Thursday, 18 December 2008
The Winter of My Content.
Christmas Eve is a poignant day.
My husband left home on Christmas Eve three years ago to take some last-minute Christmas cards to friends, and never came back. His body lived for another ten months, but his mind did not. He and we never knew what had happened.
Despite this stark initial message, this is a story of hope and happiness, of growth and acceptance and rediscovery. It was a journey into the unknown for my husband, through the tortuous paths of brain damage, and for our sons and me in our attempts, if not to follow him, then to be alongside him in his confusion and distress.
We learned so much, all of us, about each other and ourselves.
I have always been proud of my sons (sometimes irritated, occasionally furious; always proud), but through the profound experiences we shared they became transformed before my eyes into wonderful adults: caring, thoughtful, funny, clever, hard-working, lovely people.
We grew, all of us.
Growth as a Senior Citizen is a challenge, and a challenge that I did not always wish to meet.
The creaking crystals in the knees were ignored as I forced myself out into the garden, come rain or shine. Never once did I feel anything other than refreshed and energised by having my hands in the soil. The stiffening fingers were also limbered up on the word-processor. I even learned to blog. My younger son gave me his old digital camera.
'Where's the manual?' I said. 'Teach me. Help me!'
'Stop fussing, Mum,' he said. 'Just do it!'
It was exactly what I had been saying about homework, a few years back.
I made new friends, and had the joy of being reunited with old ones. I discovered that I had resources and strengths that I had never drawn on before. I learned to be alone, without being lonely. I learned the immense value of solitude.
Now, as always, there is new growth in the garden. Invisible under the dark soil, things are stirring, reaching out to new life. Growth always happens when you are not looking for it.
I went out into the dark cold air of this winter morning, and the hellebores were in flower.
Happy Christmas, everyone!