For the first time in a week, I have come to the wood. At last I can leave the phone and the email. Joe’s place at school is safe for now and I can try to return my life to some sort of normality. I am bone achingly tired, the threat of Joe once again being uprooted has shaken me to the core; the effort of fighting to stop the process of winding up his place in a specialist school for autism and move him back into mainstream has left me wrung out. I am grateful to all who spoke up for him, all who supported me and for once, the inadequacy of the system; paperwork left uncompleted since 2015 and processes ignored worked in our favour – legally, the county was in the wrong. I suppose this should feel like a victory – but it doesn’t. I am just back to where I was a week ago, only worse, I am even more tired. There is only so many times I can go through what I went through last week. I was told by one person who was involved in the process, ‘It was all very avoidable and you just got caught up in a bigger agenda’. I am tired of my family and I being voiceless game pieces; I am a person…. I am a person. I hear the figures¹: 71% of carers have poor physical or mental health, 84% of carers feel more stress and 78% more anxiety as a result of their caring roles, 6 out of 10 carers have been pushed to breaking point. I don’t want to end up as one the statistics…. but I am exhausted from the effort. Life is hard enough without people pulling the foundations out from under your feet without any thought for the consequences.
Last night I sat on Amos’ bed and watched the lunar eclipse. I was awake worrying anyway, so why not? It seemed immense – planetary giants locked into an orbital dance, trillions of tonnes of rock spinning round, hurtling through space at thousands of miles per hour. I watched as the shadow of our Earth passed across the moon ’till it burnt orange in the sky. Sun, Earth and moon have been here for billions of years and will be here for billions of years to come. I feel so very small, but somehow, I have to find a way to go on. I have to find a way. My way, at the moment, is the way of the woods.
Despite a real reluctance to get up there today, I went to the wood. Clear skies last night meant there had been a heavy frost, but as I set off walking, the surface of the soil was already defrosted and muddy over the frozen, hard ground beneath. The sky was again grey and misty. Damp swirled round me as I walked over the field so I was surprised to feel the atmosphere change as I entered the wood. It was quite cheery and seemed bright. For a start, there was a lot of chattering going on. Great tits in particular seemed to have many things to talk about, and I heard a gang of curlew passing; instead of the single haunting call, the group’s voice was a friendly babbling tune.
For the first time this year I saw bluebells beginning to push their leaves above the leaf litter and catkins are hanging in clusters from hazel branches. A new badger sett entrance has appeared, almost overnight, at the side of one of our paths, and several sett entrances I know about have been undergoing substantial renovation. Above me a buzzard called almost continuously, and ravens joined in periodically. Every now and again, the sun shone through the cloud, reaching the wood floor and picking out the green of the moss and holly against the russet of last year’s fallen oak leaves. The winter is by no means over, but a shadow seems to have lifted from the wood. Perhaps it is the lengthening of the days; the sign that change is afoot once more and that brighter times are ahead.