The only thing that we can ever be fully sure of is that time goes on. The falling of the leaves, the darkening of the nights, the tide rolling in and out is - surely - inevitable. Perhaps that is why I go to nature so ardently; because it is the only thing that feels sure to me. And in grief, sureness is a necessary comfort.
Yet at the same time, nature is a reminder of that age-old saying; “time is fleeting”. Doesn’t it always feel like summer ends so quickly? Or that the trees lose their leaves so soon? And how could it possibly be the first frost already?! Being in nature is a constant reminder of the steady movement of time, yet it is also a place I go where time feels slow; where the senses become more aware of every sight and sound - the earthy scent of moss after rainfall, the feel of the earth etched underneath your boots, the fading of the sun beneath the horizon and that golden light just before it says goodnight. A reminder that time is beautiful, and a reminder to accept it.
In grief, nothing feels sure, and nothing feels certain, and time goes painfully slow yet terrifyingly fast. Everything becomes a little confused in your body and mind. Something, someone, is missing and your whole being is thrown off balance. Time becomes entwined with fear; the more it passes, the further away you become from that person, or people, lost.
I don’t think I have ever purposefully gone to watch so many sunrises and sunsets as when we lost my father and brother. Those golden times of day became a safe place and a sense of the familiar. When I think back to that period of intense, raw grief, you would imagine I might just see darkness, but instead I see the deep shades of purple at sunset on the moors above my mother’s house, and a glowing orange sun rising over the valley that I grew up in - the one they loved. The rich and beautiful colours marking the start and end of the day were not a way to escape the darkness, but rather a way to find some sense of acceptance in time and in nature; in life and in death. A way to find some beauty in that.
Through grief and uncertainty, I came to understand that my time in nature is the most valuable I have. That idea has really stayed with me and in many ways has shaped the way I am now directing my life. When I go to the hills, I feel in my being transcendent of time, yet the environment around me is a constant reminder of its passing. While the colours of the moors and the touch of the wind evoke a certain season, in my body I am just walking like my ancestors did before me and I could be anyone at any time; my body filled with a timeless feeling. That juxtaposition is beautiful to me.
And so, I walk through every season; craving that feeling of being present through time. I long to feel every ounce of it; to watch every leaf that falls and to feel the air get ever colder as winter creeps in. I do not want to take from nature, I just want to be in it, to be a part of it, to be with it wholly. This is a feeling I hope the passing of time can never change, one that I hope to inspire others to feel; breathless, timeless, fully present in one’s own body. For in grief, that feeling helped me immensely.
Sometimes, I still feel a wave of fear at the passing of time. How can it be November already? How long since you lost them? Almost 2 years. When someone dies, a date is etched into rock and time abruptly stops, but not for you. You have to learn to live with it and to accept its passing. And so I go to nature to find the deepest value in time. I go to see its beauty in every sunrise and every sunset. I go to let it embrace me and me it. When I walk in nature, my grief is timeless.