I love this blog. For over six years now I have come here to write out my heart and soul and pour myself into the Universe. I’m not always regular with my posts and there are varying reasons for that. Although I primarily write here for myself the fact that others read my words and are kind enough to say they find something of value here is a bonus really. I’d write anyway. It is how I process things and words are pleasurable to me. It’s not been an especially long gap since I last wrote but it’s worth mentioning because there was half a thought in the back of my head that I’d not write again until I had something fun and happy and upbeat to write about because things have been a bit bleak. I don’t want all my posts to be sad.
The truth is though that I am sad. I’m very sad a lot of the time and I also feel stuck and powerless. Not a great combination, really. I’m not enjoying it much and I’m in the frame of mind where I feel like a liability to those around me, like I am inflicting myself on others, so am loath to do it. But I realised something yesterday, that I was discounting two things I know to be true. The first thing is one I know about myself and that is that I make the best I can of what I have. Secondly, that once you put forth your energy into the Universe it has a life of it’s own. People will make of it what they will and although you can try to guide it’s path the truth is that you cannot control how it will be received by the big wide world. A bit like giving birth to a child really.
Two very significant things have happened in the time since we last connected and they are what bring me to you today. They were very different events but they resonated with the same message for me. My connections with others, the love of varying flavours, that is what it is all about for me. My facebook friends list is an interesting blend of my before and after lives; Daughter Number One’s friends, all grown up now, friends from my own school days, parents of my children’s friends. Friends from my life on the other side of the country. My former psychologist, colleagues from my previous life, other mothers of murdered children, the police officer who worked my daughter’s case. Old friends, new friends, dear friends, true friends. All these people who were strangers once.
During the worst time of my life I met the detective who was investigating my Daughter’s death. The day after she died and several times after that he was the one who interviewed me, at my home and at his station. He attended my Daughter’s funeral. He took me to the crash site and the police car lot to see what there was left to see and answered my questions.He was at the inquest, not just in his official capacity but he was really there for me during that whole process, walking me through. His wife was pregnant with their first child when my Daughter died and their daughter was born the same year. I so appreciated the work, the really above and beyond efforts, of this man that I nominated him for ‘Police Officer of the year’ and do you know? He actually won! And he generously shared with me the pleasure he had in telling his family of his award and how he looked forward to telling his own daughter about it in the future. He protested that he only did his job, only did what many, many others would do, did do, every day. In the dense blackness following my Daughter’s death this guy was a beacon. We emailed. He and his wife had a son. I had a second Daughter. Life moved on.
Nearly two years ago I found him on Facebook. He isn’t in the police force any more and I felt so glad to find that out. As good as he was at his job I can only imagine the toll that work takes on you, day after day, when you do it properly. So, I was glad for him, and for his family. I’ve seen the family photo’s his wife tags him in – beautiful, accomplished children, extended family celebrations, holidays – and all of them, without fail, bring me joy. Because even if the only work he ever did was with me and on behalf of my Daughter, all the respect and compassion and humanity he showed, then he deserves all the happiness in the world, every single day for the rest of eternity. Of course that wasn’t all he ever did and life doesn’t work like that.
So it happened that almost two weeks ago now I read a post this former police officer wrote in tribute after the death of his ten year old nephew, to his nephew and his family and about the decision to donate his organs, made during DonateLife Week. Despite the fact I avoid mainstream news I happened upon more information in the days that followed; this posting was on a website I follow and it summed up my own feelings and intense grief. I now know so much more about this family and yet, really, know nothing. But I will never forget this boy’s smile or his name. Sweet dreams Banjo, live on in happiness.
At the opposite end of the spectrum came the other event that rocked my world and went partway to re-establishing my equilibrium (Oh, let’s not get too excited! There’s still a way to go!). Last Friday made five years since a chance encounter and a simple question combined to change the course of my life and brought me into contact with someone whose significance and value to me only increases with the passage of time. So much has passed between us and so far we have travelled together, not all of it easy, not all of it fun but he is someone who can always reach me no matter how detached I become from everything else. In that way he keeps me tethered to the present. He was the safe place I ran to when Daughter Number One’s father killed himself and even during hard times between us I have never lost sight of the fact he is a gift to me.
And this is it you see, a word we write, a question we ask, everything we do in our lives has the potential to impact on others. Lives changed. Events of various significance but all attesting to the fact it is a short life and a small world and no man is an island. We are all connected to each other. It is not just the one police officer I remember. It is also the guy at my local station who kept answer my calls on the very long night my Daughter didn’t come home. The same officer I spoke to much later who told me how it felt to speak to me the during the final call, when he knew that she was almost definitely dead, but when I didn’t know. Not then. Not yet. I also remember the newly minted officer who wrote about the intense smell of the crash site but who kept doing his job anyway. Whether it is quite literally by donating organs or by the love, kindness, respect and compassion we share we leave pieces of ourselves with the people whose lives we touch. Those are the things that burn brightly, long after we are gone. I try to go gently, with myself, with others. It is my very real experience that, truly, everyone is fighting a battle you can know nothing about.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.