Family

Post-funeral blues

Grandma died.

Her spirit drifted from her body in the darkness of night as she lay in sleep, breathing in then out, in then gone.

Her body lay cold and spiritless in the morning. She walks this earth no more.

All this is as it should be.

Her passing was as inevitable as night following day.

We gathered to remember and Grandma’s life was affirmed, her life had mattered to her family.

Family clustered to feel communal pain and loss and sorrow and we hugged each other and cried and parted.

And life goes on.

For us.

In our separate places, with our separate feelings and sorrow lingers.

And where my loving energy carried me through her death and the touch of her cold body and the fact of it all and supporting my mum who is suffering and my children who are barely able to understand and my extended family who are bereft, my energy has since stuttered and drained from me.

I am so tired.

Where I saw positivity and affirmation, I now see nothing.

I’ve missed something in the grieving process.

Guilt and regret dog me. Did I see her enough in her later years? Did I love her enough?

My heart is heavy and I look around me at those I love and I feel helpless. How is my love enough?

And then something fierce in me rises and shouts:

I am here, I am still here. I am living and breathing and loving and this is my life and though it – and I – am not perfect, I’m doing my best.

And love feels good and fills up what was hollow.

And if love lives on, it is memory and beauty and joy and it must be cherished.

Fare well, spirit of Grandma, wherever you may be.

I will hold my love for you in my heart and remember you always.

Goodnight.

Family

Just how powerful can a haiku be?

Old age and illness

Are not things that are fun to

Be a part of. No.

One grandma and one

great aunt and one step grandma

Are all so.. Ending.

And endings are so

Bittersweet but mostly they

Suck. Life gets harder.

I remember when

I am with them.. Being small

And full of happy.

I can remind them

Of happy for a while but

Then we remember..

Time and we are lost.

Dementia and cancer will

Win in the end. But

The end is not a

Day or a date or a time.

It is a concept.

Sometimes I wish that

Concepts would fuck off and leave

Us with the happy.

I sit with grandma

And I don’t know who I am.

She’s roaming inside.

I hold her paper-

Hand and see right through to blue

Veins and gnarled old bones.

It’s like holding air.

Are you there Grandma? Can you

Remember any..

Thing? Your cheeks are so

Sunken, is it hard to breathe?

Did your eyes open..

Today? Will you o-

Pen them tomorrow? You are

Dissappearing now.

Hello auntie, how

Is your day? Did you have a

Good sleep? I love you.

I know you look like

You’re there but you lost some parts

Along the way. Thoughts.

Remember when you

Were evacuated and

The Americans..

Gave you sweets? War was

Not so bad when soldiers brought

Candy, remember?

Tell me again how

You were born in a bucket

One Sunday morning.

_

I love to hear how

You lived, all eleven of

You. I am proud to..

Be a Family

Such as ours. You weigh less than

A child now. Going..

_

Backwards. Time reverts.

I love you, I love you I

Tell you. Remember?

Hello my other grandma,

Not blood but family still,

You look so sad, now.

Cancer, they said, is

Back for the third time and this

Time it will claim you.

What do you say to

That? Hello cancer, come take

Me when you’re ready?

_

Months, they say. You sit

Staring at the end. I love

You. Remember that.

_

All in your eighties,

Quietly fading and I

Weep for youth gone by.

I weep for your lives

And the coming of concepts

And the passing years.

I hold my children’s

Hands and walk them through the days,

And we talk of time.

But mostly we laugh

Because if we can’t stop time

We can play with it.

Family is all.

I didn’t know that I thought

That until I did.

Family, Travel

Drusillas Park: Alfriston zoo and playground

I promised a post about Drusillas Park. Here it is!

I love it. Literally. We come at least once a month – though it’s been once a week during these Summer Holidays. Some people I mention it to pull a face and say something like “oh the poor animals” or “zoos are so cruel” or something similar. Like visiting the zoo actually endorses cruelty to animals. It doesn’t.

The Drusillas animals are well loved, well fed and well cared for.

There’s an eight week old baby Macaque – we’ve visited him every week since he’s been born. Yup, he’s that gorgeous! He’s called Mango. Mango the Macaque! He cuddles his mum and tries to walk and climb and jump and peers out of his enclosure at all the crazy humans wandering round his home. He’s utterly contented. So am I when I stand gazing at the little Macaque family.

The baby Common Marmosets are nearing adult size but are still notably young – as are the Rock Hyraxes.

The baby Coatis are also up and about, climbing precariously around the branches of their habitat. The South Downs frame their view of the world, across sweeping fields of potatoes and sweet corn.

I haven’t caught a glimpse of the baby Kookaburra yet but I’m holding out hope.

For there to be baby animals in the zoo, the adult animals must be happy and contented.

Last year’s squirrel monkeys – everyone should spend time in their life watching baby squirrel monkeys – are full of fun and vim and tearing about the treetops.

I read an article in the National Geographic yesterday about Red Pandas being fertile for 24 hours once a year. Last year, the Drusillas Red Pandas gave birth to two healthy babies.

They’re doing something really right!

The young Spectacled Owls have tried to breed two years running, maybe next year they’ll figure it out.

The new ant eat eaters, Olivia and Diego are a treat to observe, as are the flamingos, the Lar Gibbons and the meerkats.

The capybaras are a sight to behold as are the beavers and otters.

The capuchin monkeys are a must-see along with all the other marmosets and monkeys and who couldn’t gaze in wonder at a party of ring tailed lemurs?

For my children, the fun never ends. They’ve been going for five years – with more frequency in the latter years – and their learning opportunities are endless. The outdoor play and soft play provide hours of exercise and temporary friendship and thrills and they’ve both learned to rock climb there.

I could extol the virtues of Drusillas over and over.

Actually, I’ve just convinced myself to go. Perhaps we could fit a couple of hours in later today..