Dear Manitoulin Island; Spirit Island, thank you.
I needed clarity. I needed peace. And you were there. Normally, in times of confusion, turmoil or fatigue, I would run off for an island getaway. Somewhere warm. Somewhere with a beach. Somewhere I could laze my days away with no care, no worries. At this time, last year, I got my island getaway. A different kind of island, but an island nevertheless. I took a trip to Manitoulin Island.
At this time, last year, I took a trip to Manitowaning more commonly known by the masses as Manitoulin Island. Instead of travelling south to warm, Caribbean seas, I stayed within Canada’s borders and travelled north. I sought my peace in the great, white north. I sought my peace with a dear friend who happened to be working on the island, and was one of the few people who knew what I was going through.
I was in a dark, cold and lonely place. I was confused. I was worried. I was scared. I was sad. I felt shame and regret. I felt karma was at play and it felt as though it was my fault.
My friend had raved about the island’s beauty. About the peace that could be found there. I longed for peace. I’d promised to visit. I was off work on a temporary leave and before heading back to work had another week off for March Break. I took the opportunity, and booked my flight to Sudbury; the first stop on-route to Manitoulin Island. The timing of this trip was bittersweet, but completely perfect.
I was grieving the loss of my baby.
The wish I’d made on the Tagus River in Portugal, only several months prior had come true and it had only taken a few weeks. I was pregnant. The joy however was short lived.
I’d had an early miscarriage in February, and was grieving. Getting used to the feeling of emptiness that had overcome me. Now, looking back, that difficult, dark and lonely time seems so far away. Yet still, a constant reminder of what could have been, always remains. I am always in a deep state of contemplation and the loss heightened it for me. A small part of me always wonders what might have been. I needed to get away…
Manitoulin Island, known as the spirit island by its original inhabitants the Anishinabek helped heal my spirit. It’s true, in time I would’ve healed. With the love and support of my village, my own resilience and understanding of the ups and downs of life, I would have eventually found myself again. But the beautiful island helped speed things along.
This time last year, I felt empty. Like an empty shell. I was confused and needed clarity.
With its clean, crisp air, Manitowaning offered me clean, crisp air to inhale clarity, and exhale my confusion. It offered me a friend and space to heal.
In the days following my miscarriage, as the Misoprostol cleared my body of all signs of my pregnancy I felt like I was being haunted, being punished. And the only way I would, could come to terms with these feelings was to get away from familiar sights and sounds….to quiet the sights and sounds of my mind, so that I could feel clearly and return home…at peace.
Manitowaning and its beautiful people like the great artist Mishibinijima; whose artwork touched and tickled my soul, helped me regain my spirit. My dear friend, helped me heal my spirit.
In its wintery splendor, I allowed myself to feel more than cold. I allowed myself to embrace whatever I was feeling. Grief. Regret. Fear. I allowed myself to trust in the process of feeling and healing. I allowed myself to trust in the universe and allowed myself to hope. I reminded myself that everything happens for a reason.
Exactly one year later, I have my baby, a baby boy who came to me on the last day of 2017. He is 2 months old now, and when I look at him I only see and feel joy. The grief of my loss seems so far away. I have the island, my island getaway to thank for that.
My spirit lives
Through ups and downs
My spirit thrives as it lives,
as it loves and as it learns