Archives for posts with tag: transitions

Friday July 20th

Feeling restless, going up to school in an hour, allowed to meet him today because it’s the last time. Will position myself away from the masses and take photos for him and then, en mass, we’re going to the park where I’ll watch from a distance and note how he’s changed and enjoy the excitement in his end of school face. I’ll feel his whipped up, giddyness at leaving and the bubbling buzzing chaotic energy of their rites of passage.

This morning I approached assembly in a trance. He’d left ahead of me so for the first time in ages I made the walk and heard my footsteps, a quick and gentle fall on familiar gravel and saw how the leaves had changed since I’d last been that way. I heard us through the years, the mornings of another world, the hot sticky hand that I hold in my mind and the slow slipping into who we are now.
And it looks like every other walk but it’s never been more different. I think I’m early and plan to sneak in but everyone else had the same thought and there’s just one seat left at the front. I’m sandwiched between two people I can cope with, that’s the best I can say. And I feel an unexpected sadness for the laughter and connections that I had with these few people and how they usually keep a safe distance now. But an ingrained pattern remains, even now and I can’t help joke with a face from the past and it’s a bubbling, potent mix of fear, love, disbelief, pain and pride.
And the seat is perfectly placed, puts me in a straight line with our son and the keyboard behind him just under a display shouting ‘Courage‘ made of tinfoil. And I stare at the letters hearing the message and tap away as the chatter hums and builds. And it hurts when I laugh with this person and remember how you’d worked with her by chance just at the end of the old world and we smile at the current situation like we used to years ago, while I feel oddly calm and brittle at the same time.
And the other face ventures a question about how our son is feeling and she says Jack will miss his friends, while I note what that word means to us.

In this anticipating hub bub I’m invisibly present feeling every single second in the deepest way.
A tiny sibling finds his feet and wobbles towards me, drops his bottle and I watch it spin-dribble on the floor, swirling me back to toddlerdom and feeling the thread that connects.

So I sit there aware of all our previous hall moments. The Christmas productions, his kangaroo with my sneezy fur sack hanging from his tummy and he started to look pale, coming down with something and was ill on the last day so you took the presents in for us. And the following year, the set of antlers, sparkly and copper, that I constructed with him for the whole group and blustered them up to school in an enormous bag on the windiest, wettest day possible.
And we always sat at the front and you videod it on the big clunky thing that Al sold you just before it became obsolete. And in Key Stage 2, too grown up for animals, he became a shepherd and then a king. In year 5 he wore the bright gospel outfit that I spliced together the night before from cheap t-shirts and you couldn’t come because you had a meeting and I sat there alone trying to work the brute of a camera while all around me tapped and clicked and made tiny whizzy beepings on their small black things, while I cranked and creaked the silver machine in an aim to capture the footage.
And we somehow arrived at last year and I crawled through both performances of Year 6 speaking parts and him in huge glasses playing the Boffin, which you would have loved. I got through the show flanked by huge pillars of friends sandwiching me with support until the second showing where I sat by an empty chair and couples doubled around me like they do now and it looked like the space belonged to me and no-one asked to sit there. So I breathed through the final Christmas show, encased in an obvious space, like I sit here now while some of the dads have been let out with time off for this last key event.

And all our school moments pass before me like a parade of who we were and the tension builds while my pretence is stretched at the seams. I sit here thinking of all we’ve done in this new world and how I’ve eased us limping to this point.

So I breathe steadily through it all in a quiet, tortured pride. I edge through the moments, manage my way round the songs, surprise myself at my composure until he plays the keyboard. And I see him practicing with you and listen to his careful notes, watching the progression of his commitment through the pain. And I’m held and surrounded by immeasurable things while the pretence cracks just enough when they give him something silver that neither of us saw coming and I can’t work the camera in the mess of joy and pain.

I huddle around the outskirts afterwards as t-shirts are signed and the clutter of emotions continue. After the presents had been dispatched we took his cup and photographed him in the reception class, back in the place where we left him playing with trains on his first day seven years ago, when I felt the tug of the bond and thought I understood separation.

