I am aware that it’s colder today. Sat on my bench, can’t see the cathedral in the distance, its hiding in the fog. The bench is cold beneath me and the wind chills my face.

The crows are still around, their caws punctuating my thoughts. I feel alone and protected  at the same time. The hills and clouds and mist roll into one and I’m not sure where I am. Am I back on that other hill with his Mum before she was ill? Smiling into the wind holding my ears to shield them from the biting Northern blasts. That Christmas when I had a secret which I told him on Millenium Eve.

And this coldness brings it all back and I know I can’t sit here for much longer. And the cold wind makes my eyes run into the tears and it feels good.  This morning I like feeling too cold, Is it reminding me I’m still here?

For months I dressed inappropriately. Strappy T-shirt under short-sleeved top, vaguely aware that they were all in hats, coats and scarves. Vaguely aware of a sensation on my arms, defiantly walking through it, weather was irrelevant. I know I am still here now, I am cold. I want to look pale and thin, I want them to notice I look different. This change in me doesn’t come from ‘being a bit sad now and then’, it is gouged out by endless hours of anguish and sorrow, like the sea carving a landscape. It’s the chipping and gnawing away, the wearing down till all that’s left is a scarred kernel of who I was. My ears are starting to ache in the cold. I really need to be wandering in a long dark velvet dress under a black cape with a deep red lining. I should be on the barren moors somewhere but my Hampshire field serves the purpose well and my coat is sufficiently black and swirly.

Right now I am here, I am there, I am then and I am now. I feel the seeping in of winter and the familiar comfort of pain. I know I still exist.

This morning looked like any other as we drifted up to school but we both knew it was different.  He was quite happy about it while I resolutely wrestled with collection of feelings. Now in the final year of Primary, we had spent many months negotiating and moving as his needs changed and I accepted that despite my excuses and reasons, he could walk back part of the way himself. The process started last year, in the old world, as we agreed  staggered pick up points down to the big busy island where I would meet him in Year 6.

When February descended upon us, I reeled it in a little, with hindsight probably more for my benefit than his.  An attempt at normality was essential for him regardless of any torture I felt. For a while I stood my post at the designated spots and nodded weakly at the clumsy, the awkward, the genuine and the pitying glances and words.

And although he had announced he wanted to be met at the island for all of the final year, I sadly (for me) predicted it wouldn’t last once he saw others being given more scope. So last week it was agreed, though we kind of walk up together (as I go that way for my morning walk across the fields) from today, in fact in half an hour as I write, he will walk all the way home for the very first time.  Strategies are firmly in place regarding road crossing, and he will be fine, in fact it will probably start the evening off on a better footing as he’ll be feeling so grown up and not grumpy. We laughed about it this morning as I told him I couldn’t wait to hear the doorbell and in fact would probably climb up on the roof and sit there with a telescope – if I had one…or could climb. He knows to expect a squealy excitable Mummy “my baby’s back!” and now I’ve accepted it, I genuinely see it as a good thing.

My husband would be so pleased. I was often moaned at for holding too tight. I knew as well as he did that closeness comes from letting go and resistance is destructive. So many tales of ‘At his age’  he was roaming the forests with his best friend, pockets full of conkers, scuffed knees and shoes and not a mobile phone is sight. Knowing is one thing – doing is an entirely different creature. But today all the understanding of this essential phase only serves to underline how my world has changed. The day has had a constant film running in the background of images from babyhood and beginnings to toddlers, tears and so many trains (me and my husband ‘just testing them out’ on the kitchen floor late at night before wrapping them up for his third birthday) and the first day at school with my husband’s puzzled expression at my sadness, when to his mind, the Reception class was no different to playgroup. He didn’t get the fact it was the end of five years of full-time Mummying and the start of a slow lengthening of the cord.

So tonight in our ‘new normal’ it will just be me jumping up and down when he proudly returns and no Daddy praise later nor teasing me about how on earth will I cope when he leaves home? We talked about that a while back, (well probably nearly a year ago in chronological time, but it feels more recent,) and we pondered over how different it would be without him in the house…..and now that prospect is a little weird, to say the least, because I know that by that time another ten years or so may have passed and our family will have etched itself into a new way of being.

Today everything has such a strange air of unreality again. I am living in someone elses life and she’s just taking it slowly as her world unravels. My head cannot process the fact that here on such a key day, a day a part of me would have really dreaded, I am kind of taking it in my stride. I remember, I mourn, then I inch gently forward and allow it. Another loss. But a transition that in the scheme of things is more bearable – and next year Secondary School, that huge step we’d discussed many times and now I have to do both parts, and pay appropriate attention to it, (though my focus has shifted to just getting through the day,) in my son’s world it is both different and just as big, and maybe in some ways immense. But we have time to work with it, to explore and encourage, to restate and remind him of all that’s important.

We’ll be ok – he’s moving and shifting. He’s changing and so am I.

Neither of us are who we were on that winter’s night when we rushed back to the hospital, with hope and cold fish fingers in his Toy Story lunchbox, trying to find someone who could update us…and then they did. And the coldness edged in, crept stealthily up my spine, into my heart and soul and buried itself  deeply, permanently within me in the look in my sons eyes when I heard someone (apparently me) stammer out the words about what might happen.

The beginning of the end.

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