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.
Listen to the grass grow
At the end of a long winter, there is a sudden fluttering. Snow drops appear out of nowhere and green buds are shooting up at the end of the empty branches. It happens so fast, while the northern wind is still so fierce you can’t leave the house without mittens and your winter socks, that you wonder if it’s not all a bit too soon. But there is no mistaking: spring is here. And with it, the promise of new life. At the pond the geese have already welcomed four tiny goslings, who are getting bigger every day yet are still small enough to hide under their parent’s warm feathers when it gets too cold. If you stand underneath the blossoming trees, you can even hear the sweet sound of bumblebees humming around you. Even though you may want to crawl back to the comfort of your cosy blankets, where you’ve been wintering these past months, you must open the windows and let this fresh energy in. It’s time to spread your wings. Plant some seeds and dust off your sketchbook. The adventure awaits.
Just like that the season changes again. Whether you want it or not, time passes and your grief changes shape. A softness returns to your heart and the feeling to want to be anywhere but here slowly dissipates. The hole is still there, but somehow you start to draw colourful lines along its edges. You start to breathe in life. You open yourself up to the flow of life again. No one describes this more elegantly than Gabrielle Roth in her Maps to Ecstacy: A Healing Journey for the Untamed Spirit. For me there was still a lingering question about which direction I should move in. Until I came across the idea of co-destiny, created by Joe Kasper after the tragic death of his son. It’s the idea that you can share a destiny with someone, and that you can still carry out this joined destiny without them. As the daughter of an artist, for me that means continuing her work by showing our vision of the world through photographs and visual art, by writing her stories and mine, and most of all by living our dream.
The shape of grief
It is easy to write about rainbows and butterflies. About the abundance of life blooming all around us. It is much harder to write about tragic loss. To sit with our pain and to actually acknowledge it. In the past I’ve often tried to push myself through it, to prove how strong and resilient I was. But this time I wanted to give myself as much space and time as I needed. So instead of running back to my old life, I read It’s ok that you’re not ok by Meghan Devine. It’s one of the most enlightening books on grief I’ve ever read. It felt like a voice in the dark telling me: what you are feeling is completely normal. It helped me to understand that it’s not crazy to feel all over the place, have mysterious pains and aches in your body, or feel anxious about EVERYTHING. That you’re allowed to collapse – after all, your world has collapsed. And that this isn’t something we’re supposed to fix. As Adrienne Rich wrote, “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors.”
End of the season
As the autumn leaves are falling, the end of our gardening season is near. After weeks of looking after the beautiful calabash, who has almost completely conquered our little plot of land, it’s time to harvest it’s fruit. The incessant rain hasn’t done it much good and only three large calabashes remain. We bring them home to dry, but it soon turns out that one of them won’t make it, turning brown so quickly it takes us by surprise. The two that remain are hanging from the ceiling until they are ready to be carved into shape and made into a cabaÃ§a. Meanwhile, some plants are thriving at this time of year. The chrysanths is in full bloom and so are the winter cherry’s. The lavender is looking lush and abundant too. So I gather all of the pots and get them ready to be shipped off to our balcony. How will they adjust to this new, contained life? I ask myself the same question as the days are getting shorter and I fall into slumber. Six more weeks until the solstice and the return of the light.