S & J, Blenheim Palace Park, 3 June 2001
Today’s title is taken from a piece by the comedian Isy Suttie that appeared in today’s Guardian:
I sent it to my girls: I’m concerned they don’t talk about their mum much/at all/to me.
In my work as a counsellor (actually a bereavement support volunteer), the most difficult cases are those where the person hasn’t grieved properly, sometimes having bottled it up for years. The first line of the above story says: “ Prince Harry said that he wished he had spoken more about losing his mother when it happened.”
My girls have now both left home, Alice in the last week or so, and are well established with flats, new jobs and even a boyfriend. And yet as the article says, “…[bereavement is] probably magnified for children, because so much about living hasn’t yet been cemented. You may have only just learnt that unicorns don’t exist, and suddenly you have to get through life without the person who gently told you that fact.”
I re-read J’s instructions for household cleaning today, a small notebook that she had started when she was ill. I noted that the writing and spelling deteriorated in later entries. But I read it and thought “I know all this. I know how to sort clothes for the washing machine. I know how to hang them up and how to de-fluff the tumble drier. I know how to clean the kitchen.” I guess I didn’t five years ago though, and J was leaving nothing to chance. She even wrote me some instructions for when I met a new woman, and I remember thinking then how bizarre that seemed. Well, I did meet someone new and this time next year we should be married. D and I have almost set a wedding date, just got to re-jig it slightly before confirming it and just yesterday we put in an offer on a new house in an area far removed from our local areas. I have her to gently coach me but I worry because the girls will never have their mother back. You never stop worrying about your kids do you?
I spoke to J’s mother this evening and we both noted that today’s date didn’t hold as much dread for us as it once did. She had visited J’s park in Oxford this afternoon while I had run a 6-mile race at Hook Norton this morning and was driving home shortly after midday. I didn’t dwell on the moment, just noted it, as the CBT lady taught me to do. I’m pleased to report that these days the happy memories are doing a better job of crowding out the awful, awful events of 2009 – 2011. There’s many new events to look forward to now; maybe not unicorns, because they don’t exist, but all the happy things that do.
M and J, 24 December 2008