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Posts Tagged ‘sadness’

Now the tree is dying for it has been starved of rain.
The butterflies and dragonflies will not be seen again.
They’ve taken flight to other lands from which they won’t return.
The tree was there to teach them, but now all lessons are learned.

There is a potent disconnect that cannot be resolved.
A sadness spreads over the land that stays till we grow old.
The arid dust of discontent forever in our throats
Will serve as a reminder of what we had come to know.

Was it naive to think that two children could become friends
And dream that they could climb the tree for summers without end?
Now words written and spoken all dissolve into the thinnest air
And children hide their faces to pretend they just don’t care.

Where once a tall tree flourished, now the barest trunk remains,
Bemoaning all the leaves that fell in piles, then blew away.
The gentle breeze that used to blow and whisper children’s names
Has now become a wind that howls for nothing is the same.

A year of cherished memories, of words and gifts exchanged,
Encouragement that flourished in our lives and helped us change.
We thrived in one another’s light and grew into ourselves,
To find our full potential, now put back upon our shelves.

The end is surely drawing near, so one last poem I write
Before I surely disappear forever from your sight.
I want to thank you for the way you’ve been a friend to me,
For your wisdom and kindness and your generosity.

Memories will linger but one day I fear they’ll fade.
Though there’s no doubt that we are both indelibly changed.
To have been completely understood by someone you have known
Is to better know yourself and to know that you have grown.

So now I climb down from my branch to earth so bare and dry,
Where words no longer flow … where birds no longer fly …
Where all that I imagine can no longer come to life …
I only wish the Friendship Tree could somehow be revived …

… In Memory of The Friendship Tree …

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And just when the boy was certain that all was lost, a small, ethereal barefooted figure in a lavender dress with violet eyes faded from nothing into luminous reality before him. The small section of path over which she floated seem to sparkle dimly, as though lit by distant starlight. He had always been certain that faeries existed; he had felt their ever-present magic as he had wandered through the woods and explored the intricate, winding path of the secret garden. Though he had seen paintings and statues and many pairs of tinsel wings dancing across the enchanted woods of his daydreams, he had never seen one suspended in flight with his own eyes before. Now finally as he had always hoped, one had appeared before him, possibly because before now, he had never truly needed to move from faith to certainty.

‘Do you know what it is you have lost?’ she asked him in a shimmering voice unlike any he had heard before, and instantly his heart filled with hope that she would be able to help him find it. ‘Life has become so … difficult,’ he stammered. ‘Where there was once the purest joy, now there is the heaviest sadness, and it has taken over everything. And even in the brief moments when sorrow seems to fade, there is a deep void. I am still a child, but each moment I feel that I am growing very, very old.’ 

She nodded, and a lilac tear threatened to form in those spritely, bright eyes that had already spied his pain from where she had sat hidden, nestled amongst the flowers. She had seen this boy many times before as he had wandered through the woods, and of all the people she had watched intently, making their way down the winding path, she knew that his heart was the fullest with belief. When he reached the leafless tree adorned by long, strange pale pink tassels, she knew that he wondered whether they were faerie feathers, and that he would be both totally surprised and not surprised at all to learn that indeed they were. 

She could see other questions that now rose to the surface of the boy’s deep blue eyes that looked more like the ocean on an overcast day than the eyes of any child. The heart within her pounded as words from long ago echoed inside her mind, replaying the moment that the ancient faerie wisdom had passed into her possession: ‘Cascadacia, you must understand that every faerie has one special mission that she must fulfil in order to earn her Eternal Shine.’ And so she had sat amongst the flowers each warm Summer’s day and golden Autumn’s day and brisk Winter’s day until the first crisp day of Spring when the white haired boy had appeared upon the path. He had looked so deeply troubled, and before she could even make the choice to fly, she found herself hovering over the path before him.  ‘Tell me what has brought you here today and what has put those clouds into your eyes …’

The child sighed, not knowing where to start, but tracing his thoughts back carefully to his loss of levity. ‘I once had a friend – a little girl with pink cheeks and cheeky eyes that danced like fireflies. We played like only true children can, racing every day to a magical tree to dangle paper butterflies and dragonflies from its branches. How the magic breeze would blow through the leaves of that tree, making our mobiles dance like wind-chimes! How the chaos of smiles littered the heavens like comets, transforming the darkness into blissful, childlike, cosmic splendour. But then …’ he faltered, his voice trembling in the shadows of unfolding revelation.

