Good Grief – Part Seven

If there is frustration at trying to get back to where you left off, this can be solved by entering into the search box ‘January’ for the beginning, or Part Two, Part Three etc.

Whan that APRILL with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open ye, (So priketh hem nature in hir corages), Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

When the sweet showers of April have pierced The drought of March, and pierced it to the root, And every vein is bathed in that moisture Whose quickening force will engender the flower; And when the west wind too with its sweet breath Has given life in every wood and field To tender shoots, and when the stripling sun Has run his half-course in Aries, the Ram, And when small birds are making melodies, That sleep all the night long with open eyes, (Nature so prompts them, and encourages); Then people long to go on pilgrimages, And palmers to take ship for foreign shores, And distant shrines, famous in different lands; And most especially, from all the shires Of England, to Canterbury they come, The holy blessed martyr there to seek, Who gave his help to them when they were sick.

THE RIVERSIDE CHAUCER, Third Edition (ed. Larry D. Benson.) Copyright 1987 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

3 April

I am upset and more than a little angry. I have lost my writings for the three days 31 March to 2 April. All my problems started because of an upgrade to Sierra on my Mac laptop. Thank goodness I had backed up the rest onto a USB stick a short while before. I decided to continue on Elle´s laptop, but it doesn’t have the Word program. More problems then when saving to my USB stick. This is not what I want to be writing about. My lost writings were special, as this was a weekend of deep soul searching. I feel bereft. Now I am having trouble with Elle’s laptop. I feel like my world has been turned inside out. I am trying to embody ‘trust’ as Elle would advise. I understand now just how important the exercise of writing is to me. I feel like I am sailing without a rudder.

4 April

I felt abandoned in a dark wilderness when I understood I had lost four days’ worth of writing. Take note, Jennie! I am particularly sad to have lost the piece I wrote just before the ‘big freeze’ happened. It felt special as I wrote it, and all I remember is finishing off with ‘hey, pretty lady’, and I always loved hearing her call me that. That was Elle’s regular greeting as she walked into the kitchen. Maybe the story will pass through my mind again, but that isn’t how it always works.

We went for a walk this morning with our two boys Kito and Zac to the bay Pou des Llou beach where we scattered most of Elle’s ashes. We kept some of them in a small star which we hope to find a special place for in a future garden one day. The person we chose to preside over the ceremony was the man who was the celebrant at Kate and Alex’s Ibiza wedding. Our ceremony was intimate and honoured Mother Nature, and then, with heightened emotions flowing through our veins, we dashed into the sea and took turns calling out to Elle as we scattered her ashes around us. It was one of her favourite places on the island.

I have been meditatively collating a folder of Elle’s artwork and various pieces of writing, but reticent to think too deeply about what I am doing. It has involved going through her notebooks and art workbooks, scanning and printing what I believe best represents the Elle we love and miss. She did an art therapy workshop last winter with Roseline, her mentor, who told me that it was mesmerising to watch how she held a paintbrush and applied paint to the canvas. I know just what she meant, having painted alongside Elle under the guidance of a friend Martijn over a number of years. I am deeply grateful for these memories now. Often, on our way home in the dark, we’d talk about things close to our hearts.

Elle’s birthday celebration party will take place on 13 April in Kate’s new family home. We are expecting about fifty people to attend—family, good friends of ours, and a number of Elle’s friends, some of whom we know, while a few we shall meet for the first time. We may not have met all her friends, but she ‘introduced’ most of their names to us, and usually some accompanying little fact we can draw on when we do meet them. It is almost as if she passed this snippet of information on to us because she wanted them to know she valued them. We have organised caterers and bought lights and wind chimes for the special plum tree, and now all we need is a lovely spring evening. It feels right that Claudia will be coming from Los Angeles to be with us again. The next day we will all head off for a week to the beautiful Welsh valleys. It will be good to see Kate and Isaac again.

5 April

Peter has just returned from London, and in five days we will go back together. It sounds like his forty-year reunion with the men and women he started his accountancy training with went well.

We both had a tough weekend last week. At times it feels endless. I find myself thinking so much about Elle’s state of mind just before she died. I can’t believe that will ever stop.

Today I had an exchange of emails with Graeme. It started with him sending a photo of the two of them. The love they shared was very special, and I think in its own way it will last a lifetime.

I watched a programme about William Blake this evening. I have always known and loved his poem ‘The Tyger’, but cannot believe I knew nothing more about this extraordinary man and his influence on many of the artists, writers, comic book creators and musicians from the ‘60s onwards. I also learnt that the name of Jim Morrison’s band, The Doors, referenced Aldous Huxley’s book ‘The Doors of Perception’, which in turn referenced William Blake’s ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’. The Doors have always been in my personal hall of fame, but I found myself drawn to them even more after Elle died, not just because she and Jim Morrison both died young. It was their energy, and in particular the songs, ‘When the Music is Over’ and ‘Light My Fire’, that drew me in. They definitely keep my fire lit!

6 April

I am still feeling so earthbound and heavy-hearted. It is tiring. Elle’s party is nearly organised. But I can’t think of anything I want to write about today.

7 April

Today I visited Larah’s baby girl for the first time. She is such a tiny little thing. I love the smell of newborn babies. I had a chance to settle her after her feed and used the trick of resting baby on her tummy along my forearm. It worked like a charm. After a few burps she slept like an angel.

I heard from Peter that Elle’s cousin James, told his parents he sees no point to his birthday anymore. His birthday is the day before Elle’s. His parents also reminded Peter that James wants to buy a piece of jewellery made by Elle in the summer before she died. I called Natasha, the jeweller Elle used to work for and still helped out from time to time, and we will meet her tomorrow to pick up a gift for his birthday. We will present it to him at Elle’s party. I also spoke to Natasha’s sister Charlie, one of Elle’s closest friends on the island. I was eager to know when she last saw Elle. She told me Elle had come to supper on 15 August, and seemed so happy and serene that she’d remarked to her how fit and healthy she looked. She said Elle had such an effect on everyone present, including her brother who was due to be married in a few days, that he joked afterwards that she shouldn’t introduce him to girls like Elle so close to his wedding day. I’ve been struggling to lift my spirits this past week, and that it comforted me somewhat hearing that Elle had been happy in the weeks leading up to her death. That is what I find so strange because I have heard this from so many people. Why then did she enter into a state of psychosis such a short time later?

I suppose this question had to come up sometime. I am asking myself why I am writing, and who for. I know I am writing for myself but will anyone else read my words? On occasions the words flow freely, but other times the process is laboured and dull. I can feel the difference.