And now I need to get ready, time to leave the settee and the soft ticking clock that has marked my time in this world and that one. The fingers that crept round through every pick up time that announced we’d be back home soon. The dial that hands brushed over when one world became the other, when our son sat here with his grandparents and I was somewhere else, about to faint, when time stopped completely despite appearances.
Same tick, same measurements of time, entirely different world now and it will still tick in the background later when we finally come home, when I bring our son back from Primary, a final fading of that background colour of his life that gave us some much needed structure when we shifted worlds.

Endings
Beginnings
Circles of loss

Time to say goodbye – again…
Xxx

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Another venture to the Secondary environment but this time with me for a uniform evening. Anticipating the walk back with bags full of the future, held together with a mess of pride. 

We hit the hall, packed with families out in force. Dads bought out for the evening, helping holding bags, standing around looking awkward and keeping an eye out for a familiar face to bond with. Piled high with plastic bags folded, polyester creases in place, bored, restless children being reeled in, to try on and size up. I bump into the usual suspects who I hung with at the start of Primary and now here we all are at next phase, although our worlds separated months back.  The dads hang around like clothes horses, observing shoulder fit and  nodding and we rustle passed them, I try to stay focussed on my job.

We started out well but our sons strop wasn’t far away and it built steadily, gaining strength alongside my frustration, holding it in, holding it together and I coped through the rugby shirts and even the jumpers with a vivid flashback to him bouncing on the bed in his bright red primary sweatshirt. But now the blazer is wrapped around him and the shoulders are slightly big with sleeves that need adjusting and you should have been there to help, to share, to probably have skulked off and sat somewhere out of it while I joked and compared notes with the mothers. But you weren’t holding the bags or guiding us on the fit of a jacket and he looked up at me for a second with your eyes, with his messy end of day hair and I felt it all and saw how we’d got to that place. And how that point in space-time had bought us to the shiny buffered hall floor, with us hot and tired and grumpy, with him reluctantly being turned round and tucked with flappy penguin sleeves that I’ll sew up over summer and my patched up house of cards fell around me while I saw it all for an endless moment.

Doing it, getting on with it the best we can, as your Mum would say ‘making a do’. And I remembered how you hated clothes shopping, always kept things till they came round again like the awful green shirt that could only be worn out of irony and I flip back to the protesting Saturdays, the buying of the new suit and how the right girth made the sleeves too long but with the right sleeves it wouldn’t do up at the front.
And I’d do my best to advise you and it was ok in the end. And the blazer you bought with your Mum, way before her decline when you’d both ventured into Manchester and you would only wear it on a less formal work day when you could get away without a tie and we joked it was your Terry Wogan look. And none of these things could be referred to or laughter about because It was just me managing and judging it, in this world and getting through the bare necessities as quickly as I could. 
But if you’d been there physically you’d have felt it, you’d have recognised the moment too and you’d have got something in your eye.

And we bundled ourselves out into the quiet playground and darned up our issues in time to walk home. And we retraced the steps past the other school, the one where we’d watch the firework displays and you’d always bump into Phil and disappear off by the burger van and we’d walk home carefully through the darkness, herding children with our friends, lit with tubes of snapped fluorescent light while you chatted to the gardener discussing seeds of thought. And we’d tumble through the doorway, watering, smokey eyes ready for hot-dogs and hot mugs and it was all so very normal – but not today.

Today I walked through darkness in the early evening dusk, bouncy yellow bags blaring out the new school logo, banging on my legs while he swung his bagged up blazer, half chuffed, half annoyed. And we were lit by our resolution to mind the curb and keep walking, one tired foot in front of the other, with new things to wear in a new world with the first of many jackets to come.

A careful necessary stepping out to a point when the sleeves aren’t too long and he’ll look in the mirror to shave and see you looking back.

I left home with our son, a seamless echo of the boy you knew but came home with a teenager, a flash forward to the man ahead.

x

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I close the door as he strides off on his Secondary school taster day.

