At the time I wrote that, only my closest friends and family knew what was going on in my life. That the one sister unable to join our walk was at home, dying. When I wrote it I was floored by the shock and grief of Renae’s life coming to a sudden end. She died on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t speak about it, literally my throat closed each time I tried. Writing was all I could do. Reading and writing are always my sanctuary during difficult times. And walking. In my new book, walks get a good airing. I walked miles in the rain and cold of late November in England in the days following Susie-Belle’s death.
It’s no accident that the charity I founded is one based on walks.
For me, from late autumn there’s a gathering of sad anniversaries. From our first dog, Jasmine’s death in December 2010, to Susie-Belle’s five years later which coincided with my dad’s final weeks, and two years ago Renae’s. I try not to let anniversaries dwell in my head. But, with the memories and rituals of Christmas built over decades, it’s inescapable. And I am accepting it is as it is. For me at least, allowing introspection and quiet reflection is healthy in a busy, noisy, often sad world. Christmas can be a wonderful time of year and I have always loved it. But, it can also be painful for some, which I believe is worth acknowledging. The yin and yang of life is always present.