8 April

Today feels lighter and brighter. My hope is that I can keep it up for the party. There may well be tears, but I like to believe there is also a space for joy.

We have tried to make sure all is ready for our departure on Monday, and the last thing I still need to find is a wind chime. I have been told where I can pick one up this evening. I popped into the hippy market this morning and bought a butterfly to hang in the plum tree, the focal point of the evening. We have lengths of ribbon too, and the idea is that we write wishes and messages on them and then tie them onto the tree. Kate tells me she has some lights for the tree, and I can’t wait to be with it now and put on its party dress. This is the tree Elle nearly stripped of its plums when she viewed the house with Kate after Isaac was born. The house purchase was completed just in time for our wish to come true—so now we can celebrate her birthday around the plum tree. We intend to set up a table displaying a folder of photos of Elle’s artwork, some of her writings, various achievements and important moments in her life. I also have a large notebook that everyone can write and draw whatever they like in. This whole process, while constantly shifting my grief around, has also been therapeutic.

Today we drove up to Natasha’s beautiful shop by the church in San Miguel. Memories abound whenever I am there, like moving Elle into the flat above the shop and workshop. It was her first home from home other than university digs. Another time I remember spying Elle through the small open workshop door, working on delicate pieces at a typical jeweller’s bench, with the leather ‘basket’ resting in her lap, head bent in intense concentration. It is such a strange coincidence that I trained to become a goldsmith at Stellenbosch University but never in gold, and here Elle sat, with a short training, and just started making gold jewellery straightaway. Natasha had a tray ready for us with four of the last pieces Elle made for her. She told us that besides the ones she had given to Kate and I, and the pieces for her and her sister, these were the only remaining pieces made by Elle’s hands. We chose a gold ‘chain’ ring and a bracelet of delicate sapphire stones to give to her cousin James on Elle’s birthday.

I don’t think I have mentioned yet the original gifts to us. About four weeks after Elle died, Natasha and Charlie invited us to the shop to view the jewellery made by Elle during her last summer. Kate and I decided we wanted to buy something each. It was bittersweet being there with two of Elle’s dearest friends, and our hearts were pounding as they brought us a beautiful jeweller’s tray with all the pieces Elle had made carefully set out on it. We didn’t want to let go of any of them. Eventually I chose a delicate grey sapphire bracelet. It appealed to me because the stones were so tiny that sometimes you could see them and sometimes not. Kate chose their latest style of earrings with grey diamonds, which have not left her ears since putting them on. She also chose a beautiful blue sapphire chain necklace, and hasn’t taken this off either. When we asked Natasha how much we owed her for the pieces, she told us they were gifts, and we will always cherish the pieces and the gesture.

9 April

Today our ‘trusted’ house sitters arrived. They will look after Zac, Kito and our odd little parrot girl Coco while we’re in the UK. This will work out well. I was feeling a little livelier and more uplifted until we got into the car to visit our dear friends. I don’t know what set it off, but an anxious feeling moved into my chest and it went downhill from there. I feel so selfish at the moment. I just want to slip away to live with Elle, wherever she is. But I know how much I am needed and loved here, and how much Kate and Peter need me to help plough a furrow so that we can all grow safely.

I asked our friend Rodrigo, who reads astral charts, if he would do one for Elle in time for her birthday celebration. He came over yesterday to work through it with me. He says that the premise of astrology is that at the instant of birth the universe sets an imprint on the soul. My way of understanding this would be that points of navigation are given to the soul who has entered this little being, so that they don’t forget their ‘plan’ or soul contract. But one needs the exact time and place of birth. I could never have mine done because I don’t know the time of my birth, but I was able to give Rodrigo this information for Elle. Although this imprint can never be changed, we can cooperate with it, and work alongside its information as it sets a course through life to bring success to our journey, assuming we believe the stars play a role here on earth. When he asked what I hoped to get from the reading, I said I was only interested in knowing more about that original imprint.

I was amazed how accurately he described the girl I knew so well. I don’t know all about Elle’s life and her experiences, but I do know the child that was Elle, and some of who she was and what drove her. Rodrigo did not know Elle, nor has he mixed with any of her friends, which made his reading all the more extraordinary.

These are my notes:

Elle’s star sign is Aries with Mercury and Venus. Mercury brings a thrust towards communication and Venus towards love. This combination is described as a ‘starter’, or ‘sower of seeds’ (thoughts and ideas).

[A note since completing my writing, added on 14 January 2018. Looking through one of her last notebooks, I noticed an entry in June 2016 where she said she had been ‘sowing seeds’. Coincidence – maybe, maybe not.]

Rodrigo is Brazilian, so at times he has different ways of expressing things.

As Taurus (the bull) comes into play with the adult Aries, she is also a warrior at the front line. He said there are three main points: the sun (the father), which is your intellect and the way you think; the moon (hers is in Leo), which is the way you feel; and your physical body (hers is in Scorpio). He says there can be a selfish element to Aries as they are so strong within. They know what they need and will take it but in her case, it was to pass on love and communicate deeply with those around her.

The moon, the mother, our emotions, is how we connect to others. She has Leo with her moon, which is another fire sign. Leo can be understood as having elements of the king, who needs recognition and respect. A strong drive to take care of her ‘kingdom’, in other words, to take responsibility for her community but needing loyalty in return. Her emotional aspirations are tied in with her professional impetus. All that matters to her is her community; she has no choice in what she is to do, and no interest in financial gain or fame, etcetera.

The effect of the moon is powerful in her life, producing strong ups and downs, with emotional rhythms dominating her life. She was completely governed by the moon.

I have felt an increased connection to the moon since Elle’s death, and at every full moon I find her face on the moon—a little crazy I know, but I am past caring how I appear to others.

Choose, they croon, the ancient ones
The time has come again
Choose now, they croon
Beneath the moon
Beside an ancient lake

The Ghost Song, Jim Morrison

More notes on Rodrigo’s reading:

Elle has a rising Scorpio, so her sexuality was a powerful and explosive force in her life, and a source of conflict. Seduction and charm came easily to her. Deep eyes. People wanted to enter her domain. Pluto is in her first house. All was expressed through her sexuality. The energy enters and grows and needs to burst out. She would have been aware of this energy in her body. Pluto is sometimes thought of as the planet of death, but what it really refers to is life beyond reality. Mars and Jupiter therefore push growth in the direction of spirituality. She would receive her ideas through dreams and visions. On waking she is at her strongest and comes back with knowledge from beyond.

Her ‘neighbourhood’ is the three planets, Neptune—spirituality, Saturn—strength and responsibility, and Uranus—speed and modernity. If she failed herself, this is what she would come back to again.

