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Gritstone to Loutro and the middlings…

In Loss, Grief and Hope, Travel on September 26

Strange Edge            

Since the last blog post I can report that simmer time is officially here. But how hard is to go from a fast boil to just a little sizzle?

Hard. My first two weeks of simmering allowed for long forgotten walks in the Peak District. That tenacious landscape thrilled and ignited my cells to come out of hiding, infusing themselves with heather-laden air. A re-grounding and re-wilding of internal affairs, catching the last blast of purple ling. Remembering the ‘oh this is me’ me. Simultaneously, the anticipation of walking a new edge was building with my masters course due to begin, knocking at my heart like Autumn hues. Step after step after step.

It was feet atop flagstones and gritstone. My hand barely held a pen unless it had to.

Endings. Middlings. Beginnings. Middlings. In that order. Loss is a big middling. And on the 7 month anniversary of Dad’s grand departure I arrived in Bristol for the unknown unknown. A teenage dream finally realised. Bittersweet. ‘They’ say that grief gets easier. When? It’s not getting any easier. And I would like to politely add ‘f**k the cliches’. If I was previously inhabiting the ghostly space of liminal fug I’m not quite sure where I’m at right now. It feels like sticky cobwebs, a crippling slow ache, toffee fog and an unhealed scab. It feels like Dadly visitations in sleep time that keep me awake all night. It’s like ‘OK Dad, time to come home now, you’ve been in the Punjab long enough’.

Except he’s not. Dad is really not coming home. That complete and utter disappearance of Dad is repeatedly shattering. Repeatedly. Shattering.

I feel like an intergalactic traveller flying amidst a weird and wonderful nebula of loss, enchantment, wonder, hope, laughter, tears. Death sharpens like nothing else. It is a rude awakening and a rude unforgetting. A wild alivening. Some days I don’t feel big enough to hold all of these opposites. But they are not opposites. They’re just shades. Shades of being. The contradictions that we all juggle.

If Dad hadn’t passed away 7 months ago, I wouldn’t have been sat in a room with 7 other powerful word-warriors that day in Bristol. Nor would I have been invited in to a hot-tub later, an invitation I chose to decline (another story). Death sharpened me. Dad gifted me an edge that I never had before. I have no idea where it’ll lead. Thank you Dad. Then I think of gritstone and edges and middlings, of being a tiny being perched on Dad’s hip looking over the ‘pani’ (water) at Redmires..

The day after my body remembers it’s absolutely exhausted, I struggle to walk far and somehow a virus has snuck in to my ribs (says the osteopath). Or maybe my heart has got so overwhelmed by all of those juxtapositions that it’s pushing my ribs out. Getting a rib virus (a what?!!) is a strangeness I’d rather not repeat. Simmer Dal, simmer. If you won’t turn the heat down yourself then we’ll do it for you. But just one more thing to do…get on that airplane.

Here I am now. Sleepless in Loutro, fragments of dreams lurking, tea cooling, darkness lightening, ribs aching. Pinching myself that I’m actually here. Everything is S L O W in Loutro. Except me, for now. The only thing to do here is to embrace the simmering.

And as folks slowly waken to the day, the waning moon still hanging amidst altocumulus, the sky suffused with sunrise and a distant boat bringing in the dawn catch ~ I will go back to sleep and see where it takes me this morning.

15 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Vicky

    Painful, beautiful emotions at their rawest. Huge expanses of feelings, to feel and fathom. Tread gently on those rocks and take time to appreciate the view. Big love ❤️

    • Dal

      Thanks so much Vicky, really appreciate your words. Huge expanses…to fathom – yes, you got it totally. Thank you for witnessing. Xo

  2. Your heartbreak beats across this page, my urban heart-ed, feral souled twin. Sending you much love and a hope for deep rest in Crete

    • Dal

      Thank you so much Claire, your words mean a lot to me. Had a very deep sleep this morning and feel all the better for it. Life is a weird place to inhabit sometimes. Xox

  3. Would it be odd or selfish to say I envy your grief. That I wished so much for the father you had so many times. Your grief is such a palpable testament to his gift of you and his love of you. Your words are amazing, your poem is rich like a royal ball , dancing and swerving and serving to deliver, to release. Wonderful words. I wish you ease and sleep dear Dal !
    Love,
    Shalagh

    • Dal

      Thanks so much Shalagh, I’m blown away by your words. Totally appreciate your honesty and yes, it is totally ok to say how you feel. I thank you for that. Grief is a weird gift and the intensity of loss is very much tied up with the intensity of my connection to him (an imperfect and sometimes difficult one but special nonetheless). And apart from that he was one of those special enigmatic old souls who you so rarely meet in life – his departure deeply affected everyone around him. I’m very conscious when I write about my Dad that there are many folks out there who’d love to have or have had a deeper connection with their fathers and I think that loss of a relationship or connection that never was is a big loss itself. Much love to you. Xox

  4. Dal, you have such a gift for expression, you write so beautifully, you drew me into your emotions. much love.

  5. I don’t even know how to describe how I feel after – and about – this post, Dal…Firstly, though, let it be known that you moved me to tears. You write with such a force of in-this life, with a sweep-along pace that envelopes, moving me this way and that, but always making me feel a part of what’s going on, always enveloping me in your being. That, my friend, is such a gift.

    And then there are your words – vivid, sharp, shaping – on lost. A wild awakening. It is an understanding of which I have little knowledge – having only (but, goodness, was that enough) lost my Grandfather – but a dark remembrance of. Those earliest days…when deep welts carved and sore hurt oozed. And then…how you talk of turning that pain into something, how he gave you an edge, how it lead to you having the experience you did…wow. Just, what a time, Dal.

    And that poem! How it unfurls an image of the Peaks right before my very eyes, has me sitting, right beside you, in boots of my own, examining the earth beneath with hungry pals, and skies above with excited eyes.

    And goodness, a rib virus?! Yes, simmer, Dal, turn down that heat. Give into the soft pace of your days-right-now, days in Loutro that I hope – eventually, at the very least – give way to restful nights. To recovery.

    That last paragraph, by the way…it knocked me for six. Yours are words that are leaving the brightest of legacies.

    So much love xxx

    • Dal

      Thanks so much Tori. Well, I am completely blown away by your comment! So appreciate you taking the time to write it. This is so what life feels like – an intensity I’ve never had before to live all the contrasts which can be a bit mind blowing and that’s the quirky strangeness that grief has given me, such an acute awareness of mortality and an acute awareness to be ALIVE. Dad passing has made me more alive than ever whilst it also feels unbearable to be without him. Life is a f***ing mystery! Big big hugs back to you xox

  6. Beautiful, powerful, raw – grief is such an opener of emotions. I love the power of your writing, Dal. The poem especially is a gift and reminds me of what is possible. Thank you and I hope you are feeling better Terri xx

    • Dal

      Thank you so much Terri, really appreciate that. It’s so interesting how grief both breaks and awakes. I never anticipated the awakening bit. And similar to your experience, words and writing have become ever more important, a life belt. Still ribbed up and hoping the sun works it’s magic. All the very best xox

  7. Painfully beautiful, brought tears to my eyes. Thinking of you x

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