June - August 2018
All around me things are changing: the weather, the students, my own daughter who – on the same day my brother Patrick had his stroke - found out she is pregnant.
All these things I think of on the plane back home. Do I stay or do I go?
I want to stay in China. I love China, I love the chance I have been given, the people I know here, the friendships, the heartaches, students’ stories, creating, eating fish and drinking endless beer, still stumbling over this – for me – impossibly hard language, grateful for two wonderful jobs here, grateful to Concordia University and teachers like Marie-Ellen Davis, Marielle Natasloska and Donato Tataro for being such inspiring, giving teachers and keeping their teachings close to heart.
I want to stay, but I also want to go
Home, to where my heart is: my family, mother, daughter, brothers, my love, France, my village of Tuchan. To Summer rolling into September and the grape harvest. To sitting in Narbonne by the oldest shop, where Madame Gracia refuses to give up her commerce – she is 87 and still going strong.
|Our Lady of the Garden|
The semester is almost over now. The graduate students have finished their master work - the thesis and 30-minute film. We mentored 5 graduates this past year and the work is good.
This is the final work after 4 years of study. They have to do a complete documentary using all the knowledge they have learnt from year 1 until now. They need to experiment and use innovation. They also need to write a 5-8,000 word thesis on the progress and structure, using film language as well as creative non-fiction. And the big heads come from Beijing to judge and listen to their defence.
It is a dramatic month, time to say goodbye and time to wrap up last minute edits which will then be sent off to various student festivals around the world.
The day of graduation, each student, donned in full regalia, goes to get their diploma and have photos taken, just like any other university in the world. And parents come to thank us, their teachers, and then to a restaurant and merriment all night.
I take my leave again, this time directly to London, home to the family, to the hospital, to my brother who can now sit up and eat and communicate with gestures. He is amazing, he is strong, but the journey will be long, very long.
Friends of the Forum https://www.twforum.co.uk/products/patstonbury-t-shirt Tunbridge Wells organized a benefit gig/ fundraiser for Patrick, his mates from the music world who love him and gave their time, energy and love to perform for us. It was magical. I am honoured to be his sister.
And time passes. I go to France, sit in Narbonne by the old shop, eat moules frites and drink chilled wine with my gypsy man.
I dream a little dream that it was all yesterday and things stand still for a day. But they don’t
However, Patrick’s situation has changed me. Life is more beautiful, life is more important, each smile is more intense, each thank you is more sincere, and each tear is deeper.
The day before I return to China, Pat is moved to Queen’s Hospital in London. I go with him in the ambulance. On the way we stop for a coffee in Blackheath, the sun pours through the window, Pat closes his eyes, and he looks peaceful, calm. Two blackbirds stop just outside the window. I love the blackbird family – crows, ravens, magpies - two for joy.
We take mum up in the car. It is hot, the hospital in Bloomsbury not far, we stroll down to the pub, Pat being pushed in his chair. It is one of those moments, etched into my mind.
And even though I go back to beloved China, my home is also here in England.
I do not ever have to go or stay.
I realize it is not about going or staying,
It is just about being.
And then, Pat pulled up my hand and snapped this shot!
|Patrick and Jeanne|