Home Coming

It has been three years since I was in South Africa – the country that is in every fibre of who I am.  But this home-coming is so very different.  The last time I was here was because my mother had died quite suddenly.  I was planning to come and spend a month with her, but she passed away a month before my arrival date, so my trip in 2014 was consumed with sorting out my mother’s estate, her cremation and all that goes with a passing.

This time there is nothing left of her, only memories, and I am finding this experience very empty. My holidays here were always planned around my mother and what we were going to do, see and enjoy together (lots of cups of tea and milk tart or lime milkshakes).  But this time….

I almost feel I don’t belong here anymore – but to be honest, that has been the case for over two decades now.  I don’t know how things work here, I have very little cultural references and I probably don’t sound very South African anymore either.  Which makes this all so very strange – who am I?  My mother was my anchor here, and now that the anchor has been raised – this ship is out in an open sea, with no direction, no route and no destination.

The idea of coming to South Africa to spend Christmas with friends and family was exciting a few months ago, but as the time got closer to our departure, anxiety built up and now that I am here…I really don’t know if I even want to be here.  This is no longer my home – this is no longer my happy place – is this my duty? And is this role now no longer?

Or, is this time an opportunity for me to find who I am, to explore my connection with the land I adore? Is this now MY time?

I am sad, I am lonely in my own country, my home, without my mother, and I fear how I will feel about South Africa when this trip is over – I will change (as one always does when we travel), but this time the change will transform so much of who I am, deep in my soul…and that scares me….very very much!


3 Comments on “Home Coming”

  1. sandybarker says:

    Beautiful. Heartbreaking. For those of us who travel, who call several – or even, many – places home, we will always miss someone, we will always feel ‘not quite home’, we can even feel displaced in our original home. But I believe that is a burden far outweighed by the joy and wonder of being a true child of the world. My heart is with you, my dear friend.

  2. I am deeply moved by what you have written here. We are complex creatures, Dawn. In that complexity there is a shifting reality, emotions that change, shift around … The photos of you with friends are happy, as always. Your “home-coming” piece is not and for absolutely understandable reasons. You are still in grief, something that doesn’t “go away”; we don’t “Move On” from grief, as some would have it. It stays. As we recognise it, as we process it, it will hurt us less. For me, the Western Cape is and will be a haven. But now (did I say we are complex?), Antibes has become a haven for me, perhaps as Sunny Frome has for you. Keep talking about it, admitting it and healing it. (Perhaps you can dust off my notes of grief and healing which I shared with you …) My love to you.

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