My first full day back in London, on my little balcony and a story unfolds. My darling neighbour, once owner of an antiques store on Portobello Road, independent, alone and loving her little nest, peers over this afternoon. Says nothing, but soon I realise, she is in trouble.
Life suddenly became shorter for her. Confusion has set in, she wants to go home. She is home, but speaks of going home, and is trapped within her little flat, and in her mind. We rescue. Make tea and try to make sense of it all, but all terribly sad. She will not be able to live independently again. As I sat beside her, waiting for the medics to arrive, I was all too aware that life had been reduced to her little handbag, a plastic packet with an address book and pills, all which she held tightly to her bosom in case she lost those too. Life would never be as it was yesterday and tomorrow, and the next, and the next would only be filled with locked in memories and the fear of forgetting. A future of relying on the kindness of strangers.
But, and I say but, I also realised I had returned just in time. I could be there for her, for another whose story was unfolding, unravelling. A stranger, a neighbour, but right beside the forgetting of self to the remembering of someone in need.
All too often, post divorce, post loss in which ever form, in this Silver Street part of our lives, it is the purpose that escapes us. The reason why what we did to the best of our ability no longer counts, that the knights with the sweet words have embarked on another crusade and we, we are left with the wilting bouquet and confusion of what they hell to do now? Children grew and flew as it should be but we forgot that part of the manual and all those what if’s, what to do, what the hell swoops in, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the night.
So what is the point of today? What have I learnt on my return to the balcony? I have had an awesome time on my sabbatical, I have no idea what is going to happen from now on but that I was here this afternoon. As I watched this soul being led away by the paramedics, I could not be think there goes a lifetime of doing things: spritely moves, loving with passion, building a career and cherishing travel, books, art. A little figure that has paid the dues. And I have a whole lifetime still to live, rather than exist.
We do not know the lives that others have led until we see it seep away. Until they reluctantly cry for our help. We need to make the most of ours before we too are there, be bold, do the different, go forth with broken wings but go forth none the less. For life is not short, life is long in the legacy we create. On this little balcony, for how ever long, changes will happen, and we need to know that we are up for it.
Tomorrow I will to a hospital with a bunch of flowers and gratitude in my heart. It’s great to be back, and great to view the world from my little spot. To be able to have done the little good deed and made the difference.
World, thanks. I am back and it came to pass that this balcony has a great view.