Archive for the Biography Category

The Grief Experience

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2017 by kathydasilva

I went yesterday to visit my child’s grave in Southampton. He, my two year old bar three weeks off his second birthday, is buried near to my grandmother and grandfather. The two people in my life, that managed to stay faithful in their marriage, and believed that the sacred vows of love until the end, were the expectation.  They, my grandparents had married first in the Church of England, and after a while, my grandfather, had grown, more and more concerned over the fact that his faith really had belonged to his origins at birth, the Roman Catholic Church.  He talked this over with his wife, my mother’s mother, and she agreed to become a Roman Catholic, with him, and they married, a second time, in the Catholic Church. Hence, all my family are now Roman Catholic at least in origin.

It meant of course that buriel was the chosen formal end ceremony. I had not expected any part of the grievance, and trauma, that came, when I had had to leave, my little baby in the coffin box, at least four feet beneath soil filled with stones. Visiting the cemetary became a frequent event for the first year after he passed. But, my head was filled with so many strange voices. I would wake believing he was talking to me, saying things like, ‘You haven’t changed my nappy’. I kept thinking, that this was real, or possibly real, and did that mean he was alive and feeling wet, from a wet nappy, and also, that it could mean he was ‘alive’. Repeatedly the trauma kept producing this kind of thought, in me, and I was in quite a bad state. It was like a glass wall between me and the people around me, for a long while. I could see people enjoying themselves, but, for me the world was never going to be the same ever again.

I did the usual counselling sessions for bereaved people. It did help a bit, and I still worried if he was alive and starving in the grave for a long time. It may sound strange, but, my hope has always been on the optimistic side of everything. I could not believe he had gone.  The counsellor gave me the model for this type of trauma, calling it the Whirl Pool of Grief, and showing me, that at times, I might feel I was getting over the loss, and then sometimes, there would be something, that would drag me back to the middle, the core of the crisis, and it would all feel momentarily bad again. And she advised me to be kind to myself, and on those days, ‘Wear your pyjammas, and relax, allow yourself time.’  I still have not written the book on grief, that in my head, I thought might help others who suffer. Many, many of the mothers, whose children died young, would talk with me at the cemetary, and share their own experiences. Some of them had had breakdowns, through trying to carry on as normal, but, of course not giving time for the grieving process to occur. Some of them, had panic attacks, sudden palpatations, and sweats, that caused one woman to stop her range rover vehicle at the side of a round about, and use the dew on the grass to wake herself up from the panic and shaking, she was experiencing. One of them, had simply gone to take her children out for the day, and had sat in her car, with her hands on the wheel, and then could not move, not one single muscle. She had been carried to the ambulance, and hospitalized for over a week. They had told her that her body had completely siezed up due to the stress of the grief.  The way a child had died, varied, from illness, dying at birth, or accident. And like any news, of loss, this weighs heavily, in the minds of those closest to the individual who has passed. I still prefer to use the word ‘passed’, because even the nature of the whole cycle of life from birth to death,  it is the later, that is so extreme, in emotion felt. I know I prefer being alive for example. God has often showed me, what the peace of heaven is. I have often had the experience of being ‘taken up in the spirit’. It is a hard thing to describe, but every ounce of anxiety vanishes, and you experience a complete sense of belonging and peace. So I just wish I could remember this when, I get to feeling so full of grief.

The worst thing about my recent visit was being watched by someone with a camera. I have been involved with the IPCC investigating, the accident I was involved in as a pedestrian a year ago. I felt completely vulnerable to the person who had a camera, and it made me a little angry. The whole solace of visiting is to remember and to feel close to where my child lays. I pray, talk to the air around me, and generally, acknowledge his passing, my missing him, and a whole host of feelings.  The thought that someone thought they had the right to photograph myself in this most intimate of situations, is vile.

The dilemma of my own child’s death, which incidentally happened in Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children, on 7th July 2005, was to leave me forever, with a memory, a tragedy within, a day of tragedy, the day of the London Bombings. The wards, in intensive care, had been cleared, but for my own baby. The reason being,  to make way for casualties. However, the babies, who were in need of intensive care, got mostly moved but for mine. And the only ‘child’ casualty that appeared to be a boy of around twelve or thirteen, in pyjammas, though no visible wounds or bandages. You hear tell of faux flags and faux dramatized events through YouTube.com but, I cannot tell if this singular boy was an actor. We the parents were instructed not to go downstairs food would be brought up if necessary as the canteen was going to be used as some sort of ‘mash’ first assessment centre.  My child had had a fibril fit, and the cause of which was in part due to cardio myopathy, and other complications.

