Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Moving on?

My youngest left for a school trip to Germany on Friday evening. I haven’t heard from her since the coach was about to board the ferry in the early hours of Saturday. My texts have’ failed’ so I presume that her mobile cannot be used on the continent. I’m not worried (well not too worried – I know the teachers who are with her and trust them to take care of her and to contact me immediately should something go awry). I just miss her desperately. The house is just too quiet. I hate it. Having said that, her big brother and sister each went on the same trip and had a fabulous time. And I want her to have that experience too.

Since she left I’ve spent a day in the Lake District with my mother – sitting in many, many cafes drinking endless cups of coffee and following my mum trying not to look bored as she reads aloud every single sign in every single shop window is not my idea of fun. Neither is trying to look as if I’m not with the old woman wandering round expensive gift shops loudly proclaiming that it’s all ridiculously overpriced tat that she wouldn’t give tuppence for. Given her opinion of the goods they sell, you’d think she’d want to avoid such shops but this is her choice of sport – go figure! OK so I had to put huge amounts of effort into hiding my frustration – but it distracted me from missing my daughter so it served a useful purpose.

On Sunday evening I had a date. It was pleasant enough. I had a nice time. He was witty and attentive. The fact that he is attractive and seems very keen to see me again is also a big plus! I’m a little wary. He does the same job as my ex-husband and previously held the same job that my ex-husband did when we met. He is also of a similar build. I had to keep reminding myself that the similarities end there!

I think I’ve forgotten the rules of dating though. To be fair, I was a self-conscious, extremely overweight teenager and had only one boyfriend followed by two brief romances before I married at 24. And apart from a mad phase about ten years ago when I went on a whirlwind of dates over an 18-month period, I’ve not really dated so I’m pretty clueless about societal expectations. It felt too revealing to say I am a grieving mother but he raised the subject of Road Traffic Collisions (he drives a lot) and, as the conversation progressed, it felt increasingly dishonest not to say anything. Anyway, he said all the right things, managed to avoid the usual platitudes/ stammering/blushing/changing the subject and the conversation flowed very easily.
I’m seeing him again next weekend and am quite looking forward to it. The one thing I have noticed is my lack of excitement. There are no flips of my stomach, no big buzz - just a sense of warm anticipation that is somewhat similar, if I’m honest, to the sense of anticipation for going out to dinner with mate. Hardly thrilling – but lovely all the same.

Yesterday, I spent the day covering for a friend who is off sick long term. It’s good that I can feel useful as there isn’t much to do over the summer when I’m not in school so one day a week will keep me busy enough with enough down time to recharge ready for September. And I am very grateful that I have a job to return to in September – at least I now know I can pay the mortgage for another year.
Anyway, after finishing work yesterday, I called in at a shop to price up tents – the one we have is far too big for just two of us and we have been talking in terms of downsizing ever since Al died. I found the perfect one and will go back to get it when she’s home so that we can make the choice together – just in case she has some objection to my choice. After that, I called in at my brother’s. I stayed for around an hour talking with the little ones and left when they settled down to their evening meal. As I left, I realised that my reason for the visit was that I was avoiding going home to an empty house so, against my better judgement, I then called at my sister’s.

She reminded me of her granddaughter’s baptism next Sunday and I said I’d be there. But it reminded me of the last family baptism when, just one day before Al’s anniversary, no-one bothered to consider how the day might impact on me so I raised the subject. Her response floored me. In a frustrated/impatient tone she said, “But they’ve moved on.” As if I am unreasonable to not know this. I do know it. I do understand that others cannot possibly be as devastated as I am – it’s my child not theirs. I just don’t understand how ‘moving on’ means that they are incapable of acknowledging, however briefly, someone in pain.
Apparently, I should keep quiet. It seems that her method of buying a cake and getting her children to sing Happy Birthday to her stillborn child who should have been 21 was the best thing to do and maybe I should do that too. Only I can’t see how that would work for me and so her exasperation and annoyance was all the more evident.

I seem to have done quite a bit this week yet it has felt empty enough to be filled with time to remember him and to dwell on how I’m not ‘moving on’ – whatever that is supposed to mean. Somehow I feel that moving on feels like abandoning him and I don’t know how, or even want to do that. I guess my attitude gives my sister full permission to wash her hands of it. And yet, when I look at my earlier blogs, I’d say that I am moving on in so many ways.
Still - it sure is a tough week this week.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Quite literally, he will always be with me

According to this newspaper article, I carry my boy’s stem cells deep within my bones. It seems that during pregnancy, some of his stem cells were absorbed by my body and stored in my marrow. A part of him lives in me. A part of him is still alive. And tonight I found myself breathing a little easier at that thought.

Nothing has changed. Nothing is different. Except that I now know that he isn’t completely gone. He lives – in me. What a responsibility I have for keeping this most precious boy safe. What an honour.

For me, it matters not that every mother carries this unique gift. For me, it matters that I carry Him. He can no longer live the life he wanted or planned. So I must live to the best of my ability for him. My legacy must be that I live life to the full, to the max – in his honour.