The Buddhist saying about being compassionate to everyone you meet because they are also fighting battles, is quite true.
I looked at my relationship with my wider family from adult and compassionate eyes. People who I idolised and thought had the golden childhoods, really didn't. I was right to hold them in the highest esteem, but not for their perceived perfection. They have their lives and their relationships because they rolled their sleeves up and shovelled the shit that came their way, with humour, stubbornness and determination.
I idolised them as a child, as an adult I admire them for their success. They've bloody earned it and being able to spend good time with them was fabulous.
The judgemental voice in my head. The one that has been sneering about my recent decisions about my life - taking time out, exploring my creativity and being here in the wilds of Suffolk - that is my own voice. It does not come from anyone else.
My family have been too busy getting on with their own shit, to worry much about mine. They figured I'd got this and they weren't wrong. Of course they are concerned and want the best for me. Isn't that what family is for?
Seeing my uncle was hard.
He is the last surviving sibling and the family genes are there to see in the quirk of his smile, a gesture and his laugh. I miss my father so much right now. It's funny. He was two different people in his life. The charismatic pilot who charmed and the irresponsible father and then there was the survivor. The man who went through his own personal hell and came through it wiser, more compassionate and kinder. For other people, he must have been a shadow of himself; he was no longer the life of the party. For me, he was the father I needed when I was growing up. It was too late for us in that respect, but it was just in time for me, coming to terms with my mortality.
Five years ago, I was in Trinidad caring for him. Being with him as he slowed down. Being with him as he talked about all of things we should have talked about years ago. I was allowed to care for him. I suspect that experience changed me in ways I am only now beginning to see. I knew it had a profound effect at the time, but I didn't realise quite what an impact it would have.
How do I take this forward?
Well, I am writing pretty much every day and I am pleased that the quality of my writing is improving with the practice. I have been doing writing exercises with both poetry and prose. It's funny, it is the poetry which calls to me most now. Since the spring, I've written about 12 poems. I'd like to think it's improving all the time. On Monday, I am attending a local writers' event and will read one of my poems in the open mic segment. I am nervous and excited and terrified all at the same time.
Over the weekend, Dave and I will be doing coffee. This might be my life in transition, but damn it's fun.
Because poppies, damn it