She came knowing how to absorb a large amount of energy to do great work. The Capricorn element in her chart shows that she came to make something concrete for her community. She needed to learn to let off steam in a productive and secure way. Pluto shows itself as a door open to danger.

The Capricorn way of dealing with things is to call a family meeting to solve a problem.

I recall Elle’s words in her last few days when she told me she was having a breakdown, and that ‘it would take the whole family to work together on this’. Her sister is born under the sign of Capricorn and this would definitely be Kate’s approach to a problem arising in the family.

She had Lilith in her twelfth house. This can best be understood as your inside world, your personal darkness. Through conscience one can reach into the subconscious. She had a strong desire to develop her consciousness. Lilith moved her, and she took a secret pleasure in going there. Lilith can also be vengeful and destructive. She needed to feed and take from Lilith to move on and up. Scorpio is the energy that she would use for this. Sometimes there would be a conflict—should I take care of others or myself? How can I take care of others if I am not taken care of first?

Birth—first thing—love of the sun/father who is different from her. Mother—a guide who provided her with her goals. The mother/moon gave her the connection to the spiritual world; who sowed the seed.

Her family/house—it was open and modern, lucky (wheel of fortune)—no problem to be who she was.

Elle had a big job—for the community—to make a better future in this lifetime. She had to keep moving—to pass through. In a hurry always. Explosive and impatient spirit.

While completing my art degree, I came into contact with the myth of Lilith, which changed me, and released me from the bonds of Eve, and by that I mean from the incomplete and unsatisfactory view that God created Eve from a rib he took from Adam. I learnt recently that there are two versions of The Creation in the Bible, and in one of them it says that God created both man and woman in his image—why wasn’t I aware of this earlier?

Her way of solving a problem, for example, is, if a door is blocking her path, to burst through it rather than work out the best way of getting around it.

Logic was never an issue for Elle. She was always way ahead of most others on this score. She certainly did not like having things explained to her. As a child she would cover her ears and say ‘no more talking’. With me as a mother, some would say, not surprising! She would also not allow me to show her how something works or the benefit of following a recipe, not that it prevented her from achieving good results.

10 April

Today is Greg’s birthday. He and I commented yesterday that his sixtieth birthday party feels so much more than a year ago. It was a joyous party with guests from all over. Heather’s daughter Jess and her boyfriend Nikos were surprise guests from South Africa. Elle had helped Kate make a magnificent Victorian sponge cake with strawberries and cream on top.

Greg's sixtieth

Greg’s sixtieth party, and he stands between two of his sisters in pink, Marion and Heather, and Elle in front of him.

11 April

Absolutely exhausted! We arrived in time to help Kate and family move into her new home, and Peter and I spent the best part of the day organising her kitchen for her. The house, while bigger than any they have lived in before, has a really small kitchen, so this was not an easy job. They have given the house a facelift and hope to do a large renovation in a year’s time. I love the house, which should be all they ever need. Most people in this area seem to stay put and downsize when their children move on. Queens Park is just across the road—one of the best family parks I know of. I fell in love with the back garden almost as much as the house. It was particularly special putting wind chimes in the various fruit trees. I found one with butterflies that has been tinkling away in the breeze. The resident robin came out to meet us, and I hope he approves of the ornaments we have hung in his plum tree. There has not been a spare moment for self-pity today, an exhausting way to find some relief. Now I need to sleep!

12 April

James’ birthday.

Peter and I both had nightmarish dreams last night. Mine was that some ‘baddies’ wanted to kill us, and we were trying to keep under the radar, which meant keeping on the move. Peter rarely recalls his dreams, but in this one he was somewhere in Malaga and taking his mom to the market. Then a troupe of mangy monkeys was hanging around and one had Zac in his mouth, who looked at Peter with fear in his eyes. Elle ran up shouting ‘No, no!’ and Peter picked up a stone and managed to hit the monkey who dropped Zac. He threw another stone and then they all left. They put Zac in the car but they didn’t know where to find a vet. With all the blood Zac had lost Peter thought the vet wouldn’t be able to do much, so the best was to stay with him until he passed on.

I have been feeling pretty low, and it isn’t shaped like self-pity; more like self-disappointment. I have to find a way to dig myself back up into the light. A bit of soul searching needed, I suspect.

I definitely need to ‘keep facing forward’ because ‘fear comes from looking back’ and ‘error comes from doubt’, as Elle told us. One of our house/dog sitters looked at the photos of Kate and Elle, and said, ‘I see Peter got one and you got the other.’ While I feel fierce love for both my girls, it just feels like a bit of me has been extracted from my heart without my permission.

Today I am going for a medical check-up. I haven’t had one for about eight years. Then, when I return, I will be back to sorting out boxes, the worst bit of moving to a new home—what to do with all those odd bits! Claudia arrives this afternoon. We had such a happy time together in northern Spain, until the moment one morning when a volcano went off right beneath where we all stood. I feel a deep sorrow that Elle will not be here for her twenty-eighth birthday tomorrow. I have always considered twenty-eight a magical age, and the year one reaches full maturity. It also turned up as a number that I considered lucky. Elle and I talked about her entering this phase of her life, and how she would begin to feel more at ease with herself. But it turns out we all have a very different path to walk than what I imagined. I have to try to accept this and restart my life’s lessons without our golden girl.

13 April

Elle’s birthday and my birth day. I prepared an entry for today because I knew how busy we would all be. I have included what I intend to say this evening, plus a little poem from Greg, and some other messages, and I hope to be able to stand next to our highly decorated pear tree—we all thought it was the plum tree but it turns out the plum tree is in a different place! Now we have two special trees in the garden.

My words:

Dear All

It means so much to us to have you all here this evening. As Graeme said in one of his emails, it helps to know that other people miss her as much as we do. We have also been so comforted to know that she was in such regular contact with many of her friends and family. I know I speak for Peter as well when I say that we saw her alone so much of the time—either drawing, meditating or writing and studying—that we feared she was a lonely soul.

Elle’s inner struggles could at times be a bit overwhelming. What has become apparent is that it was mainly Peter, Kate and I who were aware of this. And I am so happy that this is not how most of her friends knew her. I came to realise that when she went on trips abroad to Africa, Australia, Costa Rica and the Philippines, these were times that functioned as a much-needed break from her ‘self’. But her last year seemed to bring real progress. We noticed that she seemed more at peace and loved the work she was doing. We witnessed, while she lived in our guest cottage, that she made nutritional meals for herself, organised her work schedule, and was achieving so much with her studies.

