There but by the Grace go I

Sometimes, you say the wrong thing.

Sometimes, you hear the wrong words.

Sometimes, you see what is not there.

Sometimes, all the things you didn’t do come back to haunt you.

Sometimes, all the things you did do come back to haunt you.

My dad died when he was 52. He was strong and vibrant and I barely remember him. I remember a smile sometimes. Other times I wonder if I honestly remember. Or just remember what I want to remember.

He never grew old. He never grew frail. He never got weak. He never faded.

The mommy, for reasons they are trying very hard to figure out, has faded. She is sitting in this odd no mans land where words are jumbled and she can’t remember to swallow. This grey area where she knows there is something wrong, and she thinks I can fix it. This hard and horrible place where she wants her mommy. Much like we all do, when shit gets really bad.

I don’t know which is worse. The maybe a memory or the memory of old.

Sometimes, all the things you said and did and didn’t do come back to haunt you.

Sometimes, you take it out on people who don’t really know you. Or know how broken you can be, when it gets hard and you are tired.

Sometimes, all you can do is sit with someone. And let them talk the broken away. Whether it be the broken ‘misremembered’ words. Or their broken self. Everyone should have someone that will sit with them.

Sometimes – we forget what matters. And then Grace reminds us.

Sometimes, Grace is all that sits with you.

Sometime, Grace gets you up and moving and functioning. It keeps you moving when the tired gets you.

There but for the Grace go I.

The Loudest Introvert

The most profound thing profoundly smacked me right in the centrals the other day.

Rewind a bit first.

I am the life and soul at work. I am friendly and gregarious and open and trusting and kind and like to bribe people and especially like to feed people and most especially like to spread my knowledge around. Good things up the freaking ying yang. Happy things up the Christmas Tree. Blah blah blah.

I am funny as pork. Seriously. Ask anyone.

And because of all those things – people assume they know me. Worse yet, I assumed people knew me better than I knew me.

Obviously you are extroverted Jessie. Obviously you are all the things extroverted people are. OBVIOUS!!!

*insert mandatory Lunch Bar advert here and give away my age*

Except No.

I get to work rather early. I do allot of the very many things that my job entails while the office is quiet and calm and before all the peeps arrive.

And then I get to be me. The me who is friendly and the life and soul and smart and helpful and fast and considerate and and and blah blah blah up the freaking banana loaf.

IT IS EXHAUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I go home, I would really rather not see anything human. Quite often, I absolutely need to have a nap. I never do, because that is just sad and I am not that old, but still. The eyelids betray me.

I spend time with the fluffs and I cook and faff and watch rubbish on YouTube and then I Netflix and Chill.

Alone.

Because point in fact peepers. I am not an extrovert. I am an introvert.

You may think you know me better than I know me. But actually. You are wrong.

Funny thing about being exactly who you are and rejecting all the labels people think they are allowed to stick to you.

And yes, on one memorable occasion someone actually stuck a green sticky note to me with a single word on it.

Eccentric.

Well I raise you your sticky note and hereby embrace the eccentric.

I am loud as bananas. I have friends that seriously struggle with it.

I am sarcastic as all holy hell. I know people who simply take offence.

I am smarter than most people I know. I know that sounds vain but that doesn’t make it untrue, in my own way.

I am kinder, freer, more honest, more loyal, nicer, lovelier, truer, and funnier than so many people. Not better than. Just more me than. And that is awesome.

Labels can do so very much damage to you, if you let them stick.

Never let another persons sticky note for you stick.

Find your own labels. Find your own self. Be the loudest introvert that anyone ever met. Then go home and revel in the restorative quiet.

Be the most sarcastic empath, the smartest doffle, the loveliest chubber, the funniest kind. The least religious faithful one.

Be you.

Own your shiz.

Your shiz is fabulous.

Now bugger off and let me try to NOT have a nap.

*insert another gratuitous Lunch Bar advert just cause it brought back so very many memories and I loved it growing up*

See you later, my friend.

Every now and again, you meet a person that makes absolute and fundamental sense to your soul.

Gender, race, age, appearance – none of it matters. Somehow, in this big universe, you just click.

Attached to the house I currently live in, is a separate rental granny flat. For too short of a time, my friend Laurence stayed there. I met him the day he moved in, and last saw him about 4 months ago, the day he moved out.

