Returning to the beginning, to old posts from those first weeks of late October and into November of 2012 when I was working through that complicated grief Tim left in his wake and had just begun to blog. I come to them now only by way of the “go random” widget (hit the + sign below) I placed in the footer.
[see end for how to create your own Random Widget]
So this time I was sent back to a place I go back to often, even now these 5 or so years later. Whether on foot or on my bicycle Rose, I make that homage back up to The Mount a few times a year.
When Tim last year spent 3 weeks in University Hospital before and after his surgery, The Mount across the road was a blessing. We had initially gone down for only an appointment. The Whipple Operation that was going to remove his tumour was being performed by Dr. McAlister (from Limerick, Ireland BTW) on September 21st. He got one look at him lying there withering thin, and admitted him. Tim had to gain at least, oh, I don’t know, maybe 10 pounds before the surgery. So with nothing more than the clothes on our back, and what clothes I had (fortuitously) shoved into a backpack, we lumbered upon the first leg of the 11-month journey with Tim’s Pancreatic Cancer.
The Mount – published November 9th, 2012
Yet, before The Mount, before we knew of it, I had a little place down by the river where I would go to get away from it all.
The Mount was a rare gift, but usually, I spent my nights in this specially designed pull out chair thingy they give poor sods like myself who don’t have the coin for an Inn. So when I could, after saying goodbye, I would escape down the stairs just out the door of his semi-private room, going down the 6 flights to avoid the mass of humanity at the elevators, and would slip through the side door into the sunshine, going left and then right down the sidewalks filled with students, off the University grounds, past a little strip of businesses just outside the gates, to a local eatery I had always loved.
This was an indulgence of the highest order we could scarce afford when I could have just bought some cardboard concoction up at the Hospital cafeteria for far less, yet these rare scraps of me time strengthened my introvert battery, given enough time away from prying eyes.
After purchasing my meagre choice from the fancy fare they offered at the eatery I would make my way down to the river, finding the path through the woods that took me to this secluded spot I had found in the first days after our arrival, and we discovered we would not, in fact, be returning home as planned.
Chew, chew, chew, slurp, and drip, drip, drip of tears from too blue eyes, down my cheeks, and splashing into the flow as flashes of sunlight hit the water, like faeries in my peripheral, dancing just out of sight. As the last bits of restrained emotions left, a feeling of deep peace would wash over me, and it was like I could see more clearly, and everything else, the hospital, the University, the parking lots, the buzz of the humanity that swamped every corner, was far away from this tucked away shadow world. Like I had stepped through the looking-glass when I made my way to my little spot on that rock that jutted out into the river (not the one in the photo), with only the rare jogger passing me by, and none of them ever looked my way, as I was hidden in plain sight.
I find there are still morsels hidden within those memories for me to find, as well as lessons.
The lesson here was I now suspect I have a homing device for these little escape hatches. As an introvert with an uncommon love for the wilds, I have a natural inclination towards the inherent soul some places have, and so I seek them out. They are as necessary to me as oxygen, water or food.
How soothing I still find the north branch of the Thames that runs through the University grounds. Having lived in the city for most of my life (near or in) it is an area I really never explored before those weeks we spent there in the last weeks of September into October of 2011. The area has become somewhere to go when I need to feel what I need to feel. Yet, you know, I have not been back to my little magic spot itself. Perhaps a pilgrimage for the spring.
But back in 2011, after being pent-up with all the stress, of the constant barrage of intrusions, and people, and new places and faces, and then having to be ‘on’ all the time, interacting with strangers almost every minute of the day, and having few options of escape, and hardly any money anyway, that little spot was a magical oasis for me. And above all, the selfishness of those feelings was overwhelming, and sometimes it all became too muddy to navigate, and the waters of the Thames made things just a bit clearer, or just more manageable.
The quiet paths that run along the Thames, those Carolinian woods, and the wild fringe of beauty are enchanting. I had forgotten how soothing enchantment could be.
It was really only there I could shed certain tears. The sort that only comes when you’re alone. The confusing kind that would drip out of my eyes as I enjoyed the delicious morsels I had bought, sipping my fancy water and basking in the beauty that surrounded me.
I would thank my river, asking me for nothing and giving freely whatever it had to give. I still thank it. There is a simplicity, an honesty. It is a secret place.
There are those places where its true face only appears to us as certain intense emotions merge, such as sorrow, grief, joy and bliss. They exist the rest of the time the same or at least look the same, but in particular mental states, they transform into something else. Perhaps of our own making, yet that is the point.
See, I just believe that some places have a beauty that changes us and so we see them anew, with richer colours, and when we are there magic seems real, they become our own little shadow world, and we can return to them when we are in need of their quiet serenity.
Once found the difficulty is often in recognition of what they truly are.
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How To Create A Random Widget Of Your Own
So this little widget works by randomly choosing a post from your site. Quite simple, and you can just add the /?random text into the address bar of your browser if you don’t want to add a widget. I can thank a fellow blogger Ra for this little trick, from way back in our collective stone age.
Step 1. add the ‘TEXT’ widget
http://yoursitedomain.com/?random — add as you would a regular link, but with the ?random tacked on. You can use a graphic for this as well, by adding the link to the image widget.
BTW…you can add the /?random to anyone’s site address and it will randomly select a post for you to view.
Have fun finding random magic.