My mum didn’t believe in God but she did believe in fairies! It actually works out as a pretty helpful way to view your life.
You see she believed in the good fairy and the bad fairy. Though they always turned up in the opposite order like in Sleeping Beauty – first the malevolent destructive fairy would come and attack you. But don’t panic because coming along behind would be the good fairy who would do her best to make things better.
This world view helps you prepare for the worst. Its true the universe can be a dark place, a place where people get hurt and die, a place in which people with power over you can be mean and vindictive, a place where keys are lost, precious items broken, plant labels stolen!
Mum was realistic about all those things- and experienced them all too.
But instead of blaming herself or curling up and giving up or bemoaning her fate and dwelling on how hard and unfair life was mum simply saw all these as the actions of the bad fairy.
The she very quickly moved on to look forward for the good fairy. She sought out the opportunities she was absolutely confident would be there.
Never was this more in evidence than when my brother died. There could have been so many self destructive ways to have reacted to the, out of the blue, death of her 17 year old son. The rabbit hole of grief and loss, life would never be the same. The all consuming desire for justice against the renowned cardiologist who failed to properly diagnose her son’s idiopathic cardiomyopathy and treated him for anxiety. The self recrimination of all the things that as mother she could or should have done to protect him. For as mothers we all feel that fearsome duty.
But though she may (and almost certainly did) have felt all of those things she moved on from them. She banished them into the distance along with the bad fairy. Instead she looked foward and outwards for the good Fairy. Sure enough mum was right, there was the good fairy, puffing to catch up, carrying the headship of Hampstead School in her arms and my mum took it from her with vigor. Mum pumped all the dark energy from my brothers death into that school and transformed it into something positive and wonderful.
More prosaically, you could say she embraced and internalised the basic tenant of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which is : though we can not control everything that happens to us we can control how we react to it.
She lived that way until the very end of her life. It was oh so typical and wonderful that faced with the cruel unfair revelation that the doctors had not cured the cancer (as they told her they had) but that instead left it unmonitored to spread to such an extent it was untreatable she was not angry but she took it as an opportunity to contact so many of the people she cared about for one kast time and spread again her rallying cry for all of us to come together to make the world a better place.
A world which in as much a possible the evil and harsh distructiveness of the bad fairy as manifested in Brexit and homelessness and a divisive Education system is controlled. A world in which we all look for the good fairy to provide opportunities to rectify those problems.
We can all identify the bad fairy in our lives their black oozing negativity is unmistakable. The good fairy can be harder to spot. But she shows in many ways, not just in the wider world of luck but within the people around us in kindness, humour, empathy and ( as mum said) above all compassion.
For me – the last few days had me in the grip of the dark fairy – full of righteous anger, thoughts of revenge and despair. When you are being buffeted by grief it can be harder to spot her. But she will rush in given only half a chance. Luckily the good fairy (who I always imagine to be a slighty plump, kind eyed disorganised middle aged lady who gets easily distracted but will rush to help as soon as she notices) turned up in the form of an invitation to speak to a lovely senior member of the district Education Board about my thoughts on the education here. I can’t wait.
In the meantime I have taken down my last post. Far too much of the bad fairy in there and far too little compassion.