Unfortunately, because of work, Laurence couldn’t stay. He tried. He worked the longest hours I have ever seen anyone work, trying his level best to support his family.

But eventually, the long hours took their toll, and Laurence went back to Villiersdorp.

Such was our connection that we stayed in touch. He had the absolute best sense of humour. I have never come across the like. We chatted via WhatsApp and I started making a few plans to visit him and his wife.

This was our conversation on Wednesday 17 January 2018.

On Saturday 20 January, Laurence with the easy laugh and massive smile and the best love I have ever seen for another, hung himself.

I found out about his death on the Sunday. But only yesterday did his wife Ruth tell me what happened.

I simply cannot fathom it. Not for one moment. My brain refuses to comprehend that this man of integrity and love and light, hung himself.

That he found himself in such a state of despair, that in a mad moment of sadness, he thought he needed to end his existence.

Pain is a funny old thing. Physical or mental. It creeps into your bones and turns them into lead. It saturates your existence like a feather light armour you don’t even know you are wearing.

It sets in by degrees. And slowly leaches the light and the life from your eyes.

Laurence was a legend. He moved into the granny flat next door and, just because I had the privilege of knowing him, he made my world a better place.

He was honest and real and genuine and true.

He worked hard and he adored his family.

He touched my soul.

Unfortunately, because of something I don’t know or understand, Laurence couldn’t stay.

I will miss you. The you I knew but also the you I never had the chance to know.

Thank you for making my life better, just for being in it.

I know your light is shining bright, there where you are. I hope it is surrounded by all the things you have loved, that passed before.

See you later, my friend.

Where the Light Lies

Hope if a funny old thing. We manage to find it in the most unique and desperate places.

It isn’t always called Hope. Sometimes we call it Faith. Sometimes it is called Surviving.

Sometimes it doesn’t really have a proper name.

In the darkness – it is simply a facet of your being.

A glimmer deep in your soul that reaches out for life. For love. For peace. For something better.

Sometimes, it is very simply, your soul searching and reaching for where the light lies.

The light of laughter on a cool evening.

The light of joy in a smiling baby.

The light of faith in an everlasting.

The light of healing in the face of illness.

The light of enduring when faced with devastation.

The light of a God, when you know you didn’t get here by yourself.

The hope that the light will find you and love you and accept you anyway. Even when you don’t love yourself.

It is always there. Even when you see only darkness.

It is there in the people around you, the ones that are light.

The ones that are hope.

Because they are there.

And they see the you that, just for a moment, you cannot.

May the light find you.

And may you find where your light lies.

 

The Story of Me

I have a nasty habit. A destructive, cruel and mean streak that flays skin.

That damages the soul.

A habit that finds the weak spaces and places and, like molten lava on bare land, burns chaos into being.

I hold myself up to the blinding light of what I think I should be, must be, have to be, and am meant to be – for others.

Never for myself. Never valuing me. Who I am – above who others think I am.

I guess that the very act of acknowledging the glitch in the process is the first step to healing?

The story you have for me, is not the story I have for me.

And my story of me is what is important.

Today, I felt Reproach

Anyone who even vaguely knows me, knows that I believe in my God fiercely! Not your God, not the God of bibles or organized religion. Rather, the Being that I can sometimes see in my daily life. The Being that, when I don’t forget and drift too far, I can feel around me. To be quite brutally honest, it doesn’t even really matter if you believe in Him – He is my God, my Truth, my Hope. And my Peace.

I have been taking a bit of strain lately. It all started when I took the words of someone I considered a friend, and I allowed them a power that only I can give. Destructive and hurtful power. 

It got in, and it festered and bubbled and, by inches, I withdrew and internalized and added just a little bit more weight to the concrete core of self doubt that I wear like a mantle.

Without ever really seeing it head on, it twisted thoughts and brought on a sadness that was made up of millions of featherlight layers of doubt. No single layer will break you, or is even really noticeable. Each individual layer so light that you don’t even feel them settling their little tendrils of malaise into you. Until one morning you wake up, and you are tired. For no reason that you can think of. But tired nonetheless. The weight of millions of feathers and hundreds of tendrils, brought on by inches.

And the vicious circle begins.

