Thank You Neighbour

–by Saoirse Maxwell

Your courage inspires me,
ignites me, fuels me on my journey.
Shame or guilt is not yours to carry,
bowing under its weight.
Sucking you dry.
We were but children.
Innocent young girls.
Giggling over walls, climbing trees,
picnics in the garden, laughing our childhoods away.
Me escaping the horrors of fist and shout.
Desperate to see the insides of other houses, sure when I left they
would return to like the one I knew.
Never quite knowing it was only behind our doors that rage lurked.

You did not know. Could not have known the world
across our front wall.
The dividing line between neighbours.
Worlds apart.

You stood up when it mattered. Tall. Proud. Brave.
Unflinchingly even.
A 30 year absence of little matter.
Ongoing friendship. Intact.
Our only connection the fact we lived next door.
Once upon a time.

This burden is not yours.
It is the yoke of adults who did not speak out or stand up.
Siblings who do not and will not.
Authorities and agencies, striving to bury deep their shames.
And me with it.

May your stride bring with it freedom of self and soul.
Fuel you too as it does me.
You so deserve to know that I am dancing in your words.
Salve to my soul.
Bathing in the warmth of validation.
Helping to balance the losses and betrayals.
Shining upon goodness and righteous indignation.
Where such light ought to be.
Helping me out of the dark,
to once again knock upon your door.
This time to come out and play.


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day UN Declaration of Human Rights European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity Towards a Society for All Ages