Letting Go

I’m still in Portrush. Gales and more gales blow through, one trailing the other, bowling balls careening down a polished rink, on they roll, another, another, another. The wind abates for a day or two, then I’ll be lying in my upstairs bedroom at night and hear it gather speed, listen to it rise, rip, and peel under every crack, sounding as though it’s hooked to a Fender amp, causing me to brace in readiness for the roof to take flight and for me to awaken in Oz.

It reminds me of storm Anne, back at the start of 2014. I was in Portrush then too, myself and Ken, loading the last of our goods into the car for a night sailing to Liverpool and an early morning drive across the Pennines to start our new adventure. He called any new thing ‘an adventure’, especially when he knew it was something I was frightened of, and moving away always scared me – to Belfast, to Dublin, most definitely to England. I saw every move as a dislocation, and a dislocation in one’s body hurts, so why should it not hurt when it comes to geography? The move was another test in letting go and in moving on, which some of us are better at than others. By necessity – albeit slowly – I am getting better at letting go. When I moved to Edinburgh, almost five years ago, it barely hurt at all, a tiny pin prick, negligible in comparison to pain of Ken dying.

Life, I believe, is one long process of hearing the wind howl and letting go. We each have our different pressure points, but there will something to trigger you somewhere along the way: the pain of going to school as an infant, or leaving home for the first time, the pain of a first (or second or third) break up, of leaving a house you loved, a job you were comfortable in. All these events pave the way (but so inadequately) for the greatest letting go of all. Some of Ken’s legacy was to have left me feeling less scared about change, more able to let go, to know that nature abhors a vacuum and that something, someone, someplace, will, in time, come to fill the space, hole, feeling of emptiness. I didn’t just rotate the map and walk in another direction – maybe some people do – with no blueprint to follow it has taken me a long time to draw up a new map, the only trick was to keep on in the face of whatever debilitating feelings crashed in as frequently and regularly as this year’s winter gales.

One morning last month – it was a pink morning when the sky looked as though an enormous feather duvet had burst and shaken masses of soft-edged pink clumps onto a canvas of blue – I stood in my Edinburgh kitchen looking out into the day. I had an uncanny sensation that I was standing beside myself, a weight bearing version of myself from previous years. I could feel it keenly, but this time the weight was not inside of me, it was alongside me, not part of me anymore. Gazing at it from arm’s length, I was astonished at how long I had been able to carry it and just keep going. I had no option, these things go away by themselves, eventually, if you can bear to put up with the discomfort of them squatting within you for as long as they do, and this had been there for some time (off and on, and I’m not naive enough to think it will never come back). But that morning felt like a re-set, an eviction, a letting go.

For me, the most important poems illuminate truth, they freeze a moment in time, use the most precise words to move the reader towards a particular emotion, then tip us just beyond what is comfortable – to an excess of pain or joy that makes us gasp inwardly, makes us see something we already know about ourselves but that we dare not examine too closely, because it hurts. Certain poems mildly electrocute me, make me cry out, almost as if I’ve stubbed my toe, or when I used to have the hiccups and Ken, when I least expected it, would grab and tug my earlobe, giving me such a shock that the hiccups would be dislodged. How I miss his cure.

Some day, go and read Cecil Day Lewis’s poem, Walking Away, walk the touch lines of the football field with him, and remember your own tightrope walk of letting go of someone, or somewhere, or something, and if you’ve not let go yet, know you will someday.


8 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Thank you so much Eimear for your bravery, vulnerability and honesty in writing this . It is something I’m sure many others as well as myself needed to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

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