I wrote this with a rock, on a rock at Balmoral Beach yesterday while looking out to sea and feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and the cool ocean breeze on my skin. I wondered if anyone would come across it during the day before the tide washed it away. Perhaps I was thinking also of this quote…
“Beauty abounds all around me, yet the state of my heart is the ruler of my vision.”
It’s something I wrote in my diary a number of years ago. It’s in My Heart Wanders, in californya font. And these past months it’s been a part of my email signature. While hitting ‘send’ on an email a moment ago, I read the lines again, and realised how pertinent it is for me at this time in my life, and at this very moment when I feel so consumed by what’s been happening and how I feel about it.
I have a growing collection of unfinished blog posts here in my wordpress account. I have lists of things that I’d like to get done that haven’t been touched. There is a pause in my everyday. How do I get on with my everyday? How do I compartmentalise ‘that’ part of my life? My blog and my everyday life feel like worlds apart at the moment, and every time I sit to type and share my life and thoughts here, to find a connection, to bring the blog back into the everyday, something happens again to pull me away and the gap grows ever wider. I have wonderful ideas on how to refine and perhaps redefine this space that will also connect to a new book I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year. But that’s been halted, for now. It’s hard to get into a creative bubble when the bubble keeps bursting.
I’ll try to connect the dots here as I realise I’m rambling without context. As Nadia wrote on an instagram photo of hers the other day, “Today words are tangled up”. I’ll try to detangle what I can…
Those of you I have met in person over the years or exchanged personal emails with may know that one of the reasons I moved back to Sydney was to be closer to my Mum. I may have mentioned it fleetingly here on the blog as well, though no doubt trying not to make a big deal of it. In my family, making such a decision would be taken as a sign of my weakness, so even though it was ‘the’ reason, as a matter of survival instinct I just dropped it in with a number of other reasons – like Romain was ready to experience life in Australia, having a baby, and at that time (2011), for the book launch of My Heart Wanders since it was published by an Australian publisher. I don’t think I’m ready to go into the details of why and how I feel I needed to be closer to Mum at that time, but to sum it up neatly, I felt her illness was progressing, and knowing that Romain and I were feeling ready to start our own family, I wanted her to have this time with my child, whoever that was to be. As it turns out, it was our beautiful Laly now 3 years old.
That time is now coming to an end. It’s been intense. Even more so these past weeks. And I sense it is going to get even more so. Mum has a will like no other, she is a rebel and a leader at that, and although again, the family I grew up with define sickness as weakness and physical prowess as superior I know that Mum and all she has been through is nothing but strength and courage, even if she refuses to recognise it herself. I can’t imagine her doing anything but calling out demands, right to the very end. These past few years for me have been rough, tough, wild, and most often without appreciation and certainly with a whopping amount of frustration and hurt. Navigating this terrain, mixed with raising our girl at the same time, has been incredibly ugly, and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s at times wild and other times smooth. When it’s smooth, I am drained and exhausted, yet I feel in those times instead of resting I am supposed to just pick up where I left off. Sometimes, if the path has become consistently smooth and even seems to have stabilized, I do manage to get back on my feet, replying to emails, returning phone calls and text messages and even saying ‘yes’ again to people, friends, work, projects. But then the path, even though I’ve been carefully watching it the whole way (which in itself is a tiring addition to the everyday), turns into a massive rocky drop which I have to scramble and slip and slide my way down, leaving all that I just picked up in my hands at the top . Looking back up, knowing I’ll never be going up there again, I wonder if I’ll be able to pick those things up again somehow or if I just keep going and try not to feel what I feel for the people I’ve disappointed in not upholding those commitments. It’s always my hope that some part of them understands, even if they haven’t been through what I’m going through.
It’s a roller coaster of mixed emotions – at one moment I feel a flood of gratitude for all of this – for it being such a suffering-filled and slow journey for her as in my caring and witnessing of her I have grown and learnt so much. I feel immense gratitude for my friends, those who have stood by me through this time, listened without judgement or expectation and let me weep on their shoulder. But then something is said to me in her feeble state, something that cuts to my core and the gratitude flies out the window and turns into deep sadness. I would love to say it’s all gratitude (like the word ‘authentic’, I can almost not type ‘gratitude’ without feeling such resistance as it’s been so heavily overused online these days), but it’s not.
I know other long time carers will relate to the roller coaster, perhaps there are some of us on it together, right now at the same time. Holla if you are, and if we can hold hands virtually, I would love that – my hand, palm up, is reaching out to you now.
I’ve been reading a book by Zen Buddhist Joan Halifax, whose knowledge and experience has helped me so much, and this statement here, sums up what I am learning to do right now: “…the waves of birth and death…our challenge is to learn to not drown in those waves but ride them freely.”
I have much more to say, much more I feel, but small steps, right? Small steps as I pull out these tangled threads and cords.
Thank you for being here.