The harbour and yacht marina at Warsash, on the Hamble River, Hampshire, near where I grew up.
I’m in a time of endings.
I spent the weekend with my mother. She’s 84 years old, and not very well. She’s always been so robust, ploughing through life like an entire panzer division, armoured and indestructable. And now she’s frail and shaky on her feet. Still going, don’t get me wrong, but undoubtedly fading. The little child inside of me is frightened and confused, terrified at the prospect that the day is now not far off when Mummy won’t be there anymore.
The weekend was characterised by extreme weather, wild winds and a huge storm blowing in from the Atlantic on Friday night. I lay in bed, listening to the gale roaring in the pines and the waves crashing on the beach up the road. A tarpaulin was flapping mournfully on the house next door, which is being renovated. Out in the Solent, a few miles away and easily seen from the shore, the massive Hoegh Osaka container ship was heeled over precariously on her side while tugs battled to keep her afloat overnight.
My writing life feels just as precariously balanced and embattled as that metal leviathon marooned in the major shipping lane. The squalls that pulsed through during the weekend in close succession, and even my mother’s ill health, all feel symbolic of my life right now. My writer’s group seems to be petering out after more than a decade, and the retreat we will go on together at the end of this month seems likely to be the last.
It is a time of endings.
Yet, in the terracotta tubs outside my mother’s front door, green shoots are appearing, the tops of bulbs – hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses, even tulips. Dotted through almost every garden in the street, spectacular orange-pink camelias are in full bloom. The maritime climate suits them. They show bright faces of gorgeous colour even in the depths of winter. Fresh shoots of hope.
Without endings, we cannot have new beginnings.
Just as the dying off of exhausted foliage in autumn and the long winter months of dormancy and recuperation make way for the voluptuous gush of spring, so the phases of our lives must pass away, so that new joys, opprtunities and inspirations can take their place.
Today, I don’t know what I’m doing with my writing. But I continue to write. I feel hopeful. And while I wait for the right story to pop its first green shoots through the earth, I will put what I have into this blog, into my diary, into notebooking, in preparation. I will hope. But I will also be ready when that green shoot comes.
Today I will honour the endings I know are coming. Change is a part of life, and I will sit with the feelings of sadness that sometimes come with it.
But I will also plant up the amaryillis and paperwhite bulbs I bought the other day, and set them on the windowsill to remind me that out of compost, out of the remains of what is no longer living, comes indescribable beauty.