He walks away down the path, the way you used to go to Starbucks, with a stride increasingly like your amble, off to meet Alfie and Tom and do the walk for the first time.
I run upstairs and watch his back for as long as I can and half way down the path he diverts left and I know he’s paused at the tree swing. He’s put his bag down, the rucksack that we last used on our last journey North, crammed with pens and activity books and we stuffed ourselves into the car with our over night things not knowing it wouldn’t happen again. And now I’ve shaken the crumbs from the rucksack and packed it with lunch and sharpened pencils and it’s slightly too big for him but he’ll grow into it like everything else.
And he’s out of sight but I see the branches sway with his weight, pulled down, waving to me, showing me where he is and I feel the weight. I remember his weight, learning to hold him, to lift him carefully from the cot and bend my knees and keep my back straight and I feel him in my arms now, smelling warm with the morning, soft and wriggly before our day ahead. And while you worked and managed issues and put up with their politics, we crawled on the floor and made up silly songs and you smiled at us later, dancing to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with the old throw on the floor. And he sat across your resting legs as you bounced him up and down and we were us in our silly ways and we were us in all our moments.

And I sit here on this side of the bed where we first watched Teletubbies and you and your Mum stood here after your trip into town that first week, when our son was tiny and she bought us the heavy brass photo frame with the thick black velvet backing and you started to worry about her, her button brightness starting to tarnish. And now I sit here in silence wondering how far down the route he has travelled and imagining the chatter as they bundle their way to the start of something new, feeling unsure and excited and grown up but still a child.

And I just get a text from him now to say he’s got there and the cold tightness leaves me.
I sit up and lean forward, I look past the small clay dish piled with your spare change, the one he made for you with squashed out sides from small pushing thumbs. I look past the bottle of water, the inside speckled with old condensated bubbles, an uneven line of them sit just above the still quiet water level, punctuating the plastic and from this angle the flattened out oval reflects the milky sky. And beyond it the path where he walked an hour ago and swung on the wood before marching away.
I focus on the leaves in the distance, the branches swaying slowly now in the air, moving with nature.

I sit in the quiet stillness and listen to my breath, the cursor flashes with my heartbeat.
Somewhere further away than normal but closer than I can describe he’ll be buzzing with his friends, listening, thinking, learning what’s next, putting one foot in front of the other as he navigates steadily on his path, like me.

Holding him invisibly,
3.30 can’t come soon enough.
X

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Yesterday
I’m not usually here at this time it’s a strange early part of the morning when I’m normally buttoned up somewhere battling against the conditions with some thoughts of the day ahead. And yesterday I split off from his direction and the momentum of a walk to the shops kept the feelings locked up somewhat. But today I didn’t leave. I have things to sort out in the house and his list to tick through and though I get a proper hug it’s never enough. And for the first time he stepped out without me, without us and I watched the back of his head, with his rumpled hair, stride out in the rain. And then it came, a force containing years of love an aching like the first separation, when they took him in his cot for a night in the nurses room after you’d taken on five midwives. Remember? reminding them I couldn’t walk or lift and had been given the ‘disabled’ room because my pelvis had packed up and they needed to help me. So they took him away overnight and I can still remember the pain, the tearing, emotional pain as they trundled him out of sight and the slit of light round the door thinned as it clunked closed  and I sobbed and sobbed.  But exhaustion overtook me as I fell into a torn out sleep until the early morning click and quiet wheels as he was returned to me.  And though the spasms in my back crushed my movements and I felt caged in my own body, he was back at my side and that was all that mattered and I would meet his needs no matter what.

And just now as I raced up stairs to try to catch the last glimpse of him rustling up the road, it all roared back at me with an intensity of the moment itself and in ten minutes I spun through a compression of eleven years and I could smell our baby and an early morning house and wanted every microsecond back. And I lay in a tight ball till I knew he’d got there and stumbled through the jarring strangeness of this quiet empty home and wanted this to be a different moment with a holding though you’d wouldn’t feel all that I did. And a rushing because you had some awful meeting and the towels were wet on the bathroom floor and air was crisp with aftershave and you’d go and we’d joke with undisguised pride in the evening when he came back. And you’d both wind me up but secretly love the way it was. And I’d have shut the door as my baby walked away and after you’d gone I’d have cried fully but not as deep or as boundlessly as it pours and surges out of me now.

