Nine years ago, during the darkest times of being bedbound with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, I would pass the time imagining a future where I would be able to walk and partake in life.
I had a lot of grief with accepting that my career as an artist was over and so to try and remain positive, my imagination was my escape. After all, anything was possible there!
I had several regular imaginings, and this past week I am reminded of two of them, as they became a reality.
A couple of months ago I was at a ladies networking dinner, organised by Lynne Franks at her ‘Seed Café’ in Wincanton. A question among the group was raised on ‘how does anyone with a chronic illness know that they will recover?’ At once three members of the group, who knew me, mentioned my name and said that I had done just that. I was then asked to share my experience to which I chose to recount one of my imaginings. There were many factors in my recovery so it was interesting that this particular one should spring to mind.
The vision I shared was of seeing myself aged 98, walking alone along what I felt was a Hebridean coast line. Behind me was a small simple crofters’ cottage. This vision had given me much hope as I could see myself fit and well, happy yet alone, so far in the future. I just had to have faith that my life in-between would lead me to that point.
The magic of Franks’ bringing women together sparked into life, when one of the guests exclaimed that I had described her home! The lady who’d asked the question was also suffering from a chronic illness, and it was her home I’d described.
Of course we had to talk further and I enjoyed the rest of the evening discussing health, illness and the Outer Hebrides. Before the evening was out, her husband had arrived to collect her, both insisting that we should visit as soon as we were free.
By coincidence, my husband had spent many weeks over the past twenty or so years working in and around Stornoway and South Uist. He had returned from trips bearing gifts of Harris tweed which I’d made into dresses and skirts. He’d also always wanted to take me to these beautiful islands so a trip was planned.
It truly was a magical trip, on so many more levels than we expected. Our hosts were incredible, and unusually, considering that they’d not met Greg and we only had an email based relationship since our first encounter, we all got on tremendously well. It was refreshing to meet a couple with so many shared experiences, both husbands being carers for their wives, travel, art and meditation also in common.
We were taken to secret beaches, standing stones (sharing the name of my eldest son) and were blessed with unusually sunny weather. I even paddled in the sea after finding rare bumble bees in the stunning areas of ‘machair’ and its abundance of wild flowers.
I didn’t find the exact spot of my imaginings, but did find many aspects of it, the peace, turquoise water, sand dunes, rocks and blustery weather. Further trips are required I think!
Then yesterday, a second vision was actualised. A coastal walk in Cornwall with my eldest son. My boys were only 9 and 11 when I first fell ill and I was devastated not to be able to take them to the coast and walk. It was such a physical pain that needed much work to ease. By thinking of the hassle of taking younger children out. Anywhere, I then imagined taking strong happy young men on walks, or rather them taking me. I imagined grown up conversations, eating in pubs, swimming in the sea and walking miles of deserted coastline together.
My eldest and I walked around 10 miles from Lands End to Botallack, passing busy sandy beaches, then swimming in quieter rock pools, frequented only by locals. It was beautiful. We saw sights new to us both and I felt so privileged that this young man would spend quality time with his mum.
We have more time together this week, so more adventures, each moment healing the pain of the past, and what wasn’t to be.