It's been going on seven years nearly. Six and a half and a bit long years. Six and a half and a bit short years. Six and half and a bit years since I swam.
Today is the day I went swimming ...
I didn't listen to music afterwards for a long time, and then one day I was ready and it was right. I didn't go back to yoga for a long long time afterwards and then one day I just knew that I could. I didn't dance for a very, long long time afterwards and then I just did. Each time I never pushed myself, just went with the flow and when the joyful urge bubbled forth to partake I just did it. Swimming was the last thing ... the last afterwards undone thing. It was the first thing I planned to do with her after she was born, me, her big brother and her. And afterwards I never swam again. I wasn't even aware that it was a thing I didn't do any more until about three years into grieving. Even after I wrote a poem just before her second birthday I didn't twig I had a swimming block. But by three years in I knew it was a biggy. It was huge.
Maybe it was all that water, the element of our emotions. A whole great big ocean of my emotions. Maybe it was because the planned water birth never happened, because of the burst water main which happened as I went into labour and the water was shut off in the whole area and the pool stayed empty. Maybe it was too womb like. Swimming in the amniotic fluid of the Great Cosmic Mother. Maybe it was other, darker things ...
This is what I wrote back sometime in 2010 about that poem, a song actually. Sounds better sung than it reads as a poem ...
I wrote Swimming on the 31st January 2009 with February looming. These words are the lyrics to a song that came to me in a very deep bath when I just wanted to slip under with my Izzy feelings and away. I couldn't get the song out of my head for days. The loss is so overwhelming at times that it’s as though the lights go out and there is no way forward and no will to try. The desire to stop breathing is so strong and seems too easy when my chest is heavy and breathing is actually an effort. Sometimes I wake up conscious of my laboured breath and have to concentrate on it or it just seems to stop. Just as well I don’t feel like that every day and only get those blackest of moods so very rarely now. When they hit they hit hard, but somehow I know I will get through, I always do and I always will.
Today’s not a day to go swimming
I might just want to breathe it all in
And dissolve into my grieving
In the Universal Womb
I want to wade right in
Today I should not go swimming
In case I forget how to begin
If I could touch your soul again
At the end and the beginning
I would let myself fall right in
Today I won’t go swimming
I‘ll stay on land where it is dry
And let my heart fall from each eye
In drops that I see you living
Form a sea that I could swim in
Oh I want to go swimming
With you little darling
I don’t want to do living
Oh I miss you darling
With every fibre of my being
I can’t do this hurting
Oh I want to go swimming
With you little darling
I don’t want to do breathing
Today is the day I could sink deep down
Two years ago I bought a swim suit, but I knew I wouldn't wear it that summer.
Last year I thought I might swim. I was almost ready, but not quite.
This year I knew I would swim, but didn't know when.
This summer passed. Every opportunity and invite to swim seemed the wrong one ... a hesitancy in my gut, and I listened to it.
But ... today, as summer moved into autumn and the last rays were deep golden in a sky so blue, I just announced that we were going to go to the beach. I found myself putting on my swimsuit, completely calmly as if it were the most everyday thing in the world, then donning my clothes. The decision made unconsciously, so sweetly it didn't jar or feel odd. I know me. I know me so well and if somewhere, on some level inside me, I have decided that this is okay, and suddenly announce this to the world and to my surprised self, then I trust that this is okay and will not hurt. Today is the day. Then this whole plan emerged from within me which is so well thought out, I amazed myself.
I grabbed the only two white roses in amongst the freesias from the vase, wrapped them in damp tissue and we headed to the nearest sand and sea. As I drove I was aware that I was headed to the beach nearest to where my daughter is buried.
To the beach and the sand and the sun ... and the sea. We found a quiet patch in amongst the other sunseekers. Then I discovered within myself an urgency and a joy ... I had to get in the water. No fear, no overwhelming sad emotion just a desire. And in I went.
I cannot even relay to you how blissful it felt. So wonderful, so warm, so cold, so playful, free and delightful. I didn't want to get out. I had my quiet moment of absorbing the relief to have somehow got to this place inside myself. To find myself at this point in the journey of Izzy and me. I shed a tear, but it was okay. I danced on the sand beneath my feet, spinning in the water up to my waist, my hands trailing the surface in rainbow sparkles of water and sunlight.
My son went back to the warm shore, the blanket and sand, and I swam for a while, soon realising that my swimming muscles were feeling the long absence of use. Then all of a sudden I became aware that all the other swimmers and boarders had gone from the sea. I was alone ...
But as I turned to face the horizon, there not too far from me was one solitary seagull bobbing up and down too on the waves. And me and the seagull had a moment. A real moment. Now about a year ago, Seagull came to me as a new power animal, for me to work with Freedom specifically. And in that moment I knew what Freedom was. To be free I have to live from desire. From the feeling. A pure desire emanating from the Self connected to Source. That creates a blissful life free from fear and self imposed limits.
So I had this epically long moment of one, eye contact and all, bobbing together, with the Seagull and felt truly free, present and happy. And then it flew off.
Afterwards we celebrated at the cliff top cafe with a cream tea and a shared sundae of humongous proportions. Then we visited Izzy's little garden. A proper woodland now, so many of the trees have really shot up this year, hers included. I hugged that little hawthorn tree and I sobbed so many tears. "I swam with out you"
We laid a white rose each then went and sat for a while near the lake, watching the fish and the ducks.
I'm so glad I trust myself to heal and to know.
I'm so glad I don't force or push myself, just doing what I need to do and when.
I'm so glad I listened to my heart every time it told me "today's not a day to go swimming"
And I'm so very glad I listened and took the plunge without hesitation when my heart whispered to me "today's the day to go swimming".
The beautiful painting is Seagull With Wave by Lee Piper