on the journey – a mothers tale

We walk to the harbour, I am considering just how dangerous can it be, we will be in the boat for such a short hop and then to safety. The boys are quiet, they appear worried, perhaps they can feel my inner panic, the panic I am ignoring.  I am good at ignoring these feelings, in the last months I have ignored the pain in my legs, the ache in my arms, the fear in my heart, but the children can sense it.  Maybe it is the noise of the water, unfamiliar and black, black as the night sky above that is making them so.

The waves are crashing to shore, suddenly I think that perhaps in another time, another situation this maybe a romantic place,  somewhere to stroll hand in hand, but not now, not tonight for me it is only a place of fear.  The boat seems small, too small for so many, a quick glance around and I see faces I have seen many times on this journey, yet we have no eye contact, no smiles, we are all keeping it together, if only just.  Onto the boat and there is no room for us all to sit together, I gather the littlest one on my lap, the other two sit across and down the bench from me, I don’t like it but take comfort in that they are used to looking out for each other, since we lost their Dad they have been as one.

We move off from the land, I hear voices are shouting, loud in the night, I am glad I could afford the life jackets they will keep us safe

We are out in the sea now, bobbing along the waves, I remember a time when we went as a family to a river, a sunny day when the children paddled and we smiled so much. I often find myself remembering and imagining, putting myself back into the happy times.  It helps a bit.

The darkness of the night seems kinder out here, it envelops our craft and offers an anonymity,  I am sure that all will be well.

I have heard the stories of how kindness will meet us on the beach, how we will be fed and clothed and safe.  Safe is all I need.  The boys are relaxing, this is one more adventure for them, tears have gone, now there are smiles, unless you look into their eyes. As their mother I know how the pain they have seen is reflected in their eyes.  I weep for their lost childhood, for their sorrow and most of all because I couldn’t change anything.

We are nearing the shore now, men are shouting, lights are flashing, it seems we are heading for the wrong beach. I reach to grab the boys trying to pull them closer to me, they are too far away. The boat rocks, the people on the other side are shouting, someone stands up, there is more rocking, the waves are crashing and suddenly we are not safe. Still not safe.

I watch in horror as people start to jump into the water, I sit frozen to my seat, holding the baby and the only bag I have left, I don’t have enough arms for all my children.  I call out, too late they have jumped together, of course they have, they do everything together. I cannot see them in the dark water.

A pain I didn’t know I could feel hits me, I cling to the baby, we have come through so much together, walked so far, and now just minutes from safety I have lost them.  I need to leave the boat, but I have the baby, it is cold, so very cold, but I have to find my boys.  I lower myself into the water, thankfully it is not deep I can stand, just about, I hold the baby high, she won’t survive the cold water. My bag is still on my back and I can hear my boys, they are calling me.  I fall over into the water and suddenly I cannot breathe, everything is wet and cold.  I stand and fall again, then suddenly strong arms are holding me, they reach for the baby I hold on tight.  Together we reach the shore.  We reach safety.

Around me it is chaos, there are screams and tears, but there is hope, we have blankets put around us, the baby cries, she lives, I am thankful.  I still can’t see my boys, but I have faith they are here and safe.

Later, much later, there will be a bus and a camp and I have hope that we will be helped. My boys find me and I hold them so tight I fear I will never let them go.  We are the lucky ones, we have made it through hell and have found freedom.  Nothing can ever be as bad as it has been. My boys will not have to fight in an unwinnable war, my baby girl will not be used and abused.  I have done it.  I am Mother and I have brought my children to safety.

Sometimes I think about our other life, where our home was beautiful, where my babies were born, and they slept in their own beds, with toys around, where they squabbled and played and learned to read, the house where their Daddy and I lived a life so wonderful. We had love and friendship and we didn’t know, we just didn’t know how wonderful it was until everything changed.

I know we will never see their Daddy again, my strong and handsome husband is no more.  He is with me in spirit, in my heart and he is proud of me.  Proud that I have done this, I have brought our babies to safety. Nothing else matters.




on refusing to be afraid

I think it is fair to say the this world is having problems just now.  The wars that have raged across the globe are suddenly very close to home.  The hidden threat, the fear of attack, the unknown plots are unsettling and worrying for all. Surely that is the point of terror(ists). They want people to be afraid.  to be afraid of dying whilst eating dinner, of being shot at a stadium or blown up in a bank.  Once again all of the above are tangibly close, it could happen to any of us.  What on earth can we do?

Well I guess we have options.  We can choose to stay home, to minimise our risk of threat, to view strangers as enemies and to watch endless news coverage of the reasons why this maybe happening and what should we do.  Let me say right now, I have no problem with anyone making that choice.  The threats are real, the world is not as safe today as it may once have been, and just now, at this time, perhaps, the sensible option is to stay close to family and friends.

Another option is to just get on with life.  Easier said than done I know, but life is actually for living, and a life well lived is the best answer to all the negativity in the world.  To choose to be, to continue being you, is an option worth taking.  To explain (again) to friends and family that despite the horror around us, it is still ok to try to help each other.  It is still ok to reach across Europe and do what ever you can to make things a little bit better.  Because we can and if we can, maybe we should.

As I write this I have a friend who is today on an island far from home, where she is providing fun and smiles for children whose world fell apart many months ago.  They have lived through things that no one should ever have to experience.  She is blowing bubbles and making shakers, she is creating fun out of very little and she is doing it because she can.

Another couple of friends are also heading off to an island this weekend, where they will unload a container full of wonderful, practical stuff, shoes and boots, socks – lots of socks, nappies and a hundred other things that will make life a little kinder for people who have been displaced, and for whom home is no longer an option.  The magic is that these friends have also been part of the effort to fill the container, to organise ordinary people into doing what is necessary, one bag of jumpers at a time.

Why are all these people doing this? They are doing it because they care, because they good people and most importantly of all because they can.

So, my message to those who would bomb and shoot is to think on, think on and consider what you are doing.  The universal truth is that most people are good people, most want exactly the same out of life.  Be they Christian or Atheist, Muslim or Hindu, they are all, as we are, Humans first.  Think hard about who is being manipulated in all of this?  Consider strongly who is making money and who is driving the hatred?  Always look for the narrator.  Who is telling this story, and what is their agenda?

There is money to be made in war.  There is benefit in divide and rule, there is a place for fear in a world where people need to be controlled in order for the narrator to tell the story.  While we are told to be afraid of each other, what are we missing? What agenda is being served to all of us and why is this happening now?

I am not sure I have any answers, but I am sure of this.  No matter what happens I will go on living my life and doing the things I need to do.  I will not lose sleep worrying about the safety of my loved ones, for worrying never made a difference to anything, any time.

I will continue to make friends across the world, to celebrate our solidarity and to cheer on those making a difference.   I will be collecting and sorting and shipping goods to make life better.  I will be debating and being occaisonally frustrated with negative attitudes. I will continue to persuade and cajole others to come on this journey with me.  I will sort socks into boots and pack bags with love and care.  I will send my own positive love and hope out into the world and wait for it to return.  Why will I do all of this?  I will do it because I can.

I am choosing not to be scared. I am choosing to put hope ahead of fear and I will change the world for someone, one bag of aid at a time.  How wonderful if the result of all the sadness and madness is that we all start working together, that we find our other selves, across the country and across the world.  That we understand a little more of what it is like to be different and how we can help each other.

Together we will do this, because together we can.