A knock at the door. The police. Two of them. Huge, both of them. Telling me I’d been accused of having kidnapped my children (a false accusation). My children’s eyes wide, wondering what on Earth their Mum had done wrong, that the police were visiting at that hour of the night. The sound of fear-filled, but calm, steps across the entrance of that beautiful floor of the High Court, the Christmas tree lights twinkling ‘Merry Christmas’ (I now know how those people sentenced to death in the States must feel as they walk their last walk and, now, even Christmas tree lights, if I’m caught off guard, cause my trauma responses to flare). All these things…things I thought I’d never have to experience. Bad surprises. Very bad.
The failure of my marriage. The turning of my husband in to a beast before my very eyes. His illness set forth, Hulk-like, pouncing on me every chance it couldn’t be controlled any longer. The violence. The bruising. The taunts and thefts. The despair. Disbelief. Self-doubt. The loneliness. The vast loneliness. A whole other round of most definitely not welcome and certainly unwanted bad surprises.
But, with the bad, always comes good. Yin yang. Karma. Entropy. Call it what you will but I’ve found that if life takes something out of one hand, it’ll pop something back in your other hand. Maybe not right away but it’ll come. There’s a certain art to be appreciated, I’ve found, in this patience game.
I found my yellow brick road. My calm. In the very eye of the storm. I found I have a talent for seeing the beauty in an ordinary, difficult, life. For finding hope where none seems to exist, where the earth seems so bare nothing would be likely to grow. I have an eye for pleasant surprises.
And finding a whole host of small pleasant surprises – in the least likely times – leads one to think that maybe there’s something to this God lark. Maybe God is the raindrop shining diamond-like on the fresh born leaf, maybe he is the hope that filled my soul and guided me through it all. Guides me through it all.
And the biggest surprise of all? I’ve let go and I’ve never felt calmer in all my life. I couldn’t fight any more, couldn’t do it. Not physically (my body told me I should give up a while ago, all it’s systems so out of whack; cortisol turns in to a poison when it’s seeing so many ‘fight or flight’ episodes so frequently). Not emotionally. Not in any way (I’m not a fighter at the best of times, my way is the Ghandi way). And to fight against such evil on one’s own: that was too big a fight. So I let go. And when I’d let go of that, I realised how little control I have over anything. And, my, what freedom there is in that letting go. What joyous, joy-filled, freedom.
I see God. Every day. I feel him. I hear him, even, when I meditate. I see the vastness of everything and my surprise at it’s beauty, that surprise I feel every single time, at the perfection and simplicity of it, it stuns me to tears. Silences me before it so that I now understand those people who kneel and believe and submit and let go. I understand the Dalai Lama’s smile that was always so puzzling – so enticing – to me as a child.
You see something so beautiful, it’s all you can do to keep standing, all you can do to not want to smile all the time. But the beauty of it is that it’ll give you wings, give you strength, hold you up when you literally can’t stand up because the weight of it all is just too much. You see such beauty, you don’t have room for the evil that tries to visit you, you don’t have room for ‘petty’ or threats or violence. You’re above it. “You’re better than this, Mama” (as my son says to me).
Thank you, you, whatever, however, you are. Thank you. I see you, I feel you, and I want to thank you. For giving me back my life. For showing me how to stand up not just straight but tall again, head held high. Ready for what’s at the end of this yellow brick road.
[Thought you might like to read this beautiful piece from the BBC: What writing about death taught one woman about life]