The faerie sensed the pain of the story before the boy could tell it. ‘Then, something happened. I watched my friend … grow old before my eyes …’ His tale was one of pure lament, but as his voice faded into the background, Cascadacia knew that she must disconnect herself from all the boy said to help him understand the truth that would unfold. As though from a distance, she saw his fiercely guarded tears fall to the ground, sensing that it was somehow the loss of his own youth that caused his devastation. 

And as his story became infused with even greater sorrow, she felt the strongest urge a faerie can feel welling up inside her, subsuming her entire frame. It was several moments before the boy could disconnect from his discontent enough to notice the purple faerie begin to shake violently over the path before him. He found himself disarmed by the intensity of the unlikely sound that bubbled up from the depths of the faerie’s soul. Her irrepressible giggle grew into an overwhelming cascade of laughter, and for a moment the boy felt utterly betrayed. How could she laugh with such abandon in the face of his deep suffering? How could something as lovely as a faerie be so heartless when childhood had been so utterly lost?

The sound of the faerie’s laughter resounded throughout the woods; and with every moment, an unfamiliar joy sang into the shadows of the small boy’s mind. Though he could not form words to explain what was happening, he surrendered like dry ground to the relief of rain as all sadness dissolved completely, and he knew that sorrow would never again darken his thoughts. He had known traces of childlike joy before, but now he absorbed it to the deepest core of his being. And as he grappled with the exchange of suffering for joy, he barely noticed that while the sound of lavender laughter intensified and filled him with unquenchable strength, the outline of the faerie was slowly fading in the air before him.

Only moments before, she had been a bright and delightful confirmation of all that he had believed to be true. Now as she faded from the view of his eyes and back into wherever it was that faeries disappeared, her endlessly echoing laughter had become a golden promise that all sadness was forever banished from the recesses of his heart. He remembered the question she had asked him, ‘Do you know what it is you have lost?’ 

He tried with all his soul to remember, but the sorrow of what he had once lost was now lost to him forever. No, he had not imagined the lavender faerie or the delicious joys of eternal childhood – they were equally real and true. But what of the sorrow he once felt at the loss of his little friend, who had slowly turned in his mind from pale pink to ashen grey? Or the sadness that he felt as his eternal youth proved little more than a momentary delusion? With one final lavender laugh, these vanished completely from all recollection, completely unreal and untrue, nevermore to be entertained, even in moments of absent distraction.

In the next moment, he saw his little friend with the pink ponytails in her hair running towards him along the forest path. ‘You found it!’ she squealed with delight. ‘Found what?’ he asked, the old, familiar sense of silly fun forming a broad smile across his brightly beaming face. ‘Your sparkle!’ she giggled, ‘It’s back in your eyes – just like magic!’ And he realised that she had not grown old and neither had he, and he knew with absolute certainty that neither of them ever would and that the sadness that once consumed them both had been dissolved forever. And as they ran laughing in the direction of their favourite tree, the faerie dying in the nearby flowers smiled to know that her mission had been fulfilled, and that her shine would live eternally in the undying laughter of the children.
 

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    Angelica sat upon the large, dark, damp circle not too far from the water’s edge. She had expected to wade into the water to find the glistening treasure box of shells again, but here they all were, gathered strangely and almost dry, as if waiting for her to come and sit quietly, to seek and sort and sift. This time, the sun did not sparkle onto the tiny jewels, bringing out of them the radiant fire of colour and the sparkling illusion of life. The sky was grey, a reflection of her own dimly lit soul, for she had just learned that she was very sick again and fat drops of rain threatened to fall in the place of the self-pitying tears she refused to cry.

