From the Robin Wood Tarot

Here is the Lady in her third and most fearsome aspect as Death. And she is accompanied today by the essence for deep seated grief and sadness.

It seemed therefore a good time to explore some of the grief I carry and hopefully let some of it go.

Feeling a bit like Scrooge in a Christmas Carol, I determined to take the hand of Death and keep hold no matter what it chose to show me.

I set aside an hour for the exercise which I began with a meditation, resolving to let my thoughts take me where they would.

It was almost the end of the hour and I had just about decided that no insights would be forthcoming when, almost without warning and completely unexpectedly, I found myself at the place of my first loss.

Of all the losses of the past few years, beginning with my sister’s death and going through a relentless procession of two uncles dying of cancer, the death of my 15 year marriage, the death of my grandmother, the impending death of my father, so many points of entry beckoned.

I did not expect to find myself as a small child at an airport, saying goodbye to Grandma.

I was probably about five years old when she left us and went back home. The next time I saw her was for my sister’s christening when I was six.

Here’s the thing. I don’t remember Grandma leaving. At all.

I have many earlier memories of her. She practically raised me for the first five years of my life. And then a blank, filled in by family stories and photographs. I remember the physical character of the airport, nothing more.

And I remember being terrified of her when I saw her again. I remember very clearly that I didn’t know who she was and refused to go near her, hiding behind my dad.

Now that I think about it, that’s a bit odd.

I’m pleased to say that the next time I saw her, aged 10, she was my beloved Grandma all over again and I guess, because of that, I never did think about how I had forgotten her for awhile there.

It must have broken her heart. It broke mine to think of it and I cried for her, and for the little girl whose only way to cope was to forget.

I realised that there, in that moment, were the seeds of how I have coped ever since with disappointment and loss. I forget. I bury. I convince even myself that I just don’t care.

So what did I learn?

First, that it had hurt Grandma to leave me as much as it had hurt me to lose her.

Second, even though I pushed her very memory away, she never stopped missing me and loving me.

Third, the same is true of everyone who loves me who is parted from me. Just because they leave doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s not necessarily a rejection of me (ex-husband’s departure clearly excepted).

Fourth, it’s really time to remember stuff. The pain does in fact fade with time, but the sweetness does not ever have to.