• Alexis Soul-Gray

Goodbye house, Goodbye Lavender

Today I went out with my closest friend Freya for a walk in Epping Forest. We got the tube from her flat in South Woodford to Loughton and walked up the wealthy but trashy high street to my dads house. His house backs onto Epping Forest with clear views of the city including a sparkling Shard and Gherkin at night. We moved there from Stock, Essex when I was 18. I left home at 18 to live on a friends floor in Bloomsbury whilst I studied at Central Saint Martins for my Foundation year. This was only partly through choice...the house in Loughton had one less bedroom than our previous home in Stock. My sister being 14 and my brother having a hard time and having to have one of the bedrooms I was essentially forced to leave anyway.

Back to the I had decided would be the day to bury my mums hair at a tree she took me to whilst she was dying. As the sun rises the first rays of light shine directly onto this tree. She told me that she would be there waiting for me every year on her birthday...I was a couple of days late this year... in fact I have never made it there on Dec 3rd..maybe next year. I hoped she might be waiting for me anyway as it was 14 years to the day that she last saw the Forest before travelling to Zurich to end her life by drinking a lethal dose of barbiturates.

After traipsing through huge amounts of mud in absolutely the wrong footwear we arrived at the tree. A Robin was sat on the fallen branch at the foot of the tree, it sat there for about 5 minutes, allowed me to get very close to it. My Sister Nikki is a firm believer in Robins being mum in spirit form so I conversed with the Robin on her behalf.

I didn't bury the hair in the end but placed the hair, along with hair belonging to both my daughters and I into the heart of the fallen tree. The fallen branch that the Robin sat on left a gaping wound that felt like a cave. It was full of earth, fungi, spider webs and rotting bark, it made perfect sense for me to place her inside the tree. I hope nobody will ever remove it, I hid it deep into its open heart.. she could be there for eternity.

As we walked away we both felt happy. It felt absolutely right.

I drove away from the house in Loughton, sharing a memory with my Dad as he stood on the pavement about how on the morning of Dec 6th 2006 she hobbled from the front door, down the steps and in agony and great discomfort contorted her tiny starved body into the car, put her seat belt on very slowly and wound down her window. With the greatest sincerity she said "Goodbye House, Goodbye Lavender" and slowly the car pulled away and we drove to the airport.

She went into the heart of the tree surrounded by her Lavender, which is still there today.

I drove back to Devon, as the sun came down there was an intense red sunset. I felt very content, lots of things were making sense.

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