Boxing Day and beyond: some silver linings

Recently, I was looking back at 2022. Pulling aside the dark veils that suddenly descended on us, I must acknowledge that there were shafts of sunlight – or at least, a silver lining or two, at regular intervals. The past year was not all gloom. In fact, if it weren’t for that half-darkness, I would never have appreciated our fragility, and how much we depend on each other. I thought of just a few things that I am grateful for.

Now, in the “in between” period between Christmas and the New Year (a great time for reflection, daydreaming, and of course eating Christmas leftovers, which always seem to taste better warmed up afterwards), I am thinking of all the positives. Mercury is going into retrograde, but let’s not worry about that, for now.

(Stolen from Twitter!)

There was kindness: so much, I hardly know how to quantify it. Friends brought flowers, and muffins, and most importantly sent messages checking on my husband’s health, and mine. They did not forget to just ask “How are you?” “How is he?” Even a few lines on WhatsApp meant so much, to us both.

And about the kindness – this included people whom I have never met in person, or hardly knew. I didn’t know how to take it all in – except to be grateful.

There was community: I could talk about this for a very long time, because it was so overwhelming to me. The support for us both from our local community was so spontaneous and so heartfelt. I had so many offers to run errands or get shopping. Lots of people prayed for me! I even listened to Hebrew prayers over the phone. And what’s more, I was given invaluable, practical help and advice, without which I might have been very lost and confused. I hope everyone has a community like ours. We are just extraordinary.

There was professional help of the highest order: kind, supportive, sensitive and totally reliable. I am going to mention names here…

After my husband’s stroke, Dr Terry Baker was what my mother would have called “a godsend”… Waving her magic wand, she sorted everything out. She has been his lifeline ever since. She is “Likkle but Tallawah.”

When he needed physio, “Auntie Pat” and her assistant Melissa became our best friends. Our weekly trips to Andrew’s Memorial Hospital were hard work for my husband, but also a comforting routine, and he made quite rapid progress. We would go home with soup and vegetarian meals from the canteen. And he would rest.

For me, the petite Dr Natalie Sharpe, the oncologist, was reassuring but realistic, with a sweet smile. Like Dr Baker, she was encouraging and she gave me all the right information when I needed it. She was always happy to give me the good news – and there was good news.

I was really nervous about meeting the surgeon; but Dr Conrad Morris immediately put me at ease. He was very serious, but there was an underlying humour which came to the surface whenever it was badly needed. I often came out of his office laughing. He did a grand job.

My long talk with my friend Petre Williams Raynor, also a breast cancer survivor, helped to keep me grounded throughout a long and difficult summer. I appreciated her taking the time to talk to me – frankly and with compassion – and answering my questions.

My sister is not a professional, but she is my sister. She traveled thousands of miles to be with us after my surgery. She made multiple cups of tea and we had long chats. In the evenings we watched Netflix and ate chocolate bars. She and my husband enjoyed a rum or two. She was the greatest comfort and joy.

And there were more unexpected joys: Meeting with old friends for a day in Montego Bay, in the dazzling (too dazzling) sun, and the delicious feeling of bathing in the crystalline waters of Doctor’s Cave Beach; my first “sea bath” for at least a year or two.

These joys included birds, of course: In particular, a magical early morning birding trip to Castleton Gardens, all wet and dewy underfoot – where a bevy of Ring-tailed Pigeons was awaiting us, feeding in the palms. And later, porridge with Daniel.

And, although in the end I did not get to go to Puerto Rico for the BirdsCaribbean Conference, I was surprised and happy to receive the President’s Award – I am only sorry I was not able to receive it in person:

In Grateful Appreciation for Your Exceptional Contributions to Education and Advocacy for Birds and Nature in Jamaica and the Caribbean

So yes, you have guessed it: This short post is to say “Thank You” to everyone, and to everything, and to the Universe. We are, above all, thankful to be on this beautiful Earth.

The Clouded Sulphur butterfly on our “King of the Forest” flower (which was a gift from a friend). It flowered for the first time, and the butterfly arrived. Another of the joys of 2022.

6 thoughts on “Boxing Day and beyond: some silver linings

  1. dear Emma you have made me search through the rubble of 2022 and find the gems and one very beautiful and precious one is you. Blessings to you and your life and beyond partner🤗🙏🏼😊


    1. Yes, it may seem like a cliché but it’s actually true. Even unanticipated challenges (which are like a slap in the face!) can make you look at life quite differently. They do build us.


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