Stages – Wednesday May 30th

Preparing for our last walk and feeling how it’s changed.

Warm hands and caterpillars, taking our time, clinging to my leg, to chasing each other round tables. And a walk from the old house up the three hills till we moved home and cut through by our Spelling Hill in the days before, when we practised his words. And we had our school walking speed but at weekends ambled with Daddy at his pace. And the terrifyingly bright yellow lunch box with a grotesque SpongeBob grin on the morning after, when I heaved each leaden step towards school with an ice cold grasp hacking in around my world. To the slipping away in year 6 with the attitude and grump and trying to unpick what’s normal and what’s grief . And pushing, pushing, all the time, till being given orders to drop behind and watch him catch up with the others. He’s starting to have your walk and I watch his back as he strides off into his life, like I used to watch yours as you walked ahead, thinking things. But now it’s me leading the way, at the helm and I will, and I do so by lagging behind and allowing. And I look down and back on seven years that took us from a very different focussed world to this kaleidoscope of pain, twisting the patterns, letting them fall to make new shapes. A beautiful symmetry of what we’ve been given and what we need to work with.

And it’s hot and he’s in black and white and I think and feel with two days to go.

The light summer mist softens my edges and I wait for the heat to build.

Thursday May 31st

Penultimate walk to the sound of pigeons and we chatted which made a nice change. And last night was better, less attitude, more us. I take it when I can and step back when he’s consumed with his day. And now as the blackbirds go up a gear I hear him chattering, installed in his place, amongst his contemporaries, all jostling for position not really aware of what’s ahead of them. I take a slow walk back feeling the weight of the years and swerve around the heavy spring growth and the air tingles with change as I tick through my countdown. One day left, birds circle alarm, confused and restless.

The temperature drops, the cloud is layering thick on the backdrop.

It will rain today.

Bailley has finished his walk and so have I.

Friday June 1st – 8.38am

Don’t look back, let him bustle with his friends. One glance though and he’s in the thick of it, somewhere, becoming. I’ve got my instructions now and we parted in a familiar way and I can’t walk much slower as the rain spits absently onto me.

A seven year pattern gone, feel a bit odd now after the easing into it. The slow drip feed of change. At least this was seen over the hill, anticipated, drifted towards imperceptibly. Unlike my other last walk which could never have been prepared for, not known or understood, a walk with someone else’s feet. Hurried to a moment, an unravelling, a chaotic nightmare of images slamming into who I used to be. And as I replay scenes of mothering, the twenty minute walk that took half an hour to factor in snails and sticks and that intensely focussed crouching, low and curious, fascinated with the morning. The friends on the way, the parents to check in with, the bleating repeating to engrain a road sense and I realise I can’t quite take it all in right now.

Sitting with it, the shifting shapes of my life.

The contrast is overwhelming. The difference of two walks and feeling them bleeding into each other. The first and last from both worlds, freshly pressed clothes and hugs and I tore myself away as the train mat came out and he started to build. And I was driven back while you worked from home and sat feeling the weight of years in his little room. In the rocking chair that we bought when I could hardly walk and I learned to adjust to a quiet house, all those thousands of hours ago before I learned the real raw sound of an empty home, when I closed our front door for the first time in this world. And now I can’t take it in, none of it, really. That world gone, this part over, the new stage screaming its way towards us. And I slip from one image to the next, tumbling through it all, feeling weird. Can see the change in him and he’s moving much faster than me and I sit up here waiting for a rain that isn’t coming, seeing the road in front of me, a different path to the one I expected.

The outsourced mowers came around yesterday and cleared a wide enough route. The old growth is heavy, unavoidable but clearcut lines run through it.

I saw this coming, I prepared. I’m being trained in endings, I acknowledge, pay tribute, respect. Feel the pain and go with it. The shifting of roles, of a walk, of a way of being and a welcoming in of the new phase of mothering. Near the end of the old world I’d begun to question my options, felt I needed a new challenge as our son changed speed. This wasn’t what I meant but it’s what I’ve received. I need to hold on, find my balance again in these loss fueled days.

Heavy distorted doors of confusion at A and E, our old family front door when you turned up with Easter. Closing our upvced terraced one to take him to play group and pulling the new one behind us as we walked up today, just me and him and you not at work, just us in this place for the last time.

Messed up, can’t think, Can’t see the edge of this loss, it’s shifted so much, such change, such pain. Go with it, feel the walks, this walk, that one, first and last.

7 year mother, gone

11 year wife, gone

The mother changes as new patterns form. The wife takes over on the Bridge.

The rain still hasn’t come.

The swiped smoothed out sky waits uneasily, like me.

Resisting resistance.


Monday June 11th – 8.25

One glance

and he reminds me to get ginger biscuits and he’s gone.

My feet turned a different way but didn’t want to move. Walking in an opposite direction, thank god for rain. Listening to each foot step and imagining where he is by now. A distant freight train somewhere over the fields flashes me back to waiting on bridges with toddler and chips. But now I’m retracing, on the reverse walk, shops not hill. Going a different way. Thick, heavy walking, moving in a daze. Feels like he’s at the island, wait, wait, ok. And probably up with friends now while I feel totally displaced, wandering, not quite ready for Sainsburys. But I need to face fluorescent light and put this on hold for half an hour.

This is so alien.

One foot in front of the other.
Turning right into busyness, into their world.

Let’s go

And I hurried round the shop wondering why he wasn’t there counting out apples and pointing to signs and I feel I’ve stepped into someone else’s life. But it’s not, it’s ours and it’s new and we’re new. Apprentices.
And it’s early but he’ll be there by now, so I drift steadily home, evenly panniered with a bag in each hand and the rain comes on cue. And through the cutting I glimpse our wet car and can’t help think ‘Oh good Daddy’s back’ which often meant a quick dry whizz for pick up after school. But none of that’s happening.
I trickle over the threshold, coming into another layer of silence and sit for a while listening to the dripping tap making full round sounds as it hits the gathering pool beneath. I need to fix the drain.

Day One, somehow…
New us,

I bought him his favourite magazine.