Crow country

There is an undeniable sadness to Ireland.  The history of the country is mired in despair.  Littered across landscape are the ruins of celtic Christian abbeys,  Norman castles, famine houses abandoned in the 1840s and more recent homes left during times of trouble.

                   

I spent  the month of May, 2011 out in the desolate uplands that mark the border between County Kerry and County Cork.  Day after day crows swept across the windswept hills, their mournful, lonely cry echoing across the wilderness.  Photographing the landscape became a way for me to connect with the spirit of the place.

It is hard to describe how I felt during this time.  The landscape over there has a power, a potency and an energy  that speaks of ancient despair and grief but also of  something far deeper –there is a sense that the land is inhabited by a spirit as old as time – a vast and essentially unknowable spirit that transcends the limitations of human life spans.  The ancient goddess Sheela still lives amongst the craggy rocks and misty mountains. The plaintive cry of the crows wheeling in the wind echo her cry.

Historically Ireland is a place people leave.  This exodus continues today as the global economic crisis bites deeply into the Irish economy.  Young people leave for America and Australia  as soon they graduate.  Others wish they could go. My own daughter is among them.  Her vengeful ex-husband will not sign the papers for the children to come to Australia.

I pray for Ireland and all her people.

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should have known

I have been descending into a well of grief for my daugther, for both the children I raised, for the abscence of one and the betrayal of the other.  I don’t know why now, why it was necessary to be overwhelmed once again by the evil intent and the lies that took my child, my freedom, my reputation, and my well-being.  But down I go.  Today in particular I found myself made almost helpless by the pain.  Why?  I didn’t call it to me.  I didn’t go digging for it.  It came to me.

Finally I put aside my attempts to do anything productive and went upstairs to lie on the old couch and just listen to the traffic whoosh by until I fell into an uneasy half-slumber.  And then…Ah…there it was.

I am sensitive to the energies of certain people, extraorindarily so, and you can just balk at that if you wish, but I heard her voice through the window, my heart went THUD, and I knew what was stirring my wounded soul such as it is.  The child returned.  The child I raised.  The one who accused me of terrible things that almost put me behind bars.  The accusation that had my daughter taken away and kept from me until her death.  The one who devastated my life.  She came to visit for Father’s Day.

And so we sat together at the table making cautious small talk.  Avoiding talk of what she’d done to me, to all of us, lest she get up and walk out.  The idea in my mind to build back the relationship (with her fatehr, at least) to the point where she’s again old enough(17 now) to face me over what she did.  *sigh*

What bullshit.  I’m such a fool.  Eventually I just came right out and called her on the audacity of faking an injury in order to destroy my life.  Out the door she went.  After she swore that she didn’t fake the injury.  It’s been so many years now she’s convinced herself that her story was true. 

I feel so tired I can barely move.  Utterly joyless.  Weeping inwardly. 

You know what?  I still desperately want my family back.  Death precludes the return of one child.  And the other?  The other just stood in the kitchen and declared, “I just don’t take anyone’s shit.  If you bug me, I’ll make their life a living hell.  I’ll make them wish they were never born.  They just won’t believe what I’ll do to their lives.” 

I believe her.  She was smiling when she said it.  She was also smiling when she – just before that – asked her father to buy her a car. 

It’s time now for the storybook ending: the protagonist (moi) shakes it off and finds something new to fill the void left by Family.

But I am sad.  So sad today. 

steph

when it rains

When it rains, it pours, and sometimes the accompanying winds threaten to take the roofs right off what little shelter we have in the world.  And sometimes…sometimes the roof goes. 

Heather Blakey, webmistress, teacher, guide, guru, Friend, is in the eye of such a storm yet again.  I have not offered her any words of wisdom or comfort because, one, she is older and wiser than I, and two, could any word be true enough to comfort a daughter watching her mother die?  Not from my personal experience on the matter.  And so I’ve read the kind words sent from others and wondered about storms and grief, my own grief and memory of grief rising up like the floods on the Canadian Prairies. 

Heather’s mother has cancer of the eosophagus, and I lost a very, very dear and important friend/guide in my life to that just a few months ago.  Her absence is very keenly felt in my life today.  Tears well for her near daily every time I go near my gardens, a subject we discussed often.  Elizabeth loved gardening and adored all plants, but she was wise enough to assure me that “A weed is ANYTHING you don’t want in your garden, my love.  If you don’t like roses, then OUT they go, and don’t you feel a whit of guilt about it.  A garden is supposed to be a thing of pleasure, not a task to be tended to grudgingly.  Make it what you love and to hell with what anyone else says.” 

The most important women in my life, and I think the most important women on earth indeed, are those who are strong enough and smart enough to encourage the world’s daughters to tell society to “go to hell and just let me live as I was meant to live, in peace, in beauty, in pleasure.”  From what I have heard, Heather’s mother is such a treasure, and so her weakening condition is a heartbreak that touches all intelligent women. 

I wish Heather a continued connection with that deep down still spot inside her that withstands the ebb and flow of every flood, and the force of every emotional hurricane.  I can think of nothing more to say in the face of a normal but nonetheless devastating pain of life.

Love and honour,

Steph

Remembering Joey

joey4

Four years ago today we lost my nephew Joey. His death was sudden and unexpected, having been healthy and having just celebrated his 24th birthday one week prior.

joeysmile

I’ll always remember Joey as an exuberant young man. When he loved someone or something, he loved them completely and enthusiastically. Growing up, he had faced his own challenges but that never stopped him from wanting to help others.

joeywithkaty

I am saddened not just because we all miss him so much but because I feel the world is missing his presence as well. At the time of his death he had just really come into his own, “found himself” if you will. His faith and connection with God had deepened and his focus had clarified and he really seemed to know where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do with his life. And what he wanted to do was just so typically Joey. He wanted to help people. He wanted to make the world a better place.

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Although I am still deeply saddened by his loss, I recall his funeral and believe it or not, there are things from that which make me smile. The church was packed to the point that it became standing room only – all those many many people who had been touched by Joey’s presence in their lives. And then they came forward, the people wanting to express their sympathies. Each one of them had a story about Joey – a story about the love they had felt from him, about how he had helped them in one way or another, be it by act or by example.

dadandjoey

It’s thinking back on this and on the time I got to spend with Joey when he was here on earth that I realize…he may not be here physically with us anymore, but his presence will always be felt by those who knew him.

Kelly

peonies blossom

wild grasses grow tall

the mulberry matures

and the scent of lavender wafts by

from I don’t know where

but death seems stronger than life

when I remember how

I held her in my arms

and felt her body become still

as the last breath left her

then cried as my beloved was

carried away wrapped in a quilt

Stephanie K. Hansen © 2009

all done

At 5 o’ clock today my dog Kelly finished her life.  She was in pain and far from herself.  I am beside myself with sadness at the loss of my incredibly friendly and affectionate companion.  She was a wonderful creature who brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces.  She healed me with her unconditional love over the course of this last year in a way that nothing else could.  I am in her debt.  The silence and stillness in the house is profound.  I don’t know where to put all my kisses.  I may have to shower love and affection on my fellow humans now. 

Rest, my love.  You were a sweetheart.  You made me happy when nothing else could.  I love you forever.

steph