I emerged through a few wispy clouds and into a dawning London, soon finding myself in the beginning of a bright new day in Heathrow Airport: and the beginning of my first trip back to the UK since I moved to Ghana in February.
Initially a little bewildered by my surroundings and how different they were from my new African home, I soon back slipped into English life like a rowboat on a river. It felt like I had never been away, and I enjoyed the sense of normality that accompanied my transition.
The days that ensued were filled with the wonderful chaos of my family descending on my parents home, as laughter, tears, shouts of joy and squeals of excitement danced through the house.
The rest of my trip continued to unravel in this glorious fashion of what felt like a pass the parcel of love: every day a new layer to unwrap, filled with treasures and memories in the making. So many people I love, both friends and family, filled each day, bubbling over like a glass of champagne.
And some of the moments I loved most were the moments where you might say little happened at all: it was the most normal moments I loved the best. The tea in bed with my Grandma in the morning, the breakfasts sat in the kitchen with my mum and Grandma, the bacon and eggs my dad cooked for us all, the meals together as a family, take aways with James and Hannah, the reading of stories, the cuddling of little ones, the sitting and sewing together, the enjoying the sunshine together. Aren’t these the best sorts of moments?
And as I joined my mum looking after my Grandma, helping her up the stairs, finding her rollers, helping her take a bath, I notice more of these moments. As I joined my brothers and sisters in laws in taking care of their children, feeding them, clothing them, playing with them, washing them and cuddling them I kept savouring snapshots of it all in my mind. And I watched my mum and dad being fabulous grandparents to these lovely little people. I watched the children enjoy eachother as we enjoyed them, and my Grandma enjoying it all. And as the laughter and tears, the shouts of joy and the squeals of excitement filled the air, I breathe it all in as Elikem and I slotted into the meyhem around us. Isn’t this what life really is? This intermingled mixing pot of life. Isn’t this where the diamonds lay? Ingrained into dirty clothes and onto messy faces after hours of play and laced upon stacks of dirty dishes after dinners enjoyed together. Isn’t it there amongst the aching joints and the frail old knees, with hands to hold them and arms to help them? Isn’t it there amongst the imperfections, and the things that need mending? Barefoot and make-up-less. Where love runs thick and each one is a receiver, yet each one is a giver. Isn’t this where life is richest? It’s in the moments that are so normal that life unfolds with bounty.
And it is all wrapped up in time, time that slips through our fingers like grains of sand so fast. Money comes and goes I’ve noticed (sometimes more than it should in my pocket!), and even energy surges and wanes. But time passes just once. A couple of weeks has passed like the breeze, and I have found myself airbourne again, flight bound for Accra. The blazing sun shining once again, a little older than it was when it shone on the sunny dawn in Heathrow Airport. And I take off into the blue blue sky again, just as I did seven months ago when we moved to Ghana.
How we spend our time, our one beautiful life, is not a choice we can take twice, and I feel now as we all often do: if only I had a little more time. But as Maggi Smith says in a recent movie: “There’s no present like the time.” Each day is a gift and the time we spend is precious. The moments we enjoy together and the memories we make are the gifts we’ll never lose.
And so, in heading back to Ghana I carry with me so many precious memories, treasures that can’t be lost. And as life continues to unfold, I look forward to creating many many more.