    The tiny shells, thousands of them, formed a cushion around and beneath her. She unclasped the silver chain around her neck, with its shiny Friendship Tree medallion, diamond butterfly, sparkly pink rose and the long dragonfly charm set with small square pink stones, all reminding her of the dear friends who had so often been within arm’s reach, those she cherished the most. But today she sat on the beach alone, searching for those shells that were special, pretty and strong enough to be threaded onto her silver chain.

    ‘When I am trying to recover, to beat this illness again,’ she explained to herself, ‘this will be my way of keeping the ocean close to my heart, giving me life and strength.’ She knew that it would be a very long time before she would be well enough to dive again beneath the nearby pier that seemed now to fade into a distant fog before her. ‘No, I will not be here with you,’ she sighed to the ocean, ‘So I must take part of you there with me,’ and she searched and sorted and selected those tiny, treasured trinkets that would carry all the fullness of the ocean inside them around her neck.

    ‘Did you think I wouldn’t come?’ a sweet voice spoke softly behind her. And looking up she saw the beautiful girl in the flowing red dress move like a dream towards her, an unexpected sadness in her eyes. The girl was older than she had ever been before, full of elegance, grace and understanding that had somehow come through transcending all the trials and suffering of the past. ‘How she inspires me,’ Angelica breathed, rather than whispered, and instinctively she held out the silver chain, asking the girl to ‘Choose’. Carefully the girl with rubies for eyes perused the small collection on the chain and selected a pearly shell with a soft pink hue.

    ‘I will take this one to remember you by,’ the beautiful girl smiled, ‘But in its place, you must take these two.’ And she threaded onto the chain a long, dark spiralled shell and one that was tiny and almost perfectly round, like a child’s plastic bead. ‘The first,’ she explained, ‘reminds you that your path will be dark and windy, but that you will never, ever walk it alone. The second – ‘, she paused, as though hesitating to find the words, ‘will remind you that life is simpler than we sometimes think, and that when you see it through the eyes of a child, you realise that there is nothing to be feared.’

    A magic breeze blew gently across the water and up onto the shell-strewn circle, and with it the girl in the red dress carrying the scent of roses vanished and Angelica’s most magical friend, the white haired boy, appeared. ‘Please give me that shell there,’ he pointed to the chain, ‘For it is small but very strong, the same colour as my hair. And in its place, I leave you this – ‘, his eyes threatened to swell with rain, and indeed at that moment, a cold rain began to fall steadily and the boy in the long blue cloak dissolved from sight. Angelica looked down into the palm of her hand where he seemed to have placed an intricately folded note on pale blue paper.

    Her first instinct was to open it, to see what magical words would be written inside, but then she knew without doubt that this paper must never be unfolded. Standing carefully, for it pained her now to lift her body up from the dark, shell-encrusted circle on which she sat, she moved with all the courage she could muster down towards the water’s edge where she sent the tiny paper boat out on its unfathomable journey. She watched as it bobbed, threatening to be overcome by the smallest wave, then surfaced again to travel the length of the misty pier, almost disappearing from view.

    ‘What’s that?’ she heard the smallest voice beside her, then felt a tiny hand reaching up to hold her own. Here was a child she had never seen before. A true child – maybe five years old, with long dark hair and kind, mischievous eyes – not just a child in spirit. ‘I’m Autumn,’ the child explained, and as she spoke, her words smelled like the sweetest rain and falling leaves. ‘You are very sick and I have come to bring you joy.’ And despite the pain that gnawed at her body like a towel being wrung dry between one’s hands, Angelica reached down and lifted the child high into her arms, and they squeezed one another tightly that they might give each other strength that would last each of them their lifetimes.

