A basket of stories.

I’m sitting on my bed, surrounded with paper, pieces of a new book.

Contemplating a re write more detail. Shall I start over again? Colours, smells descriptions painting the picture to make things visible for the reader.

The autumn sun is shining the sky is blue and the trees on the bank seem to dance around the silver bark beckoning me to go outside

I’m distracted by silly things the glass is blown we need a new tilt and turn window.

It opens onto the grey flat roof of the kitchen extension. Next doors fat black tail less cat Charlie sits looking thoughtful on the edge of the roof.

I have locked the door. Turned off my phone.

Today is mine I needed to just be. To be gentle with myself its been a hard week.

To be here in our cottage by this window finishing the book that was supposed to be finished in June.

I love this place this house I muse about my journey what brought me here.

To this canal this cottage.

The small circle of friends I hold dear.

The girl that I was, has stopped running and is now settled happy I am content with my lot.

Itchy feet the gypsy wonderer has pushed down roots deep into this magical place.

I’ve never been materialistic food in the cupboards diesel in my little car and mine and my family’s health that is enough. Anything else is a bonus.

A good friend of mine and I were talking on what’s app and referred to a job we both did previously which involved caring for vulnerable adults. She used the term carrying their stories.Boomthat really struck a chord.

Story carrier….

It was true. Very.

I have always been drawn to work that involved caring, nursing supporting vulnerable people it’s what I do best.

Disadvantaged children, Learning disabilities, Homeless, Addicts Mental health.

Now I’m a Soulmidwife Holistic Therapist .

The common thread in all of this is the stories.

I believe that that is the key to genuinely helping someone who is in a vulnerable position is listening.

Getting to know their story. Not just their diagnosis or their addiction or situation. How did they arrive at this point?

Each person I have worked with has their own complex story listening is the best gift I have given.

I have heard some horrendous stories, some sad some disturbing. But they are all pieces of a puzzle that makes a whole.

Now as a soul midwife I listen to wishes regrets and plans of patients who are end of life.

I have heard of baby boy given up for adoption in the war and a life then spent teaching and caring for other people’s children and a choice to never marry or have another child after a strict father forbid her to ever speak of her baby again. Sadly, she never got to find him. But the day after she told his story I sat held her hand as she passed peacefully knowing she had spoken his name and someone had listened.

I have contacted estranged siblings and listened to stories of lives that have been so similar apart regrets that family feuds hadn’t been resolved earlier.

I have listened to stories of abuse, rape self-loathing and harm. Reassured not judged held shaking hands

A hug a hand to hold sometimes reassurance that ‘you can get through this ‘the simplest things are the greatest gift.

So next time you walk by that homeless person or sit next to that old lady/man on a bench remember that every one of us has a story. Many stories that entwine into one life we collect along this path our journey.

Listening hearing and genuine acceptance are greatest gifts you can give.

Life is beautiful but sometimes unbareably hard.

I watch her smile at our grand daughter.
Struggling to hold her beside her as she lies in bed.
Her daughter Sarah and my son Michaels baby.
She and I have been best friends since they were children.
My random friend
Questions like could we keep a penguin in the bath?
The kind of friends that know each other well.
Our likes and dislikes
We laugh at the same things
Don’t get me wrong we have had our disagreements.
Passionate arguments.
But when push came to shove we both knew we could always depend on the other.
Forever friends.
We would joke about riding on old people scooters
I always hoped that Sarah and Mike would get together.
I loved Donna’s kids like my own.
And last year my meddling worked.
Not how I would have planned it but here we are.
And it is what it is.
You see we hadn’t seen each other for awhile we had texted but not seen each other for a year.
I work as a soulmidwife.
Companion to terminally ill.
On my way out of the hospital ward I was visiting I saw her there Donna.
Admitted with pain she had suffered with for awhile.
She had text and bllamed it on work, pushing wheel chairs lifting patients
But after two weeks she was diagnosed.
Cancer.
We fell back into step. Like we had never been apart.
We met the week after in the park engineered to have mike and Sarah with us.
Eighteen months later they are together.
We have Emilia our beautiful granddaughter.
She is the positive light that has kept Donna fighting.
Two rounds of chemotherapy she has been amazing.
I’m in awe of how brave she is.
Two months ago we flew to Corfu.
I stood on the deck of a boat watched as she swam in the bluest of seas warm sun.
White sands her long black hair shining
She was so happy
We visited old Corfu town, sat in small seafood restaurants by the sea.
Drank cocktails. Laughed danced and sang.
We didn’t speak of cancer.
What a difference two months can make.
This is my job I deal with it all the time.
There isn’t anything I can’t deal with
But
I don’t want to deal with this
For a month she has been complaining of pain in her liver. Twice admitted
Jaundice, codine, oramorph.
More pain
I stayed over with her last night
Eyes yellow tired and scared.
Reassured her that no matter what I’m there
I promise I’m by her side.
I promise her that her sister and I will look after the kids.
I will love Emilia enough for both of us.
I will help her make memory boxes
Write birthday cards, graduation wedding, and letters.
Of course I will. I love her.
I hold her hand in mine.
She falls asleep against me.
As she sleeps I feel her breathing rise and fall
Her hair is damp from my tears.
I pull the covers around her kiss her gently
Visualise myself watching her swim and smile in the blue sea
On our next holiday in the sun