X

Today
This way is the way back from Sainsburys with the pushchair back in our ancient places, holding him invisibly and I can hear intruders behind me and I ignore them.
And I can breathe up here now although my foot hurts and right at this moment I go over on my ankle and am stuck with one working leg in an empty place and everything is wrong.
And the sun and sky is so low it hurts my eyes and as the feelings return I rest at the other bench. I want to be back in the old world packing for a trip North to deal with your dad but spend time with your mum and our son is snuggled up tight in the car and we have our stuff on the back seat (and a fly arrives to vomit on the day) as I think of us all heading off in our old life with a full tank and Vimto shoved in the drinks holder and your radio tapes blasting out the soundtrack to our world.

And it hurts
And I feel it 
And I want it all back

Can’t see the cathedral, the sky echoes a weak wash across my vision and everything is eaten up by the day. Bird struggles on the air, an unusual hard flapping breaks the moment.
A tiny moth fuzzes past me, blurred
and focussed.

My ankle throbs, I’m still here.
X

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.

x

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
x

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,
Newness.

I bought him his favourite magazine.

x

Monday 14/5/12 – Anticipation

Just caught glimpse of him as he went through the door, geared up, wrapped in love with special things in his lunch box, with all that I needed to say to him having been said. And he knows where my thoughts will be and I find it slow going to move away. Waiting now through the hub bub of breakfast club, feeling his excitement, striding into it with an air to be proud of. Sensing the buzz in the background, want to stay close but I can’t. Walking gently to the bench for a moment before negotiating life in Sainsburys for the baking stuff I’d promised. Will spend the time in flour, mixing strength into the grains. This bright morning has slipped, a coldness sneaks but I head for the table for a while. And I stomp over the dried mud with a stride that mirrors his and it’s not quite warm enough for what I’m wearing. But I’m glad. It takes me back to last springs irrelevance of clothes, bare, oblivious arms but in this charged morning I feel the distance that we’ve travelled. I can look back and glance ahead, my cold arms are much stronger now. They hold him, hold him up high so he can see beyond the obstacles around us. And while my trusty wood pidgeon strokes comfort with his call, I remember the words from another lifetime.

There’s no weight, no weight at all.

I want to sit here, removed but close, sending power, the invisible ties never thicker. but I need to leave, I’ll be there – wherever I am. He’s encased now, preparing himself. I know what he said to me and I’ll carry that throughout this part of the journey. For now, I can’t do anymore. Slipping into the day with awareness and love.

One rainbowed raindrop on my screen.

It’s coming.

I need to buy cocoa powder.

Tuesday 15/5/12 – Apron Ties

Quick word before I hurry back.

Walked quicker today, preoccupied, not designed for being out in it all. Getting buffeted by the wind for a while and try to let the feelings subside. Home to fairycakes today, a new mixture, a new taste

– new bird call interrupting.

Don’t look up, I should go. Look at this sunlight forcing out over wet wood, dampened darkened ends. Back home wading through a difficult and muddled start with a blend of sadness from an evening unfurled without event. In our new normalness, feeling the slipping away of childhood as he learns to face their hoops to jump through. The necessities of life, the management of obligations and finding out how to filter out what’s important and as I type he writes at that table in the classroom they used in the old world, with the sun arcing through the window, straying across his page. Wavelengths lifting his connections and feeding the foundations we gave him as I type and he holds the pen tightly and carefully constructs the phrases and ideas and runs with the story in the way we know he can. And his space is shafted in photons and if he looks up will see dust on the beams, but he’s head down, focussed and the dust dances around him. And I am moving to a parallel dance but I can’t see his words so I bake instead. I busy myself in the kitchen and collect the ingredients and I stir them together, weighed and guessed and known and I do it like when we were younger and bowls were meant to licked clean and mucky faces meant a job well done. He stood on the stool to mix ginger in and the bicarb fizzed and we knew it would be good and we always made a special one for Daddy and he never really understood flour. He told us so and we knew it wasn’t on his radar nor his mothers, but you didn’t visit her for the smell of baking you went to see her, for her.

But I baked because Grandma did and she passed the rolling pin onto Mum and the apple pies were more than pies and the pastry rose and flaked with ingredients you can’t buy in the shops. And Grandmas cake tin, chipped enamel, cream and cool green, proudly proclaiming Cake in bold letters and the difficult choice of with or without currents. And they were somehow always slightly damp, in her walk in larder with that comfortable fustiness that smelt of Sunday visits.

