Wednesday, 19 June 2013

In the palm of her hand

 I don't know how many of you folk pray, in any kind of way. I'm not sure if this counts, but I do sometimes get very clear and consciously set an intention. I did it the other day. And I did it out loud, which always makes it worse.

I've had more than a year to find my new centre of gravity after Thomas's death (So, what? I'm over it? I shock myself sometimes.) and was feeling frustrated that my work - my writing and artwork - didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Pickle's in the most lovely nursery two afternoons a week (which is a bit of a stretch for me, but she's asking for more), so I have a little more time and it felt right to, as I so foolishly said, 'move up a gear'. Enough languishing and moping! More thriving and achieving!
Pickle with her first ever packed lunch

Like all answered prayers, this soon felt like an error. A big one. I started driving lessons (locals, please contact me for times you need to stay at home), resumed this blogging lark, even wrote some poetry and generally got excited and inspired. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Pickle has taken to waking at 5, then needing a consistent input of attention and affection all day to avoid dissolution into tears and/or fury. We've not made it through the whole day without incident for quite a while. Also, I have an appointment for a consultation about a brca1 test. For those of you who (wisely, I'd say) don't read the smallprint in the papers, this is the gene which ramps up your chances of breast and ovarian cancer and is most famously carried by Angelina Jolie. Now, if I could choose one of Angelina Jolie's genes, I can assure you it would not be that one. (Nor, if I could choose one thing to share with Julia Roberts, would it be ITP - an autoimmune disease which thins your blood.) But I missed the choosing bit, so my valiant mum has brca1 and that means there is a 50/50 chance I (and my sister and my brother) do too. Do I feel lucky, punks?*
 *Of course! Look where I live :o).
I thought I was doing quite a good job of coping with all this, but then I think a lot of things and they're frequently on the smudgier side of accurate. It turns out, every time I get a letter from the hospital, or think about all the grim options if I have this gene, I go into a kind of meltdown, which unfortunately mostly manifests as insomnia (abating shortly before Pickle wakes at 5) and  an inability to give Pickle all she needs to have a wonderful day despite her tiredness. In short, I am a less good mother, which is the last thing (other than dead) I want to be.

And it's recently been Thomas's birthday. The run-up to it was painful and stressful, but the day itself was not so bad. Pickle and I climbed the hill to sit on the Dada lump and talk about him. I finally accepted what everyone's told me all along - that Pickle no longer has conscious memories of him. Another loss for her. We took flowers from our garden which he loved and picked some also to lay on the mound which holds our friend Fay, who recently died, on the moor, as she wished.
And then it was Fathers' Day. Pickle came home from nursery with cake 'for me' in a 'Happy Fathers' Day' bag. Luckily for her, I couldn't eat it (because I'm coeliac - I no doubt share that with a rich and beautiful woman, too), so she happily gobbled it up. It was a tough day for me, but lightened by my gratitude for all the great men Pickle knows. Some of them are fathers and some not, but the important thing is she sees men being, well, men; heartful partners, loyal friends, tender parents. I think a large part of my ability to co-create the relationship I had with Thomas comes from seeing my parents' solid and openly loving relationship. I'm sorry I can't offer Pickle that, but at least she'll know a good man when she finds one.

Pickle is now wearing this T-shirt as a nightie

One consequence of talking about Thomas more has been that she is now asking some of the questions I knew would come one day. 'I won't die, will I?' 'Are we going to die on Tuesday or Sunday?' 'How old will X be when they die?' 'And Y?' 'And Z?' It's relentless some days, but what can I do, except be as honest as I can explain to her? I've said we will all die - everything dies - but we will be very, very old (older even than her great grandparents) when we die. The sharpest pang comes when she asks, 'Do mummies die?' I tell her she will be an old woman when I die and every cell sings out a prayer that I am telling her the truth, but then this gene test, which can't come soon enough, will tell me how likely that is. If you have a song in your cells, please sing my prayer. I'm far from perfect, but I'm the best this girl's got and I want to be around and healthy for a loooong time to witness her development into an amazing woman.
All that means that, rather than flourishing as planned, I'm actually struggling through a low time. But all things are relative. I'm still Mama to this wonderful girl:

I have access to the most beautiful land in excellent company (here with Suzi of Dartmoor Drums)

and for every mood there is a place where that feels just right.