We only found out after she died that, amongst all the various jobs she had taken on, working in retreats, babysitting for two families, and helping Natasha overcome a build-up of jewellery orders, that she was also doing charity work with children for Caritas. A couple of the volunteers eventually found us, and they asked to meet with us so we could know what Elle had been doing and how much she meant to the children.

On top of all the work she was doing during the summer, following her Open University exam at the end of May, Elle was also training almost daily in a martial art called Wing Chun. We loved to hear her talk about it, and it was obvious that she deeply admired her master, Nino, who was one of the last people to see her alive. He thought she was special and showed great promise.

Another of her closest friends who invited Elle to dinner on 15 August told me the other day that Elle was the happiest, most serene and most healthy looking she had ever seen her. She said Elle made a great impact on her other guests, and on her brother, who was to get married a few days later, who told her at the end of the evening: ‘you shouldn’t introduce me to girls like Elle just before I am to be married!’

We will never know what circumstances led up to Elle’s final days. There are times when I can think of nothing else. But equally, when I am able to break free from my earthly chains, I will always see her as an angel that came to teach us to value the simple things in life  and to reveal what is good about each of us. So many people, including some of our own friends, have told us that talking to Elle made them feel better about who they are. For my part, I hold on tightly to my spiritual beliefs that there is always a purpose to everything, and there will always be lessons worth learning. I also hold onto the belief that Elle keeps us all close to her. We were all in her life for a purpose.

Greg’s poem to Elle:

Words seem inadequate at times

However

I just hope and pray

That when I die

Elle’s face will be

The first I see

And then I will know

For sure

That I have arrived

In Heaven

He sends love to you all on this beautiful day.

Something I wrote earlier about Elle’s birth for today:

Elle was born not far from Pasadena at 18:49 on 13 April 1989. From about the age of four, Kate had been asking for a little sister. After Peter and I got back together, moved to the US, and felt settled in our new home in Pasadena Glen, the time felt right. I didn’t have a need for another child, but I also knew that was not a good enough reason to deprive Kate of a sibling. I ended up seated next to a medium at a party around this time (they tend to pop up sometimes rather than me seeking them out)—and she told me there was a little soul waiting for us to put in our order, but it didn’t matter if we didn’t. I don’t know why, but over the years I have often recalled that meeting. We probably already knew by then that we wanted it to happen, and after the usual couple of dummy runs, a pregnancy held fast, and we were so excited to be having another child. Peter was determined we should not know the sex until the moment of birth, but he always hoped for another girl. I didn’t mind either way, but secretly hoped that Kate would get the sister she longed for.

As Kate’s birth had been long and extremely painful, I thought this time I would do as so many others did: I would have an epidural. But obviously not all women are meant to have one! After a couple of hours of hard labour the doctor arrived to do the epidural, and unbeknown to me at the time, a little spinal fluid had leaked out—I would know about this later. I was able to relax as the contraction pains subsided, and apparently I even had a little snooze. Much later the midwife checked on me, and said that nothing was moving, and she was going to stop the epidural. I started on the tablets to get the cervix moving and, oh boy, pretty soon things were moving again. My way of dealing with it was to turn away from the room and Peter, face the wallpaper, and use the pattern to focus away the pains. It worked, and after a few more hours Elle made her appearance. She had swallowed some meconium, so the nurses got to work on her straight away, and for a few minutes there was some anxiety. Following this she had a fever, and for the first twenty-four hours there was a possibility she would be moved to a specialist hospital. Thank goodness this wasn’t necessary. Unfortunately though, I developed an horrendous epidural headache that lasted a full week, and required that I be put on a drip. Not that I cared much about anything—all I wanted was to make sure my next painkiller was delivered before the last one wore off. If I needed to go to the loo I had to crawl, as it kept my head as close to the floor as possible. Raising it higher made the pain unbearable that took a while to return to a dull ache.

So Elle spent her first week in a nursery, and was only brought to me for feeds. I have very little memory of that week and was relieved to have it over. Our homecoming to the Glen and back to Kate was wonderful, and our friends gathered round to give us support. While Kate was almost a Georgina, Elle was nearly a Lawrence, whether a boy or a girl. But it was always meant to be that she would be an Elle, with her given name Elizabeth Marie. She was such a loved baby, and very soon the little crop of dark hair was replaced by a halo of golden hair, unlike Kate who was a baldy until nearly two! Kate would sometimes make me a sandwich while I fed our baby, and if it wasn’t for our financial troubles that were imbedded in Peter’s mind life couldn’t have been better. We loved living in the Glen, but all was about to change in a big way. When Elle was eight months old we needed to sell our home and return to the UK for better work opportunities. The music company Peter had loved working for suffered financial difficulties in the UK and sold their Los Angeles subsidiary. Peter tried to go it alone, but without capital in the savvy Los Angeles music environment, his endeavours were not going to pay off. It was very hard for him to accept. We left with the house covering most of our debts and a few more to be paid off later. This is how we came to move back to the UK, and into Tinker’s home for a couple of months until Peter found work and we could rent a place of our own. It was at Tinker’s that my older sister Marion saw Elle for the first time. Her first words were, ‘What a golden girl’. Nine months later, Marion had her longed-for daughter Molly at the age of forty-three! Elle’s first gift we like to think. And what a joy Molly has been to us all, and she and Elle have provided us with many childhood memories that can still make us laugh as we all recall their games and mischief still today.

14 April

Today we packed up our cars and headed west to Wales and the Wye Valley, near Tintern Abbey to be exact. The party was made up of Kate, Alex and Isaac, Alex’s brother and wife and their baby, Peter and me, and Claudia. It is a beautiful part of the country and all the trees are in blossom. Tomorrow I shall write about the party.

15 April

I woke up in tears this morning. This is all I seem capable of at the moment. There is a dam filling up inside me, just waiting for my eyes to open the floodgates.

We were so busy all the day of Elle’s birthday. Kate had deliveries coming to her house, the caterers arriving with tables, and most importantly the food. Flowering plants arrived from the Conrad family in the US, and every moment of the day was taken up in a flurry of activity. At 3 pm I managed to slip into the shower, and some family and friends arrived early to do what they could to help. Kate went off to find a quiet space to write what she wanted to say, and together we made a few changes to my words. Keeping busy all day was key to keeping my mood and mind under control. Meantime some beautiful messages were also coming through from all over the world, and I like to acknowledge everyone and as soon as possible so I don’t forget—now I had even more to keep my mind from wandering. We also received the song a friend has written for us. It is so beautiful. We haven’t had a moment to read, listen or do very much over the last few days, so hopefully this time in Wales will provide us all with some respite.

