When the wind blows from the east

And the sun is low in the sky,

Remember the roses and wine,

And the summer time,

And the long dance.

When the wind skirls at your feet

In dust-filled halls,

Remember the summer heat

And the long dance in the skies of dawn,

When the world was asleep

And the years stretched away over the fields.

Terry Dartnall

My husband Terry wrote this poem at least a decade before he died, little knowing it would be so prophetic. It perfectly fitted our experience of love and loss when he was dying of pancreatic cancer. After his death the poem became an integral part of my memoir, inspiring the title A Wind from the East.

When we realised his death was imminent and unavoidable, it felt as if a wind from the east had blown through our lives. I do not mean to say that an east wind is malevolent, but that an east wind denotes change. We are not always ready for change, especially when we are about to lose someone, or something, greatly loved. It fills us with fear and grief.

In the first weeks, when my fear was new, I needed anti-anxiety medication to keep me steady through everything I had to deal with: a terminally ill husband, a house sale to finalise, a house purchase to complete, along with numerous legal documents and intricate finances, as well as the practicalities of selling old furniture, clearing and cleaning the old house, and moving into the new house. And of course, family, friends and colleagues, all devastated by their imminent loss of Terry, needing news and information. In those early weeks, my practice of meditation wasn’t enough to calm me when I woke at 3am, deeply afraid of what lay ahead. But yet, with persistence, I settled into habits of positive thinking by saying affirmations, meditating when I could, writing poetry in the long hours beside my husband’s bedside (which focussed my mind more easily than meditation), and appreciating what was still good in my life. If I remembered to do so! Little by little I began to trust. I trusted that we’re never alone, even though I felt lost and alone at times. But I knew it wasn’t really true because whenever I called for help, it came.

I’m not religious and I don’t pray, so you may wonder why I feel that we’re not alone.  It’s not easy to explain because it’s ineffable. I don’t think we have an adequate language to explain the intuitive, inner feelings, particularly because such experiences are felt individually. One person’s experience of non-physical energy won’t be like another’s, and yet they will both be valid. In my book I talk about some of the gentle signs and symbols that came to me, rather like messages of love and encouragement. I grew accustomed to serendipity, to things turning up in perfect timing, without any planning from me. I accepted that which I could not change (my husband’s death), and in the grace of acceptance I found beauty and stillness.

Years later, I still sometimes have to remind myself that I’m safe, if life gets worrying and I lose my footing. Then I remember that life has always worked out for me and I say it out loud in the car, or in my head if I’m with other people: Everything is always working out for me. It brings instant relief and I build on that feeling of relief by relaxing; I feel the positive nature of trust.

People might ask, ‘How can you think so positively when you’re facing disaster?’ ‘Aren’t you just going into denial?’ ‘You have to face facts.’

I question the usefulness of facing facts if it puts me into fear and panic. Whenever I’ve felt depressed, or worried over a period of time, I’ve attracted more of the same from the people around me, then I’ve felt even worse, and more negative things happen. But when I seek relief in positively affirming the good things in my life, then more good is attracted to me and I find that everything works out well in its own way. I didn’t have to worry a solution into being, I only had to visualise the outcome I wanted, feel it and trust. There was no need to worry the ‘how’ the ‘when’ or the ‘which’ because I’d set the wheels in motion with my inner feelings of positive expectation, which began with the visualisation. If you can feel what you are visualising, there’s no need to work out how or when it will manifest. It’s already on its way.

‘Everything is always working out for me,’ is a very effective affirmation, but you probably have your own affirmation that suits you even better. Affirmations work. They are especially good if an east wind brings changes you’re not ready for.

A Wind from the East is available here: http://www.wendydartnall.com

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