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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55 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Polly
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 09:14:37

    What a wonderful story of friendship, and a lovely poem 🙂

    Reply

  2. Ina
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 09:15:25

    Beautiful and touching! Big hugs {{{ Christine }}} ❤ xxx

    Reply

  3. wbdeejay
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 09:31:33

    just beautiful, and wonderful you found and help each other

    Reply

  4. Peter Wells aka Countingducks
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 09:36:33

    That is a beautiful story with a poem to match. Sometimes life really does work in mysterious ways, and that little touch of magic which brought her to your group, and your awareness of it, would not have been so powerful understood if you did not both battle the same illness. More than ever now, you know you are not alone, and nor shall you be while you have the strength and love of the friends and family which surround you.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 29, 2015 @ 09:43:13

      This is a lovely comment Peter, thank you so much. As I have said before your friendship and support mean a lot to me and you, along wirh other blogging friends, certainly help to keep me afloat 😊

      Reply

  5. Jackie
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 10:08:26

    Beautiful poem and story! Thank you for sharing both. 🙂 xx

    Reply

  6. Denise Earnshaw
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 12:07:07

    A beautiful poem.

    Reply

  7. samatwitch
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 13:54:54

    That’s a lovely story. I’m glad you found each other.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 29, 2015 @ 14:42:29

      Thank you very much samatwitch. I am about to have a book launch for my new book, Dancing in the Rain, and Glenda will be reading a poem for me; it will be a very special evening 😊

      Reply

  8. Cynthia Jobin
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 14:34:27

    Friendship certainly is one of the finest things in the world….and serendipity certainly does exist. This morning I was angry because I have no garden and can no longer garden. When I looked out my window to the front lawn I saw a single daffodil oddly growing there by itself on the bare green and brown expanse…one daffodil, probably planted by a squirrel who stole it from somebody’s garden and dropped it on my lawn in the fall. The squirrel did it just for me to see this morning. Serendipity.

    Reply

  9. Léa
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 15:03:09

    Christine, I was moved profoundly! If this is not your most powerful piece to date, it can’t be far from it. Such a bond is a gift in itself and you are both the richer for creating it. No doubt it will help in the bad times and make the good ones all the more precious. You have given a gift to each of us who have had the opportunity to read your beautiful poem. xxxx

    Reply

  10. Rob McShane
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 18:22:22

    Words fail me Chris! Special story, special poem, special people! Hugs…

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 29, 2015 @ 18:29:06

      Thank you Rob. I knew you would understand this one. Some things that are gifted through adversity are so special there simply aren’t any words and in fact, words just aren’t necessary. I have enjoyed sharing a very positive post 😊

      Reply

  11. Rob McShane
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 18:23:15

    Oh! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Reply

  12. Jane Thorne
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 18:38:29

    Life’s synchronicity beautifully captured in your post Chris. Our friendships are priceless treasures and are wonderful ships that sail alongside us, especially when the seas get choppy! Your friendship is a magic gift for me and now, through you, Glenda and I are friends. Sparkles my lovely, always ❤ xXxxxXx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 29, 2015 @ 18:46:52

      Thank you so much Jane, for everything you have done, practical help, emotional support, creative encouragement and most of all your love, all priceless. ❤️ . Glenda emailed me today about which poem she wants to read at the launch and she said she can’t wait to meet you. It’s going to be such a special evening. xxx❤️xxx

      Reply

      • Jane Thorne
        Apr 29, 2015 @ 19:11:22

        I am so excited about your book launch….and we get to spend some time together…fan-dabby-dozy and I love you, always ❤ xXx your support and encouragement mean more than I can say ❤

  13. tikarmavodicka
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 12:08:53

    Hi Christine,
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart warming story of friendship. I found it very heart warming that despite your concerns in joining the group you have come away with such a dear friend.
    It reminded me too, that by not letting rooms go unexplored in life we can gain many rich rewards for not letting the anxiety of “what if’s ” dominate when we take on a new challenge.
    I love your poem. It is a beautiful tribute to your friendship with Glenda.
    I loved the line “…waltzing with icebergs”
    I’m left with an image of two women, strong and resilient, full of grace and dignity despite the adversities and challenges that float into your worlds.

    (((Big Hugs)))
    xoxo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 30, 2015 @ 15:18:34

      Thank you very much Tikarma for your heartfelt comment. I actually used to be full of ‘what ifs’ and very reluctant to try and open new doors but somehow, having this horrible condition seems to have given me courage I never knew I had. It seems like such a cliché to say we must look for positives in everything in life but it is simply true. Obviously for all of us this is more difficult to practice at times, but to know that positivity is there somewhere and can be tapped into, even if we have o work hard to do it, is quite wonderful.

      Love and (((hugs)))
      Christine
      xxx

      Reply

  14. elaine patricia
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 12:17:19

    Oh how I wish more stories like yours appeared in MS Matters and other MS publications. Good luck to both of you and thank you for the inspiration you may have given to other MS apprentices.

    Reply

  15. Jennifer's Journal
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 13:36:15

    Just beautiful. Inspiring post, breathtaking poem. ❤

    Reply

  16. John Looker
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 18:14:05

    It’s wonderful to hear of this friendship, Christine. You are two brave women.

