I have had a weird few days.
I should explain that I have spent decades developing coping strategies to deal with the hyper sensitivity/empathy I was seemingly born with which has, historically, proved to be both a blessing and a curse.
Although I have toughened up these days (that’s life) now and then it rears it’s ugly head
Make of this what you will, I offer no theories, but I get this overwhelming, seemingly irrational feeling that every layer I have put between me and the real world has peeled back like the skins of an onion and left me hyper aware within a situation.
What triggered it this time? I was walking through our local market town in France. I turned a corner by the ancient church and saw what was left of the burnt out and demolished buildings above.
I stopped dead, feeling sick and shocked and thought “I need to record this”.
A French guy saw me and stopped to talk. He told me that someone had broken in and set alight the end house and despite the attendance of every Pompier from miles around, the blaze was so fierce and the damage to this and the house next door was so devastating that they had to be demolished, including part of a further neigbouring property.
These are small, back to back typical French town houses in a tiny, narrow street. Many are of medieval origin ( see the timbering, mud infill, and old stone doorways revealed above). We agreed that not only was the act of arson criminal, but the destruction of so much architectural history.
Can you imagine the terror of these families? the sight and the noises and the destruction and the fear that the flames would reach their homes?
I could, in horrible technicolour and cinemascope as per usual. The lovely French guy was really concerned about me. He patted my arm (very un-French gesture for someone you have just met ) and asked if I would be OK. He seemed amazed at how affected I was.
Then , back in the village I sat on the bench at the end of our street to watch the world go by, at it’s usual Campagne pace of one nanosecond a week; My neighbour V came down the street behind me, recognised me and came over to exchange les bises and talk. She sat down, I asked her how she was with a strong presentiment that this was not going to be a gossip session.
It wasn’t, her lovely husband (local author and artist & generally gifted and highly cultured gentleman), ill for a long time, had died. She told me how it happened, and how she felt and still feels. We both cried.
I won’t intrude further into her situation out of respect, but suffice to say that she now faces a life changing decision as to where she goes and what she does next. With only one immediate permanent neighbour and surrounded by empty or second homes (!!) she is as isolated as one can be in a tiny village.
I wish we had been there and could have offered some support, lifts, an ear, a shoulder etc.
Of course there are other kind villagers who are there for her but I am right next door.
I still feel like I have abandoned her. It’s still echoing………..