To the Child Within,
You usually wish to me; yet this of all years you might need a little help: so here instead is my wish to you:
I want you to keep the magic. You kept it through all the years you struggled to believe you’d ever be an author, and feared that instead your mind was slowly unravelling, its threads splaying amidst the trials of trying to force yourself through needles not chosen by yourself in a world more violent and choking than those you fled to and tried to conjure for others.
You kept kindling glimmers of that magic, stoking them into solid forms through all those moments branded in fear and adrenaline, and you need it now more than ever: to get through how your mother died. Because imagination is not folly; it is memory intertwined with hope, and trust, and a lot of faith; and you are going to have to find your way through so many things that will feel impossible. Impossible they may well feel, yet if you can allow yourself to imagine instead of denying yourself the possibility; if you can write the good times a little louder and the sad times a little more softly; if you can edit the injustice you have vomited onto the page into reminders of the good that remains in the world – its signatures written in the actions of all those who tried to help that forsaken night, and all those who have rallied since – and carve the fear that nothing will ever be the same again into a pledge of finding a new way to survive and carve a new version of something approaching happiness, and tentative scribbles of imagined possibilities into the sketched outline of a new normal to try on like a new coat that doesn’t smell right and feels cold and awkward and unfamiliar and like you’ll never grow into it even though it’s the only one you now have – you will get there.
You question, as the callous fates tear a mother from her daughters, why you seek solace in a figure risen from the rosy realms of childhood; a figure lifted to immortality by the belief of young ones whose grasp of death has not yet closed? Ah, but that is why I was introduced so long ago to you, as to all the other children. So you may have a companion for your journey from those times into these. The future may seem to reach into obscurity now; as bleak and indefinable as the arctic horizon, but you’ve never feared that landscape. Let my laughter be the voice of bells against the hallucinatory silence. Let my coat be the daub of colour speaking of life against the vast swathes of white stretching so far they threaten to pull you apart. Let my girth be proof of the bounty to be found in the harshest of wildernesses; the promise that your emptiness, too, can be filled; and not by the intrusive insistences of the crowds that clamour and besiege your soul, but instead by the wishes you breathe into a torn, potential-strewn sheet by torch or candle or moon or starlight in the middle of the darkest night of the year, when you have the full attention of a wise old enchanter from the arctic to add credence to your dreams.
And so it will be that one day, when your spirit is drawn to the aching cold and the soaring distance, you will feel ready to walk for real into the stinging white and the smarting cold and the light so stark it flushes from your soul the cankerous vestiges of tear-soaked shadows so long lodged you feared they would never lift, and amidst the soul-filling visions and the clean sharpness of the ice that cleanses and sobers and pierces the fog of your mind, the emptiness will no longer scare you; it will still be part of you, of course it will, but not one to fear, for you will face it, and walk through it; inhabit it and make it your own; for it holds within its void space enough not only for memories but possibilities, and will be for you a blank canvas upon which to conjure wonders.
Until then, I keep the realm safe for you, and one day, I will tread the path with you.
Santa Claus; Father Christmas; the Old Man of the North.
As a qualified Occupational Therapist with a Master of Arts in Psychoanalysis and experience working in a variety of psychiatric settings, Laura is especially passionate about using writing and other creative pursuits therapeutically to help children, teens, and adults cope with and recover from mental illness and trauma. A steadfast believer in the value of fantasy as a nurturing space and safe escape, she draws inspiration from everywhere wild and magical and seeks to both celebrate and inspire the indomitable nature of the human spirit through her writing. Bio courtesy of Winter Goose Publishing
Look for her young-adult fantasy, Air-Born, August 2013.