The last few weeks have been emotional for me, for both happy and sad reasons. There has been the joy of attending Summer School, which never fails to refresh my spirits and feed my soul, and a peaceful week away in my beloved Peak District with my husband.
I have also been happy to know that my children-no-longer-children are embarking on new phases of their lives - my daughter is moving into a flat with her boyfriend as she starts her final year at University in Sheffield, and my son is spending an Erasmus year studying at the Charles University in Prague. I could not be prouder of them or happier for them. They have grown up into unique, strong, independent young people, and that is good.
But I am also suffering from empty nest syndrome - most of the time, I'm fine, but just occasionally, I miss one or the other or both of them like fury, and this boils over into tears. Daft, I know, but I cannot help it. And I am mourning the loss of my cousin, who died in June, and of a dear friend, who died at the beginning of the month. Both were in their fifties, both taken too young. Both much missed.
On Saturday, I spent the morning at a training day about leading a good funeral service - part of the Rites of Passage course I'm currently running in the District. It was wonderfully led by my friend and colleague, Ant Howe, and included a short memorial service, during which we could remember our own lost loved ones, while he held the space for us.
I went straight from there down the M40 to attend the joyous handfasting of a dear friend and her lovely OH. The main ceremony was conducted outside, according to the Wiccan tradition, and was followed by morris dancing and a delicious shared meal. It was a truly blessed occasion.
What I am in awe of is the capacity of human beings to hold all these emotions together at one time, and not actually burst! Over the last few weeks, my mood has swung between joy and sorrow, contentment and grief, often in the course of one day. It is so lovely (even if it is sometimes hard) to feel what I am feeling, and not to have numbed it with alcohol. I celebrated my second soberversary at the beginning of the month, which is a source of lasting contentment.
And so I am grateful, even for the hard bits, because I know I would not feel the pain of loss so keenly, if I did not love greatly.