Invisible

Lunch time you don’t really see me.

Sitting by the huge school bins.

Hiding with my dog.

Hating being in school.

Listening to the dinner ladies

Spouting the same old monologue.

Angry on the inside

Quiet and shy on the out.

Screaming inside my head.

But unable to let it out.

Scared by all the feelings.

Going on inside my head.

Wanting someone to make it better.

Or wishing I was dead.

My escape is drawing, painting and writing.

Imagining a better life

A world were things are wonderful.

With no one to hurt you

Or school bullies and family strife.

A world where lumps in your throat

Don’t block the words you need to say.

Where families love each other.

In a loving normal way.

But drawing painting dreaming.

Are not going to change this world.

So I will keep this label of a rebel trouble making girl.

Wake up call.

pexels-photo-673862.jpegI’m beyond fed up.

I’m married.

I’m just eighteen, I have a beautiful baby and a vicious bully of a husband.

So far I’ve had broken nose, collar bone, arm and so many bruises I’ve lost count.

I don’t argue anymore.

I keep quiet.

But he’s pissed.

I’ve walked around the block three times to get the baby to sleep.

She’s finally dropped off.

I open the front door gently lift her from her pram almost run as quickly as I can upstairs gently put her in her cot and pull door shut behind me..

Listen

Quiet.

Tip toe down…

Then breathe.

He shouts. I jump. Heart thumping scared look around he hits me hard. My ear rings head bangs on the door frame. I scramble to my feet.

‘Where the fuck have you been?’ he says through gritted teeth smell of whisky wafting in my face splatters me with drunken spit.

I try to turn away. But he’s holding my jaw.

I’m 5’2 his 6, 7 frame towers over me.

‘Shush I plead the baby I stammer. I’ve been walking she’s teething … Needed to get her to sleep.’

I’m almost pleading I’m tired of this.

‘Not now please. Let’s not fight.’

‘Please’ I say again ‘I’ll make you tea.’

He pushes me down I get up again and pull the tansad pram up the front steps and though the front door.

Shutting it to keep the neighbours from witnessing my shame.

I push pram into the lounge he roars everything goes into slow motion he picks it up and throws it. Through the living room window.

Has someone pressed a button?

Glass splinters.

Slowly, shattering.

Pram hood up lands on upside down it’s bends and lands on its side.

I’m holding my breath.

Empty pram.

But he hadn’t checked.

He could have killed my baby.

The horror of the situation hits me.

Was that the wake up button?

He hits me again. And again. I’m numb

And I fall in the glass.

Blood everywhere.

A voice in my head. ‘Get up, get out of here.’

I keep crawling.

‘You lying bitch’ he’s saying as he alks into the kitchen

There’s blood dripping from my nose.

There’s a bang it’s the front door hitting the stair post.

The man who lives in the house opposite

Is standing there. Like a big shadow.

It’s all surreal. I feel sick.

He hold out his hand to me and pulls me up.

Jeff is back with glass of whisky.

‘What the fuck do you want?’

He is furious.

‘You’d better go I stammer to the man.’

He ignores me I’m really scared now.

‘Is this how you keep your women in line in St Helens he says?’

‘Beat the fuck out of them.’

He looks at me. ‘Where is your baby?’

‘Upstairs sleeping’ I manage.

‘What the fuck has it got to do with you?’ Jeff shouts dropping the whiskey and striding towards him.

It all happened so fast.

‘Call an ambulance says the man.’

‘ No I’ll be fine’ I say.

‘Not for you for this dick head’ and he hits Jeff. Knocking him into the lounge onto the broken glass I stand there frozen.