And now it’s me who needs and kneads, adding to the bowl and looking at the clock and puffed up in my clouds of white dust, resting on me as I stir and think and wait and feel. Pat it and prick it and mark it with something else, before the rush of welcomed warmth as I place the content inside. Let the chemistry do it’s job, to change its form but keep the same elements deep and safe within. And I separated thin paper cases and choose the right colour as he puts down his pen and rubs his hand, in the sunrays streamed around him.

Wednesday 16/5/12 – Warming

Sun’s out, passed the time with familiar faces and have ginger to buy for today’s therapy.

Won’t stay long, the combination’s just about right today. Resting my arm on warm table, enough of a breeze to remind me of winters legacy. But the sun is everywhere, on my shoulder, around the shadows, heating up my arm as I find the words. And the air blows around me back on the beach and I remember the steps and the rocks we picked up. Holding the days heat now, on our windowsill under the old curtain. A rusty dog arrives, shiny russet in my light, delighted to gallop with Bailey, a fluster of fur and they’ve gone. I would sit here for ages in a different week, but not now, not today. The sun holds on tight, holds my arm and I know I’ll take it with me. He’s indoors now getting ready for day three of four and we’re slipping into our new way and we are finding a strength. And we are not trying were just doing it, both of us, tied together in out new place, testing ourselves while this insistent energy heats up our side of the planet.

My screen looks green, polarised.

Shadows of my hair blow across my arm

I am warm

This is ok

Sunlight shines up out of last circles of dew on the table.

Pools of bright whiteness.

Good.

Thursday 17/5/12 – Displaced

Around about now he’ll go out to break, whipped up and buzzy now its all over and I had a different start, having to drop into the old world. I was met by a variety of faces and the genuine ones took my arm and their sincerity eased me through the tasks. And I saw echoes of the old me and remembered her and her life while he settled down for the final job. And it was oddly painfully comforting and I need to spend some time with this, working out the next steps, what to prune and what to nurture.

And I had no time to sit today so glanced at the empty hill top table before an early descent for the last ingredients. And just before the doors was hugged by another smiley old chapter, fluttering its pages around me, stepped into and through it and felt the strangeness of existing in a new world in my old landscape.

And the settee took over for a while as I trudged through the meaning and now I need to bake the promise, the thick gooey layered one that we talked about and planned last week. And it will be full of his favourites and it will be special and sweet. And I hold onto what I’m doing, what I need to do and prepare myself along with the tins. Lined for an easy departure, to lift the warm lightness, crumbly and risen and slide it to the plate. And the chocolate will be glossy and the message sugared out in love. And I sit here, knowing that it will be ok, that he’ll be covered in chocolate and we will celebrate and everything will be in its place.

Everything – except

the sound of the key in the door.

New world

New ways

Same old pain.

x

Friday came home quickly and carefully through mud still noticing but not stopping. One day away from SATS and the start of the end of primary and we walk up together but he comes back alone. That morning we agreed after half term he’ll do both ways without me. He joked ‘Oh I see, you don’t want my company anymore!’ and we laughed because he knows, although he doesn’t feel it. And I will still choose to leave early but go a different way then. My morning walk amongst the dogs is now etched into my grieving and I would miss it now if it stopped just like somehow I’ll miss the tears.

I’m wrapping myself up for something else, some inevitability, a force directing me through this process. I sit in the quiet house while he’ll be busy buzzing about at registration. I sit on the settee we bought back at the start, that I sat up all night on because my back was shot away, so I couldn’t lie flat and I slept sitting up with our newborn beside me and your Mum came to stay. But you were worried and saw the early signs of the illness that took her and we stumbled our way through babyhood, such amateurs but finding a way somehow. And you came home at lunchtime to make sandwiches because I couldn’t negotiate the stairs and I lived on the bed for months and my breath was for him.

And I sit on the settee that he clambered up with the cushions we built dens with, where I sat and videod the shifting ages and the bond through the pain carved out this relationship. And I sit where we watched him open all the presents and build his favourite track that you’d hidden in the back of the car and where you lay with him sat across you and I remember the speed you moved when toilet training backfired on you in the evening home from work. And watching Tractor Tom on his first day after Pre-school and lying his uniform, all bright dye and daz white, creases in place over the back. And I am enfolded in it all. The moments, the memories, the hours of a life and a settee where you watched Star Trek together and we watch it now and the place he sat on that morning when I got him up early and the front door was open and there were fluorescent men in the house.

