Studying the worn out, creaky old thing in the corner of our room, time aged and unstable. No, not myself through the looking glass but his old bookcase, held together with masking tape and love. I spent many moments grieving through his books, looking at his favourite, the heavy old one, battered dust cover with pages he poured over and consumed. His need to understand to make sense of everything, to put it in boxes then make connections, to have his own world view. There in the pages, the ideas learned, projected, assimilated, the evolved musings and the notions we discussed. Thank god he got that book read. He’d been saving it for years – a real treat, like a great bottle of wine.

At least those words were drunk, swirled around and savoured. They made him dizzy and happy for a while.

But what about all the others? The new ones neatly ordered, ready to be worked through over the next twenty years. Pillars of novels now academia was out of the way. Mind you it would never have really been out if the way, always the odd new concept to creep in, something else that needed to be looked at. Couldn’t resist it. At least he worked through the books he bought, whereas I just bought books and added them to the pile. However,the past eleven months have made me read – greedily, desperately, searching for what others did. How ? what? why? stepping stones, outreached hands, nets and sky hooks, real hooks and hope. I have to get through all my new books before I can look back at any of the others.

And now his books sit and look back at me, questioningly. The pages, the chapters, the paragraphs, the sentences, the words, the letters, the punctuation, the hours. Will I read them for him? Maybe some of them, will our son? Maybe some. They sit collecting dust, like me. I picked one off the shelf in the early days, one from the top of the pile. ‘Descent into Hell’, another bit of light reading… Oh the irony, turned out to be my journey, not his. All of them of the old world, the old order, when there were plans.

What if it had been me who didn’t get to see out her plans?

What would he have made of this? How would this have fitted into his Weltanschauung? or veltanshnitzel, as I preferred to call it. How would he have coped? To be a single parent, to carry the weight of responsibility, the full-time job of grief. How to make sense of all this? The tumbleweed existence, this relentless nowhereland? How would he have moved concrete steps through the quicksand seconds?

Everything was about understanding.

And now I do the same, but its all about feelings not thoughts. Am I creating this grief because I experience myself as being alive? Is that even a valid question?

I get close sometimes then it slips away. It’s almost as though I ‘get it’ but it’s just off to the side in my peripheral vision and if I turn to look at it, to bring it into focus, into consciousness then it disappears. It’s there, I feel it, I sense it, but it can’t be looked at head on. Bit like existential angst but the flip side, he’d know what I mean. x

Battling with it all this morning.

Back in our early days on the phone, wrestling with four-dimensional space time (as you do). Then into the mothering it became less of a focus, for me. I was too busy or tired to think about Schopenhauer’s struggle with feminism while my own view on an ’emergent property’ had more to do with both ends of our child than a theoretical feature of the universe.

He nicked a friends classic line and often tried it out on me. ‘But how do you know you exist?’ Best delivered for maximum effect and impact while he was sitting comfortably looking out of the window and I was plate spinning toddlers, trying to find an illusive shoe or fighting fabric with my head up a duvet cover… Oh how we laughed.

Now I struggle with my own mind-body problem which is centred on the realisation that its morning and wondering whether or not I can be bothered to haul my carcass out of bed?

So now it’s me who sits and stares out of the window in this empty museum of wonders. Stale ideas leaving coffee rings around my heart. A delight of knowledge that served it’s purpose, a cycle, a journey, a mind. He didn’t like intermittent faults, liked to get to the bottom of things, to solve and to fix. No, he certainly wouldn’t have liked this. The irrational, the unpredictable, the ambiguous nature of grieving. This abstract and empirical process. To grieve, to occur in the grief itself, or of the grief itself? He certainly liked to challenge himself, but this is a book he’d have left on the shelf. Good job its my story, that its me bent double, tying myself in knots, feeling the ends of the universe as I unravel and implode in my own singularity.

Now I can finally answer his question.

Yes I exist, I know because I’m in pain.


First thing

As I crunch freeze into the last month burning gloveless, isolated tweets and hurrying calls. Too cold even for grief. Should have worn the scarf. Icing sugared sparkled bridge, wanted to stay but I daren’t. At least it’s frozen the recent mud. Too hard to be slippy today. Icicles instead of tears. Must go, steadily tiptoe down the rushy glen, tentatively over decorated steps. It’s hiding in the undergrowth today, a little bit timid and shy, it rustles at me as I hurry from the cold. It’ll be back, can’t do much with it if it won’t be looked at. Round the corner past the end house where we had the BBQ in a frayed lost summer. She talked without censorship and he assessed the potential, while our son entertained himself on the pointless slope. The wall blew over in the recent gales. I helped the owner throw bricks on the garden, clearing a path through the tired rubble, the bricks make my hands sore and scuff my fingers as I hurl them. They bash down hard on hopeful plants that were waiting at the edge.

Managing destruction… yeah, ain’t we all?

Nearly home, take the path by the drain cover, somewhere low and dark, it’s carried regardless, I hear it muttering, un-stemed, busily plotting and churning beneath us.

I glance at the crumpled cider can, finishing off their fussy border, their marked out territory, christened with Strongbow. I leave before the sun gets round to me.