    Setting her gently down again, their eyes locked them deeply together into tiny waves of laughter, like the ones that carried the paper boat off into its happy journey. Hand in hand, Angelica and Autumn ran from the water’s edge, the sound of the shells dangling around Angelica’s neck chiming like the ice in a sweet summer’s drink. Together they skipped away, away, up onto a rolling green hill where they collapsed together in a delightfully messy pile of the sweetest giggles. Angelica wrapped her arms around the child, feeling the strong, young heartbeat pounding blissfully against her own. Yes, she was tired and sick, and when she closed her eyes, she could almost believe that right now she was just a step or two from heaven.

    Angelica sighed, breathing in the crisp Autumn air, the nearby sea breeze and every sign that, at this very moment, she was still quite fully alive. It would be many months before she would be strong enough to return to the water’s edge, to search once more for tiny shells or to slide again beneath the long, misty pier like a bright fish, full of energy and possibilities. But for now, this one moment of life was enough, and she would take it like the shells around her neck with her into whatever the next moment might hold. She felt herself float and disappear like the tiny blue paper boat. It was no longer within her view, but she knew that it was still on its adventure into unknown waters and she determined, with everything within her, to see her voyage through to its mysterious, unknowable end.

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The little girl with pink bows in her hair sat by the window in quiet contemplation, her back resting against a shiny satin cushion on her favourite plush pink chair. Most other days, she would run and play and laugh with delight as she suspended herself upside down from the sturdy branches of her beloved Friendship Tree, alone or with one or both of her dearest friends. She smiled gently at all the fond recent memories that swirled now like blissful butterflies through sun-dappled, day-dreamy meadows. How she loved more than anything to spend time with her two friends – the pretty girl with the dancing eyes and ruby lips, and the magical white haired boy in the long blue coat – hearing the funny stories they made up and seeing the wonderful smiles that beamed like sunshine from their sweet, lovely faces. Their smiles and their words were always so generously given and they worked like medicine to make her sometimes tired heart happy again.

Blinking herself back from memory into the present moment, she sighed to realise she had not seen her friends for some time, then in the next moment she realised that this was not entirely true. She had seen them briefly several times, crossing paths with them for a few brief moments here and there, but the exchanges had been more like fireflies than candles – so brief and so fleeting! It seemed as though they had snorkelled quickly over the surface of things, but never somehow found the time to dive deeply, to explore, to talk and think out loud on any deeper level. ‘They probably think I don’t care anymore,’ the child whispered to herself, ‘I truly hope they know they are wrong.’

For in truth, the little girl had longed with all her heart to laugh and run and play again, to be nothing more than the playful Child without a care in the world. But life had crowded in on her, and lately, the bright bread of time had seemed to turn into dark, meagre crumbs. It took all her effort each day to gather even just a few of those crumbs together, to send them to her friends, all dressed up like dreamy, creamy little cupcakes, all pretty and sparkly and sweet with pink frosting piled into happy swirls, higher than the cake itself. Her dear friends inspired her to reach lofty heights, to climb every tree to the highest branch, and to peer out through the thick blanket of leaves and send a twinkling giggle up into the dark night sky to join the glittering stars. ‘And yet,’ she thought, now back upon her favourite pink chair by the window, ‘I would not trade the two of them for all the stars in the galaxy.’

Yet here she was, and the two apples of her eye were nowhere in sight. She knew they would be off playing, running through a field somewhere or climbing into the Tree together. Perhaps they would pass all the pleated paper butterflies she had hung from sparkly string on her favourite branch. They would brush their hands across the strings, sending the butterflies into a wistful illusion of flight. ‘She hasn’t been here for so long,’ the girl in the pretty red dress would sigh. ‘Do you think she’s gone forever?’ The white haired boy would shake his head uncertainly, then with confidence that grew like the tree’s greenest leaves, small and supple, with all the secret life of the bigger leaves inside. ‘No,’ he would reply, ‘She is small but we know that she is strong, and she is the most loyal, true and abiding friend that we could ever have. I do not know where she been hiding lately, but she can’t be far.’ Then something would catch his eye, which would make him catch his breath and exclaim, ‘Look!’

