Wendy Mewes writing about Brittany
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Part 1 October
Grief is a long road. You would think I knew long roads well, but there is no preparation
for the weight and pain of this.
Recently I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog, constant companion of the last thirteen and a half years. Imprinted on every page of every book. Partner in my story.
Grief is disorder and chaos, walking backwards, love with no outlet,
looking for a missing part.
I floundered without all our sweet routines. Leaving the house became an ordeal,
staying in it was awful. Long nights without sleep, long days without him.
For the first few weeks I believed walking would save me. But grief is indeed a long road to walk. It finds out every weakness in your stride and posture. It crushes impulsion.
I moved relentlessly, forcing action, along our favourite paths over the hills, around the park, by the sea, through forest and moor. I walked blindly, eyes swollen with tears,
limping out the route, remembering and crying, crying and remembering.
There was no consolation in nature, in those chilly flat visuals.
Familiarity hurt me like a sharp stone.
For territory unmarked by shared adventure, I took a new walk to an isolated chapel.
I wandered on an unknown beach. Where was my own connection through walking?
That profound sense of being an insider outside? Of being alive.
Muted to the mundane: scrunch of gravel underfoot, the thwack of a branch,
humdrum rustling. No music in the trees.
I was no more than an intruder in the landscape, muffled by grief wherever I went.
Angered by loneliness once so desired. No longer fitting in.
Grief is separation, torture by memory, intense absence, a white stone in the heart.
Walking is moving forward, making progress. Grief is restriction. Inside it there are no tracks or signposts. Moments of clinging to inklings and dreams in the darkness,
but no way illuminated. Imagine that, being pathless.
Then walking stopped. My body and dry heart simply gave up. No more echoing our steps.
No more empty treks. People keen to tell me that grief has stages, as if that helps, as if it will align miraculously with all the many journeys I have made. As if post-
Just leave me alone, in the spot where I am. Months later. At absolute halt.
Part 2 November
November notices I am not walking,
Poses the lure of a pyrotechnic forest
Which leaves me cold.
Keep walking, some idiot says
So back to my place of tough passage
Where hauntings shimmer
On the sodden heath
I walk from the lowest point
(There’s no more starting on a high)
And come up onto a dark moor
Under a dark sky
With waves of wind
Unsettling the fixtures,
Letting wraiths go by
Walking this way is brutal
A dark sun
Describes that broken line of dark rock
Where the track mounts slowly,
Dragging out the pain
And the same deceit
As walking again
A change in the light
An opening or
More tricky adumbration
I turn back to look behind
To see where I have been,
And he is following me,
Taking his time.
I call him and he comes
To be heard again by love.
It makes me see.
A split stem from the storm,
Winter butterfly still trying,
These dead details emerge
And I start to remember all I have
Pouring over and over
Merging with that stream
Strimming the path.
I lie down on the wet stone
And tell him again and again
What I know and have learnt
From all our years
And each and every time
And as the dark sun vanishes
Below the dark moor
I am still here
Whispering in a dead dog’s ear.