I have an overwhelming urge to post something today.
For the first time in years, might I add. After my initial trip to Thailand and Cambodia, I wrote some posts, trying to capture the true ‘essence’ of a blogger in 2014, and again in 2015, I wrote and wrote but didn’t post for fear of not being ‘popular’ or ‘edgy’ enough. It all feels rather silly now, and today, three years from my creating this blog, I have something authentically ‘me’ to write about.
The past three years have been rather turbulent for me, peaks and troughs as you may say. I have experienced some wonderful things since being viciously attacked by the travel bug when I was 18, and permanently infected. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to SE Asia, America, Europe, and Canada where I studied abroad in the fall semester of 2015. But this is not why I am writing today, I’ll be posting about those wonderful places another time. Today, I am posting about a trip I have recently been taking, metaphorically inside myself, a journey of sorts which has landed me where I am right now, writing this post!
Over the summer, I experienced the first true heartbreak I have ever felt. My darling nanny had been poorly for some time, and unfortunately was unable to continue her journey in the world. Now, for anyone that doesn’t know me, I am absolutely in love with all of my family, and especially my nanny who, alongside my wonderful mum, raised me and taught me all of the beautiful things she had known in her life.
My most used sentence of the summer quickly became “preparing for the worst but hoping for the best” when she was taken to hospital, however I was never truly preparing for the worst, as some of my loved ones had begun to. I still sat by her most days chatting and holding her hand and truly believing that this strong, resilient woman would come home, that she would be back in her armchair in no time telling me the same stories about her childhood that had enchanted me since my own.
I had buried myself in this bubble of naivety that things like this would never happen to me, that everyone I love would just, be around forever I guess. Her final days on earth were quiet, and soft. My family stayed together, and amongst the heaviness the room felt almost like it was becoming lighter, like my nan had decided that this was it, she did not want to stay here in the physical sense, and that she was ready to go.
On the 23rd July 2016, she did just that. I am not writing this post for sympathy, I am not writing to upset others in any way, I am writing because I feel that there are times in our lives where we think we have truly hit the lowest we ever could, and that there is no way of coming back. And this happened to me for a while, and still will throughout my life. For the first 3 months, I cried every day. I would smell her clothes, and do things the way that she would have done, and look for her everywhere I went. I have watched my closest loved ones fall apart and put themselves back together again to ‘keep up appearances’, and we have all been somewhat mended by one another as we have been working through this pivotal change in our lives.
I went to Thailand with my girlfriend shortly after my nan’s passing, a trip she knew about and was so excited for me to take again after backpacking there in 2014. She and I would talk about all of the exciting places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to do, and she would always tell me to never stop being adventurous or inquisitive, and to “do it all”, “you’re gonna go far Hol” she’d say to me, always proud.
It was on this trip that I began to really struggle with coming to terms with her being gone. I felt this huge constant ache in my chest, a literal heartache. It was like this strange kind of nostalgia being back in the country I had had so many wonderful memories, everything was as it had been when I left last time, but this time things were not as they had been for me. I would walk through the markets and the Sunday walking streets, looking at all of the handmade trinkets and quirky little gifts I would usually have already bought for everyone in my head, but now with a constant thought that I couldn’t get one for my nan, a fridge magnet to add to her collection, or a postcard to take place next to the one I had written for her last time I was here.
As well as the upset I was feeling, I was facetiming my sister almost every day, talking and crying and laughing and everything in between. One day she facetimed me and told me that she had been to a spiritualist church with my brother and that they had had a very strong message from my nan. At the time, I was almost in denial, and very sceptical to how this person could be saying the things she was, had there been some kind of inside plot? Had she got information from people working for her? How did she know all of this? I continued with my scepticism until my sister called me again, and told me that she had gone to a private reading this time. She told me that the person she saw had spoken of a sister who travels, and whom is always encouraging others in the family to do the same. this was, in our eyes, directed at me, who is always on my sister and mum’s and brothers’ cases to travel, take the plunge and get out of their comfort zones and just do it!
The woman told my sister that my nan and grandad were inspired by me, and that I should “enjoy the view”. This, understandably made me feel very emotional and confused because this scepticism and denial I had about people being able to contact those who have passed away, was met with this overwhelming comfort and warmth that she was with me, and was seeing that I was struggling to enjoy my trip the way I would have liked because of my sadness. This was the beginning of the different kind of journey that I previously mentioned, the one that I decided to take for myself, to heal.
So, since hearing this message from my nanny, I have made it my business to “enjoy the view”, and to truly be present in everything that I am doing. It started with purchasing the seeds to her favourite flower: Sweetpeas. I read somewhere that plants thrive in happy environments, and that negative atmosphere can have a detrimental effect on their growth. With this thought in mind, I planted seeds in little pots by the kitchen window, thinking that if I could get these flowers to grow, it’s a sign that my nan is here, and that I have not let the sadness engulf me completely- that there is still some good around me. I made sure to nurture the plants, even though it took over three weeks for them to spring up from the soil, I stayed determined and optimistic that they would grow. And they did!
My efforts have been constantly met with doubts and fears that I cannot do it, and that I will never be able to heal. But I allow myself to be sad for a short while and then pick myself right back up again. The rest of my trip was beautiful and I feel so blessed to have been able to share experiences of a beautiful country with my wonderful girlfriend- ones which I will write about on this blog as I have neglected it for too long, and want to devote time to expressing myself in the ways that I used to enjoy but have recently lost touch with.
Since the new year especially, I have felt so different in the way that I am handling my grief. My best friend, who is still healing from the loss of her mum in 2015 has brought so much positive energy into my life recently, with her new found spirituality and outlook on life. It is rather funny because while I have been on my own little journey, she has also been opening herself to a new way of accepting life and death.
This brings me to where I am today, having brought art and writing and yoga back into my life, and letting daily routines become opportunities for meditation and reflection. And I can honestly say I feel so overwhelmed with a combination of love and joy, and I have accepted that the sadness I feel from the loss of my nanny is a part of me and my process, my healing. While there will be days where the grief hits me like a tonne of bricks, and I will want to shrink down to the size of a seed, I will not let it govern me, I will continue to heal with love and be gentle with myself through this journey. My nanny may be gone in the physical sense, as in her physical being is no longer here, but I know that she is always with me, in the light of the candles during my meditation, inspiring the swirl of a paintbrush or pen in my hand, and in the fresh air that I breathe, opening my lungs and nourishing my soul.
I had to write this today, because I felt that it was important to communicate all of the ineffable feelings I am experiencing, and to hopefully inspire whoever may read this to change your perspective if you feel that things are becoming too difficult or that you just cannot cope with the sadness you feel from losing someone. While we may never truly recover, and I am still battling every day with the negative feelings deep within myself, I am confident that it is possible to heal, and to let the grief in from time to time, welcoming it with open arms and embracing the strong feelings that come with missing someone. It is in our nature as humans to feel, and I have made a promise to never numb myself to the sadness, because it is a daily reminder of how much I love my nanny.
I hope this post offers comfort and ignites a light- however dim- within those of you who have taken the time to read it. I hope that you have a beautiful day.