It’s two years since my mum died on midsummer’s night. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I try to find her sometimes in familiar places, but she is never where I expect her to be. But then on a random Wednesday morning as I make myself a cup of coffee, I suddenly remember how we’d always enjoy a fika together – sitting out on the veranda or cosying up on the sofa. She’s there when I look down at my hands and it feels I’m looking at hers. When the tiny unicorn and I can’t stop laughing together, just like my mum and I used to. She’s there when a moth lands on top of my glasses or when I spot a bright green spider on a blossoming buddleia. She’s there when I come across a field of poppies. It’s moments like these that I lose my breath for a second and tears roll down my cheeks. Whenever grief pierces my heart like that, I think of the poem by Ellen Brenneman: “Think of me as living in the hearts of those I touched, for nothing loved is ever lost and I know I was loved so much.”
It was during the Wolf Moon that our rainbow baby first arrived. I carried her for the next nine moons, dancing with her and singing lullabies. One fine day in the library I found the most beautiful book My journey within: Your way to a Free Birth and made a birth plan with sweet drawings. To reduce the risk of stillbirth we were offered an induction at 39 weeks, which felt like the safest choice. But as we got closer to the due date, we continued to struggle with the decision. I read all the leaflets and the underlying research, but it felt like an impossible decision. Science or nature? Control or trust? It was only when I remembered Women Who Run With the Wolves that I understood that there is a time for burying the dead and a time for birthing babies, and by choosing force to get her out we were superimposing our grief on her birth and disrupting the natural rhythm of life. So instead we created a despacho ritual to let go of the past and bless her birth, whenever she was ready.
The town is still asleep and the dark sits quietly around us. It’s cosy up here by the candlelight, a small body pressed against me snoring softly. Looking out the window I can see the Huguenot tower lighting up the dark forest. It is the same view that you see from the beautiful oakside, just from a different hill. It’s our first visit to this little dependance by the mystical pine tree. Out there in the garden is an old abandoned hut, enveloped in the dawn. I haven’t been inside yet, let alone to write. I’m not even writing in my art journal, I’m just scribbling on the back of a piece of paper that I found in a drawer. Life with a newborn is funny that way. Some part of me thinks back longingly to the creative dreams I had for this place. But then I remember what Stephen King said in his memoir On Writing: ““(…) put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
It’s still early morning as I go outside on the balcony with my cup of tea. It is the end of the summer and the light is starting to change already. Looking at my potted plants, I notice that there are three seeds dangling in the silky threads of a spider web. It reminds me of the midsummer day that my love and I spend in a hazy field of wild horses and golden flowers. It was on that day that I caught a little seed head flying through the air. We marveled at it together, before I released it again. We watched as it was caught by the wind and carried towards its destiny. After the sun had set, we said farewell. Can you believe that when my love got home that night, he found it beside his pillow? It was then that I realised that we had a shared destiny. And you see… now there are three of them. Life expands that way. If you breathe into something, it will grow. Maybe not always in the way that you expect or hope, or as quickly as you wish for it to happen, but in some mysterious way it always does.
Gathered under the oak tree for the summer solstice, we took a moment to reflect back on the past year. All of the ups and downs that we have shared: our heartbreak, my mum’s death, the magical road trip along the German Fairy Tale Route, a family member falling ill, the arrival of new beginnings, and… lest we forget, a pandemic affecting each and every one. I don’t think I have ever experienced the cycle of life/death/life so vividly. Faced with this challenge, I started reading Women Who Run With the Wolves. Estés’ book gave me the courage to embrace this cycle of nature with grace and made me realise that now’s the time to be in the light. And so this midsummer, we came together with family and friends to celebrate life and our unicorn love. It was through a magical ritual that we promised to each other to always answer the call of song, dance and joyousness. Like Raynor Winn phrased so beautifully at the end of The Salt Path, “Life is now, this minute, it’s all we have. It’s all we need.”