Compassion Summer 2021

Summer 2021 - Compassion | 11 as the years went by my writing became more important to me. I enrolled for online courses, began creating poetry, wrote short stories and flash fiction. A play and even a novel. But I kept coming back to Dear Tosh. In September 2019, I was accepted onto the MA in Creative Writing Course at Exeter University and I completed that in 2020. For one module I pulled out my letter to Tosh and began to re-structure it into something that I felt I could share with others; at that time, it was just 5000 words. For the tenth anniversary of his death, I completed Dear Tosh my first memoir, which will be published this summer. It’s made up of twenty-seven letters, one for each year that he lived. It felt as though I spent time with him as I wrote, telling him all the events that had happened in the family and the world since he left us. I found it cathartic to write and even though it opened up the wounds of loss, it also helped me come to terms with so much that surrounds the loss of a child. One of those things for me, was the organ donation. I had no counselling for this, and the whole idea of it haunted me like a recurring dream for months and years after his death. Writing about it, sharing my feelings with Tosh actually exorcised my fears and now I can accept it. Writing has saved my mental health, I’m sure of it. I would urge anyone to write about the loss of their child in any way possible. It doesn’t matter if you never show it to anyone. The act of writing your innermost feelings can act as therapy. Ninette Hartley This path I did not choose I didn’t choose this path I walk, my steps are pulled from heavy sludge the cliffs each side are scarred with cries of mothers whose weaving treads I’m forced to follow, our boughs torn off and lost inside a blue miasma. I didn’t choose this path I walk, my other branches need support the one I’ve lost can’t be repaired but we hold onto memories and try to live. I didn’t choose this path I walk, but as I learn to navigate, a little way ahead I see his smile, a light to urge me on, along this path I did not choose to walk. by Ninette Hartley