This is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. As I re read it, I was struck how resonant it was to be about the retreat. I remembered my own fear at speaking my pain, and observing the look in some of the eyes of the other women. Trying to find the courage and the words to say what our heart wanted to speak, but fearful of releasing them into the world. For some the hesitation was not fear, but the akwardness of the “getting to know you” in a group still wearing their “L PLATES”!
You were telling me a story. Even if I had not understood the words, I would have known your pain. It was embracing your face, like a lover saying goodbye with kisses, bittersweet.
Tears gathered in the corner of your eye, near your nose.
“Perhaps there is strength in numbers?” they murmured.
A platoon of them assembled and marched slowly along the rim of your lower eyelid, taking your lashes hostage as they passed. Now, perched at the outer corner of your eye they waited.
Your voice has become low, mirroring your mood. Such a stoic woman you are! Wanting to unburden yourself, but not wanting to burden others. I have a longing to reach out to you, to hold you and mouth into your thick hair, “Its OK, let it go, have a good cry”
But like your platoon of tears, I also wait. Fearful that if I move too soon, you will reel yourself in, withdraw behind your battlements, and send your watery troops into retreat.
Then, suddenly, your words come tumbling out from some abandoned pit within you. These are ancient words that have sat in the dark places, unseen, unheard, but not unknown. Today might be their day of freedom! Today, you can be their liberator, freeing them into the sunlight.
As I listen, I feel your sadness and sense your fragility. Knowing that without feeling your pain you cannot heal your pain. The next step is yours.
Your brewing tears, testament that you are feeling something, need to continue their journey for the process to begin. I will them forward. Beg them to be fearless and press on, and still they hesitate. Memories of past failed attempts to release them, still them.
One free spirit in the group however, breaks ranks and hurdles over the ledge of your lower eye and begins its long solo journey, southward. It slips unnoticed by you over your cheekbone, then into the hollow of your cheek, cradled in its valley.
Still you have not reached for the tissue to extinguish its path. The cluster of tears left behind are emboldened by the lone tear, and now act as a decoy, keeping you focussed on their imminent escape, distracting you from the solo warrior abseiling down your face.
The cheek valley conquered, now to the perils of the corner of the mouth, where a flickering tongue lays in wait to taste its salt.
Simultaneously, I notice your speech waiver, your eyes register a disturbance and your hand meander towards the tissue box. This could be the end. If your solo tear is halted, I know you will withdraw back into yourself. Your pain will scuttle back into the vault, locked up, shut down.
It seems improbable that the solo tear warrior is to be your saviour.
Propelled by necessity, it gains momentum, and stands, outstretched on the tip of your chin. It eyes your fingers curling around the tissue, pulling it from its box. Now! It has to be now, or its valour will have been in vain.
A perfectly executed dive, off the precipice and then free falling, weightless, suspended between your chin and your breast, it hangs.
Its mates watch from on high, and buoyed by the solo warrior, erupt from their perch at your eyes corner, and flood forward.
Floating, formless, fearless, the single tear lands gracefully on your left breast, then nestles against your heart. Home!
You look at me and gasp. Your hand clutching the tissue is stilled. A waterfall cascades down the valleys and hollows of your face, and flood your heart with healing. The cleansing ritual begins to perform its magic.
Fear, disappointment, sorrow and regret are diluted. Your heart becomes the desert flowers after the long Wet, reborn, and rejuvenated.
You look at me though water logged lashes. There is no need for conversation, just the silent language of sisterhood, the gift we give one to another.
Your tears touch us both, the circle is cast, and the healing begins.