Before we bring in the new

The last day of 2020. It’s been tough for most people, illness, financial insecurity, loneliness, fear. Loss of loved ones and being unable to say goodbye.

As hard as it is not to focus on all the difficulties of 2020, I wanted to reflect on the good that came out of it. The sense of community. Putting the welfare of others before ourselves. The imagination and ingenuity used to bring people together safely. The sharing and the hope.

For Paul and I we have a lot to be thankful for: though many of our friends were affected by the virus, we lost only one member from our extended family (although still one too many). Both sets of parents stayed well, despite an operation and several hospital trips. We had regular work and thanks in particular to our friends Gail and Shirish, we were never short of food.

We also had space and quiet to finally explore the experience of my transplant: the impact it had on both of us. Part of that was the publishing of my book, which opened up feelings we’d locked away, perhaps for the better at the time. Through talking about what happened we realised there were emotions deeply buried under layers of well-rehearsed anecdotes, used to divert attention from things too painful to contemplate. 

For several weeks during the production of my book, my sleep was interrupted by the image of the theatre doors, immediately before I was wheeled in for my operation, against the ghostly echo of Paul’s footsteps walking away. I would wake, shaking, heart racing in the remnants of a dream where I’d been abandoned, yet again, by Paul or my family or my closest friends. A skin-crawling fear of being ignored. Unseen. Of no-one hearing me. And on its coat-tails, guilt. Thoughts of those whose reality renders my worst fears insignificant. Of my donor and their family.

As with most things, time and talking soothed my fizzled body and mind and here, at the endpoint of a year like no other, I wanted to acknowledge, in writing and from my own perspective, the incredible resilience and kindness of those around me. For friends who wrote or called, who sent cards and texts (and penguins). Of neighbours who shared food and laughter. Of all those who gave so generously and supported so effusively the launch of My Heart’s Content. And family, of course family. Family who were there and are there. Always.

There’s no doubt the shadow of 2020 will reach long into the future, for many reasons and one in particular. But for me it was the year I published my first book. The year Paul and I fully realised the extent of our community. The year my mum began to finally recover. The year I gave my first interview as an author. A year where people actually read my words and liked them, loved them in some cases, and graciously shared their thoughts with me. A year which cemented old friendships, found new ones and reconnected with some who had temporarily gone astray.

For me 2020 was the year I transitioned to being an author. The one thing I’d always craved. A childhood dream fulfilled. The year I finally found my home.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Bring on 2021.

If you haven’t yet read My Heart’s Content and would like to do so, it’s available at: Liminal Ink

*Cover image for My Heart’s Content by Laura Donald

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