Elle’s ‘plum’ tree looked perfect. It is not very tall but extremely beautiful, decked out in its pink blossoms. Heather gave Kate a Buddha statue that sat peacefully on the grass underneath it, and against the tree we put the same photo of Elle that we had at her Ibiza celebration. Many people brought flowers and some of these were scattered around the base of the tree. Hanging from the branches, amongst the blossoms, were a butterfly, an elephant and several hearts, and later we tied coloured ribbons with wishes for Elle onto the branches.

I think around fifty guests joined us. Amongst family and friends of ours there were friends of Elle’s going back to when they were twelve years old. We kept our sadness swaddled in memories as stories floated all around us. I was determined to spend some time with everyone, and therefore kept on the move. Peter stood close by as I read out my words, followed by Kate, and then Peter’s sister Lindsay shared a memory. We even had a surprise guest—Caroline, James’s sister and Elle’s cousin. She flew into London earlier in the day from Myanmar where she works as a journalist. It may have been a birthday party for someone who is no longer with us, but it rocked, just as I hoped it would. Friends and family in Ibiza, South Africa, Australia and Los Angeles and many other locations joined in by lighting candles for Elle, and some sent us photos of these moments. We missed Greg, but he needed to stay in Ibiza to look after his houseguests.

I know it was a party Elle would have enjoyed. She was not keen on parties normally, but loved a get-together where she knew everyone. Perhaps she was there, somewhere around the plum tree that turned out to be a pear tree. She would have looked prettier than any picture or painting of her as she floated in and out of the blossoms. I love you more than life, my girl, and miss you even more.

16 April

A day dominated by a deep longing.

I wait for night-time to come

And bring you to me

Ain’t Nobody, Jasmine Thompson

17 April

Only Peter, Claudia and I are in Wales now. Peter found himself overcome by a wave last night, and Kate stayed away because she is struggling at the moment with her own grief. I am pleased she is seeing a good therapist, but I worry about this suppression of her grief. Just this morning Prince Harry, who lost his mom when he was twelve years old, said that for twenty years he refused to engage with his emotions because it could not change anything. But in the last two years his life had become chaotic, and he began to suffer from anxiety. He is finally seeing a grief counsellor. It serves well to show that you cannot get away from processing these big moments, and avoiding them is often the cause of depression and mental illness. Claudia and I talked a lot about our personal sorrow and concerns last night. It is always good to talk. For her own personal reasons, and because she was Elle’s godmother, but most of all, because she was with us when the news came through, I realise how important it was for me to see her again, and I know she felt the same way too.

I am just watching a BBC news programme on the lack of therapeutic help for people with mental health issues, in this case, those suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It stated that the best treatment is CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Of particular interest was the case of a girl who had been perfectly normal, confident and happy until the age of thirteen. Last night I told Claudia that we had recently had the same thought about Elle. There was no sign of her inner struggle before age thirteen. When I read her notebooks, about ten of them, I remember the sinking feeling they gave me and being floored by the realisation that Elle seemed to have had no peace of mind when alone with her thoughts. It took me ages to come back from this. It also struck me as strange that I had never seen any of these notebooks lying around. Had I glanced inside them just once I would have known so much more about her state of mind. On watching this programme this morning I now think that what I saw in the notebooks could be a form of OCD. It was as if she was constantly trying to clean her mind by ‘wiping’ away negative thoughts, fears and dark thoughts, and replacing them with a better version of herself. One then has to ask—is it really mental illness or is something else at its core, something we don’t want to understand or engage with. It seems that experts find a number of symptoms that commonly come up, and then corral them into a ‘condition’, often going on to say that they don’t know the cause, but ‘it may be linked with a traumatic experience in their youth’. I am thinking here of bulimia, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, body dysmorphia disorder, and all the others. I know what Carl Jung has to say about what lies at the heart of our troubling issues, and his are the only theories that make any sort of sense to me.

On Elle’s birthday I received an extremely long and detailed email from Swo Boda, sharing many of his conversations with Elle, all the questions she raised, and the one question I raised with him. He has made an in-depth study of borderline personality disorder for his own reasons. I got the impression that he felt something of an affinity with the condition himself. I too am familiar with it, because when Elle was having regular meltdowns and was deeply confused by her ongoing struggles (at age twenty-two) we had a look at it. I read an article shortly after Amy Winehouse died which viewed her life in light of this condition. Again, nobody seems to have a clear idea as to why or where conditions like BPD, OCD and others emerge. In a few cases there may have been an emotional trauma at some stage in the young person’s life, but mostly not. At least two dramatic events occurred in Elle’s life, around the age of thirteen to fourteen years, but I still think that a robust mind like she had as a child should have been able to manage these experiences without finding them life altering.

18 April

We are still in Wales in the Wye Valley. Claudia, Peter and I have been joined by Peter’s sister and brother-in-law, Lindsay and Rick. No time to write, but no less time to think.

19 April

After our guests left, Claudia, Peter and I set off to find a National Trust garden. It was lovely but not very extensive, and strangely, the landowner had decided that the best way to deal with his lack of cash was to dismantle his home and sell it off stone by stone. The year was 1805 and it was the era of the Napoleonic wars. That way he could raise cash without selling his lands. I bet his wife and family didn’t enjoy that, but perhaps it was the best option, as at least it left them with an income. An engraving of the house showed that it was pretty large and Jacobean in style.

On the way back to the cottage I had a flashback of Elle’s face. She is almost always in our kitchen at Can Tanques. As it passed I put my hand on Peter’s knee. ‘Are you thinking of Elle?’ he asked. He said she had just flashed through his mind too. It is as if our minds are in touch with each other. This goes back to even before we were married. I remember occasional nights in our apartment in Hong Kong. Sometimes when we were unable to fall asleep, it felt as if our brains were keeping each other awake. Thinking back brings to mind the fragrant frangipani tree outside our third floor window then, and how my mother had made a beautiful corsage for Peter and me from that tree for our wedding day. I wore a white jacket and skirt, and the white and yellow of my polka dot blouse was perfectly complemented by that corsage, which also kept me sweet smelling and entranced all day. I have loved the frangipani tree ever since!

20 April

We all drove back to London today. It’s good to be back with Kate and Isaac.

21 April

We spent the day dealing with various things that had been piling up since the party, and later we enjoyed a wander around Portobello Market. Claudia’s sister and niece Monique joined us for a meal in the evening.

22 April

I am having trouble sticking to my writing routine. We are still with Kate in London, and between her, baby Isaac and friends, there has been little time available for anything else. It has also been a struggle to get my mojo back. I feel I am really letting myself, and mostly Elle, down. I have cut myself off emotionally and feel constantly stressed and tearful. I can’t understand why I am not more appreciative of my loved ones who are still here with me. I suppose this is where Time is meant to be ‘my friend’.

