This blog's poems are from my published poetry book Star Steeds and Other Dreams: The Collected Poems (CFZ Press: Bideford, 2009) and are © Dr Karl P.N. Shuker, 2009. Except for author-credited review purposes, it is strictly forbidden to reproduce any of these poems elsewhere, either in part or in entirety, by any means, without my written permission.

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014


1 April 2013, which was also Easter Monday, was the blackest day of my life, because it was the day that my dear mother, Mary Doreen Shuker, passed away. Today, exactly one year later, has been for me a time of reflection, looking back over what has been a traumatic, life-shattering year of grief, loss, and irrevocable change, but also looking ahead, to whatever the future may hold for me, and to whatever I may accomplish in honour of my mother, and in fulfilment of her most cherished hopes, dreams, and ambitions for me. God bless you, little Mom – thank you for all the happiness, goodness, and love that you have always brought into my life.


Can it be just a year ago today since you passed from my life, my little Mom?

Sometimes it seems but a heartbeat away, other times a thousand lives, a thousand worlds, from where I am now.

People try to show sympathy and understanding when they learn that you have gone, but they have no concept of the true nature of my loss - the immeasurable breadth and limitless depth of the black chasm created in my life and within my heart by your passing. Yes, I have indeed lost my mother - a loss that in itself would be all but unbearable. But I have also lost my best friend, my ever-present housemate, my constant travelling companion, my most trusted confidante, my number one supporter, and my entire family. You were all of those persons, Mom, and so much more besides. Is it any wonder why I grieve without ending, why my life is now but a paltry, meaningless existence, a mere shadow of its former state, why I look only to the past for happiness and security now, and to the future with only loneliness and fear?

I never cried as a child, because I'd never give the school bully, the playground tormentor, the satisfaction of seeing my tears. Instead, I'd save them all, each one a precious pearl of emotion, only to be released in my darkest of all hours some day. Well that day and that hour finally came, a year ago today, the hour in which I lost you, Mom. The tears flowed, and have continued to flow ever since - every tear that I've ever saved throughout my life, torrents of tears that even now after a year of unbroken outpouring continue in unabated profusion, threatening to drown my very being in their salty, burning despair, or to carry me away, borne upon a veritable ocean of tears to who knows where.

I know that your fondest and most fervent wish for me would be that I should make something of my life, do something worthwhile with it, and, most of all, enjoy it, not fill it with grief and sadness. I cannot change the past and bring you back - I would if I could, in an instant, you know that, Mom, but I can't. What I can do, though, is change the future, my future at least, if I choose to do so. You were always so proud of me when you were here, and I can still make you so now. Indeed, it is knowing all of this that has given me a reason, the only reason, to continue day by day through this first year, and it will do so again in those that follow. You sacrificed so much for me, and loved me too much for me to let you down, to betray your faith and your trust in me, and so my books and my articles and my blog posts continue, as you would want and would hope for.

As for me: I am still granted some fleeting but all-the-more-precious moments with you in my dreams, when once again we are together, happy and contented in each other's company as we always were. I still see you in thousands of fondly-recalled memories at home and in millions of happy remembrances within my mind, which help to dispel the ever-present loneliness pervading my world indoors, and bring to me your welcome company to counter the cloud of invisibility that seems to separate me from everyone else whenever I venture forth into the world outdoors.

How truly blessed I am, Mom, to have shared my life with you as my mother for 53 wonderful, happy years, to have been loved unconditionally by someone who was so proud of me and who genuinely thought of me as special, wonderful even. Few people are ever so lucky. I shall always remember that, especially when at my lowest ebb.

This first year of being without you, of being alone in this world, knowing that wherever I look, whichever street I walk along, whatever shop I walk into, I shall never see you again, shall never hear your voice speaking to me again, shall never see your face in the crowd looking for mine again, has been the worst time of my life. Nothing else ever will, ever could, be as devastating, but I shall miss you always, all the days of my life. I now stand on the brink of entering my second year alone, and I can only pray that acceptance will at last be mine, that grief will lift and give me a measure of release, of peace, and that I shall be worthy of you, Mom, that I shall go on to achieve all that you have ever hoped and dreamed for me.

God bless you, little Mom. Please always stay beside me where you always used to be when here, please always give me hope and encouragement as you always used to do when here, and, above all else, please always love me as you always did when here. If you will do these, I will do the rest – this I promise you, Mom, with all my heart and with all my love, always.

All photographs are (c) Dr Karl Shuker


ShukerNature: REMEMBERING MY MOTHER: Mom, wearing the beautiful protea-decorated coat that she purchased in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008 (© Dr Karl Shuker) Today it i...
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