The graveyard people, the gravediggers had made the form of a question mark with the flowers left by people, noticing the date, and possibly thinking he was a victim of the bombing attacks. The hospital had been behind with all his medication on that day. I had been told by quite a few of the doctors that my boy Marcos had had every chance of recovery.

My elderly parents, came to help me back to my town of birth, with the body of my baby, we were allowed to do this, with some special permission. Marcos was wrapped up in a large hospital blanket. We rather dramatically drove through the night to Southampton. On arrival everyone went to bed, and I with my son beside, me in my mother’s living room on her sofa bed. And the next day too, I had laid him on the sofa cushions, as if asleep. And I too, had seen what I thought was his chest rise and fall. But, people say it is an illusion. I had visited the funeral parlour where he was prepared for his funeral day. The chapel of rest, was low lit with candles, and rather sombre. But, right until the day of buriel, I had visited daily, kissed his forehead, and hoped, he would jump alive some how. I had repeatedly said, ‘Marcos, Marcos, mummy needs you’, in between sobs, and the general unreality of the whole loss. And I felt I was betraying him, somehow, if I left his side.  It is terrible, losing someone, and there is no advice to how to grieve, or for how long to grieve. I guess, I grew like the other souls around me who miss someone, learning to live with the hole that the loss creates. So in life, as much as the joy of the birth and my son’s two years of life, gave, me, in equal doses, now there is sorrow, too. I do believe in heaven, I do believe, I will see him again, and I do visit the grave not so often but, whenever, I hear his little voice, somewhere in the air. And hopefully, we will be together, when I come to the end of my own days.

It is twelve years on from that day.

If any of the above helps, at all I will feel happy, and also the counselling was a good support service that I was told about by my doctor/GP.

 

 

Trolls

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Current affairs, education, politics, Stories and reviews, writing with tags , , , , on April 11, 2017 by kathydasilva

Yes the title is appropriate.. I remember reading in a fairy tale, about trolls, or monsters, hiding under bridges and trying to cause harm, there ready to ‘gobble you up’.. yes this type of ‘would be’ nightmare, if you had them as an adult, would mount to horrendous proportions. A troll, being inevitably something ugly and unwanted even a bit demonic. The bad nature in some humans, have thus been likened to these fictional creatures. The darker nature of hate, and the negative nature of wanting to make the ‘hate’ known. It is at this point, I think that this is how I understood religion, because if anything, faiths globally tussle with the whole dilemma of human behavior the well behaved versus, total chaos. And then there is law and order, to add, to the considerations. Whilst media ‘trolling’, can to some degree be controlled by adding some policy statements and regulation, it still does not stop, the phenomena existing and like the old demonic bad spirit in a fairy story, there you have it again, a troll, to try to make a person feel uncomfortable, it is an easy going kind of expression for just plain nasty behavior. And how come, this all gets an airing? Well for the love of sharing, our thoughts, our arty bits and pieces, and promotions of books, there you have it the green eyed demons come out in the plenty. And some more insidious than others. The real bite, is whether it is indeed right wing factions or extremist views, saying what they cannot say clearly, that they feel fear. Fear of losing control, of a world that by chance or virtue of survival, still produces a level of unequal behavior. Someone sent me a link, on my academic site, about the history of the ‘elite’ schools and I imagine this includes places, like Eton, where if you have the money, you can purchase a really good education, something unforgettable, once you near adulthood, and indeed beyond. I have to say, that I only began to notice the difference in opportunity as an undergraduate, when public school child and state school offspring merge at the higher educational level of university. It is probably true, that if you look at people in the media and I mean the top papers, and news jobs, you might find a few of the ‘elite’ offspring well and truly using all the education life gave them to full success. So it is even more remarkable, when the odd one or two of the ‘ordinary’ people manage to get through the barrier! The story of Hans Christian Anderson, emerged through drama on our TV screens the other day, and indeed, he had been helped to an education having spent most of his childhood illiterate. Strangely powerful, the Emperor’s New Clothes, and other stories by his pen. He could tell the stories but not write them down. So wisdom is not only passed down through school, there are other sources, and parents, and libraries, can play their part. How wonderful God allows for such lessons. Trolls. I think too Shakespeare did suffer because of his talent, yet again not coming through a traditional scholarly upbringing, he the tanner’s boy, and secretly a Catholic, in a time when Catholicism was still forbidden to be openly practiced. Imagine all these hidden political forces. Imagine, if you were party to being ordered to ‘harass’, individuals, to essentially take the carpet from under them, to dissuade them from flying high, well higher and therefore toward potential success. Because success, means fame in part, and popularity, and influence. And possibly becoming wealthy. What happens then, should the egalitarian soul, succeed? The whole EU debate, has opened a hornet’s nest of thoughts. Strangely I was finding through various debates, especially about borders, and opinions, that there our neighbor Ireland, was showing potential above the British Isles, as it had no plans on leaving the EU at all. And too the debate over whether we should as a nation have made it to becoming a republic. The old debate of Kingdom. Had Cromwell decided to manage the country at the time of the uprising caused by an over indulgent King Charles, would we have managed to temper and balance out this surge toward elitism, that seems indwelling, an inherent snobbery. I am mentioning this, simply because the whole capitalist agenda is to get people to spend, and desire spending, usually on the basis of quite false promises. It will make us happy. Hilary Clinton herself, had also implied, that ‘everyone can be wealthy’. I think perhaps not and the only reason is that some people do work harder and longer hours, and still too, is that healthy, for our families. If both parents work, and then, children do not relate so well, with their parents for example and perhaps people in society? So why do people do this awful thing, this trolling behavior? And if it in some part is military, what does this suggest? Is personal hate allowed. King Charles’ son, had the body of Cromwell dug up from his grave, and decapitated, and the head was put on show I think hung from or on a spike, in the chapel that is next to Westminster. Somehow, this seemed to me a bit extreme as the man was already dead. He was a Christian Cromwell. And the issues of Charles I, who was accused of treason toward the nation. So too, how horrid, that this moment in time is presenting to us the British, public something so big, and perhaps too, on the scale of something to fight for. Imagine if your opinion, results in ‘action’ against the individual. It makes me outraged, that ‘assassinations’ go unchallenged. In America, other kinds of punishment, to me it seems illegal, but, the case of Barrett Brown, who was imprisoned, and charged with various indictments, some of which would have only resulted in a ticking off, in another land. Trolling? Some might call this harassment, some, might even say this is the insidious element of the ‘elite’, depending on the ‘target’. So, yes, the essays and writings, that try to make things like real change occur become more relevant. I have been gradually sliding back into my academic roots. They are good roots. I am painting. I am novel writing. And I am applying a good sense of knowledge. The miracle of language is enough for me.