    Reply

  17. Laurel's Reflections
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 18:31:19

    Oh Christine that’s beautiful! It’s interesting how challenges and serendipity can bring us together; when I started my blog after mom died, the very first person to comment on my blog had also just started blogging, after her dad had died three days before my mom. It turned out she lived in Wales while I was in London; we met up not longer after a remain firm and supportive friends to this day.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 30, 2015 @ 18:35:38

      Thank you Laurel! And what a wonderful story you have too! I’m so pleased for you. As I said to someone above, adversity does drop in a spot of the good stuff now and again. 😊. Glenda is going to read a poem at my book launch; it will be a special evening.

      Reply

  18. Wendy L. Macdonald
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 20:13:34

    Christine, both the birth of your friendship and the poem celebrating it are perfectly poignant. These are excellent examples of those highlights Glenda spoke of. As always, I’m deeply touched by your words.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    Reply

  19. Suzy Hazelwood
    May 01, 2015 @ 14:42:23

    Wow, what a delightful coincidence Christine! 😀 Good friends are often found in the most unlikely places and circumstances. I find I’ve always met people I needed to know just at the right time. And what a lovely way to meet, through a writing group!!

    Your poem is so lovely, but also makes you sound like a novice to your illness, which I’m sure you’re not at all! It is good though to have someone to share experiences with, it must be emotionally isolating if you don’t have someone who knows what it feels like to share your worst times with.

    And on the subject of crying – I find I can get like that too. I cry about good things and bad things. Sometimes I go through a few weeks of having quite vivid flashbacks to life at home with my Mum and Dad and my brother, and see them all young again like a vivid film – and I’m in flood of tears. I’m sure if anyone else saw me doing that they would think I was cracking up, but I know it’s just my brain processing my life and all it’s changes and disappointments it doesn’t much like. I’m only a three years away from fifty, so I’m finding age is reminding me of so many things. It’s new to me to feel that much emotion in the way I do, and over subjects I’ve had no previous experience of either. Our minds really don’t like change! 😐

    I hope your friendship continues to blossom with Glenda,and how lovely of you to write about her too, such a lovely tribute to a new and valued friend! 🙂

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      May 02, 2015 @ 12:44:54

      Thank you Suzy! I am rather a novice to my illness really as I was only diagnosed four years ago and only as it became progressive, whereas Glenda has been getting acquainted with the disability it creates for a lot more years. So she has adjusted far more to the debilitating effects than I have. But I am getting there and her support is so precious.

      You are so right! Our minds do not like change and yet life is always changing isn’t it and change is the only constant. I can totally understand your emotional times too; I think we do become more emotional when we are older, there is so much more behind us to be emotional about. And for me, when I’m in that frame of mind I can cry about anything! Particularly the good things!
      ❤️ Xx

      Reply

  20. Minuscule Moments
    May 03, 2015 @ 10:57:16

    Christine I am so far behind reading my emails and so happy I found yours. What a beautiful poem and a gorgeous story courage and friendship. It made me smile Large. I love how she also had a copy of your book that is precious. The people we meet in our lives has always fascinated me. Timing is everything.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      May 04, 2015 @ 08:37:06

      Thank you Kath. It really does fees sometimes, that people are placed on our path or should I say our paths converge, at a time when we most need it. Thank you for your lovely response to the post. x

      Reply

  21. Libby
    May 04, 2015 @ 10:03:03

    I have just re-read this with tears in my eyes again. Beautiful poem, such a lovely tribute to your friend. Thankyou for sharing your story.

    Reply

  22. bardessdmdenton
    May 08, 2015 @ 17:23:59

    Sorry it has taken me so long to comment on your heartwarming post and beautiful poem, Christine. Blessed are the circumstances – even in adversity – that bring us together with soul mates and all those “what is meant to be”. XO ❤

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      May 08, 2015 @ 17:54:19

      Thank you very much Diane. The synhronicity of this meeting still amazes me and I cherish our friendship; we both do. I have finally managed to arrange a book launch for Dancing in the Rain which will be hosted by our writing tutor, poet and writer, James Nash, and Glenda will be reading a poem. This is going to be a very special evening. 😊❤️ Xxx

      Reply

  23. bardessdmdenton
    May 09, 2015 @ 19:56:22

    Wonderful news that your book launch is really going to happen – sounds like it will be a great event and hope it is joyous for you and all involved! XO ❤

    Reply

  24. kathryningrid
    Jun 01, 2015 @ 16:47:37

    I know it’s very silly of me, but would you believe I didn’t dare read this poem sooner because the title was so perfect I feared no poem could quite live up to it. Yet, I should have had greater faith in you by now (of course!)—as always, the title only hints at richer and deeper things to come. You have, perhaps, perfected “waltzing with icebergs” far more than you realize, being able to convey the intricacies and intimacies of that dangerous and dazzling dance to others who would otherwise never know of them.
    ❤ ❤ ❤
    Kathryn

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Jun 02, 2015 @ 08:16:38

      Thank you Kathryn! The first part of your comment made me smile 😊. I’m pleased the poem didn’t disappoint 😊. It was just one of those that wanted to be written and almost wrote itself. Glenda and I both feel very blessed to have found each other. She says it seems we were meant to meet as birds are meant to fly 😊 xx

      Reply

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