But not for long as it turns out—things are popping around me again. It helps. Later this morning I came across an article that said that cells belonging to others, mostly one’s children, have been found in the bodies of their mothers, including in their brains. The presence of these cells is called microchimerism, and I feel like I have loads of these cells, sacks full even, in my body. (A definition: In humans, and perhaps in all placentals, the most common form is foetomaternal microchimerism, also known as foetal cell microchimerism or foetal chimerism, whereby cells from a foetus pass through the placenta and establish cell lineages within the mother.) I wouldn’t be surprised if Kate left me some of hers, which later found their way into Elle. A bit farfetched probably, but who knows anything for sure these days. More recently we seem to be unlearning more than confirming old rules and laws of nature. We are required to rethink the sharp end of physics as the universe is unleashing and slowly revealing more of itself to us, and not just in the realm of physics. It is also a little more mysterious and vaguer than we have become accustomed to in the past few centuries.

Apparently, I am less likely to get many diseases if this is the case, but more likely to get multiple sclerosis! This was the disease I used to think about when I was younger—I had a premonition that it may be coming my way. But I learnt to reject thoughts like this after reading an article about the power of the mind and how positive and negative thinking can impact our lives. I have practised this to the best of my ability for most of my adult life, and I can honestly say it helps to eliminate many of the worries that interrupt our enjoyment of living. If I were to predict where my ‘alien’ cells can be found, I would guess in my heart, my lungs, and my brain. My brain is fogged up with longing and irritation that I can do nothing to bring Elle back, or even to help myself at this moment. No wonder I am beginning to bore myself!

23 April

Yesterday evening we babysat Isaac for Kate and Alex. The poor boy is having a hard time with four top front teeth coming through at the same time. My mother used to say getting old is not for ‘sissies’, but I think it’s equally true for babies. Thank goodness they have no conscious memory of the first couple of years!

After politely asking for a dream or something similar, last night my request was granted—I had an Elle dream. In it we were away somewhere unrecognisable, and got a phone call to say that Elle was terminally ill. I told Peter I wanted to go back and be with her. It was confusing as to whether she was going to die or had died. When we arrived, we found her sitting in a light wheelchair and out walking with someone. I say ‘light’ because the wheelchair seemed to be made of blue light, and she was contented, serene and gentle. Some of the dream is a bit fuzzy about homes and building land. I then became aware that Elle was dead, and that she was attempting to reach into our reality. Then there was something about the alphabet and communication: A is for apple and B is for Betty—the name we sometimes called her. I see that that makes sense now that I write it.

It still strikes me as odd that someone else named her dog Betty. Betty arrived at the hotel, Pikes, where Elle got her first job having made the move to the island. And I can’t help noticing that Betty died from running under a car because of a pain in her head, around three months before Elle died. Elle and Betty had moved into a house shared with three other people, her last home on the island. About the time Elle returned home, after an evening out, Betty must have nosed around in a bag of rubbish that had been left outside the back door. Besides food in the bag, there must also have been broken glass. We believe that Betty must have swallowed a piece of glass, and Elle arrived home as she began to run around the garden in excruciating pain and distress. Elle couldn’t catch her, and after a few moments she darted under their front gate, onto a busy road and under a car. As tragic as it was, it may not have been possible to mend the damage to her gullet, so one has to take comfort that her death was instant. She had had a good life for her last six years, and she was probably about eleven years old at this point. I was surprised at the amount of calm Elle exhibited when she told us what had happened, but when we met up with her housemates the day after she died they recalled how deeply it had affected her.

24 April

I continue picking up interesting items of news as each new day rolls through. An article on the BBC news website says that grassy roadside verges now contain some of the last examples of certain wildflowers and plants. This reminds me of the riches I have found growing at the outer limits of the car parks around San Carlos.

I have been thinking more about microchimerism. I clearly remember talking to Peter, and probably others as well, about how I felt that the newborn Kate had taken over my mind for a while. It felt like she had hijacked my brain to make sure her needs were met. My sleep was so light that I was aware of her before she began to stir for her feeds, and generally, it was as if my brain was operating for her benefit and to her schedule. It is not difficult to see why this would develop as an evolutionary tool, because without a dedicated carer, human babies have no chance of survival. I concluded that hormones were responsible for this. This is probably still true, but perhaps the commands were assisted by Kate’s own cells in my brain. I know this idea is a bit ‘out there’, but I am willing to go where others fear to tread! It makes life more interesting, don’t you think?

Kate has gone to her writing circle this morning. I would love Kate to find an expression for herself as a writer. My entries lately have felt so flat. It doesn’t surprise me, because it feels as if I have been operating down at floor level. I need to learn that life can be lived without Elle being physically here. Lately, I am not sure whether I can be bothered, and then I feel guilty that I have relegated all my surviving loved ones to a basket in the corner. Then my heart hurts for them. Every night I pray to God and to Elle to give me strength, faith and wisdom. I found out not long ago that El is also one of the original names for God in the Jewish faith. It gives me pleasure knowing that I named our girl, and that I intended the pronunciation to change from ‘ellie’ to ‘el’ as she became an adult. So forgive me for saying that she is a ‘she-god’. This doesn’t seem presumptive to me because I believe that we all emerged, or were catapulted out of the godhead, and therefore must be made of the same stuff—the idea being that in facing earthly darkness and suffering, we learn of our capacity to live in light and goodness. I like to think of us as diamonds that light up brightly once all our facets are polished, and at that instant teleport back into that Great Diamond in the Sky, the Grand Godhead. Well, something like that, anyway. I don’t want to get too serious in my imaginings—that would not be good for me.

A website called Judaism 101 gives the following information:

The first name for God used in scripture is Elohim. In form, the word is the masculine plural of a word that looks feminine in the singular (Eloha). The same word (or a homonym of it, according to Rambam) is used to refer to princes, judges, other gods, and other powerful beings. This name is used in scripture when emphasising God’s might, creative power, and justice and rulership. Variations on this name include El, Eloha, Elohai (my God) and Elohaynu (our God).

In Jewish thinking, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation, a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of being named.

