I will never forget the day my mum died. Arriving at her hillside home after a tear-filled journey, I passed underneath her beautiful roses and walked into her silent house. As I went up the stairs, the first thing I noticed was all of my silly drawings hanging next to each other on the wall. It struck me in that moment how much my mum adored them. So that day I made her a solemn promise in my heart: to take my art seriously. That promise has been in the back of my mind these past three years. Instead of creating art, I’ve been busy with creating life. After her funeral followed the arrival of a tiny unicorn, our midsummer wedding, and making a new home. How blessed we have been with all of these rainbows! But beside these life events, I have also felt really lost without my mum. She was my ideal reader and without her… whom am I writing for? The answer remained hidden until our little one fell in love with reading books and drawing together, and all of a sudden I´m back in business.
It took me a while to find the courage to write this, because I wanted to write that it was dream to have a baby. But it wasn’t. I didn’t know how to take care of a newborn, on top of recovering from giving birth and being sleep-deprived. My only preparation was sitting in my rocking chair in my beautiful, cosy nursery and reading Secrets of the baby whisperer. Needless to say, that didn’t suffice. There were of course rainbow moments that melted our hearts, but those first few weeks were really hard. Our friends and family came over to help and luckily some had babies with similar temperaments, because none of the general advice worked. After reading Raising your Spirited Baby by Mary Kurcinka I understood why our child struggled to sleep, fiercely crying every single time, and why we couldn’t get her to sleep in her cradle (i.e. a non-human sleep surface). So instead we carried, we rocked, we swayed, we BOUNCED, we danced to Capoeira de Besouro… until she would finally fall asleep on top of us.
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’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.
The winter solstice is here. A time for rest and retreat in this season of darkness and transformation. Although six months have passed, it amazes me how much my life is still filled with fear. I’ve read lots of books on the topic and they all tell me the same thing: that anxiety is a normal response to an extraordinary event. Or in even simpler terms: that fear is a natural reaction to pain. They tell me that fear is the opposite of love. And that it takes courage to let go of it. To release our grip on it. To befriend it. But it wasn’t until I read Edith Eger’s book The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life that I understood how hard that is. Because fear is paralysing. It creates a relentless cycle of hyper-vigilance, thinking that it can protect us from losing even more. But life doesn’t work like that: pain and loss are an inevitable part of life, no matter how vigilant we are. Instead Eger tells us that we should stay curious. Don’t you want to know what happens next? If you shine your light into the darkest places?