Some times things happen at the right time, without any time to prepare. Some times, these things are exactly what is needed…
July is always a horrid month for me and mine.
Too many anniversaries bring feelings full of loss and despair for most of the month.
This month, in the midst of sadness, I have moved out of my shared accommodation and into my own place.
This month is bringing with it a reminder of what being free is, of what it feels like to be a strong and independent woman and an acknowledgement of who I am.
I am allowing myself to be sad but trying to pull myself out of wallowing. To see this month as something other than awful.
It is with this thought in mind that I wonder what next July will bring.
Perhaps, it is time to move past sadness and look for a way to celebrate…
“But I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore! It’s stupid! It’s mortal and stupid! And, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”
On this day.
The clock stopped,
It read – 16.10
Such a sudden shock to the atmosphere,
It stopped time.
The day before.
It was 19.15
A jolt of realisation,
The happiest of days,
All day until 18.00
A phone call,
Bestie 1: (2009)
Standing in doorways was the hardest thing I could ever do at one time. All of our gatherings were either at my house with the doors closed or me on one side and you on the other.
You went off to college and I stayed standing in the same place, never moving, never progressing. To live through questioning you: What is college like? What is it like being on a bus alone? What friendships are like when you can choose them for yourself…
One day, I asked you if you thought I could do it one day. You were always positive with your encouragement that I would not always be left standing in the same place. Until you asked me what I wanted to do…
“Dunno. Maybe psychology or something. You think I could do that?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”
Bestie 2: (2016)
You helped me through it. “Come on, C. Let’s go for a walk.” Encouraging but never pushing. Any time I needed to turn back and retreat, you were with me. Only made it to the end of the driveway? “You made it to the end of the driveway, C! You’re doing great!”
But then I recovered and the dynamic changed. I no longer needed a hand to hold every time I set foot out of that doorway. I could walk down the street and walk into a shop without needing to retreat.
“I’m thinking of applying to do this Access to Higher Education course. Not really sure what it’s about but I think it helps with Uni and stuff.”
“Don’t do it.”
“It isn’t worth it.”
“It’s psychology and stuff, I’ve always been really interested in that kinda thing.”
“Yeah. It’s your thing. It’ll interest you and you’ll leave.”
“It’ll open doors for you and you’ll go. You aren’t going to stay around here, are you? You’ll leave and I’ll miss you.”
“My plan has always been to leave.”
“I know, but now it’s real. Don’t do it.”
The dialogue from Fences between Troy and Rose has always spoken to me. This morning a thought entered my head that perhaps it spoke to me because, for a time, it was me and it could have been me for much longer if I had felt a bigger need to put my closest friends before myself.
My two closest friends believed without a doubt that I would get better one day, or they at least portrayed such a belief. In the years following, however, they were not so keen on my decreasing need for dependence. What was once two very strong, positive friendships suddenly became volatile and hurtful. A lot of deceit that had been previously hidden came to light… their only reason being “we were protecting you!”
The guilt felt from putting myself first and walking away is slowly fading, although, I am unsure if it shall ever truly fade completely.
…It’s not easy for me to admit that I been standing in the same place for eighteen years.
…I been standing with you! I been right here with you.
( http://www.iupui.edu/~elit/fences/fen21txt.html )
Standing at the bus stop, there’s a strange hue in the air that has her tilting her head and reaching up to clean her glasses. Glasses clean and hue still present, she wanders down the street with curious intent. Turning the corner, she is approached by a couple she recognises, a couple who have been long since gone. A friendly, knowing smile and a polite tip of a hat while he passes her a newspaper is their only greeting. She follows them with her eyes as they move by her and continue on down the street, her eyes only glancing down to the newspaper once they are out of sight.
“Tuesday 8thJuly 2008”
She stands motionless for several moments, blinking at the date. Her eyes move once more to the street in front of her, feet propelling her forward. Looking around and taking in the house in front of her, she comes to the conclusion that this is all just a vivid dream.
The house is in darkness as she stumbles in through the back door. Walking through the kitchen to push open the living room door, her head peaks around it, unsure of what she may be walking in to. The room is full of people, people she recognises. Her aunts, cousins and grandfather are all asleep on various chairs and sofas, in what looks to be the most uncomfortable positions. ’Oh’, she thinks, ‘I know why I’m here.’
