It’s a memory day


Facebook has this habit of prompting you to repost your memories. Today (12 December) is Melanie’s birthday. I posted about it a couple of years ago, hence the prompt. But rather than post on facebook I thought to write something here. Melanie would have been 47 today. I remember her as a three week baby whom I never met but whose power and influence I have felt for all of her potential life and that includes today. I even made a piece of work about her: “My Sister, My Angel (1996). It’s performance life was short, like hers.

I wrote “The Story of the Stone Baby as part of the performance and I think it encapsulated something about her life and the hard task of reconciling the death of a child. Any death is hard but a child’s is particularly tough, something about potential not being realised. Therein is the nub of it I think.

The story was about a child and a mother going back to the sea. In the play it was woven with lullabies, Christmas carols and Navy Songs. I have just retained “Little Jesus Sweetly Sleep” in this version

The Story of the Stone Baby by Carran Waterfield

Once upon a time there was a woman who gave birth to a stone:
Not an ordinary stone, a special one.

For nine months she carried the stone over land and sea
until she came to the edge of the world
where there grew a tree
anchored by its roots in the heart of the sea.

Suddenly the tree spoke to the woman,

“I am your sister-mother
And she is my child in whom I am well pleased.

I have brought you to this place
so that you might give me back
my child”.

The woman could not believe that such a miracle
should be taken away from her so soon.

Her tears filled the ocean
until the tree-mother felt she would almost drown in the sorrows of her sister-mother.

So the tree-mother relented upon one condition.

“You must make a coat
out of my bark,
out of my blossoms,
out of my leaves
out of my apple skins
so that my child may be comfortable in all weathers.

And then once a year you must return to this place with the child,
and place the child in the coat
at the heart of my roots
so I may hold her close.

We will rock you, rock you, rock you.

We will rock you, rock you, rock you.

We will keep you nice and warm
Darling, darling little…

Placing the child on the seashore

for safe-keeping.

And then taking a deep breath, she cast herself into the sea.

At the end of the first season she surged to the surface of the water to collect the leaves of the tree.
At the end of the second season she surged to the surface of the water to collect the fruits of the tree.
At the end of the third season she surged to the surface of the water to collect the bark of the tree.
At the end of the fourth season she surged to the surface of the water to collect the…
to collect the…
to collect the petals of the tree in all their budded jades and frosted rose blossoms.

By the end of the fourth season she had woven the coat.

She placed the garment on the child, gave thanks and, with the child,
cast herself deep down into the sea
in the heart of the tree mother where her roots were anchored.

And there they rested.

And to this day the woman and her stone baby have never returned.
(‘From My Sister, My Angel’ by Carran Waterfield Copyright © 1996 and 2017 Carran Waterfield)

This is the picture Facebook prompted me with.

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