim with love searching between the sea and the sky, swimming to make my minutes real again and keeping a watchful eye out for my cormorant. Spending the day blessed with the companionship of some of the people who I love as much as I love John. I will come home to the mountains and if the sun sneaks on by, I hope to sit in the wilderness and make daisy chains of love and remembrance and chat with my children and have yet another ordinary day while acknowledging the truth that the smaller days are big days too.

Read more: The Smaller Day’s Words.

Surface Tension


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