As if on cue, the children watched in awe as a pale white paper butterfly appeared inside the tree’s thick canopy of leaves, fluttering now above the branch where so many other bright paper butterflies danced on the slight bright breeze. ‘That must be the magical breeze our friend spoke of so often,’ the girl in red whispered in wonder. ‘I’ve seen so many of her paper butterflies dangling here, but never any so frail and pale! Where is its colour?’ she lamented, a gentle tear forming in her eye. The boy beside her put his hand out flat, and sensing the invitation, the white butterfly lifted itself -with some difficulty it seemed – to drop limply onto his outstretched palm. Somehow, it did not seem entirely well, and although they could not let the thoughts that filled their minds take form upon their lips, the girl reached out to clasp the boy’s other hand, and both wondered how long such a fragile creature might be destined to remain upon this earth.

‘I think this butterfly is dying,’ the girl in red started to sob softly, the compassionate heart within her starting to break at the sight of the fragile creature with wings that seemed to lose strength with each passing moment. ‘We are all dying,’ the white-haired boy replied, ‘It is part of being alive. But no, this little one shall not die, at least not yet.’  The girl in red brushed away the last tear that had fallen onto her cheek, for she knew that this boy that she loved with all her heart always carried a special kind of magic hidden in the deep pockets of his long blue coat. The white paper butterfly had now faded almost to grey, and all the strength it had used to land upon his open palm seemed now to have sapped from its tiny body as it lay, lifeless, in his hand. Without disturbing it, he motioned the girl he loved with all his soul to reach inside his pocket, and she was both very surprised and not surprised at all to pull out a long paintbrush from the boy’s magical coat.

‘I think I understand,’ she told him softly, ‘But then again, I don’t. Maybe you can paint it back to life, but where will you find any paint?’ The white-haired boy looked so deep into her eyes, she thought he had fallen into her soul. ‘My darling one,’ he replied, ‘That is where this little butterfly will need your help more than mine. You have the most beautiful heart in all the world, and your tears are more precious than every gemstone that has ever been found, for the love in your heart is the greatest treasure known to man or beast.’ His gentle words, so full of adoration, moved her heart deeply – how loved she was by him, and how much compassion seemed to pour out of him towards the lifeless, winged creature upon his palm. A single, clear tear, purer than any diamond, rolled from the corner of her eye, collecting the rosy hue of her cheek as it moved towards the paintbrush the boy now held in his hand.

Gently, the boy dabbed the soft pink watercolour onto the ashen butterfly. Astonished that her tear had added such a delicate tint to the lifeless creature’s wings, a second tear escaped the girl’s beautiful blue-green eyes, and caught once more upon the paint brush in the boy’s hand, a sparkling sapphire was layered over the wash of pink, and the palette began to build upon the butterfly’s form. A wave of hope flushed the girl’s cheek red, and now the brush caught a ruby tear as the boy finished painting the mosaic of rainbow colour – pink, blue then red – onto the butterfly’s wings. Still it did not seem to stir, but the illusion of life was breathtaking. ‘You’ve made it look alive,’ the girl spoke, her voice a mix of admiration for her beloved boy and infinite sadness for the butterfly that could not be revived, even by all the watercolour tears in all the world.

The white-haired boy looked deeply into the watery pools of blue-green eyes, now overflowing onto his beloved’s cheeks in coloured drops too numerous to catch. The soul within him stirred to find the words that would help her to understand that life would always be very short but very beautiful. He deeply wished he could have painted the butterfly back to life, so instead, he tried to paint his love with words:

My dearest love in all the earth
How precious are your tears.
Compassion runs so deep in you,
Despite all of your fears.

The colours flow like priceless jewels from
Deep inside your precious heart.
Though life is sweet, it is so short,
An end to every start.