Jeff gets up and he hits him again and again

‘Come on he’s saying or can you only hit girls?’

Then he picks him up and throws him down the path.

‘I’m phoning the police’ Jeff says looking like he’s done a ten round boxing match.

‘No need says the stranger I rang them before I came.’

‘Now take yourself anywhere else but here.’

Just as a police car pulls up outside.

My dress is covered in blood from my broken nose. My face hurts but my baby is okay.

The police are pushing Jeff into the car.

The man is saying Jeff attacked him outside the house.

Police woman asks ‘Is that right?’

‘Yes’ I nod. ‘Did he do this to you?’

‘Yes’ I say.

My dad arrives from up the street. Looks at me with distain.

‘You’ve made your bloody bed lady lie in it.’

The man shakes his head.

‘Bloody idiots lot of them.’ he says.

‘You need to get away from this place’ he says. I smile ‘thank you.’

‘Hospital’ asks the police woman

‘No I’ll be fine I can’t leave my baby. I’ll go later.’

‘Are you sure’. ‘Yes’ I say.

I won’t go too many questions.

I close the door and start to pick up glass.

Look out into the garden at the pram on its hood.

My baby cries from her room.

I have to leave.

You taught me well

You taught me well.
By example.
Of exactly what not to be
A racist, violent alcoholic
Oh Dad you taught me well you see
You taught me to have work ethic.
By staying in the pub.
You made our lives so miserable
Just because you could.
Oh yes you taught me well.

I watched you get arrested for fighting in the street.
You’d throw your dinner up the wall.
Too pissed to even eat.
I watched you steal from mammy’s purse.
She’d cleaned houses so we could live
But you’d go off drinking down the pub.
And somehow she would forgive.
Not me.
You taught me well.

Going to school step over you asleep on the floor.
Choking coughing on vomit.
I’d prop your head in a washing up bowl
Go to school wondering if you’d die.
Not knowing if you’d be there when I got home I’d stand and wave you goodbye.
Oh yes dad you taught me well.

You cared about things not people.
Beer, homebrew, pubs, the bookies and guns
Your word was law or I’d regret it.
I’d tell you I hate you then run.
Oh yes you taught me well.

There were two sides to you.
The monster who could reduce me to a frightened mess.
I could count on my fingers the good times.
When you’d swear you’d give up the ale.
And although I wanted to believe I never quite did, I have to confess
You see you taught me well.

I wasn’t like the other kids.
I never really fit.
Hair you’d cut all shapes with pinking shears.
Coat that didn’t fit.
Your dad’s just a piss head.
Yes I knew they were right.
Normal I thought so I’d seen this time and time

Sit alone on the bus and in the playground
Avoid another fight.
Yes you taught me well.

My mammy should have left you.
But instead she stayed.
Maybe too tired, sick or worn out.
Our had she grown used to your alcoholic ways?
I’d go sitting in a friend’s house,
But you’d come and look for me.
Shouting swearing until I came home.
No chance of escape for me.
Yes you taught me well.

So I’d sit and hide in libraries.
Found a way to escape.
Terry Pratchett and Lewis Carroll
Helped me to my thoughts reshape.
Took me to other worlds
Far far away from home.
Where you couldn’t reach me.
And in these stories I would roam.
The stories they taught me well.

You tortured my poor mammy.
Until her dying day.
Massive heart attack took her from me.
As you’d argued pissed as every other day.
I walked away from you that day.
With anger in my heart.
I couldn’t help but wish you’d had the courage to live apart.
The damage that you caused
like Holocaustic ripples on the water.
But I’m stronger – a good mammy, friend and wife,
I’m not just an alcoholic’s daughter.

Dad you taught me well

Belonging.

Why is it I choose to write?
Paper and pen my life long love.

My friends
Writing is magic that has given me many lives
Helped me to make sense of this world.
Ink runs through my veins.
Words hold me gently like a solitary single leaf floating on rippled water.
So many memories spill onto paper..
Ebb and flow pushing me to shore
Words wrap me up in hope and stop me going insane.
Flashbacks of you like blurry cine film.
If I didn’t write.
I’d wonder
Were you ever really here at all?
Were you just a fragment of my splintered broken imagination?
Would that be kinder than the truth?
Without you I would not be.
I stare into the mirror look for shadows of you
Needing to belong.
So I write it is as if you never chose to leave me.

Raven Wordsmith 🖤