AND Pickle and I have been to five parties in nine days! This is quite possibly a lifetime record.

Left, standing: Andy Letcher, sitting: David Wyatt, green jacket: Damien Hackney.

This party was a celebration of the return to Devon of Andy (above) and Nomi McLeod. That's a lot of links, but I recommend clicking on any or all of them. The talent round these parts is astonishing and increasing all the time.

So, good times and sad times all in a whirl. The most important thing for me is that, despite all her questions and having lost one of her most important people so very young, my girl can still hold death in the palm of her hand and think only of finding a soft place for a burial.


  1. You're still grieving, I think. That's perfectly okay. Just one day at a time and pretty soon you will step into the light.

  2. Happy to see you writing here, Lunar x

  3. Your writing is earthy, intimate and honest and it touches me very much. Thank you for sharing your world. X

  4. Such a beautifully written blog. You live in an amazing place, the scenery is stunning. I hope that the tests go well and soon your insomnia will pass

  5. Lunar, sometimes I don't know what to say, but I just want to let you know I'm reading/listening, and thinking of you and Pickle, and Thomas, and I'll sing a prayer for you to any deity who'll listen. I'm also so glad to see Andy and Nomi settling in, I've been following their blogs and hope they too, find healing and nourishment in the beautiful, powerful Dartmoor landscape. xx

  6. AnonymousJune 20, 2013

    Ah,Lunar! Where others keep silent you pour out emotion from every pore, much better from my experience. What you are still experiencing is not easy, but you are striving to give your child truths,(which are hard)and talking about life and death, which many parents shield from their offspring. I chose the same path when my mother (who lived with us) died suddenly, Baxter was 4 and very curious, they do not have the same taboos about death, as a result I dealt with daily questions of death & the afterlife, etc. These conversations made me realise, that I held no beliefs (oh dear!)I found a way of putting it that Nanny was "with the ancestors, eating cake & having tea"- this seemed to help and now when we talk of her, he still has the same "visual" image of her doing that.

    Love & light to you XX
    Love & light to you XX

  7. Dearest Lunar, your words bring back so many memories and the ghost of the heart ache that still walks to the side of, and sometimes right through, me. Wherever I am and whatever I am doing over Solstice, I will sing a song for you and Tom and Pickle and invite the Universe to smile gently on your days and especially your nights. In consolation, I am now breathless with amazement at the magnificent young woman Amie(Musha) has grown into, from that questing toddler you knew, eager for all the answers to life and death. I have her permission to share a piece she wrote a few nights ago, in response to a quote from Sherlock Holmes -
    "All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage."
    No, but caring is a luxury. When the lives of the people we care about end, yes, we will be heartbroken but we will know that our caring has helped them through their lives, even the tiniest little bit. We will continue to care about them long after their demise. We will care for them by remembering happy and sad times together and feeling those emotions all over again. We will care by still going to see their favourite movies and smiling over the little things that remind us of them. We will care by knowing that they shared their lives with us and the least we can do is live our lives for them.
    Amie Collins aged 14 - after waking up in the wee hours with a head full of thoughts.
    Sending love and peace from all that is us to all that is you xx

  8. Thank you all so much. And, Sam, I join you in amazement at that little (!) girl of yours. xx

  9. Pickle is a lovely little girl. I hope all goes well with your tests. It is good that you're living in such a beautiful place with good friends too.

    Grieving takes much longer than you think. Perhaps we never "get over" it, there will always be a part of us belonging to our departed beloved. But we hold onto the good times, the good memories and the way we pulled together in the bad times.

  10. Beautifully written as ever, and thank you for not posting a hand dancing pic! Xxxxx

  11. I'm so glad to see you posting again. I don't even know you but I think of you often and wonder how you are.


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