Updated: Apr 24
It had been nearly six months to the day since I last sat in the field alone, knowing that Rosemary was safe somewhere else while I had a break and got some work done. Save a handful of hours of babysitting from lovely friends, the honoured task of raising and protecting a precious human being has fallen solely and unexpectedly to just me, and it has been, it is, an incredible, humbling, funny, chaotic, tiring, changing, beautiful time. But those all important moments, that every parent needs, of space, peace, and love outside of your child, are moments that I had been exempt from, and with no expectation that that would come to an end for a number of years, I armoured myself to what was to come.
Yet in the last few months I've felt so strong, in many ways more than ever before; myself and Rosemary are so happy together and so bonded, we have overcome incredible obstacles, and we are both flourishing. I've managed to pull back a broken business which will be ready to launch again in stages as Rosemary starts to enter education, and we have built a strong network of old and new friends. We have a fun and workable routine on the farm each day whereby work and play rule the day; Rosemary is pretty expert in herding the sheep, planting seeds and telling off the cats when they try to pinch the picnic. And I have learned what can and cannot be done at various points in the day around Rosemary's needs. It was vital to find a way to make this work if the farm was going to have fighting chance of realising the vision of becoming the model for education and small scale sustainable agriculture that it had once been. Around that we have baby classes, nursery hunting, play time, park time, coffee with friends time, keeping house and making hearty meals time, and once she is sleeping at night I can then settle down with the laptop and beaver away at business planning, writing, pushing forward. I felt empowered, unstoppable, invincible; Top Muma. These last few months I have felt like I'm getting towards the end of sticking all the shattered pieces from twenty twenty back together.
I had so many plans and fantasies for how I would spend my first childfree weekend. For ages I had it in my head that I would let rip, have a load of tequila slammers and go roller skating. But then I figured I should also catch up on approximately four hundred and sixty three hours of sleep. Or I could do all of that deep cleaning in the flat that's been bugging me for ages. But I also want to spend the night off-gridding in the house on the farm, spend some time with Paul, meditating, remembering. Or maybe it would be lovely to go on a date with a nice man. Still so many things to do with not enough time.
And here it was, unexpectedly, free time to myself had arrived. Rosemary had gone to have fun for the next day and a half, I had quickly tidied the flat and popped down to the farm to feed the animals and water the food. I hadn't gotten around to making any plans. So I decided just to sit and take time to look at what had been done; there was a brand new paddock that would soon be filled with rare breed pigs. A whopping great Ifor Williams trailer and a Landrover ready to work. Food was growing again. More animals were living here. Land management had begun again and the abundance of flora and fauna were already thriving in the changes. The house had a tenant, and the whole enterprise was going to provide for all who depended on the farm, as well as for me and everything Rosemary could ever need or want. I thought on the number of phone calls I'd had from teachers on holiday, looking to start the farm trips again and how excited they were to hear that we would be taking the farm to schools from next year. The farm was looking like a healthy, active, contributing force for positive change once again. There was much more to be done, and as I scanned my view I pushed away the list of jobs starting to form in my head. 'You've got this,' I told myself, 'switch off and enjoy for a bit'.
I suddenly felt so tired and heavy, my eyes just wanted to close, I had a lump in my throat, and I noticed how much my body hurt. I sat quietly for a few moments annoyed that I suddenly felt so terrible, and then I felt Paul walk up and sit behind me, on the grass, facing the same direction as me, overlooking the sheep munching away on the top field. I was excited and devastated all that the same time, that he had come. "Not now." I said, without turning to look at him, but he rested his hand on my shoulder, I could smell him he was so close. I felt every part of me resonate to his touch, my cheeks started to burn and my eyes filled. "I said, not now, Paul." I needed to suck the tears back down "No." He quietly said back. "Now." I sat with that for a moment, my mind frantically trying to find a way to get out of it. Finally I turned around to look at him. His beautiful tied back long blonde hair, and the deep lines of his face, each one exactly as I remembered, that I'd watch form over the years. But it wasn't the usual smiley happy face I saw looking back at me, the one I'd catch in the corner of my eye sometimes in his favorite spots on the farm. He looked deep into me, held my gaze, but his eyes were filled with such sadness and worry. "You are exhausted," he said, "please, rest". It was as though he sensed my stomach clench at what resting would mean. "Everything is going to be okay." And then his face changed, I felt the familiar warmth that only Paul's smile could inspire; a smile from the eyes as well as the lips. Love, quite simply, like no other. I smiled back at him, unable to stop the tears, everything relaxed. I closed my eyes and gave in to a wave of grief and pain so intense it made my ears ring, fully determined to open them and grab hold of him so tight and never let him go. Eventually I opened my eyes again, but he wasn't there anymore, just a patch of grass, just pure fresh air. Gone.
With my ears still ringing and the tears still falling, I recognised the familiar sounds around me; the wind moving through the new fresh leaves of the poplar trees, the animals doing their thing. I instinctively got up and started to walk towards a job, but every few paces the sobbing intensified and stopped me in my tracks, eventually I got back to the car and just cried. I don't know for how long. It felt like the end all over again. Nearly two years and the grief of missing this person was just as strong. Nearly nine years and the doubt in my abilities to look after the farm just as keen. I refuse to believe that my fate from thirty five years old onwards is to live in grief and darkness, and that I'm destined to constantly fear doing what I love so much on the land. This is not what was written for me. And although it feels like that on days like today, I know now that this ultimately isn't my path. But I also know that days like this will crop up every now and then, probably forever, and I don't consider that to be a bad thing. Joy and gratitude far outweigh the bad days now, and even the bad days serve to restore and revive. For this free time I have now, I think the tears have to flow, as I continue to honour having this amazing man in my life for so many years, as I continue to honour the responsibility I took on in looking after this land a while, and while I honour myself for the pressure and stress that comes with all of that.
So I'm now going to go home, I'm going to put on my fluffiest pyjamas, make a big bowl of cheesy pasta, have a glass of wine and listen to Nitin Sawhney. I'm going to cry and sit with my thoughts. I'm going to rest. I'm going to be grateful for this unexpected milestone.