The second paragraph is a bit random but I love the thought. I have always believed in the potential power of the given name. In the case of both of our girls the names we considered before they were born flew out of the window, and their eventual names seemed to come to us through the ether. As I mentioned before, my first idea for Kate was Georgina, but Peter and Christina both chose Catherine. I accepted it but changed the spelling. Kate’s second name, Francis, is Marise’s maiden name because she introduced Peter and me. When our second daughter was born my thinking was Lawrence—yes, for a girl—then Elizabeth, to be shortened to Elle because of my connection to elephants when I was pregnant with her. Peter’s contribution was that her second name would be Marie. Neither of us had any idea where that came from but we liked it. When Marise pointed out more than fifteen years later that her second name was Elizabeth, Marie made total sense to us.

Apparently, the saying nomen est omen was first used in a play by Plautus, a Roman playwright born around 250 BC. It means ‘the name speaks for itself’ or ‘one’s destiny lies in one’s name’. My first and second names, Jennifer and Gwendoline, both have the same derivation—the gods were definitely trying to get me to focus in on something or other!

25 April

It is the anniversary of my parent’s marriage today, and one year since Elle saw me through my THC oil experience.

I have been thinking for a number of months that I would really like to talk to the therapist Elle saw when she was about twenty years old. Elle’s doctor helped set her up with a therapist, and Elle told us only after her sessions had started. I was very happy she had made this move for herself. I came to know that her name was Julie. I think Elle saw her for around a year until she moved to Ibiza. Towards the end of her first year in Ibiza things got a bit rough for her, and we seemed to be getting closer to a crisis. She had suffered a full body outbreak of psoriasis, and seemed to have an anger that she didn’t know how to direct, and was not comfortable to work it through with any of us. It was hard to understand what was going on in those bits of her we couldn’t see. But she was determined to make things better for herself—to find her own way to a healing. She often had an elastic band around her wrist to divert her attention away from what she was feeling. She would regularly take long candlelit baths, a ritual she never dropped, even after a late night at work or going out with friends. It was something Peter and I had to work around, as the only bath was in our ensuite! She also joined a Buddhist group in the hope that a practice of chanting and devotion would help ease her troubled mind.

It was around this time that I read up on Amy Winehouse and the journalist’s suggestion that borderline personality disorder may have led to her life of self-abuse and addiction.

I recognised much of the behaviour described in the article, and then found a list of nine criteria on the UK mental health site, Mind. If five criteria were met, the person most likely had this syndrome. In my desperation to help Elle I thought we might have found the answer. Just being able to name the problem could lead to a fifty per cent resolution of the problem. That had been my personal experience of anxiety and emotional stumbling blocks. I tried to navigate secretly through the criteria list with Elle, and she said all nine fitted, and then wanted to know more of what I was looking at. She was already aware of, and utilising, all the self-help activities the site mentioned—probably through Julie. She also told me that Julie had offered her a drug treatment, but she wasn’t interested in going that route. While Elle seemed genuinely interested that she may have got an answer that explained so much of what she was going through, I have long berated myself for bringing this condition to her attention. I realise now that nothing was changed by identifying it. But another part of me says perhaps all is as it was meant to be.

I have little confidence in the majority of psychotherapists who seem to simply look at symptoms in order to identify a syndrome or mental illness, as they see it. My preferred route of psychotherapy will always be the Jungian route—those who have chosen Carl Jung as their gateway into the field. But the reason only a few will ‘go there’ is for fear of being outcast from their field by the majority of their colleagues who think that only science can provide answers for all, including mental health, and that any method that mentions a soul is not scientific and therefore to be rejected. I know I was desperate to help Elle find a route through pain to peace. I also recognise now that Elle used her great intellect to cover up her inner struggle. She rarely, if ever, let any friends know what was really going on inside her head. Where we thought things were improving for her over her last year, I now think she was finding life even harder, particularly as she had stopped looking for a release from her meltdowns with me. I may have been mistaken in my interpretation that the invisible hand holding me at arm’s length was her need to stand on her own two feet. I now wonder whether she was trying desperately to bear it all alone and this added to the strain she was under. And yes, I understand that I may be over complicating things, but if you knew her like I did perhaps you would recognise something in what I am saying.

About one per cent of the population are currently thought to suffer from BPD, and seventy-five per cent of those are women. I intend to learn as much as I can about the conditions that lead to this disorder. My instinct is that it has a lot to do with modern life, but how exactly l don’t know. It is also Swo Boda’s independent view that this featured in Elle’s behaviour. I may never understand what went wrong for Elle, why, and how she really felt. That is fine with me, but I shall keep trying anyway. I have some ideas, but I am not yet ready to share them.

Peter and Kate have been encouraging me to join them in seeing a therapist. While I wholly support the concept, I don’t feel it is what I need. I have never stopped trying to understand who I am, what lies inside me, where my darkness lies, and how to improve my inner model. While seeing a therapist may well short cut this process, I may as well now stick with the long way round. My need now is to understand what happened to Elle and to keep advancing towards a higher version of myself. A couple of nights ago, while out for dinner with Peter (we are still in London with Kate) I told him of my deep desire to speak to Elle’s therapist, but that I know only that her name is Julie. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remembered that when I was particularly concerned about Elle, I had looked up her therapist’s number on her phone and put it into mine. But I have changed mobiles several times since then, and feared finding out that I had lost the number somewhere along the way. While Peter was distracted I quietly searched my phone’s ‘contact book’, and there it was. It was such a relief, and I silently dropped in a ‘thank you, Elle’. I would love to think that she wants to help me now.

Yesterday I called her number. Yes, this is the practice number and she still works there, but she wasn’t in and had a full schedule all afternoon. I explained who I was, and left my number. She called first thing in the afternoon, and we will meet tomorrow at two. She also said she would be happy to take me for a course of sessions. This makes sense to me, and now I am happy to be seeing a therapist.

26 April

I met Marion for an early lunch and then went to my appointment with Julie. More tomorrow.

27 April

The day was taken up with packing, airports, and saying goodbye to Claudia, who also flew back to Los Angeles today as we left for Ibiza. Our bond grows ever deeper.

Today is Zac’s second birthday. I think our homecoming will make it a good one for him.

28 April

We just met up with Greg. He is happy, aside from his ongoing sadness for Elle, because his home setup is working well and he has all the work he needs, plus his plants are also growing well. It is wonderful to see him so content, but then the tears come as he recalls spending Elle’s birthday as ‘being with her’.

Meeting Julie was all I hoped it would be. It felt comforting, intimate and kind, sitting in the same room where Elle would have sat, and talking with her. She was visibly shaken by the news of Elle’s death. She had questions for me, and I for her, but I chose not to open up a discussion of BPD. I wanted to hear what she was comfortable to discuss with me. She gave me a few insights into the sessions with Elle, which mainly concerned the issue of low self-esteem and her tendency to self-sabotage.

