This is the strangest life I have ever known
~ Jim Morrison ~
On Monday, as I ventured my way through the snowy paths, I found myself staring at the Longleat Forest gates. These ones that cheerfully welcomed my excited Elizabeth to the famous holiday park back in 2014. But this time it was closed, empty and desolated. Just like my own life.
Contemplating about the time which no longer I can enter, l walked inside to the black and white image, dream-trotting on the familiar path and imagining little footprints buried somewhere under the snow and under the 4 years old dust. She was there, asking if she could try these highly appealing girlie things that the holiday offered. And I was there too, telling her that she had to be patient because she would have a long life ahead with plenty of other opportunities to enjoy everything she liked …
But I bought her a cute fox as a reminder of the fun she had in Longleat. That one that is silently seating now in the pocket of my rucksack, witnessing thousands of miles I do in Elizabeth’s memory.
On Tuesday, still feeling thunderstruck by the sudden visit, I asked myself a simple question – am I mad? Am I living in a real world or all of it is an illusive creation of my own brain or even better, just a bad dream?
On Wednesday, a few blue-lighting ambulances overtook me, rushing poorly somebodies into the hospital. Unfortunately, these days I face loads of them. And every single time l can hear the sirens, my heart is bleeding as badly as it was on the night when Elizabeth was rushed to the Bristol Children’s Hospital. It always comes with an inexplicably sharp pain. Because of my daughter. Because someone else struggles to keep alive. Because I know how it feels when your loved ones is inside of the ambulance.
l finished that day at Yeovil Hospital with a marvellous reception that lifted up my spirit and provided me with enough energy and motivation to keep going.
On Thursday, I walked throughout a lot of quite distinctive, yellow-stoned villages as pretty and carefree as a fairyland. It prompted my mind to ask my heart about what could it possibly want from it’s own future. But despite the very best attempt to figure it out, the only answer my heart managed was just to be there where my daughter is …
That evening, l was blessed with another amazing and warm gathering at the Angel community centre in Langport. As I comfortably set there, munching the rainbow cakes and listening to the beautiful choir of local children and their mums:
Red and yellow and pink and green, Purple and orange and blue, I can sing a rainbow, Sing a rainbow, Sing a rainbow too!
Listen to your heart, Listen to your heart, And sing everything you feel …
I thought about my Elizabeth. About the time when she sang these exact words on the proper stage (together with the ballet group). Just four months before she passed away.
There is a DVD from that day, hidden somewhere in my all-over-the-places storage. But l never watched it. And I think, never will.
On Friday, I reached the town of Taunton which has population of nearly 70,000 people. But did you know that one of the loneliest places to be is actually in the crowd? I learned, this is so true and so sad indeed.
Taunton Hospital was my final destination which met me with rain and with lovely Helen (my host for that night) who kindly came to support my visit to the A&E, regrettably unexpected.
It takes me a lot of guts to walk inside of an official organisation and explain who I am, what l do and which support l hope for to the people who never heard about Elizabeth’s Footprint. Here is my freshly learned lesson – living one day at a time is a great thing without a doubt … until you are entering an official world which has a tendency to plan everything years in advance!
Later that evening, we had a meaningful and inspiring chat with Helen and her family. Painful too. Because, sadly, we share child loss in common. Their precious son and brother Lloyd was beaten to death on 25 September 2005 in Taunton. On the eve of his 18th birthday.
Since then, Adam, his brother, runs a charity in his memory and here is a link where you can find out more information:
Talking to Helen opened up my mind and helped me to understand that my still-just-the-same-raw-feelings are totally normal. Yes, I am. Lost. Numbed. Unable to plan ahead. Unable to identify myself. Unable to have a personal wish.
Because two years is NOT enough time really. Even though sometimes our society encourages us, grieving parents, to make premature decisions and conclusions because they want us to move on. But the reality is so different. There is no such thing as moving on after loosing a child. But there is a life, sometimes a very different one to which we had before. In my case, it is walking a different place every day and raising funds for others critically ill children and their families.
On Saturday, tired and dishearten by decreased donations, l plodded through the mousy coloured day alongside the wet asphalt. Thinking about my problems. Until I faced the real one – where, oh where to find a toilet?! Such a basic desire that puts rest of the life into a correct perspective.
I was just crossing a holding edge when I suddenly discovered the Blue Ball pub at the top of a hill that I nearly disgraced. Dashing into the ladies department, l dropped my card to the astounded barmen.
When (after a while) l came back (blushing of course), he politely asked me if I would like a cup of coffee and a sandwich. I said no to the food but accepted the coffee. Obviously. And the generous donation, which followed from the kind owner Fiona. And that was enough to cheer me up for the unforeseeable future.
On Sunday, I rest. I am already in Devon, in the Travelodge hotel nearby Tiverton. Which is lovely but doesn’t offer a washing machine. I had no problem to wash my muddy stuff in a bath but drying it out required much more creativity. My wet socks especially as strangely, they are the sickest part of my wardrobe. They travelled all over the room until I found an appropriate place for them. On the lamp shades.
Satisfied, l walked to the Costa Coffee for writing there my blog entry. When I came back, my room was perfectly cleaned. And my sock still hanging from the bedroom lighting. Because they walked 97 miles this week and deserved a good rest …