I distinctly remember the day my mum died. Nothing prepares you for that. Especially not if you are four years old. And especially not if it is a sudden death that doesn’t allow for any goodbyes. – My mum left and never came back, because someone else decided to take her life. – Just like that. – Take her life. – Take part of mine. – Part of my ancestors’ lives and part of my then still unborn children’s lives.
I remember being with my great-grandmother that day – THE day. She was sick and bedridden, but because I used to spend most of my time with her, combing her long silvery grey hair when she was still fitter, I kept doing what we always used to do when she was in bed, silently suffering. I adore thinking back to those endless days when summers seemed to last a whole year and school holidays would just last forever. I used to braid her hair for what seemed like an eternity in the summer heat, rolling it up into a bun and fixing it at the nape of her neck with a honey-coloured comb. I thought she was so pretty and wise – to me, the prettiest and wisest person I knew back then, and on some level, she still is and always will be.
I was with my great-grandmother – and the moment my granddad opened the bedroom door, I knew. I just knew. There is an innate knowing within all of us. These days, everyone calls it intuition, but to me, intuition has always been that instant knowing that hit me back then in that very bedroom. My granddad was about to tell us that my mum had been found – dead, but I just knew – no words needed. I remember him standing in the doorframe, the sunlight pouring in from the hallway behind him, turning his figure into a mere shadow of himself – an image that must have been eerily mirroring his feelings at the time. He didn’t go on to say much. He didn’t have to. What do you say when there are no words left? When nothing can express the grief that keeps you in deadlock.
I didn’t cry. My great-grandmother was crying. Those silent, heavy sobs – the kind of sobbing that leaves the room eerily quiet although it’s filled with deafening grief and the aftermath of shattered hopes and dreams. – I went and held my great-grandmother. I held her face in my tiny hands, with her silvery grey hair draped over my fingers. –
I held her and told her everything was going to be okay. And the weird thing is I believed it. I just knew. It took a long time and many more tear-filled times for the heavy veil to lift that had set upon our family that day and muffled our unbridled light-heartedness, like a freshly fallen layer of snow – but not the light, crisp kind of snow that glitters in the light of the street-lamps, but the kind of heavy, soggy snow that leaves you feeling damp and chilled to the bone.
But even though it took me more than thirty years, nothing manages to break your heart forever; at least not if you decide to choose – again and again – if you decide to choose love, over and over again, even though at times it feels so hard that you’d rather not get out of bed in the morning. But you just continue to grow, and expand, and learn, and love – one day at a time – even if at times it feels as if all the oxygen has been sucked out of the air, leaving none for you and when people are so outright mean that you can only stand and stare in disbelief, at a loss for words. – For there is evil in this world; the worst is the petty, everyday kind of evil, too profane to be lethal, but yet too hurtful to be trivial. Evil has many ugly faces, ranging from the evil that left my mum lifeless to the ignorant schoolyard bully evil – but the thing is: don’t give up. – Not just yet. Maybe never really. At least that’s what I did: I chose to believe my four-year-old self, and kept believing her ever since with unbridled optimism and faith. There is love and kindness in this world, even in the face of downright evil. Choose love instead. It’s hard. I know. Fxxx hard. But when you are feeling blue, maybe think of silvery grey hair and a little girl who decided to believe hope when she whispered in her ear that day.
Please believe hope too when she whispers of kind hearts, of random smiles, of holy encounters between people, of hands being held, and future dreams to be shared, of everyday heroes, and small acts of grace. – Choose to notice those fleeting, but yet potent moments of golden peace on a daily basis, and ignore the ignorant. – Choose to choose love. – Even when it’s hard. – Especially when it’s hard.
still choosing – Every.Single.Day.