Monday, 22 August 2016

Moving forwards


Today has been a strange kind of day. The first thing I saw this morning, after my little boy's face by my bedside, was a photo of my mum on a boat in Devon last year. Facebook helpfully reminded me that this time last year my mum was, as far as we knew, in remission from peritoneal cancer and we were on a family holiday with her. Of course, as she had terminal cancer, we knew it might be the last, but we were hopeful that it might not be.

On the same holiday, I was texting you to arrange a date for our poker making. I wasn't even in love with you yet.

Fast forward twelve months and today the children and I got the keys to our new house. We haven't moved everything yet but we moved the first of our things in. The poker took pride of place on the log burning stove and we brought a box of treasures from my mum's place too: a cherub and a moon-gazing hare for the garden, a bronze knight 'to guard the house' (according to the children) and some china and crockery.  I brought her kettle and her tea bags and even brought her mop to help me clean the floor. A new mop is precisely the kind of thing she would have brought if she'd been here.

But she wasn't here. And you weren't here. And as soon as the children were upstairs arguing about their prospective bedrooms, I sat on my new balcony looking out over my impossibly beautiful garden and cried a mixture of happy and sad tears. It is the house of my dreams and if ever there was a house to have a happy life in, this is it. But it's not the life I wanted. Still, it is a beautiful house and a new chapter. People say it is a fresh start but of course it is not. I can't wipe away the past with a mop and a bucket of bleach and though there are all kinds of things I can't wait to leave behind, you are not one of them. Still, I must move forwards. Some things I don't have a choice about.

Language matters when you're a writer. It is important to get the words right. You are not someone I will 'get over', like the flu, I won't 'get better' from this bout of grief and I won't 'move on'. I won't sweep you into the corner or toss you in the skip with the detritus from the old house. Instead, I will bring you with me as I move forwards into some kind of unknowable future in the beautiful house that you helped me to choose. I will think of you when I stand at the bottom of the garden wondering how to chop wood without you and when the draft blows through the window that you observed was badly fitting and when I poke my fire with the poker and remember how it felt when our hands first touched and the first sparks flew between us. And from the balcony I have a perfect view of treetops and clouds. I will watch them shift in the sky and move forwards. Though we want them to, the clocks don't stop. Moving forwards, in grief, is all we can do.