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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Solace and Solitude

Those of you who know me will know that I've never been a gardener. That was always Suzie's joy and passion, and I just helped her with the manual jobs like lawn mowing and hedge cutting. But during the last few weeks I've found myself being curiously drawn to the garden. 
At first it was a purely a compulsion to 'tidy things up a bit'. The garden had been rather neglected since last Autumn and everything was growing so rapidly that some of the plants seemed to be taking over. I started by going around the garden tentatively wielding a pair of secateurs and praying that I wouldn't do irreparable damage to any of the plants. Trying to regain some sense of neatness and order felt like an overwhelming and daunting task. 
As I persevered I found my mind straying back to last year when Suzie and I were tending the garden together. It was a great sadness for her to be unable to do it herself, and directing me as a rather less enthusiastic apprentice was a poor substitute. Ironically, now, as I tackle this task without her, I find a calming sense of solace and peace. 

Suzie created this beautiful garden, and my heart's desire is to honour her memory by keeping it looking as lovely as she did. I'm gradually becoming a little more confident, and I'm beginning to learn which plants I can cut back, knowing that they will continue to grow. I have discovered hidden gems among the bushes which has given me an unexpected sense of joy. I've even found myself going out to smell the roses, or looking expectantly to see if any more Passion Flower buds have opened up. Each time I discover a new plant, or a new flower blooms, it feels like a gift from Suzie, as though she has left hidden treasures for me to find.

I don't really have a clue what I'm doing, and I will never have the creative passion for gardening that Suzie had, but there have been times when I have 'engaged' with it in such a way that I have become totally disengaged with life and all its heartache and pain. I'm told that there is a scientific explanation for this, based on the different parts of the brain that are being used, but I won't go into that now. All I know is that I'm able to feel 'connected' to Suzie in a way that is more positive and less painful.

It's now four months since Suzie passed away. I can't help thinking it must be significant that I now find myself counting the time in months rather than weeks. During that time I've had days when I've really thought I'd turned a corner, only to face other days where the sadness and despair has been almost unbearable. I'm beginning to realise that this is how it is likely to be for a long time. I've been blessed with a loving family and some very dear friends, without whom I would find this journey so much more difficult. They love me, pray for me, share my pain, help me in practical ways, and they give me hope.

Interestingly, I've also found solace in the quiet times of solitude. I've always been comfortable with my own company, even when I was younger, often avoiding parties and night clubs in favour of a walk on the beach or a drive across the moors. Now that I find myself alone much of the time I am learning to embrace that solitude and sometimes even find comfort in it. During a recent trip to our beautiful moors I found I was able to breathe in the peace and gentle tranquillity of the fresh air and silence. I was able to revisit places that Suzie and I used to go to together, and somehow feel calmly connected to her spirit. Her memory and her love will always be in my heart, and I cherish all my precious memories of the wonderful life we shared. I long to go back and relive those years, but I know I can't. My life has to go on now without Suzie beside me, and I know it will never be the same again. 
The future, and everything that it holds, is a road that I must face with courage and faith. I feel a profound sense of peace embracing me as I learn to release my fears, and to rest in the love and prayers of family and friends. I hold on to the comfort of knowing that Suzie is safe for eternity, and I find joy in the assurance that, however long my own road may be, it will ultimately lead me to where she is now.