It’s such a beautiful day– the sun is shining and this morning there was a crisp frost on the ground, yet it didn’t feel cold in the way it does in winter. Beautiful spring – my favourite time of year. I feel very blessed that I live in the countryside and have numerous walks of varying length right on my doorstep.
The birds are singing their little hearts out and there’s a stillness – a peace that descends as normal everyday life is no longer. No daily commute, no planes making their way across the sky – no farm traffic.
I love being in lockdown
And I guess you could say “well it’s ok for you, you live with your husband and children, you have company, you live in the country, you can spend time outside, you work from home, you work online, nothing has really changed for you.”
“It’s different for me because…”
I’ve heard that a lot over the years “it’s different for me because….”
I’ve thought it myself many times.
I felt misunderstood, that I didn’t fit, that I was naive, that I wore rose-tinted spectacles, that I lived in a dream land.
Each time I found “my tribe” I’d engage whole-heartedly, feel connected – then something would happen or something would be said that had me think “Ah no, I don’t belong in here either”.
It felt like I was on a constant quest to find a sense of belonging. No-one else felt I didn’t belong – they never said anything to make me feel like that – it was all in my head. A sense that I will say the “wrong thing” at the “wrong time”.
I can still remember back to when I was 16 or 17, babysitting a little girl who had a cold. I made a joke that shocked the mother. I can still feel the shame of what I said. I feel it in my body – and it’s paralysing.
Yet as I look back, they weren’t my words – it was something I’d heard someone else say. I’m not saying that to justify what I said or make it ok – what I said wasn’t loving, nor sensitive to a concerned mother. However, today I have compassion for my 17 year old self – a young, sensitive girl, lost in a confusing world – learning how to behave to be to be loved and accepted. Experimenting with what to say that’s “appropriate” in any given situation.
But as I reflect further I wonder if maybe they were my words? I joked about death – that if she died in the night, we’d know she wasn’t ok. Shocking for a mother to hear. Indeed, I wasn’t going to share what I actually said – I was too ashamed.
Yet you cannot judge or condemn me anymore than I’ve condemned myself – a shame I have carried around hidden for 32 years. A shame that keeps me from speaking out, from sharing my truth – because I don’t know if it will be welcomed or condemned.
But I know this memory has come up for a reason – and ties in to how I felt this morning as I awoke.
We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Thousands have died, many thousands more will die before it is over.
We are in a grip of fear. I feel it as a vice like grip that constricts my chest and pins my arms to my body. It presses on my throat and makes me want to go into lockdown. Oh the irony.
I have to shake that off before I can share how I personally feel – a feeling that I believe is wrong.
A feeling that even now I wonder if I dare share it.
I know there are will be a handful of people who share my sentiment – but many others won’t. In fact, the vast majority won’t.
Does that make me wrong?
I still feel the vice like grip of fear – it’s not other peoples’ fear – it’s my own. A fear that if I share that I’m excited at what is happening in the world today I will be shot down.
How can I be excited when thousands of people are dying?
How is that ok?
Yet I see the love, compassion, connection and togetherness that is coming out of this crisis. I see communities coming together, people looking out for each other, helping one another. I hear how the skies over China are clearer due to the lack of pollution. I see pictures of dolphins in the canals in Venice – that the water is becoming clean.
I think back to a few months ago when the news was focussing on how our lifestyle was poisoning our planet and Extinction Rebellion was growing.
In just a few months of a worldwide global pandemic, our earth is recovering.
That to me is extraordinary.
I see something amazing happening in our world and planet today.
And I know that the only thing that we can universally count on in life – the one thing that touches and connects us all and that is death.
Death and re-birth.
I see beauty in death.
I have a very deep personal connection to death.
My mother died aged 55, on the eve of her 56th birthday, 4 days after my son – my first child – was born. I’d had a difficult birth and on the night she died, my mom visited me in hospital. She wasn’t feeling well – she’d been having bad headaches for several weeks. I remember her holding my son and smiling, telling him she was going to spoil him rotten and take him camping. She was so looking forward to being a wonderful Grandma and forging that special bond with him.
On her way home she pulled over, got out of the car and collapsed. She’d suffered an aneurysm and never recovered.
The maternity leave I’d planned – spending time with my mom, visiting garden centres and simply being with her never happened.
I feel such sadness when I look back. Yet her death was a great gift to me. I can feel her love and her warmth all around me as I write. She’s not here in physical form yet her love and her guiding light move with me constantly.
Not one of us can escape the pain of losing a loved one. It’s a part of life. It connects us all.
Stay safe during these uncertain times. Take precautions. And as much as you can open to the beauty and love that is all around us.
What a poignant piece Melina! Yes there is certain beauty in death and we are seeing in more than ever today as the world comes to a grinding halt. I can empathise with how you feel about your mother. My mother also passed away suddenly but she lives on in everything I do. I suppose the memories we cherish make them immortal. Thank you for your extremely honest and sincere writing
Thank you Vaishakhi – so sorry to hear your mother passed away. And indeed the memories we cherish do make them immortal.
Wow such an emotional story, thank you for sharing this Melina. Whilst I consider myself very lucky to have my Mum (and Dad) still here with us, who have both been there for me as a single parent, because of that I can completely empathise with what you went through.
I also resonated with the memory from when you were younger and how we spend many years coming to understand who we are deep down, not the version that has absorbed the beliefs of others.
Thank you Katie.
A true lesson here in the power of vulnerability and how when we share ourselves it reaches others. Very thoughtful and truly engaging piece of writing.
Thank you so much Regina.
I heard an Angel speak today and she said her name was Melina.