Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Small Acts of Devotion

I wasn't expecting this.

Today is the hard day. Today is the day that I'm feeling more than ever. Last year wasn't like this, but I think I was still in shock mixed with a large amount of guilt-ridden relief.

I managed Friday, the anniversary of her death, without as much as a breakdown. A couple of tears in the morning and a bit of lingering sadness.

But I'm feeling it today.  That raw kick in the guts and the desire to medicate with ice cream, chocolate, gin or lashing out at people. I'm trying to keep to myself, keeping quiet and just getting on with things, and it's working to a point, but the feeling of wanting to self-medicate in a small way is overwhelming. I've had a bit of chocolate. There's been a bit too much coke zero (I average a can a fortnight). I had a very rare Malaysian meal for lunch - but that was mostly because the queue at Nandos was out the door. 

See, today my niece would have turned 17.

It's not like the anniversary of the day she died. I still feel the relief and the release, knowing that she was no longer suffering - and my sister's family didn't have to go through the hell of watching her suffer any more. I'd prepared for Friday. Talked about it with friends. Took stock of the situation. When Friday came, it was more a case of knowing that despite the fact that she is no longer here, she isn't suffering.

Running up to the anniversary I watched as a university friend was losing her child. Very different circumstances. Very different responses. As hard as it was to watch, it felt good to stand by my friend in spirit. I understand the hurt she and her family are going through and know of the adjustments she will have to make in time.

I picked myself up today, saying something. Talking about schools with a friend I mentioned "My sister sends the girls to such and such a place." Girls. Hmm. Now there is one, not two. It's those little, subtle changes in grammar that seem to spear you hardest.

Today - I wasn't prepared for today. I didn't think about it. Wasn't reliving the last days in ICU vicariously thorough a friend.

Today, she would be turning 17.

If the leukaemia hadn't come she would be learning for her driver's license, and talking about boys and that silly K-Pop music she liked. She would have been choosing subjects for Year 12 and thinking about what she would be doing after. She'd be preparing for her school holidays and fun times with friends.

But she's not here. The leukaemia came and took her away. And it's shit.

And I mourn that loss of all that potential.

I set myself a task on Sunday night - to make a paper crane.

Image result for paper crane

I remember a yoga teacher in Ubud telling me about the restorative powers of small acts of devotion. She spoke of the canang sari, or offerings that the Balinese leave outside their houses every morning, and spoke of the devotion and love that people put into these. An every day act of love and a desire to be a part of something bigger. To wish for love and luck and good fortune. A quiet time to put the hands to work for the betterment of humanity. 

Image result for hindu offerings bali

At her daughter's funeral, my friend had her friends and family make paper cranes. I love the symbolism of this, helping to let her daughter's soul take flight.

We did the same for Lolly, but her symbol was the butterfly. I see a butterfly and I always say hello to it.

So Sunday night I sat down with some paper to make this paper crane. That small act of devotion, for me, for my niece, and for my friend.

Needless to say, I suck at origami.

I didn't manage to make the paper crane. I nearly got there, but time, and patience were wearing thin.

This is my small act of devotion. For my niece. For my friend and her child. And for me.

I will make this paper crane. I feel I need to finish this small act. 

Like everything, this feeling will pass. I'm glad I can sit with this for the day, know what it is, feel it, an move on from it.

And in the meantime, I will wander around feeling as if I've been harpooned.


Unknown said...

Life has its mysterious ways which can't be comprehended..So true that the smallest acts at times have the greatest impact. Stay strong A.panda

Bee Bee said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your niece and your friend's child. My personal thoughts on days like the one you were having is that the pain lets us know they really lived and we loved them and we were blessed with their presence for however short they were with us. That gets me through those days. I wish that for you.

John said...

Hi just came across your blog by chance as someone has started following mine who reads your blog. I was very struck by what you said and the way that you said it, not maudlin and sentimental but true and raw. There was a resonance for me in what you wrote as I lost my son to cancer 8 years ago. These are not easy things to write about but the way you do it is brilliant.