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When things settle down, grief bubbles up

One of my mentors wrote to me recently that now that things are settling down a bit in our lives, it might be that the emotions that I haven’t had the chance to pay attention to while we were in survival mode will bubble up to the surface and unseat me.

She was right.

Since Red Twin died, we’ve transported our family back to Tanzania, gone on a house hunt, moved house, helped our little guys with their high needs, plus we’ve dealt with a few curve balls that are not yet ready to blog about. All while Arthur was unexpectedly in a CEO position, operating outside his normal gifting in a highly complex organism. So yeah, the last 4 months we’ve been in survival mode.

But now we’re in the new house, Arthur’s done the big things to finish up his role, and we’ve got holidays booked in for 10 days’ time.

And right on cue, I’m sitting in the car (Arthur’s driving), with kids’ music playing for the boys, and on comes a song I associate with Red Twin’s time as a children’s pastor at a church. I can picture her bouncing up and down doing the actions … the tsunami swells … I skip the song. That’s not enough: the edges of my mouth pull down, my chin wobbles, I’m blinking back tears like a strobe light. I take some deep breaths, and with every inch of my willpower, pull my consciousness back to the conversation Arthur is having with our friend in the front seat.

My grief demands attention. It’s not like I wasn’t planning on dealing with it. I’ve got my grief counselling booked in for after the holiday. But my grief is done being patient.

My brain is starting to take hostages. Swahili no longer comes easily. It gave me Swahili when I needed it to survive, and now it’s like, “We’re dealing with this grief before you can have it back!” Memory plays with me. I remember laughing in the hospital room, in a macabre kind of way, about some of the antics Red Twin got up to during her terminal restlessness. You do what you have to to cope I suppose. I see myself laughing in the memory, but now I don’t find it funny. I feel only desolation.

The days are empty. Now that my mind isn’t consumed by the school pressuring me to keep my vomiting child at the end of year assembly, or packing a household into boxes, or trying to get both water AND power connected at the same time, there’s a little more space in between the refereeing of squabbles and finding out where you can get yoghurt in this part of town.

It’s a space that used to be filled with WhatsApp messages too self-absorbed or self-congratulatory for anyone to care about other than her, and quick skypes because there’s a window and I haven’t heard her voice in a couple of days. The loneliness sits in my fingers as they itch to hover over her name in the app.

Categories: Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

3 replies

  1. My heart breaks with you Tam. You have such a way of expressing how we all feel. I have been and am wondering how I might support you well at this time.


    Sent from my iPhone

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