Hiking, homemade food, and the kindness of friends and family helped me heal from heartache
A recipe for seeing light in the darkness.
When my partner of 18 years decided to emigrate to New Zealand last year, I decided to stay in South Africa. She wanted better opportunities and safety. I chose to remain because of my friends and family.
It wasn’t an easy decision. I felt weighed down by conflict and sadness. Just three months after we first talked about emigrating, she left to build her new life, and I was left to dismantle our old one.
I took down the framed photos of us together, reflecting the memories of over 10 years in our home. The smiling faces and raised glasses disappeared into a canvas bag. I felt like I was losing everything.
At that time, my beloved dog and morning walking companion, Milo, also passed away. I moved into a small garden cottage to start my new life with my remaining pets, my old dog Scooby, and my black cat Beeny, who I had raised from a kitten.
They were a great comfort to me. Watching them explore their new surroundings put a smile on my face.
But I was still grieving. I needed to find a path to healing and start living again. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone.
My sisters and mother came to support me with love and food. They checked on me regularly and called me often.
My sister in South Africa brought me hearty homemade food, including lasagna, lentil soup, and chicken korma. I was grateful and ate with pleasure. She’s a great cook.
Although my partner and I weren’t married, we had been together for longer than many marriages, so it felt like a divorce.
Friends who had been through a divorce suggested new interests, such as hiking, rock climbing, golf, and jogging, to lift my spirits and reinvigorate my body.
I took to hiking. Now, whenever I can, I go into the forests, mountains, and veld. The whispering wind through the trees soothes my soul.
My sister convinced me to join her yoga circle. I was reluctant at first, but I found the classes grounding and calming, and the workout surprisingly strong.
I knew I was beginning to heal when I drove past our old house to attend a friend’s braai, and my heart didn’t skip a beat like it used to.
After nursing my wounds and brooding under a dark cloud, I have turned my head to face the sunshine again.
Every day is now finite and precious at the same time. My path to healing involves family and friends and enjoying every moment I have left.
I am especially grateful to the women in my life, who held me together when I was spiralling out. Oh, and I’ve started cooking for myself, with my sister teaching me new recipes. Watch out, Gordon Ramsay!