I’m sitting out on the front veranda of my house – the one that I fought so hard for – the one that my precious mum grew up in. I shared so many beautiful memories with her in this house. The walls are laden with the past merriment of my family.
I’m having my second morning coffee, gazing out at the ocean, breathing in the serenity of this place. My son August is in his bouncer next to me, in his little red jumpsuit, his eyes wide with pleasure. He is happily chatting to his colourful caterpillar and surveying it curiously by slapping it with his tiny, growing hands. He is becoming more interested in the world every day. He is becoming more beautiful every day. He is shaping into a delightful little person every single day.
And she’s not here to see it. Any of it. It breaks my heart every day. It freshly breaks me every day.
You simply couldn’t love anything more than your child. Now I understand the way she must have felt about me.
But then, if she loved me that much how could she leave me?
I feel stuffed full of it all. I feel like I’m pregnant again – though instead of having a beautiful child blossoming inside me, I have a tempest of raging emotions, longing to be birthed. They cannot be allowed out. They must be stuffed down further. Down, down into the depths of my being. I cannot talk about it. It’s too hard for me, and I feel like Ross has had enough. He is emotionally exhausted, dealing with his own tempest, still scarred from watching me grieve. My mother is dead. There is no one else here.
The ‘not being able to talk to my partner’ thing is a nasty new development that sneakily edged in while we were both distracted. I have been very aware of his tempest. I have tried to calm the waters, but to no avail. I am spent, so I have given up on trying to affect his tides. It’s like the pain of enduring my immediate reaction to mum’s death has left him with nothing more to give. He does not even seem to realise that I too have a body of water, let alone a tempestuous one. I am alone – except for my son. My beautiful, perfect son fills my otherwise empty days with pure joy.
But in terms of adult company and understanding, I am completely and utterly alone; bereft of a deep conversation. I am deprived of those people that once stood loyally by my side. Thank god I have the house. It is my salvation. It is my heritage. But it is empty of the people that once made it whole. Now I craft a new life here with my son. I do it with love, but I need something else – is that terrible? He is, obviously, everything I could ever need or want for. So I feel guilty for needing anything else. But I do. My soul – personally – needs something for itself. It is an entirely separate need from those connected with my son, so maybe I am allowed to have it. There is yearning in me that stretches aeons of time.
Loosing someone is a very nasty business. Yet it happens all the time. Everyone is mortal – loss and death are integral parts of life. Sometimes death is a blessing – I’ll concede that. But sometimes it is not. Like this time. Someone taken from you before their time is just downright nasty, for them and for you. Some people are of the mind that loss brings you fresh appreciation for the thing you have lost and for life in general. They spout this knowledge as though it is an enlightening epiphany that will shine a ray of hope upon your life. How ridiculous. What possible good can that philosophy really serve? Ah, life has taken away your mother, your lover, your mind or whatever, so now you will truly appreciate life and not take things for granted. Yes, thanks life, now I can appreciate what I can never have again … you bastard. I can appreciate my glorious past, and then feebly attempt to move forward into a future that I really would have preferred to have my mother in.
It is exactly two weeks until the dreaded day … the anniversary of her death. I have feared this day for the last eleven months and two weeks. I don’t want it. I would like to bypass it completely; how about you do that for me instead Life – you arrogant, sadistic, monstrous entity. Thinking about it I now find myself slipping into a full mounted attack on Life without really intending it. But far be it for me to deny the rare opportunity to vent my wrath, so here goes …
So, Life, you sit there, all smug in your immovable position, boldly perched on your high fucking horse, snidely curling your blood-soaked lip in a snare as you gaze down upon us meek mortals, thinking, ‘Yes, well I’m quite happy with the situation. I am up here, so you cannot touch me, or change me, or manipulate me. I, on the other hand, can do whatever I like to you. You can’t hurt me – the only thing you can really do is accept me, or refuse to live with me and top yourself, and even if you do then you’re not certain that what comes after me is any better, so really there’s no escape from me at all.’
Well, that may be true Life, but it doesn’t mean I have to go along willingly. I can’t shift you, but I can rage at you from down below. I can stand at the bottom of your insurmountable perch and scream up insults at you and defy your position, which is precisely what I intend to do, YOU ARE A BUMHOLE! I DON’T LIKE YOU. I DON’T CARE FOR MANY OF THE DECISIONS THAT YOU HAVE MADE, AND I REALLY THINK THAT MY FEELINGS HAVE NOT BEEN CONSIDERED AT ALL. YOU SUCK BALLS. YOU THINK THAT BECAUSE YOU GAVE ME A BEAUTIFUL SON THAT MAKES IT ALL OKAY? GRANTED, I THANK YOU FOR THE CHILD, BUT LET’S FACE IT – I MADE HIM IN MY BODY, HE USED MY GENES TO GROW, I FED HIM, I GAVE BIRTH TO HIM. I ALSO NOW TAKE CARE OF HIM, I MEAN, WHEN’S THE LAST TIME YOU GOT UP TO HIM AT 5 IN THE MORNING HUH LIFE?! GIVING HIM TO ME DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE LICENCE TO TAKE WHATEVER YOU LIKE LIFE. IT SHOULDN’T WORK THAT WAY AND I REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD CAREFULLY CONSIDER YOU’RE STANCE ON THE MATTER. THAT IS IF YOUR DON’T WANT EVERYONE IN EXISTENCE TO END UP DETESTING YOU WITH ABHORRENT PASSION. BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE HEADED LIFE! NO-ONE LIKES A BULLY!’ …
And so on. A well-deserved critique I feel.
The feelings inside me are so juxtaposed that it’s almost humorous … almost. I’ve never felt happier because of my son. I’ve never felt sadder because of my mum. These two emotions endlessly coexist within me. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible for them to do so, but somehow I seem to manage it quite well. But underneath the happiness the sea is still raging. Even now I feel like I might break down from allowing these feelings to seep onto the pages. It is almost too much. I feel like if I acknowledge them so boldly that they might take hold and seize my soul in another bout of temporary madness. There would be something so relieving in that. I just want a day, just one day, to sit and think, and to get ridiculously drunk and cry and vent out all the shit that’s built up mountains in there.
I am looking at my son thinking, well, that’s just not an option anymore. It really isn’t. So what is going to happen to the ever increasing mountains? They’re crafting a grand canyon down there, that’s what they’re doing. They are saying, ‘I see you’re not doing anything about me, so I’ll just increase the size of this mountain of grief, and I’ll use parts of your soul as my material’.
Oh, how I ache for my mother.
As the anniversary of my mother’s death looms closer I have a feeling of foreboding that is both familiar and completely new. It seizes me during unforseen moments in my day. I know the day is coming. I am dreading it; dreading it with fierce intensity. It is not something I want to do. I don’t want to remember that day. But it is closing in upon me, and there is not a damn thing that I can do about it.
Plagued with fear I begin to talk more to Ross about it. I tentatively crawl out of my shell. I ask him to get the day off work. I’m terrified that I will get emotional and not be able to look after my son properly. And I kind of want to be able to get emotional too, if I need to. It’s the one day where I feel I should be allowed to let some of my emotions out – the ones I have been bottling up inside of me. And I’m really not sure if I will be able to hold them in even if I try. I just don’t know how I will feel. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know how I will handle it at all. And all the uncertainty is terrifying. Ross agrees to get the day off work. I feel so relieved. Now I can try to plan how to get through the day honouring my sadness without falling apart completely.