IN REARVIEW // April 2017

With the arrival of April comes the dawning of spring - the promise of new life and new beginnings. This is how the flow of life here works. This is what we expect. This is the ordinary pattern of things. 

My month feels like a harsh and stormy juxtaposition; my April one long month of endings, so it seems. 

Some endings are just that: the end. We close the door and say goodbye. It is finished. Done. 

In contrast to the new spring bulbs she'd have tended, year in, year out, my wee Gran begins to wilt in the early part of the month. There is a road-trip to Anstruther - the first in a decade as one whole gang. We visit the home of so many summer memories - now grown-up into a whisky and gin distillery; we taste our childhood in Irn Bru sorbets; walk through forests, nostalgically; and shed tears in the knowledge that, next time, these steps will be heavy with grief. We sit at my Gran's bedside and hold her hand; watch as recognition lights up her face with a grin that will never leave me. There are gentle kisses and hurried "See you later"s that are really goodbyes. We sneak away; my mum and uncle remaining by her bed for the best part of a week. She is so delicate and she fades away, slowly. She is a tiny, fragile flower. And then she's gone. 

We bury her on Good Friday - an appropriate day for a woman of faith - but unlike the Friday of the Biblical story, this one is not a pause - it is a solid, final end.

Grief is a funny thing. It feels all the more peculiar in hospital, with its over-analysis and intensity; all separated and cut-off. Grief feels like the whole world should stop spinning, but it never does. Everything is different; everything has changed; yet life goes mindlessly on. 

Somehow, I know mine does. There is a gig to attend; a trip to Edinburgh with friends; a new walking group to commit to; and then a strange, intense period where yet more things come to an end.

Some endings are more than they seem: their fraying edges the mark of a brand new start.

In the latter half of the month, I live somewhere in the painful middle ground that comes with that. There is light at the end of the tunnel - a new door opening as the one behind me is shut - but the journey between them is much harder than I thought.

I am a tiny boat in a stormy sea, trying to find my way to a brand new port. There is a familiar harbour behind me - a safe haven to return to when the waves overwhelm me; my compass and guide when I begin to get lost. But as April progresses, its safety is snatched away from me: someone burns down the lighthouse and tears up the map and I am adrift without an anchor in an ever-darkening sea. I am devastated and hurt, but there is no time to tend my injuries. I must steel myself and focus. There is a new harbour ahead of me, but without the light of the old one I am blinded - I don't know how to navigate alone or steer my ship smoothly. The journey is bumpy - the waves have no mercy and I have no time to develop sea-legs.This coastline is a foreign land - even its promised tranquil bays are alien to me. Again and again, I clatter against the cliffs as I try to find my way. I am seasick and exhausted; too much blood spilled upon sharp and unexpected rocks; deeply afraid I might be about to drown out here, alone.

In the end, I make it ashore almost accidentally. Not quite the gentle, gradual arrival I had hoped for, I wash up quickly - soaked through; badly battered and bruised. The people who occupy this port are kind to me - they set about stoking a fire and patching up my wounds - but they are strangers: I haven't had time to get to know them; I have no idea if they are trustworthy. 

But I am here. And, for now, this is where I'll stay. These strangers will become my people and this place will become my space. 

By the time the month is through, I have made it - the chapter is finished; the journey is done and I am somehow still standing, just about in one piece. As May arrives, I can only but hope this truth remains, for this ending is also a beginning and I step into it worn out and on edge; afraid and overwhelmed; more than a little uncertain of all that lies ahead...

Kingsbarns distillery
Laura whispering - April selfie
National Museum of Scotland rooftop - Edinburgh Castle
National Library of Scotland - globes
St Cyrus beachNuart festival mural - Aberdeen
Be-you-tiful banner and Beast Race medalSt Cyrus beach
Picture shelves - blues and greens


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