I mentioned Elle’s glue-ear, which was only corrected when Elle was four and a quarter, and how I wish I had kept Elle out of school for another year. Her struggle to catch up on lost development, emotionally and mentally, could have played a role in her later problems. Julie added that perhaps she should have been thinking also in terms of post-traumatic stress disorder. I got the impression that perhaps Elle had left out many things that it would have been good to talk through with Julie. So perhaps things were not much different with what she would share with her to what she shared with Kate and us.

We also discussed how I was feeling, and how the family was coping. It felt like a message from Elle when she said more than once that Elle loved her family very much. I will try to keep up the sessions with her, both via Skype and in person when I am next in the UK in June.

29 April

I need to get up tomorrow with a better attitude. Nothing achieved today except for finding that my iPhone is not behaving and my Elle playlist has gone AWOL.

30 April

I had a lovely bath with loud music—iPhone sorted—and some scented candles this morning. Today is one of those days when I feel somewhat divorced from my feelings. I have noticed this happens some days and provides a welcome relief. Today it is eight months.

As I lay in my bath, naturally my mind turned to Elle. I think a lot about her lack of worldliness. And I think of the juxtaposition of her childhood and puberty. There were no clear markers in her first twelve years of what lay ahead. So what could have happened to alter her inner well-being so much during her thirteenth and fourteenth years? She has said that our love for her, and her love for us, is what kept her safe. These are also the years of great hormonal changes when the adult is attempting to break free of the child. Elle remained a loving and concerned member of the family, and was always happy to spend time with us all, including when we had friends or family over to visit. And on the occasions when we did put a check on her movements, she responded well—I think because she trusted our reasons. It was during this phase that she experienced extreme mental discomfort at times, and while I can never know what exactly and why, nor will I know whether a psychologist or psychiatrist would have made a difference. They probably would have put her on medication and hoped that would fix her. I will never know if there was one or more experiences at a critical moment in her intermediary development that threw a switch in her brain. We are still so ill-informed about the workings of the brain, and I think most psychiatrists agree with this observation. Their medications seem somewhat experimental and generic, and because everyone’s brain is different to some degree, it is no wonder they struggle to come up with a treatment that is suitable to the individual rather than to a perceived condition. This is less the case when dealing with high blood pressure or heart disease, for example. One’s heart is, and works, similarly to any other. As a teenager I got involved in things that were neither what I wanted nor good for my self-esteem, but I’ve always viewed even the negative experiences as helping to shape, in a positive way, the adult I became. This was how Peter and I parented both Kate and Elle. We are more likely to learn from the errors we make than from what goes right. But, there again, some errors may not be ours, while others are so disturbing that putting them into the right box becomes impossible without some help.

Elle changed a lot over the years, but never in her expression of love. As she grew out of her teens she seemed less able to conform to the world around her. This was never a problem for us because we only really tipped our hats to conformity. But she also wanted to fit in, and for this reason she got her A-levels when she saw little point to them, and then chose to go to university, even though she didn’t see much point to that either. I know there was a part of her that did not want to appear less capable and ambitious than her sister. When she told us she didn’t want to carry on with her studies, we supported her—university isn’t right for everyone—despite the normal concerns about whether she was closing out future opportunities.

Perhaps the desire to be seen as capable and able to compete is what drove her to begin studying again through the Open University years later. It was hard to know how to support her through this. She wanted to prove something to herself and others she cared about, yet didn’t believe a university degree proved any more than that, and certainly didn’t mean she was truly accomplished in any of the areas that interested her. I tried to find a middle way by acknowledging her view, and adding that it would always be helpful to assuage society’s need for proof of academic rigour. She didn’t agree with conventional thinking on the subject of psychology, but I suggested it could be helpful to get her degree and then embark on her own path of healing. It was always hard to give Elle the right kind of support because of her own divided thinking. She let me know, though, that after completing her philosophy module she would leave the course. She was concerned about letting her sister and others down, but we all told her that we stood by whatever she felt was right for her. I don’t think this was what was preying on her mind in the last months because she seemed to be talking enthusiastically to Roseline about their future involvement and what she wanted to embark on next.

So where did her pain and anxiety come from? Why did she have so much trouble finding a way to live with who she was? How did she manage to give so much love and light to so many of her friends, family and our friends, often with such a charming air of fun? She has truly left a hole in the hearts of all who knew her—this girl who was rich in life’s gifts, but also no doubt, who had a few tough cards among them, and a girl for whom money held no attraction, nor politics and never the mundane. All that mattered to her were the principles of good living, like trust, honesty and lack of judgment, as well as the wellbeing of others, and finding a path to her higher self. I know that impulsivity led to some youthful mistakes, but most of us have plenty of those in our closets without them haunting us through adulthood. Sometimes I feel she held herself to a much higher standard than most of us do, and I think about the possible reasons that might be.

But there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

            After the Storm, Mumford & Sons

Author: jenniesredbook

Someone who is trying to find the stepping stones that will make a difference to her in this lifetime.

3 thoughts on “Good Grief – Part Seven”

  1. Hi Jennie I really found this easy to read and very interesting. It is so good you managed to find Julie and wonder if she was a help to you eventually. It sort of seemed to me that Elle was a very private person and for whatever reason didn’t feel right or safe or was trying work things out so much herself that she didn’t tell Julie more than you and Kate. Maybe she was so full of things that it was too hard to explain. Also with her studies, first in London at University and then with the Open University, perhaps she was trying to work herself out so much that it was making it complicated for herself in taking in more professional facts and also she had so much love in her heart that she felt that learning too much Philosophy or Psychology was changing her and she didn’t want that or couldn’t cope with the change and then not understanding herself and therefore not being the self she knew. Learning professional facts I think can harden one’s heart a bit. In many ways she felt safe in herself/her world and had a huge understanding of others and maybe somehow felt safer (unconsciously) hanging on to what she believed which was good and true as she was perhaps over thinking about everything and taking in to her being so much on the course she decided to keep to her own gut feelings for that moment in time as that is what she could cope with. Maybe her pain and anxiety came from the fact she felt she should change but somehow couldn’t cope with that. She was perfect the way she was with her huge love for people and everything around her but she didn’t see that. I’m not sure I am explaining this very well but she was a great and lovely person and wish she was here to help us work things out… just wish she was here. I know there is a lot more and will try to read a bit faster.
    Thinking of dear Elle and all of you tomorrow. XXXX

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    1. Dearest Ann, the best person we could ever have chosen to be one of Elle’s godmothers, your words describe to me what I know in my heart to be true. They are so insightful, very comforting and so true, all of them. Thank you for them, especially on this morning. I am thinking of Elle and all of us today. xxx

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