Once upon a time there was a very normal underachiever. As soon as her child was asleep, she'd decide she couldn't be arsed to wash up and instead sit numbing herself with sugar and salt and screen. She talked about writing, but mostly just scribbled notes on newspapers and failed to open old Word docs. In a town swarming with artistic talent, she produced amateur images of flowers and trees, like a schoolchild. Her house had terrible trouble with piles and there were corners unhoovered for so long they had been declared off-limits. She was pathologically single, but leaned on her friends like a poorly-rooted tree in a wood, sharing the strain whether others could take it or not. When she noticed how little she contributed, she would weep and moan and dream about the difficult things that had happened years ago and those which might happen in the future.
And it happened that also there was a woman of remarkable strength and grace and courage. Her widowhood, still serrated and not blunting with time as she'd expected, infused her with a constant sorrow and great surges of pain. Her mum was living under a cancer cloud and the fear of the first, fat drops sat quietly in her, not yet pouncing but never really retreating. Against these griefs and fears, she held out a daring hope for another child - one last before her ovaries were taken away. Already without breasts, it would be a strong sorrow to not give that baby mothers' milk, but she would do all she could to give it life and love. Daily she did her fluctuating best for her child and herself, putting what she could into words and images and dreams for a time when joy was king again.
This coming year, I will try to love both these women equally.