It’s never easy to enter the stage of transformation. It can be dark, lonely and a long road to reveal the truth of self-discovery. And it’s even more challenging as a child. You’re barely understanding the world around you when all of a sudden something happens that makes you question every element of your life. And your whole world is flipped upside down, never to be perceived the same way again.
This is how I felt at age 9. The image above. This was either my 9th or 10th birthday, I’m not sure exactly. But the age doesn’t matter, what matters here is the emotional turmoil I can still feel from looking at this photo. I remember this cake in particular. It was created by a family friend in order to cheer me up because I loved witchcraft so much. It was an attempt to help me get excited about life again. But I couldn’t. I was so angry at the world. So confused with what I was doing here. To understand why these strong emotions entered my mind, you need to know – I had just lost my childhood friend in a freak accident. One day she was playing with me in the school yard and the next day I was told that she fell off her bike, was run over by a truck and that I would never see her again.
I didn’t understand. Why her? She was a kind-hearted girl, who did everything right. She didn’t deserve to die. And even more so, what is death? Where did she go?
The questions of life, God, the universe circulated through my mind and I came to the conclusion that if we could die at any day, why am doing the things I don’t want to do? Like school. I didn’t want to go to school, I hated it. And so I rebelled, and ran away from class. Refusing to go to school for many weeks. Although I had been brought up to go to church, my interest in christianity completely died off. I had no interest in learning about a god who obviously didn’t exist if he was to take my friend away so quickly.
Little did I know at the time, but this experience shaped me and my perspective on life forever. And it’s only now, many, many years later that I can look back and realize that my friend had selflessly sacrificed her life in order to give everyone around her so much more meaning to theirs. I believe that she chose to leave when she did. That before her soul entered her body this was her destiny she wanted. And the knock on effect of what an incredible she gift she gave to all of those around her, which was the opportunity to transition into a new version of themselves.
From this experience I wanted to understand more about death and where we go, what happens. I was always fascinated with Egyptian mythology and beliefs regarding the afterlife. I was in love with magic and this idea sounded the most aligned with me and I prayed to be shown the truth in my dreams. I needed to know what happened to my friend. They say that if you die in your dreams that you die in real life, well that’s not true because I’ve done it. Shortly after this experience I dreamed that I died and I was shown the cycle of life and a vision of our souls reincarnating. This is why I believe so strongly that this life isn’t the end of us. As I grew older I learned more about energy and that it never dies. As I played with this scientific theory, I was able to tap into other energies around me and I still believe that I can feel my friend near me. I talk to her when I need encouragement, when I’m asking for safety or guidance. And when the time is right, she sends me a sign.
If it wasn’t for her willingness to help others through the way she chose, I would never have transitioned into the person I am today, and for that, I thank her with all my heart. But I often wonder about the other people who’s life had been affected by this experience also. Her parents, her siblings, and what about the man who was driving the truck? What happened to him? I guess I will never know.
After my friend died, the local council realized that the place she fell over should have had a fence to stop the same problem happening for other children. The day of her funeral we went to this place and painted the fence purple, which was her favorite color. And we stood by the street, as this fence was painted, at 3 o’clock, the time that she would have been riding her bicycle home from school. Looking out to the traffic, imagining her coming home. But she never came home again.
I wrote a poem about this experience when I was younger. It was a way to provide myself closure and understand this period of my life. It was a project for school, we had to write about a childhood memory. There was no stronger memory in my mind than this day. It still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. But now, these tears of sadness are accompanied with gratitude and love.
Too young to comprehend,
I painted the fence purple,
because that was your favorite color.
Looking around at the crowd that gathers here for you,
I search for familiar faces,
and wonder if anyone is listening.
it’s every person I have ever met in this world,
standing right here beside me,
We’re all painting for you.
There’s teacher with the red hat,
the one we used to laugh at.
But it didn’t seem funny anymore.
And little Johnny Ray,
wedged between his father’s legs,
just staring at me,
like he’s never seen me before.
A vacant gaze across his face,
so still, so displaced.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen him not smile.
And then there was me.
Hiding, watching, waiting.
Just quietly, painting the fence.
Just silently, swallowing the questions.
Each brush stroke of thick paint,
echoes your fate, and etches the color
deep within the groves of the sharp,
metal fence, concealing
the last cries of your no tomorrow.
The bristles on my brush,
collected the paint effortlessly,
yet weighed heavy on my wrist.
Heavy like the baskets that we made in our dresses,
when we used to collect flowers together.
Do you remember?
Too many to hold, too many to share.
Giggling together, without a care
in the world.
Skipping from the garden leaving a daisy trail behind.
What else did you leave behind?
And the purple paint drips from the fence on the street,
on the cement below my feet.
Splashing on my toes,
emphasising my woes,
and eternally marking right where you laid,
in those last moments of salvation.
I look down,
but I continue to paint,
still struggling with the questions
Each stroke of bristle to paint,
to steel to paint, to steel,
frustrated and angered me with every tenderly touch.
Why does it take a lost innocence in this world to make a change?
A barrier now stands strong,
created to protect another virgin soul from falling to their mercy,
but it didn’t save you.
‘Now she is free and with God,’ he says
Weren’t you free before with us?
With mummy and daddy?
And so I paint, I paint, I paint.
My eyes, drowning in tears of confusion.
Too little to ask the question of where you went,
and too naive to understand the answer.
And so I paint.
From brush to paint,
to metal, to paint.
Stroke, by stroke, piece, by piece.
Have we created a masterpiece?
Will a child never fall again?
An innocent virgin vacuumed into space,
with nothing left to replace,
but a stupid purple fence?
And so I paint. I paint, I paint.
While my heart still sings for you,
a soft lullaby we used to call our own.
And I am on the swings waiting for you.
But why aren’t you here?
Where did you go?
I will wait for you.
I will paint,
and I will wait.
And I will never forget you.
I will never forget you, sweet Alice.