Quietly walking through the living room, she hovers near the staircase. The red patterned carpet causes her to become sentimental and tears spring to her eyes. A hand is suddenly loosely around her wrist and she fights back a yelp of surprise, turning to see her grandfather’s bright eyes. “It’s okay”, she tells him, “It’s okay.” His hand leaves her wrist as he nods, a very slight incline granting her his permission to proceed. Her feet start to move her forwards, climbing the stairs much slower than she can ever recall climbing them.
As she enters into the bedroom, her eyes automatically glance to the mirror, startled eyes meet with the warm blue ones reflected back at her from across the room. Making her way into the room and turning to face the figure in the bed, she pauses. Her mind repeating the words she had not so long ago spoken to her grandfather. ‘It’s okay. It’s okay.’
“It’s okay,” the lady’s voice is light and hopeful, comforting in a way that has her feeling emotions she has long since forgotten the strength of. She moves forward, stepping into the light, slowly lowering herself onto the chair at the side of the bed.
She looks up, making eye contact with the lady, her Nanna. Eyes misty, she sees the deep intake of breath and the almost whispered words, “There you are.”
Sitting in the chair, hands in her lap, unsure of what to say in this situation. Wanting nothing more but to reach out and gather her Nanna into her arms, she instead sits motionless. Her Nanna lays there, swallowed up by the huge double bed, an all-knowing glint in her eyes as she smiles and tells her, “I’ve been waiting.” A frail hand reaches over to a pale sweaty one. As soon as contact is made, the tears start silently falling, “I…”.
Taking a deep breath, she starts again, “I got better. I fought hard and worked even harder and I did it.”
“Tell me, sweetheart.”
“I’m a social worker, Nan. I help people who are feeling like how I was feeling all those years.”
“And you’re okay?”
She smiles sadly, “I am…”
“…but? What is it, sweetheart?”
“Losing you. You took a part of me with you. I’m like a jigsaw with permanently missing pieces.”
“Sweetheart. There is nothing in this world that would make me leave you permanently. You’re my Sophie, our bond is much too strong, not even death itself could break it. I will always be with you, somehow. Please, know that.”
“I do know that. I feel it. I’ve always felt it.” She smiles with wet eyes, wanting nothing more than to stay, “I have to go now, don’t I?”
“You do. So do I soon.”
Bringing her hand to her lips, she leaves a kiss on her thin skin before leaning over to place a kiss on her forehead, “Nanny” her voice cracks, “I love you.”
“I love you too, poppet,” and with a final squeeze, she lets her hand go.
She rises, walks to the door, their eyes meeting once more in the mirror before she turns and heads back down the stairs. Her movements are quicker now, a little panicked as she can hear voices, her family are awake. Looking into the living room, she sees nothing but vacant space, the voices travelling through from the kitchen. Walking quickly, she aims to reach the front door without alerting anyone of her presence. As she steps outside and pulls the door shut, she notices a car pull up. Her feet start to move towards it, as though they have their own motivation. As the door opens, a young girl steps out, a terrified look in her eyes. They stand and look at one another for a few seconds, before she moves closer, lays one hand on her younger self’s shoulder before heading back down the street.
Walking back towards the bus stop, she sits down on the seat underneath the shelter. She places her head in her hands and takes a breath, energy suddenly drained. The feeling of another presence is sudden and startling, as she jerks her head up, she is met with stunningly familiar, bright blue eyes, “Mummy, what’s wrong?”
She smiles, content, “It’s okay. Are you ready to go?”
I was wanting to work on my tenses – and also on writing something that hurts… this is what happened (Part 2 of 2)
A photo which shows one moment, of every moment.
By my side, always with me.
The dreams continue.
You are there.
But you are dying.
And then I find this picture and stumble across this song and my eyes start leaking.
I miss you, so very much, I miss you.
Somebody get me a hammer
Wanna break all the clocks and the mirrors
And go back to a time that was different
A time when I
Didn’t feel like there was something missing
Now my body and mind are so distant
Don’t know how to escape from this prison
How can I
Free my mind?
Cause I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
How can I live in the moment
When my thoughts never feel like my own and
Don’t know how to admit that I’m broken
How can I
Cause I can’t breathe
Writer(s): JULIA MICHAELS, JAMES WONG, BEATRICE MILLER
( https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beamiller/icantbreathe.html )
You always told me, “One day…”
Trying in vain to prepare me for these days.
In the early days, I notice your hat is still there – I make a mental note to ask if I can keep it,
But then in the blink of an eye – it is gone.
I take your collection of ties without waiting for a better time,
Folding them up neatly in a bag.
