Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A confession - from depression to gratitude again

To my discredit I did not survive my stay in Somerset West intact. I returned home to Hogsback to suffer an immediate nervous breakdown so acute that I had to pull out of the Summer Songs & Poems gig this past Sunday. Every other minute a traumatic thought or memory would surface, reducing me to sobs. I did not recognise either my art or my books as mine. Weak and incapacitated by a dark film between myself and my surrounds, I was too hollow to pray and too numb to count blessings. My desperate mouthings of  'God be with me' were mechanical and seemed useless.

My son was still with me. Thirsty and hungry, I finally summoned the courage to whatsapp him in his room.
'Please would you make me a cup of tea?'
He knocked and opened my door and informed me that he had not dared disturb me earlier, since "When an adult's door is closed, you don't disturb. I mean, you're my mom, so you knock and can come in, but it doesn't work the other way round."
That made for a new and interesting bit of information.
He made me tea and toast and, with a touching degree of youthful awkwardness (he will be 21 soon), observed that he did not understand what was happening, but -
"Just let it out. I mean, physically you're ok, aren't you?"
"Yes ... I think the Disprin is helping that ominous pain at the back of my head."
"You were so happy to be back."
"I was."
"So what happened?"
"I think being back means I'm allowed to just do nothing."
"Well I do nothing all the time. It's the best."
"So just let it out."
"I am."

He told me that he felt that he was incapable of breaking down. It is true that he is profoundly blessed with psychic health. While concerned for me, he was utterly unfazed by my floods of tears, which I could no longer hide. He spoke with such casual humour that he made me start to laugh, and I grew aware of how deeply grateful I am for his existence.

I began to hear the young Chorister Robin - a character like no other, this season, for his hilarious, exuberant liltings - and the other birds again.

The next day I could already visit my neighbours again with thanks for checking up on the house during my absence; and thank my fellow performers for picking up the tab for me - adding songs at the last minute to fill out the programme, so that most of the audience had not even noticed my absence!

Only yesterday evening did I finally take myself to Norman's Memorial spot and saw that the gardeners had, during my absence, weeded it beautifully, leaving only the flowering weeds to decorate it exactly as Norman and I would have wished. The love they'd put in to welcoming me back radiated out of the cleared circle. The two little Yellowwoods on the circumference had produced further sprouts.

And then, this morning, I finally put pen to paper again to produce a poem I knew was waiting for me to write it, in gratitude to one of the members of the St Patrick's Chapel congregation in Hogsback.

Here it is.

Dedicated to my anonymous donor

By deeds we are
that which we are -

words, too, when finely wrought,
can act - do good or harm
in human hearts -
can provide balm,
boost courage,

a beam
of purest light

- such as this humble poem
seeks to do -
to stream thanks
and honour
to a donor of mine
for her kindness.

- Silke Heiss, 9th January 2019 


  1. Thank you for your message, it was very nice to read the kind words about the interview. I really like your poem about the wolverine, and this post from returning home, I've never read a real life moment scripted, and it was very significant to read such an intimately honest depiction of how you felt in that moment.


    1. Thank you, Riccardo, for your good words. Most of my poems over the years with Norman, and since his death even more so, are "real life moments scripted". It was and is our way of coping with life, offering meaning to the chaos of life.

      As to the positive comments on our interview, I shall publish those in my next newsletter, with a link to it.