First letter

Dearest Michael,

I miss you. This is the most antithetical statement of all. So easy to say with such impossible depths. You were such a presence in peoples, in my, life, that despite being something that happened over five years ago, it still burns.

I know we were friends from work. I know we never got to hang out outside of that, but that was never what our friendship was about. Everyone said you were a prophet, and this much I believe to be true. With just a few words you could shift someone’s whole reality, make them see whatever they needed to see from a whole new perspective, and you did this for me. I don’t remember everything you ever said, but I know that it came from a place of love and foresight.

What makes me cross, especially when I hear people talking about you, is just this. Everyone remembers you are a hero, the person who could fix people. Someone who does things for other people. And this is amazing. But this was just one part of you. And your creativity, your teaching, your sense of humour, your political conversation (like saying you wanted to go to a UKIP meeting with all your dreadlocked friends as you all believed in British jobs for British workers was utter hilarity and your most vocal stance on body hair was amazing!) – all of these things get missed.

What also gets missed is how broken you were too. The relationship you had with your brother who died, with your family, both near and far. How you spoke about your grandma. How you spoke about yourself. And then your relationship with me. I was the prophet for your words and saw perspectives that you could not. I gave you the throwaway comments that you could base new interpretations on. As you did for me; I did for you too. Reciprocal therapy, through the vehicle of kindness, in sound bites. In understanding others we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. This was such an incredible occurrence for me to encounter. And I am utterly livid that you left me.

I cried for a long time after you died. I was by myself, and that seemed to hurt more. I had no one to hold me, shush me, to tell me that everything would be okay. Then this made me realise how strong I was, how by getting through this made me so much harder. Less can now break me. And for this I thank you. Likely this has been the most amazing of all your teachings that I can take from. I can lose something so precious and dear to me, and I will be okay. I know that this is a partial misnomer, but by this, I feel empowered.

When you were getting sicker, and as you were sleeping less, clearly fearful of not having enough time, I was sleeping less too. I mirrored this. My insomnia is pain of loss. I wake up, so my anxious mind can fill the hours, can do something more, because clearly I am not doing enough. This isn’t just pain of grief, this is pain of every lost moment that I am not utilising. But I am learning. I am learning that I am enough and I am allowed to sleep and I am allowed to let you rest. I cannot hold onto so much sadness as it is exhausting. Letting you go does you no dishonour, you are always in my thoughts, but I no longer need to carry this heavy,  just your sparkly light.

I also know that this heavy is reflective of all the other things in my life that make me sad. And you are an easy box for me to load everything into. It is easier to feel the loss of one thing than the loss of everything, and so as not to break, I closed down my sense of grief before it overwhelmed me. However there had to be an outlet for this wave of enormity, so insomnia arrived. My grief comes in waves of duplication of you. If I can be who you were, then maybe you have not really gone? But I am me, and I need to see my actions with ownership and not deflect my sadness onto you.

I realise that what I knew about you was worth knowing, but I did not know you well.

I now need to unpack my sadness box. Thank you for listening Michael. I love you so much and it was a privilege to have had time in your sphere.

Lots of love and shiny

Sally.xx

Map Point. What do I need to say to people who cannot listen?

My Mum

Last night I felt sort of sad, kind of reflective (if I watched television, I possibly wouldn’t have time to think about so many things. Maybe..) and I thought about my Mum and what it must have been like for her to watch me grow up, just as I see my own daughter’s life emerging. And I thought that for my Mum, it must have been hard.

She must have seen a quiet sort of child, always reading, always making things. Often my Mum now comments on how many things my daughter makes and I love the similarity between us. She must also have seen a child who was woeful at tidying up, and I recall often being told to go up to the bathroom and sort out my messy face. This is another similarity that I share with my young one!

As I started secondary school, she must have seen a girl who was becoming increasingly lost in her world of books, a child who struggled to remember to do her homework, a child who was starting to have panic attacks. I remember my Mum often asking me if anything was wrong, anything she could do to help. And no, there really wasn’t, because I didn’t really understand enough of anything at that stage to have the words to explain.

She saw a daughter who was put on anti-depressants around age fourteen, and that same child was requesting counselling, although she still didn’t know what it was she really wanted to talk about. I think that this must have been sad for her. I guess it is incredibly easy to see a life in terms of its bleakness. But at the same time, I know there is also a very different story running parallel.

She saw a daughter who played classical guitar and worked hard to achieve her gradings. A daughter who developed a lifelong passion for photography. A daughter who loved board games and talked about music and politics. A daughter that loved to dance. She saw her child achieve academically and go on to university (thank you, Mum, for ironing my labcoat xx).

She also saw that child turn into a woman. A woman who has done so many different things, not necessarily things that she would have done, but things that I know she feels a sense of pride in. I think that sometimes it is good to reflect on the amazing people who have supported me, loved me unconditionally and had gargantuan patience with some of my endeavours! As a daughter looking at my Mum, looking at her as my parent, I see love.

Map Point. Where do I see love?

Why am I a vegetarian?

I was recently asked by a friend why I am a vegetarian.  And I pondered. When I first became a vegetarian it was because I disagreed with how animals are treated in the factory farming system. This seemed to be straight forward enough, and before I became a vegetarian, I had already switched to free range and organic meats. But the logical step in my mind was then to eschew meat altogether. I still ate fish for a while (pescatarian) before embracing the full vegetarian diet.

Only I didn’t. A good few years previously, I had experienced the deep joy that is gastroenteritis and food poisoning in the same week. This left me with the marvellous dietary constrict of not being able to tolerate dairy, specifically anything that originated from point of cow. So my vegetarianism was a sort of cheese of sheep and goat (but not too much.. else pain and suffering issues forth!) and also eggs. Sometimes I don’t have dairy in any form, thus defining as an egg eating vegan (veggan). I fluctuate on these variables.

Then I watched a film called ‘Earthlings’. It took me two sittings to get through, as it was a muchly wet face experience for me, but it did endorse and inform what I already knew. So in essence, there are many good reasons why I eat as I do, and I appreciate that to some, my diet is difficult. But to me the answer of why didn’t really feel, well, answered, it felt as if there was more.

So I considered the aspect of entitlement. Did I feel entitled to profit from the suffering of other living things? I live in a built up society, I have a lot of stuff, and I know that a good deal of it, not just the food that I consume does derive from the sadness of others. And this is when the decisions in my life started to change, or rather that I noticed that a whole handful of decisions that I had been making all came under the same umbrella. I have been using charity shops and second-hand shops to source new clothing, trying to remember to take my reusable bags to the supermarket, buying ear buds made with a card middle rather than plastic, taking my reusable water bottle out with me, the list went on. It came down to respect for my environment.

When I realised this, suddenly other tasks that I had been struggling with became easier. If I have this inherent respect for my outside environment, then maybe I could start applying that to my house, my inside environment. Tidying up and streamlining my home is becoming easier, my attachment to things is lessening and this has been a most productive and also a kind of scary thing. If I had put all my love in the things around me, and I was letting go of these things, where would all that love go?

The answer was remarkably simple, I love me better.

Map Point. What sadness can I remove from my life?