I pulled over into a driveway, the usual busy morning traffic continuing to flow steadily past me; tears streaming, body shaken with sobs. As I heard the opening lines of Judy Collin’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”, all my senses were flooded with vivid flashbacks to Scotland, 2011: the texture of the grey skies above Inverness; the feel of my mother’s icy hand in the casket at the Undertaker’s rooms; the full-bodied sense of loss and disbelief in the first days of heart and mind trying to understand a world that would never hear her living voice again.
As I felt my chest constrict, breath burning against my raw throat, I welcomed the pure intensity of feeling and expression – waves of relief as I simply let the grief flow freely for a few minutes, before thoughts started to intrude and I began to draw back into the present once more.
Yesterday, I sat in a room where she had sat many times, years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day beginning to concretely conceptualise and draft a plan for an exciting new project, as I prepare to move into a new era: leading an organisation where she had worked, planned and created change for many years. I have been very clear within myself that I have not made the decision for sentimental reasons (although the synchronicity is certainly pleasing), but to satisfy my own aspirations and passions. I am not rigidly or blindly following my mother’s path, but making my own unique way – and my skills are in many ways quite different to hers, yet there is no doubt that as not only mother but friend, first employer, mentor, teacher, coach, support and guide, my values and interests overlap to a large degree with her own.
I found myself energised and excited throughout the day yesterday, but by the evening I was exhausted. This morning I woke sore-throated and flu-achy, flooded with sorrow, and this evening (cuddled under a warm blanket, the winter rain pouring outside, load-shedding candles flickering), I feel calm and reflective. Thus flows life, and my very human emotions: never static, flowing onwards, unfolding as I embrace each moment at a time.
Across the morning sky,
All the bird are leaving,
Ah, how can they know it’s time for them to go?
Before the winter fire,
We’ll still be dreaming.
I do not count the time