Sudden changes, upheavals, throwing over the old order and its rhythms.
In the middle of the night, I wake and sense death in the room. Not as melodrama, but as an insistent, fixated presence. My first urgent thought is to keep it waiting in order to write down what needs to be written down. A record to let her know all the things I will not be able to tell her if I’m gone. So that she will not feel so alone and abandoned.
The hospital visits, the poking and prodding; being hooked up to monitors, and watching my heart on the ultrasound. It’s as though I have looked behind a curtain, and found a secret, constant friend. One I had churlishly taken for grant, who yet held steady and deep within the darkest days and nights, bearing witness. Fleshly time-keeper of loves of every kind and their memory. Grief-holder, gentle persistent bearer of hurt, betrayal, happiness. Robust, yet tender guardian. Never alone.
This heart’s fragility is a family mystery passed down through my maternal Irish line. They who hold so much and who feel everything. They who douse themselves in whiskey and music, and whose hearts are full to bursting. And sometimes, those hearts invent a new rhythm, a strange new dance that defies all reason. Arrhythmic disharmonies, like a shout down a well that builds to a roaring chaos of senseless music, rising up through the cage of ribs and into the throat, making a mad bid for freedom. And that’s when you meet with death in the night, and you make desperate bargains.
Is this too dark, dear reader? There is hope yet. There is always hope, and this story has it in abundance.
But resilience can have an unpredictable tipping point. It seems you really can get a broken heart. And this new disco beat* that my heart has adopted was most likely brought on by the stress and heartache of recent years. We all have our achilles hey? And mine finally caught up with me.
And so there was the round of specialists, (and I’m jaded enough to pronounce that tedious indeed), and I dropped about five kilos from my small frame, because…stressful. But there was also emergence, like the sun breaking out from behind a cloud. Completely unexpected in its brightness and beauty. For these are the months of rolling cloud and mists, and change. And I am a creature of air and sudden change – electric, revolutionary, unpredictable. Never be too comfortable.
Rather than hold still for fear of breaking something, I threw myself into the garden. My instinct drew me towards movement and the earth; to gentle the earth with my hands deep, and my heart matching its rhythms. Walking, planting, listening, watching. Great sweeps of Bach drifting wickedly through open doors and windows. Despite the presence of my fiendish familiars, the birds draw nearer. And I’ve made a new friend in the form of a comically large kookaburra, who clearly finds me ridiculous.
A mere month later, I have formed a new (professional) partnership, and ideas tumble from me as if from a damn that’s burst. And the will to develop them is fierce and intent, before they’re plucked from the ether by another who can make them flesh.
There is also a character, her story, and her music that continues to haunt me. She tugs on me when I walk, and when I sit outside in the night on my front steps, and feel the movement of the air from the leathered wings of large bats, (swinging blinding through the fruit tree by the fence). I tried to ignore her for a while, but still she is insistent, coming to me late at night, as I curl into sleep. Thankfully it is now only her unwritten spectre, welcome but bemusing, that visits me in the night.
And there is that dear and secret friend, the heart that continues – my eccentric companion most loyal. She who I only glimpsed briefly, but who moved me deeply. She dances on, tenacious, but under a different star.
We are never alone.
*Oh the irony of any sentence that marries me with “disco beat”.