Through the cabin window, the earth blends with the sky in a haze of pinks, purples and reds. I am flying back into London.
This last week - a week full of some of the longest hours - has been one of the most challenging times of my life, supporting my partner through the loss of her mother. We were with her, reassuring her and telling her we loved her, right up until the very end. The edges of our resilience, and fragility, have been rarely been pushed so far all at once.
I have never been so confronted by death, it made me fearful and nervous by how powerless it can make you feel, and yet it drew a strength from me I never knew I had - a sort of strength that had never been asked of me before. Throughout the week I found myself writing reams and reams, fervent, scrawled handwriting that would be illegible to anyone else. My hand could not keep up with my thoughts.
Here in part is what I wrote, my tribute to Farida King.
'Yesterday the world lost a warrior. A tiny titan of generosity, a pillar of strength and courage, a master craftsman, a home builder, a mother - not only to three of the bravest daughters I know, but to all the people she made it her point to care for. She leaves behind the grandest of legacies. The story of her life is worthy of the greatness she always aspired too, the artistry of the artefacts she collected and the beauty of her love, a love so huge it was fierce.
Down to her last heartbeat she fought so hard to survive past all expectations - each new years eve we would count down those final seconds together ...10...9...8...smiling with shiny eyes to celebrate the celebrate the saddest of victories - against the terminal cancer that has finally released her from her pain.
Grief surrounds us and comes in waves. These tears - like music and laughter - are beyond language. Beyond faith. They yoke us all in this moment most tragic. Ours is some sorrowful cry, some unbelievable chord - one that would surely break the bearer if made alone. But we are family now. This is part of what it means to be so; that we hold each other in our times of need, support each other as we continue to unravel, mourn and process all that has been in this, the most testing of times. When there is space for stillness - a place between the tears - we will be there to piece each other back together again. In time, together, all can be overcome'
As I read it back, over and over, myself transported, I think how reading and writing both can be such an oasis for healing and reflection, somewhere we can distil and refine the thousands of messy thoughts that prattle though our restless mind, that pound in our troubled hearts to arrange them into something that might mean we can come to glean some deeper understanding about what it means to be alive in this world. For my partner and her dearest family, I knew I was some sort of rock. The pen and the empty page - you were mine.