It is currently 3am on a Sunday morning and I can’t sleep. I have so many thoughts going round my head and so I figured my only hope of going back to sleep was to open my laptop, to write them out. The need to write for me is something that sometimes feel like a burning in me – something outside of me, something bigger. And as I have previously shared I hate it. My last post left me feeling so exposed and vulnerable, that total fear of what people think, that I would be seen as a total over sharer. One of my best friends told me that sharing your writing felt like running down the street naked and that is exactly how I felt this week but instead of just the street I felt like I had run round the whole city naked!!
The reason I cannot sleep is because I can’t stop thinking about a girl I haven’t seen for over 20 years. A girl I went to school with. Not someone I was close with but someone I have clear memories of.
When my daughter started senior school I couldn’t get my head round the fact her year had 270 kids in it, as I had been in a year group with 90 other girls and I couldn’t imagine being in a school with that many people. I had a really happy senior school experience, after a pretty miserable time at junior school, and because we were a relatively small number I have pretty clear memories of most of those people.
The girl I can’t stop thinking about took her own life last week over in the States where she has lived for the last 20 years, with her husband and children. This girl who was now a lady had clearly grown into an extraordinary lady, wife and mother – she was a writer and she had previously shared an essay, which has been reshared many times over on social media since her death has been announced. I had read the essay before but I read it again yesterday morning and it was hard to read, it was raw and vulnerable and painful but also so beautiful. She shared her battles with depression and she talked about the pain of her childhood years.
I had known bits of the struggles she had gone through, the obvious losses, but had no idea of the extent of those struggles. It just bought home just how often we have no idea of people’s stories, of what they carry and how that history impacts their words, their actions and their futures.
I no longer knew this lovely lady but my heart breaks for her husband and her girls – I prayed for them on and off all day yesterday, but her story has got to me. I needed to make contact with the girls I am still close with from school and I messaged them on our WhatsApp group and we chatted. They are such a precious part of my history.
As I have been lying here wide awake my thoughts went to a piece of writing I shared about 5 years ago. A piece about what was to come. Now granted none of us could have predicted that we would be living through this particular piece of history fives years on.
I wonder whether right now it is helpful, it is important to look back, to remember, to reflect on what has gone before. Yesterday I was taken back 30 years ago to my school days, happy days. The days we are currently living in are hard, they are hard because we are separated, they are hard because we don’t know how long they will last for and I am seeing people become more and more weary.
I think back to where I was when I wrote that piece five years ago – I wrote it about the child in my sister-in-law’s belly who had not yet arrived, about knowing that someone was coming who would probably be one of the greatest loves of my life but who I had not yet met. I couldn’t get my head round knowing I was going to love someone so fiercely but yet I didn’t yet know them. Well she definitely is and will always be one of my biggest loves. I could never have imagined I could love so deeply a child who was not my own. Alongside my own child, her and her little sister fill my heart and have my heart. I didn’t know either of them 5 years ago but now couldn’t imagine my life without them.
Five years ago I had no idea I was going to fall in love hard with the most wonderful man. I didn’t know him. I had no idea that I was about to go on a rollercoaster of a journey with him, a journey that bought deep healing, that gave me the closest friend, my person, that has had the divine threaded into every part of it. A journey I had hoped and dreamed would last longer but a journey which will always be one of the most precious gifts I have ever been given.
Some of the people I am closest to now, I didn’t know five years ago and yet they are the people I do life most closely with now. They are the people that know my stuff and I know theirs, they are the people I laugh with and cry with, but yet five years ago they were strangers.
Five years ago I wasn’t doing the job I am now doing. Five years I didn’t have all the new opportunities and possibilities I have ahead of me right now. Five years ago I didn’t know all the lessons I was going to learn.
The last five years have bought so many experiences, memories and emotions but I had no idea when I wrote that piece of the depth and richness of what was to come. Often though in the hard bits, in the normal bits, maybe especially right now when our days are so different it is hard to remember that. We have no idea what is to come. Who is to come. Will it include loss, tears and struggles, without doubt YES, those things are the reality of who we are as humans, but just as those things are guaranteed, so are the good things, the love, the joy and the beauty, in the big and the small.
So as I sit in bed typing this in the middle of the night I am thinking of all that has gone before, of the history that binds us to people, in the most precious of ways, that our stories are so beautifully complex, so many different threads, and that remembering propels us forward, to a hope and an anticipation of all that is to come, all the possibilities, the potentials, the maybes.
I am not sure my 3am thoughts are that coherent or that they flow into each other in a very clear way but I am remembering all that has gone, thinking of a lovely lady and her life lived with so much richness as well as struggle but remembering there is always more to come, however, tough it gets, whatever we face there will always be more ahead. New loves, new friendships, new memories.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C S Lewis