Sunrise & worry

I’ve just watched the sun rise.

I didn’t mean to but as I lay awake in bed watching the room steadily lightening I gave up sleep as a lost cause and went to watch the new day in. One quirk of our home is that the sitting room is at the top of the house giving us far-reaching views across the countryside towards neighbouring Rawdon and Horsforth. This morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I got to witness the full effect of the sunrise as the sky lightened through purples, blues and oranges and finally, with the rising of the sun, that brilliant morning azure. The rising sun was accompanied by the sound of the dawn chorus, the gradual rumbling increase in morning traffic and the quarter hourly chimes from the church bells. I sat and watched and listened for a long while, appreciating the beauty of the new day even in my exhaustion.

When I was pregnant with Henry I was both looking forward to and dreading seeing sun rises. Looking forward to the time I’d spend in the quiet early hours feeding and bonding with my baby but also dreading how tired I was going to feel. I now know that I had nothing to dread. I honestly don’t think the physical demands of caring for a baby could be any worse than the emotional demands of losing one.


As I watched the sun rise today I felt a pang of nostalgia for a specific period in my life before grief. In my late teens I would spend Friday nights with friends out in the countryside near where we lived, sometimes walking and sometimes sitting around a bonfire, drinking, talking, messing, often laughing and occasionally (usually me) crying. During the summer months we’d walk home as the sun was rising, tired but energised from our night-time adventures, high on the sheer joy of being young and alive and in the company of friends. I wasn’t a carefree teen by any stretch of the imagination. I worried all the time, more than I have as an adult, more than is perhaps normal even for an angsty teen. I worried about the future, about the state of the world and that something bad would happen to the people I loved. At times I must have driven my friends crazy with my drunken fretting. Highly neurotic though I was I was untouched by grief and looking back now I wish I could experience that grief-free existence again. A decade later the friends I saw those sunrises with are the friends who at quite short notice attended Henry’s funeral and stood beside me as I lowered my son into the ground and said goodbye and in doing so they bonded themselves to me that bit more.

This morning I watched a sunrise and I thought about Henry, like I always do. I thought about how life hasn’t gone the way I’d planned. I thought about those nights spent having fun under moonlight and walking home in the sunrise. I longed to go back and experience that time again. To tell the teenage me to live in the moment more, to fret less and to throw away the plan because plans don’t work. I realised the same advice I would give to a teenage me is advice I’d have to give to myself now a decade later. Would I have taken it on then? Can I now?


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