I think of the sadness in your eyes whenever you spoke of a family who was long since gone,
Always preparing me for, “One day…”
I never expected ‘one day’ would feel like this,
Never imagined I would understand so accurately that sadness I saw within you.
Weeks later, we are standing outside our house,
We are all here, waiting.
Liz announces the arrival of the hearse with a deafening, “He’s here.”
Nic and I lose composure, eyes dropping immediately to our feet.
I sit in the funeral car, with your daughters – the magnitude of that moment hits hard,
I am the only grandchild in the car and I wonder, does that not speak volumes?
The house is empty,
I am showing prospective buyers around.
They want to change everything – strip it bare and start anew,
I want to drag them out but instead, I just remove myself.
“One day, I won’t be here anymore. You’ll be telling your grandchildren about me like I am telling you about mine.”
Growing up, I was always a happy and confident child. I was the joker, the little comedian going out of her way to make silly faces and look daft in the hope of making people smile. Always putting on shows, dancing and joking.
As the years went by and I grew older, things changed somewhat. Mental illness hit from nowhere and wiped me out. It took every single part of myself that I knew and left the shell of a stranger. I lost my voice. For a long time, I spoke only to my mother, my grandparents and our Olga. It was a long few years.
But I had “my boy” – my light in the darkness. My one constant. From age 10, he was my reason for smiling. My little big shadow, always by my side.
And so as my mental health deteriorated further and further and my thoughts turned from I hate this world straight to, I should leave this world… I found comfort in my boy and in the moments I shared with family.
But then, my beloved Nanna, who always knew me without words ever needing to be spoken, fell ill. In what felt like the blink of an eye, she was gone. All that praying and wishing for it to be me had not worked – there obviously was no God. I lost my faith… but, I still had my mum and Grandad. In our conversations, we kept her alive.
But then, I got ill. I got diagnosed with Coeliac at a time when my mental health was starting to ease up. It felt like a kick in the teeth, battling every day to make it through only to then be given a life-altering diagnosis. What the hell was this life? I spent so many months and years distracting myself by taking photographs and concentrating on my boy. It was the biggest help, possible.
But then, things started to change. I got angry and I found some fire. I chased after some things that I wanted to do and I did them. I fought really damn hard to get into college as a mature student and take my GCSE’s. When they said ‘no’, I found somewhere else. I emailed and I emailed again and I applied despite being discouraged. I interviewed and I spoke to many different people who all had varying opinions on what they thought I could and could not do.
But then, my Grandad became ill. Months in the hospital with what started with a broken hip and later became two heart attacks, a blood clot on the lung, another possible stroke, a crumbling spine, heart failure and a diagnosis of vascular dementia, left me feeling unfocused and unwilling to concentrate on anything other than him.
And so after years of studying and fighting, I took a break. I left college after my last exam in mid-June with the intent to spend time with my Grandad and make sure all that needed to be happening with his care, was indeed happening. Less than a month later, he was gone. I felt lost. So completely lost. I spent my days keeping busy and distracting myself with taking more photographs. So many photographs that the people refer to my boy as the most photographed cat in the village.
I did everything that year. Every single thing that I could. I wanted work experience doing whatever job I could do. So I did it. I did retail, cleaning, administration, reception, volunteered, got myself a placement and had a miscarriage. I soldiered on, the worst had happened. My Grandparents were now both gone, the house I had grown up in was empty and I was now having to show potential buyers around it while simultaneously wanting to yell at them to get the hell out of my house.
But then, on a whim, I applied for a course. It had been mentioned previously but I never felt the time was right and I continuously put it off. I don’t recall what made me apply, just that I did it. A ‘why not, at least I’ll be doing something’ moment.
And my God, it was the best thing I ever could have done!
But then, on January 11th 2018, my boy died.
And 2018 became one of the worst years of my life. My light was gone and I was terrified of the dark. How do I do this? What now?
I have never been one for getting emotionally overcome, I am very stiff upper lip. I do not like crying in front of anyone – family, friends, in public.
In 2018, I cried more than I can ever remember crying. I have sobbed until I can no longer catch my breath, I have fallen apart on buses and in the middle of the street and I have not cared. My boy is gone, my heart hurts.
But, I have carried on.
Carrying on is what I do, it is what I have always done. Sometimes, most times, without knowing how I am doing it. This damn year has broken me more than I ever remember breaking.
This blog was anonymous, now it is not.
I am being my true self – whoever she may be.
This is me.
Hello, I am Chloe.