The British Homecoming Part 3: mourning and release in Rhossili

The past two weeks were rough on me. It was hard to hold things together during the mourning period. Perhaps on the outside I might have seemed okay to all my relatives. I was my usual comedic self – trying to keep spirits up during a tough time.

But inside… things were a different story.

The pain and loss lingered. Old childhood memories I didn’t even know I had resurfaced. I was reunited with cousins, uncles and aunties that I hadn’t seen in decades. We looked at each other with furrowed brows – is it really you I’m seeing after all these years?

Everyone remembered me. And I remembered everybody. How could I forget? We are kin after all.

But still… We’re older now. Settled into our grown up lives. Some of us have changed a lot – while others have stayed the same. Many of my cousins have tied the knot and had kids. Everyone asked me when it would be my turn. I didn’t care to discuss my personal life, so I ran away from that conversation as quickly as I could. 

But that’s over now.

I can wear colour again. I can eat meat again. I can let go of the pain now. And I can leave the house and live again. 

And so I got in a car and found myself in… Cardiff. It’s my first time in Wales. My friend Rachel suggested I come visit her in Cardiff a couple of months ago. When she mentioned it, the thought of visiting the UK seemed incredulous – but hey – you never know where the wind will blow you.

Given the circumstances, I’m not in my usual chatterbox mood – so we sat in silence as I gazed out at the Welsh countryside. The signs on the roads are bilingual – English first, Welsh second. 

I always thought that the British summer was a myth, but this year it is hot hot hot. It is suffice to say that I didn’t pack the right clothes. Then again, I packed for mourning, not a beach holiday. 

It’s been ages since I’ve seen the ocean stretch out its arms before me. The pristine waves crashed into the cool sandy shore. Like always, there is a cleansing quality to the whole experience. The waves playfully wet my jeans. Not that I care. I needed the water to wash over me and everything I’ve been through.

My heart has had enough. 

Since March this year, my life has been a series of goodbyes. Saying goodbye to students I had grown to love. Saying goodbye to friends in Japan with whom I’d shared my life. Saying goodbye to a life I had built up over four years. And when that was finally over, I had to rush to the UK to say goodbye to a man that had been there in some of my happiest childhood memories. 

He was the patriarch. A gentle soul who was strict when he needed to be. I was loved. I was scolded. I was indulged. I was disciplined. Despite the distance, I received a card on every birthday – and a present every Christmas. No soul ever forgets what it feels like to love and be loved by another human being.

I take a deep breath as I gaze out at the calm blue waters. Everything in this world is so fleeting. So temporary. We cannot truly hold onto anything because nothing is truly ours. Everything and everyone in our lives are like the waves that come and go. 

We must cherish what we have while it lasts. 

And so I admired the waves at Rhossili in Swansea, taking a much needed lesson from Mother Nature.

Despite the horrendous heat, the sand remained cool as I left my footprints by the coast. The water was neither hot nor cold. If I had brought my bathers, I would have loved to have gone for a swim. But this is not that type of holiday.

Perhaps next time…

For now, I’m in my pyjamas – trying to release the knot that’s been in my weary heart.   

Despite the pain and loss that I currently feel, I know that my heart will learn to love again like it always has.

Till next time, blessed be. 

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