Saturday, 21 January 2017

Remembering with a smile


They said the time would come when I would remember you with smiles instead of tears, with a heart buoyed by gratitude instead of weighed by sadness. I didn't believe them. They said a lot of things, most of them stupid. They said our time together was a gift to cherish, that there were lessons to be learned. They said that you had left me in a better place. They said that I would meet someone new, find happiness again. None of it made sense.

I've been turning corners for a while now, zigging and zagging backwards and forwards but today I turned a corner literally as I was looking for my B & B and I found myself standing in front of a cafe in Bridlington. It made me catch my breath as I was flung by a wave not of pain but of remembrance, into a cold December night, parking up on this street while the wind whipped across our faces and the sign on the pub swung and clanked like a gallows. And we dived inside to get warm, eating fish and chips under bright lights as night descended.

I didn't even know that I'd been to Bridlington before. I thought this was my first trip, at least since the one in the cine film, the one where I'm batting my grandma's cheeks with pudgy hands. I knew that we'd stayed nearby at Bemptom but I didn't recall that we'd been here. But today I remembered: how we'd been to the lighthouse at Flamborough and how we'd nearly walked down to the beach but that it was so cold and we'd already walked on the beach once that day at Thornwick Bay (with the rocks and the seal and the beautiful portrait of me in a funny hat) and how the sign was shining like a beacon on the head, beckoning us in: Fish and Chips. And how, by the time we'd finished looking at the sea and contemplating the steepness of the cliff path, the door was locked, chairs piled on tables and how our hearts sank because now we needed fish and chips like our lives depended on it. And how we'd got back into your van and driven through the rain in search of sustenance until we found ourselves here in Bridlington.

I didn't go in. I'd already eaten my fish and chips on the beach. But I looked through the window to see if I could see you still sitting there on the red leather seats. And I smiled and blew you a kiss. There were no tears and I felt only joy at the memory of the time we shared.

Today I took a portrait of myself in the funny hat that you loved and I made it my profile picture on Tinder. In this photo it is I that look like a ghost, like a mirage of a girl I used to be, the girl I find, like Cummings, by the sea. And I said to the guy I was talking to that, hey, this is me. I'm the woman my friend calls Grief Girl. I write about death and wear funky hats. I'm not everyone's cup of tea. But I'm happy being me. And I feel you smiling down like some kind of giant guardian angel, hear your voice in my ear telling me which guys to steer clear of, which ones to give the time of day. Your death will never be ok but maybe there's a gift in there somewhere.

Today has been a good day. Today I feel blessed. How I'll feel tomorrow is anybody's guess.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/maggie-and-milly-and-molly-and-may