It began at a hospital bedside in Western North Carolina.
Holding my grandmother’s hand as she took her final soft, short breaths. She was surrounded by the people closest to her, being loved and supported as she slipped away into the Otherworld.
There was something mesmerizing about that moment. In the days that followed, as the grief settled in, I replayed it over and over in my mind.
Despite the pain, there was something so peaceful and beautiful there. I wished I could go where she’d gone… except for the permanent part. Like a death nap, maybe. Where I could wake up in a couple hours.
I’m not sure if She had noticed me before then, but that’s when The Morrigan really began reaching out to me. As the ache of loss threatened to drown me, She appeared.
She met me in a bookstore one night, with I see Fire by Ed Sheeran playing on the loudspeakers and an article about Herself in a magazine I happened to pick up.
And if we should die tonight
Then we should all die together
Raise a glass of wine for the last time
Calling out father, oh
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn o’er and o’er
The mountain side
— “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran
She began to whisper to me there. I felt Her presence in the car on the way home, offering relationship.
I was honest. “I’ve heard you’re not to be trifled with,” I said. “I don’t want to make a commitment until I know what I’m getting into.”
I began to research Her while crows took up residence in my yard. I took Lora’s annual Meeting The Morrigan intensive programme. And finally I stood before an altar that had become Her altar and committed to Her for a year-and-a-day.
And then all Hell broke loose.
Long-forgotten traumas resurfaced, demanding to be dealt with. Relationships that maybe weren’t that good for me anyway strained to the breaking point. It seemed there was chaos all around me. Donald Trump was elected President of the US.
Somewhere in the midst of this chaos, She helped me find my backbone. A backbone I’d never realized I had, much less deployed. I began creating boundaries, and sticking to them. When my parents took their lifelong verbal abuse a step too far, I cut them out of my life. Forever. When one of my closest friends just couldn’t make time for me, I said goodbye. When my job expected me to keep working for free so we could get investment on the grounds that I’d have a tiny ownership stake, I quit.
Not gonna lie, each and every one of those things felt like a dagger in the gut. They hurt. But as I sit here on the other side, 3 months into my second year-and-a-day (which She and I both know at this point is really permanent), I am amazed at my own growth.
She put me through the fire – or perhaps She saw the fire coming and went through it with me. Either way, I am no longer the same person I was sitting at Grandma’s deathbed. I’m stronger than I ever imagined I could be, and I still have a long way to go.
This month I attended a memorial for another family member. I was consumed with anxiety beforehand about seeing my dad there. Would he confront me? Would he whisper something triggering in my ear just to see my reaction?
I discussed my fears with Herself. And when the day came, my dad skipped the memorial service and went straight to the cemetery. The moment I arrived there, he left. The bully was scared of me.
It’s a small, rural cemetery on the side of a mountain in Western North Carolina. It’s not Ireland – although there are people buried here who were born there. Some of my people who are buried here are only a generation or two removed from Eire.
But somehow, I don’t think that’s why The Great Queen showed Herself that day. I think it’s because I’m Hers.
And that is worth every bit of the upheaval of the last year.