After heavy rain the back yard smells like the rainforest. It really transports me as I sit there in the early morning sun, watching the dog play. She runs through the grass, droplets of water splashing from her feet and getting caught in the light - diamonds sprayed into the morning! She is so happy to be alive. She takes such enjoyment out of sticking her snout in the earth, smelling the fresh grass, rolling around in the mud. Puddles are such a delight for her, as she jumps into them head first, then belly and, with an agile swiveling maneuver, feet up and wriggling, like a muddy little pig. The prospect of going out in the back yard every day is so exhilarating, that she is so happy to see one of her humans in the mornings, greeting us with one of her broad pit bull smiles, the corners of her mouth curling up to show her teeth, and her tail wagging at our feet. Usually I have to reach for the coffee pot grumpily before thinking of doing anything, but today I am as drawn to the outside as she is.

Yes, it has rained. Birds are so loud here, like in the jungle, and though it is not hot yet, the air is ripe with the promise of wet midday heat. It is the kind of heat that smells and tastes of water, the submerging and often suffocating kind. It bears little resemblance to the dry heat of Cyprus, which is striking, powerful and unforgiving.

So what have I learnt over these past two years?, I think as I watch the dog trot about like a goat and relish this beautiful morning. Sometimes it feels like life stopped since my mum's diagnosis, while the world just passed me by. I feel left behind, forgotten and lonely. The robust cords that connected me to the whole planet were severed, and for two years I have been living in the realm of the dead, and the grieving. In the beginning, after she died, I felt a sense of relief and rebirth. I thought "if she can do it, if she can die, then so can I". There was nothing to be afraid of. I was born again as my own mother, and I could build my life however I wanted to, without feeling responsible for her feelings. But those initial thoughts started to wear off like clothes that have been washed only too often. I was left holding rags. I descended into the most profound identity crisis I have ever experienced, as I realised that the only person who really knew me was now gone. All my self doubt, all my fears, all my darkness was met with silence, as if the emptiness echoed: you are nothing. My mother was not there to fight off any of it, to talk me back to reason and strength. The questions that had troubled me before "who am I, what is my purpose, what am I doing with my life" came now clad in an armour of futility, and night after night their powerful clubs beat me to a pulp. And worst of all, I ended up empty. After all the anger, sadness and tears were spent, I was left with nothing to offer. Unable to work, unable to write, unable to sex, unable to read, unable to talk about anything, I felt myself being stripped of colour and substance, and in place of me lived now a white paper person with a paper plate head and a paper thin smile. And this is how I walk about interacting with this world. I feel guilty and grateful for my family's support during this time, as I am unable to justify a lot of my actions, as well as my financial and emotional dependence. I am also secretly envious of the people whose lives seem bright and blissful, and most of all moving forwards. It sounds sad, but deep down I feel like I have no choice, I have to give myself time and wait it out till my lonely rock re-enters the earth's orbit once again. I focus on the small things that give me pleasure, like cooking good, wholesome food, enjoying the sun on my skin, spending the time I have with the people I love well, tending my plants, playing with the dog, listening to people.

As I am starting to write once again, I want to try and find my voice. In trying to find my voice I must talk about my grief. So what have I learnt over these past two years? The dog looks at me with her long tongue hanging out and I know it's time to go inside. Where do I begin? 


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