And as she crumpled into his arms, high up in the tree, neither noticed that their painted paper butterfly had disappeared – dissolved? – never to be seen again. ‘If only our little friend in pink had been here,’ they spoke between sobs and sighs, ‘Surely she would have known how to bring that poor little butterfly back to life.’  But they had not seen her for such a long time – now only the pleated paper butterflies that she had folded with care and hung from her favourite branch with glittery string danced to remind them that she had ever been in this tree at all.

Far away, but not entirely too far, their much-loved but little seen friend with pink bows in her hair sat by the window in quiet contemplation, resting against the shiny satin cushion on her favourite chair.  That instant, the subtle sun of morning had given way to bright bursts of light, streaming through the window glass. Slowly she stood, and desperate to feel more of the sunshine, more directly on her face, she opened the window wide to let the bright beams kiss her skin. She closed her eyes and inclined her face towards the sun, letting it soak into her skin, lifting her spirits far above the room in which she had been resting. The sun flickered as though through water, dancing and smiling so that she smiled too and all her woes seemed to utterly dissolve. She breathed the warm air deeply into her lungs, renewed and revived by the life-giving elements.

Looking deeply inside her heart, she could not help but bubble with joy, knowing that each moment of life was indeed a tremendous gift to be celebrated. Yes, she may be alone right now, but she would not allow herself to feel lonely. The memory of her two dearest friends, probably this moment climbing and laughing together high inside the thick canopy of leaves of their favourite tree, caused her face to give way to a delighted smile. One day they would all find a way – somehow – to play together once more. Their presence would warm her heart again, just as the rich, golden sun now warmed her face and arms. Taking one last, deep breath, she opened her eyes again and pulled the window shut. She would sit again, just for a few moments, before finding the strength to make her way from her room to all that life demanded of her. She counted her blessings as she often did, finding that each day they were more numerous than before. ‘My friends. The sun. My room. This chair.’

And as her eyes fell upon her favourite chair, one more unexpectedly bright blessing presented itself to be added to the list. A magnificent butterfly with wings so vibrant they looked newly painted, rested quietly upon the soft satin cushion. And though she had often thought that butterflies were fragile, destined to adorn the world with their beauty for only the briefest of times, this one seemed so strong, so full of radiant light and life. She opened the window one more time, then cupping the beautiful creature gently in her hands, she guided it out to where the sunlight intensified the glittering hues of pink, red and blue on its wings as it flew – as she knew it must – disappearing in the distance like a bird towards the magic forest. ‘I must follow it there’, she knew with certainty, climbing now as children do through the open window, running with all her might down the well-worn, much-loved, never forgotten path towards The Friendship Tree. There – she hoped – she might find the magic butterfly and her beloved friends once more.

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Consider the year that has just been,
Reflecting on all that you’ve seen.
What have you learned from all you’ve done?
Reflect on all you have become.

The hardest lessons sometimes are
The ones that left you with a scar.
They hurt you deep and caused you pain
You know you’ll never be the same.

Reflect on all that you now know,
What you may keep or must let go.
Remember what you’ve gained and lost,
Relive the joys, lament the cost.

Those things that beat you down are past –
You’ll rise again, so strong at last.
A new year brings new wings to rise
Above the old year’s sad demise.

And as this year draws to its close
Reflect on how it’s helped you grow.
Its lessons near ripped you apart
But in the end strengthened your heart.

Though you feel lost, you’ll find your way
To navigate the brand new day
And all the brand new days to come
For life’s next stage has just begun.

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Some days I want to climb the Tree and lose myself in the highest leaves.

I’d sit up there and learn to dream for minutes, days or even weeks.

I long for joy, I long for peace; I long for sun to shine on me.

 

Some days I fear the Tree will fall if I go near the Tree at all.

I fear some branch is rotted through and if I climb, I may rot too.

Those days, I don’t know what to do.

 

Some days the Tree calls out my name and draws me to the Secret Place

Where I see the smile on my friend’s face

And nothing’s sad or broken or can ever break.

 

Some days the Child within me cries that she’s forced to see through Grown Up Eyes

When all she wants is to reach the sky, climbing up the branches she can see

All the way to the top of The Friendship Tree.

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