Glenda and Me – Swimming Away from the Titanic

Sometimes as we find ourselves wading through adversity and maybe feeling a little lost, the sweet fragrance of synchronicity fills the air and the room suddenly becomes laden with summer flowers in full bloom on a cold January morning.

When I decided to join a writing group 15 months ago. I entered the room tentatively and with trepidation, feeling somewhat clumsy with my four wheeled walker. I was even more nervous as I was joining a couple of weeks after the term had begun and felt the others would have already started getting to know each other.

As I was introducing myself the door opened very slowly and another lady new to the group was arriving.  She was in a powered wheelchair and took up her place next to me; we smiled. She introduced herself to the group as Glenda and a light bulb moment occurred for me. Was this the same Glenda who my hairdresser Chris, had told me about? He has been trying his best to make me look beautiful for many years so we always chat quite intimately, and because he knows of my MS he told me, not long after my diagnosis, of another client of his called Glenda, who  has MS and how he now goes to her home to do her hair as she can no longer sit at the salon. I had given Chris a copy of my Journey Into Poetry book and he asked me if I had a spare copy, could he have one to give to her because he knew she liked poetry. Glenda duly received her copy of the book.
During the break I plucked up the courage to speak to Glenda.
“Does Chris Wallbank by any chance cut your hair?” I said. She looked at me, a little puzzled, and said,
“Yes, he does, why?”.
“I’m called Christine”, I said,  “and I think you may have a copy of a poetry book I have written”.
“Oh my goodness”, she said,  “I have!  Chris has told me all about you!”.

We were not aware of it on that day, but a strong bond and friendship was about to begin.  A year later, we are firm friends and it feels like we have been so for years.
A while ago I was going through a difficult time with the MS and was telling Glenda all about it; she was very supportive. She is further along this rocky road we both ‘walk’  and has encountered, and been hit by, many huge, frightening boulders along the way and yet always remains positive, looking for the small daily gifts. To use her words, “Adversity heightens our enjoyment of life as it keeps us more in the moment as we experience it, and it creates shining highlights for us”.
Her wonderful support that day led to my writing the following poem for her. I emailed it to her and she told me she was overwhelmed by the fact that I had written it for her.  We become closer by the day.

Swimming Away from The Titanic

I suppose we are quite different
in many ways.
But here we are, thrown together
at a random moment in time
by creativity and illness,
two of us keeping afloat
on the same flotsam of
our own personal Titanic,
waltzing with icebergs.

She seems better at it than me somehow,
this illness thing,
more professional, more skilled
while I flounder about, a mere trainee
unable to cope with this or that
or the other.

I wish acceptance grew on trees.

I ask her for advice,
tell her how I cant stop crying
at something seemingly trivial
and she understands.

I want to be able to help her too;
maybe I do.

We have come together
at different stages of our journey
and I am very grateful.
I look for something to thank
so I gaze at the stars
with their brimming drops of light,
and say thank you for a cold January morning
when limbs protested far too much,
and we both grappled for the same
small piece of wreckage that is still afloat.

Maybe one day, together, we will swim away.

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Ad Infinitum

She cannot bear to think the light of life
extinguishes and disappears from view,
so lives her days in self-inflicted strife;
it seems that grief is here before it’s due.
Ad Infinitum, like addiction, steals
contented mind, creates a restless wave,
and layers of herself are cruelly peeled
while every road and path is darkly paved.
Yet how would joy exist if sorrow died?
Would laughter heal the pain of tears once shed?
How would rippling waves bring peace of mind
if raging seas were suddenly struck dead?
She must surrender, let the earth revolve,
Each moment lived, another fear dissolved

Waiting

How I love
this huge, steadfast tree,
witness to much of my miniature life,
how she waves,
gently or fiercely eager, her arms
a sway of possibility and passion.

Although for now she is perfectly still;
she wants to hear the birds sing.
I listen too, as I sit here,
waiting for something, it seems –
a rainbow perhaps,
or answers to impossible questions.
I smile,
and secretly wave back.

Wendy L. Macdonald

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