What a luxury to not go to work today, but it could be no other way, the 13th December is now sacred. I have declared it a holiday for the rest of my life.
Early morning is spent getting small things out the way, breakfast, walking Buffy, some shopping and paying bills. Then I drive up to Mylor.
The day is barely warm, and slightly overcast.
I pass through Stirling and Aldgate, two leafy picturesque towns, stopping at the Stirling library on my way. I've only been here once before, with Mark, just over a year ago. Funny how I almost expect to see him as I wander into the library foyer. He is standing at the library computer again, trying to remember his access password.
He is with me.
I borrow some interesting books, then drive on, winding my way along the bush forest road that leads to the tiny town of Mylor.
I feel easy about today, no fear, no pressure, I'm expecting nothing in particular to come about, nor wanting any outcome or resolution. I'm looking forward to seeing Mark's cottage, and Silverlake Road, and the creek again. It's been a while.
I park opposite the cottage, not too close. The new owner, a stocky man, is in the front garden. Gathering my bag with the shawl, the heart, my camera, and a blanket to sit on, I walk past him, eyes down. The thought is there but I don't make contact with him.
Across the road, I enter the bushland and wander through tall grass down to the creek. This is where Mark took the photo of me last year. There are no white flowers today.
How could I have forgotten the magical beauty of this special little place?The creek meanders through the wooded bushland, running over pebbles in some parts, quietly stagnant in others. The sound of bubbling running water soothes my soul.
There are elves in this little spot, I'm sure. A thick canopy of green leaves and arching boughs covers the creek protectively. The earthy banks are spongy beneath my feet. It is playful. I walk along the edges, taking in every detail, the dappled light, the star studded leafy ground, the colour of the water, the smells, the playful, serene energy.
And Mark is beside me.
We connect through our hearts and we remember together, sharing in the sorrow of what we lost, taking comfort in knowing that our hearts are forever together.
I can feel his hands caressing mine and quiver at the fine touch of his fingers, it is an artists touch. I remember this now as his fingers draw circles over my hand. For a moment I wonder if I'm imagining it. If I am it is divinely felt imagining.
I caress the terracotta heart between my palms and allow it to embody the symbology of Mark's heart. The object takes on meaning, the heart becomes precious. It feels alive, fleshy, and has warmed from my hands. I am holding his heart, right here, next to the creek that he loved so dearly.
To honour the ritual devised in the art therapy session, I take out the pale green shawl and wrap it around me. I never finished sewing on the words but that doesn't matter at all.
I say the words out loud, 'the love inside, you take it with you'.
I say them silently over and over again...the meaning swells and ripples outwards to other dimensions.
'you take it with you', after you die, but where do you go?
Wherever you are Mark, you are still loving me.
And here I am still loving you.
I sit for another hour by the creek, under the thick green canopy, feeling his presence come and go. I love this creek, these slender trees and wildflowers, this spongy soft earth, the alive sound of water, birds, and the soft, rippling wind in the grass.
I sit, and feel, and shed a few tears...
Then sadly I feel its time to say goodbye, though this is softened by knowing that I can return anytime.
I won't wait another year.
Later in the afternoon, I drive up to the foothills and take a hike through Gandy's Gully, my special place for walking meditation and for immersing my soul in nature. On the side of a ridgetop there's a cairn (mound of rocks) with a 'memorial' book in a plastic box, where walkers write their names and occasional messages.
I mark my presence here on this special day in the book:
'In memory of my soul mate Mark Abbott (Wandering Aengus) who died on 13th December 2010.
I'm still walking with you Mark
and still loving you...'
And now I have done what I set out to do today. I have put out the fire in my head.
I head off down the hill, wandering through hollow lands and hilly lands and tracks covered in wildflowers and butterflies and return home.
For the rest of this lifetime my soul will tenderly cherish and honour 13th December, and I will carry the memory and the joy and the love with me on this journey, and into the next lifetime...
"There are a hundred places where I fear
to go, - so with his memory they brim!
And entering with relief some quiet place
where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, 'There is no memory of him here!'
And stand so stricken, so remembering him."
Edna St Vincent Millary
My heart extends to all those people who feel the loss of Mark as much as I do: to Meredith, Kelvin, Anthea, Ishan, Francis, Mark's mother and brother, Roger, James and so many others...