I always get like this, when I give others a power they don’t deserve, and when I drift too far from my God. Every time, it sneaks up on me and I don’t even realize it. Until I do.

I have never been one of those believers that hears God. And I am still not. Mostly, I just feel Him as I would a feeling of warmth in the cold. Or a cool, soft breeze when it is hot. Or that full, contented feeling you get sometimes, when you just know that the moment you are in, is completely perfect. 

Today, as it has been lately, my mind was in a whirl of unhappiness. Of taking chance words completely out of context and elevating them to stinging nettles of discord. Of borrowing the worries of another day and of another person. Of spiraling crippling where to from here doubt.

None of it in my forebrain, none of logical really. But still there. Still powerful. Still exhausting.

Until I walked out the front door of the place I live, to do something as mundane as throw rubbish in the bin outside. There was no choir of angels. No voice in my head. No burning bush. 

There was an ache in my heart that had been there so long that I stopped noticing it, and then there wasn’t. In the space of a step, a thought popped into my head that was so clear and alien to that specific moment and bit of my reality, that it literally altered my entire state. 

Have I ever not provided for you, in your time of need?

I am not saying that my God spoke to me.

I am saying that….somehow… I had a thought that was completely unrelated to the train of thought and task I was, at that moment, focused on.

Somehow, I had a thought that was so profound that I felt the shift in my thought pattern like an actual weight lifting. 

And that somehow, that thought was powerful enough, loud enough, grounded enough in the warm, calming, cool comfort of feeling loved, that a granite slab lifted off my soul. 

And my soul sprang a leak. A wet one. Because suddenly, again, for the hundredth time, I remembered.

Not once, has He ever failed to provide. Protect. Comfort. 

Not once, in the entire history of the seriously spectacular crap I have availed myself of and to, has He ever failed me.

Everyone needs hope. Hope for something better. Hope for their life and their loves.

I don’t need you to believe in my God.

But I really, really do hope that you have a place where you find Hope. 

Because at the end off the day, we really have nothing else that stands between us and the darkness of ourselves and humanity. 

Except Hope.

A friend named Tess

I have a friend. 

She has multiple sclerosis. 

Her name is Tess. 

She tagged me in one of those Facebook picture quotes today. Me specifically. Like I was something special. Or had done something special. 


She sees herself as broken. And as an elephant apparently. Cause I am sure as hell the tiny doggo.

The thing is though Tessie… Sometimes, there is no lesson to be learnt.

Because you are the lesson.

The lesson in humility, when asking for help and saying thank you is a gift you give to the people who love you.

In Grace, under so much overwhelming fatigue.

In knowledge, because your prison will never hold you back from your truth.

In laughter, because finding joy in the tiniest places, is an ability not many embrace. 

In strength, because what you carry, would crush me.

In steel, because every day – you get up. No matter. You get up.

In hope, because even on the worst days, I have seen you laugh my Tessie.

I have seen very few of your worst days. But I have seen some. That you manage to find a way back to Light, from those dark places?

I have a friend.

She has multiple sclerosis.

Her name is Tess.

I visit her as close as dammit to every Tuesday.

Not because she has multiple sclerosis.

Not because I have to.

But because I need to. 

She, and her Knight of Shining armor, are as surely my family as any blood I share with anyone.

She is where I look, when my Hope is hidden.

She is my lesson.

The Waiting. For Ron.

I met traumatic death young. 15 to be exact.

On a rather lovely Friday 1 June 1990, I came home from babysitting the neighbours kids at around 00h15. I went into my parents room where they were watching some late night television, said my hellos and goodnight, closed their door and went to my room to prepare for bed / sleep / oblivion. It never came.

We had just moved to CT from JHB. Both of my older siblings had already moved out and moved on. My brother already married. My sister an independent woman.

The screaming started almost immediately. My mother. The worst noise I have ever heard, to this day.

It seemed to last an eternity. I will never forget that sound. Or what I saw when I opened my parents door again. My mother had managed to get my dad off the bed and onto the floor. And, in her own mad way, was desperately … oh so very desperately, trying to get my dad breathing again.

I didn’t even have half a clue what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of. I ran out to the neighbour’s house. I remember being hysterical. I remember being frantic. I don’t really remember words. Or banging on doors. Or making sense. I remember hysteria, and then the neighbour Shawn was there.