Random Day

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, health, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2017 by kathydasilva

If walking through the park was something of a regular need for the daily constitutional, well, that is, I think,  something I should be doing. And for better or worse now the weather is improving, I must make some sort of effort to get my body moving and my health will follow. It is I am sure something writers and artists always struggle with the whole isolation element of writing or making art only to find, that the whole goal is to communicate, and yes, the isolation is only good for the purpose of concentration on the finer details of what you make. I am glad that within the four walls of my apartment stroll two adorable cats, with their own idea of what enjoyment is. And they both individually select their place of repose, sometimes on a window sill, and sometimes snug up against the heater, balanced on the back cushion of the sofa. In my humble, and rather small reception room or lounge, I have the best sofa, as yet, having  only purchased second hand furniture mostly, but, one sofa bed was indeed new. The burned orange colour of the cushions, is enough to make a person feel the warmth of summer sun. I am glad, now, that the ‘bargain’ in the heart shop, came to be mine, one drissly winter’s day, back in the autumn of I think 2012. I was lucky to have acquired it. Anything of true value will always be at least over the £400 mark, this one only a fractional cost at £40. I am all up for the recycle if you can, and especially if it’s for charity. And the heart shop holds a unique place in my own life history for my son, had caught some bug, as a baby, and his heart had suffered the distortions of cardiomyopathy. Enlarged left ventrical. The anti biotics and meds, ensured the heart functioned as good as near new. And I believed he would live a whole life, alongside me some of the way. And as we head toward a weekend of rapturous celebration of motherhood, I find myself left with a horrid sense of loss.  When my sister and I were kids, we made presents for our mother, made her the first cup of tea of the morning, and raced through to her bedside, in a wholly excited mood, to see what she would say and the delight of her face lighting up with a smile, and the inevitable ‘Thank You!’ And why not? Why not celebrate everything, to do with the whole act of making a family. I am glad there is still some humanity in our culture. There is still some wonderful thing ahead, but, I am going to have to make it happen. And if remembering what is wholly good about life through my memories of  childhood, revisiting places that do just that will be just where you will find me this summer. Sand in my shoes…