And now the settee is a mess of tissues and I start to prepare for the next stage. To go with the process, to embrace this nature of change, to feel the pain of separation and in that moment know I’m still alive. That I have this women’s work, this joy, this wound. But the wound will form a scar and the skin will grow back differently, thicker, damaged but stronger. This wound will not define me but through the agony of loss allow this transformation, to evolve into something more.

So I sit on our settee that we chose in their Aladdin’s cave in Oxford, with Brie’s crazy dog who they’d lock in the toilet when we visited and she talked at double speed in her lilting brogue about the old days when she worked with your Mum in the mills. And I sit here now and remember it all and I roll and fall through the images and feelings, the colours of a life with our baby, our toddler our little boy. Our big boy now and the approaching teenager who I will guide in a new way, with a finer touch, with a softer punch, yet a stronger arm. With a different me, with new challenges, to take me on instead and fall out, to not lock antlers with you, to understand and make sense of it all, of who he was, of who he needs to be, of who he chooses to become. And how to assimilate all that he knows and to grow with the loss, grow into and through the loss and become strengthened by the natural lines of movement.

And I will hold his hand tightly though he won’t feel it and I will learn and listen and look around for guidance and I will ease us both through this transition. I will face it like I face this pain and I will find a way. And I will learn when to stand still and when to move and I will feel him shift around me and I will pay attention to the rhythms while he finds out what he needs. And all of our moments that carved us into here will hold me up and run and dance around me as we do it. The love that I sit in, that surrounds us, that forms us and I will feel it guide me as I offer no resistance.

Soon.

It’s approaching. I need to prepare, lengthening the cord still further. Steadily, feeling it, going with it. Easing us into our next place.

Cycles, circles

Turning wheels

Life

Our son

Your gift

My world

x

P.S

Thinking about our first walk when we got lost trudging back from Compton tethered together up the main road that runs under my bridge. I cross over and see us, new and drifting under the structure as I scurry over it in my reformed world. Going back soon to write and tidy and work through the day. I’m a bit stuck, the lightness of the sky eats into my horizon. I hear the bus pull away, my hand is warm and cold at the same time. Just biding time today, should go really, things to do, people to be, someone in one guise or another. My hair blows behind me like dog ears, I don’t like this light, it’s neither one thing or the other. The clouds are too low but not low enough. It’s cold but not enjoyable. Ravens stoop around today, hooded, sullen, darting in front. My cold is winning, I feel rough. I choose warmth, I think.

Heading back for the kettle. Bit odd today.

And just before leaving I look back at the table. The dried out wood has become a winters beach, stripped back wood, pale blonde, untroubled by feet. No comforting sand here to push into with a cool sun on your back, to reclaim the beach in isolation because no one else knows it’s here. And you can walk untouched by everything and listen to each lap of water and as it strokes back, pulling away from the town. It’s shiny pebbles glinting and sparkling in its wake. It takes your thoughts with it, each moment a glimpsed feeling over the stones, there for a second then part of something more and you stand and you watch as the seconds comes and go, rush up quietly, gently and subside and you let your feeling go with it. Glossing the landscape, spray your feet, your wet gritty toes digging deep into another world, teeming beneath in a place out of sight. And you are there, not quite cold but owning the beach and the moment and letting it drift all around you. You crouch down study the pools, the silky water slips from your grasp as you find the right stone, smooth eon shaped by friction and you turn it over in your grainy hand, appreciate its lines and looking out to a space in time, skim it with precision. And watch until the circle scattered water has finished its pattern and everything is good and in its place.

And while I’m cold on my bench high up above this town, I smell the salt in the air. I choose another pebble and shove it deep in pocket then turn to go, slip shifting up the stones to find the path again. Knowing my pebble’s still out there, somewhere, just out of view. With the sun shining back up, pinpoints of light in our universe.

Being

And as the heat rises over our beach I glance at the rape field in the distance warming up my day now, in this present place.

x