I remember screaming. And begging.

I remember Shawn trying and knowing. Deep down. I knew too. It was too catastrophic. Too fast. Too big. My dad’s heart – it just died.

So much screaming. I remember Shawn grabbing my mother and pulling. I remember my sister, Norine, suddenly being there, when she wasn’t before. I remember our house doctor, Dr. Perold arriving. The ambulance. I don’t know how all of that knew to happen. Or why it happened. Or who facilitated it all. It just was.

I remember Norine holding my hand and we got into the ambulance.

My dad was a big man. In stature and personality. I think. I don’t really remember anymore. I remember his laugh was big. It is one of the only things I do remember.

He looked like he was asleep. I hope that is how he looked. It is what I chose anyway.

One minute he was there. And then he was not.

Because his heart broke.

And the world shattered into shards that never really got put back together again.

My dad was just shy of 50.

Now. So very many years later. I have friends whose parents are starting to pass. Their experience not quite the same as mine. To be honest, I get a bit jealous of the time they had together. The relationships and shared memories that time affords people.

On the other hand – I didn’t have to watch my dad get old, or frail, or sick really. My memory of him, from the point of view of a child, is of a strong man struck down in his prime.

Death sucks. The actual act of it. Whether it is drawn out and wasting and traumatic, or quick and nasty and unexpected and traumatic. It is mean and cruel and oh so very human.

The passing on though. The moving through the veil to the God you believe in.

That is Grace. I believe that with every fiber of my utmost being.

It is a moment when your soul, that fundamental part of you that is you, is free again. Young again. Whole again. Loving and beloved.

And that is where you stay. Where you wait. In Light and Peace.

Just out of sight. Just around the corner.

Just for a moment.

Till the time is right.

My dearest Ronnage. Just, just out of sight.

Whole.

Waiting.

Life and loss

They say it gets easier with time. It really doesn’t. You just learn to live with it. You make a little space in your soul for the loss. The missing. The profound ache.

You make a little space in your head for the memories. The sound of them. The smell of them. And you visit it, sometimes.

You fill up the void they leave behind with life and noise and tears and people. But it never moulds completely to the void.

Blommie. Life is too short. I am so very sorry your mommy had to suffer. But she is with her God now. In His hands, healed and whole.

Blommie. Life is too short. Hold onto what is left behind with everything you have.

Make your space. In your head and in your soul. Your mommy will always live there.

I carry you up to my God every day. You and yours.

Your mommy lives on in the spaces left behind.

For Blommie.

Like a ton of bricks.

Like the world ending.

Like the whisper of death in a war.

Like the sound of nails running across chalkboard, never ending.

Like the whisper of desolation across your soul.

I’m sorry, your mother is terminal.

No one can truly know when their time is up. When that moment comes, either fast or slow, and your maker holds His hand out.

No one can truly know what the leaving, leaves behind. What the leaving will mean. What the leaving will take with it.

No one can truly know, how tired the leaving can make you.

To be left behind. Or to watch the moment of leaving coming ever closer.

Your mother is terminal.

Those 4 words. Like death to every hope you had. Every moment of future you thought you dreamed, with another.

Your mother is terminal.

I am so sorry, my blommie. My dear, precious, glorious friend. I wish I could make it hurt less. Make it more bearable. Make it go away.

I wish I could heal. Or say that right words. I wish I could stand by you, and love you just a little bit more. So that my love can balance the leaving. So that it doesn’t hurt so very much.

I am so sorry that your mommy is leaving.

I cannot fathom it. I cannot really even describe it.

I will not show this to you. Not now. Perhaps not ever.

But I wanted to write it. Because I remember the leaving of my father. And how much it bothered me that no one really knew what to say.

I know now, that it didn’t matter what they said. It would never ever be the right thing. It never can be.

Because the leaving is all there is.

It is consuming.

Be strong, my blommie. Be brave. Be consoled, just a little bit.

I love you. You are in my thoughts. You are in my prayers.

You, your family and your mommy.

Her life will not be forgotten.

Her soul will shine bright.

Her memory will stay with you.

Her life will be celebrated.

Her God will welcome her Home.

And she will wait for you. Just out of earshot. Just out of sight. Just around the corner. Just there.

She waits for you.

With Grace.