Here I am, about seven or eight years old… It’s the summer holidays, and I’m wandering over the fields down to the village cricket ground. I walk with both arms outstretched so I can touch the tops of the tall grasses that line the pathway.
I clamber over the stile, pausing to listen… the birds, the nearby stream, the soft rustle of some creature in the undergrowth… I love it down here, I am in splendid isolation, but definitely I am not alone.
I jump from the stile, and run over the white boundary line, and flop down on the warm freshly mown grass. I close my eyes, I feel the sun on my face, I cannot help smiling – I love it here, when there are no other people around.
I open my eyes, and watch the few clouds lazily drift by, high in the blue sky. Again, my arms are outstretched, fingers splayed, feeling the stubbly, but gentle, grass along the sides of each finger. And oh, the smell! The intoxicating fresh, vibrant, green smell… I close my eyes again to listen… the music of the leaves in the tops of the trees. I know there must be a breeze, to make the leaves rustle so, but down here on the grass, there is no breeze at all – just a warm, soft stillness.
I push my whole body down in to the ground… I am part of this earth, I am part of this sky, I am part of the air, I can feel the blood in my veins flowing like the nearby stream. I am here, I am safe, I am held.
This memory is so vivid, it is beyond time, it is deep in my bones, an essential part of Who I Am.
When I was strapped down in the CT scanner, after the stroke – alone, frightened, confused – this is where I went… to this moment, to this part of Me, and it was OK… I was safe. Whatever had happened in my brain to rob me of speech and movement in half my body, whatever was happening inside this machinery, I was not alone. I was held, I was safe – just as I had been over 45 years before.