Saturday, 26 November 2011

Al's birthday

It’s Al’s birthday today. Am a bit down. Not as low as I feared I would be but feeling somehow flat ... and yet emotional.

So far today I haven’t received a single acknowledgement. I’m due to take my mother and daughter for lunch in an hour. I’ve been putting off getting ready because I’m not even sure whether my mother recognises the significance of the date and I’m dreading having to listen to her bang on about her cold or other trivial ailments for a few hours.

Update:  As I typed the last sentence, I received a text from another bereaved Mum. It was much needed and perfectly timed.
We then collected the Birds of Paradise from the florist – they seem so representative of Al so I try to get some on his significant days. Then we drove to my Mum’s place to collect her and take her for lunch. We called her 10 minutes before we arrived to let her know how long we would be. When we got there, we then spent 20 minutes calling her phone and ringing her bell only to have her announce (without the slightest trace of embarrassment) that that she had popped out to chat to someone.

We arrived at the restaurant and ordered food. She asked, “Is it the 27th today?”
“No mum it’s the 26th – it’s Al’s birthday.”

“Oh – I think I’ve got an appointment on the 27th – I’ve lost track of the days ha ha – is it Friday or Saturday today?”
“It’s Saturday Mum. It’s the 26th and it’s Al’s birthday.”

“Oh right. I wonder when that appointment is. Mind you that woman is always making mistakes – the one who books the appointments.”
“I don’t think you can have heard me Mum. It’s the 26th today and it’s Al’s birthday.”

“Is it? Ooh.” Eyebrows raised as it sinks in. “Eeh it goes fast [pause for 3 seconds as she thinks] I can’t think when that appointment is. I’ll have to check when I get home.”
I sat seething. Not only had she no awareness  of the significance of the date, but even when it was pointed out, it failed to make any real impact on this selfish woman who has spent the last two and a half years loudly proclaiming how much she loved him. My youngest caught my eye and squeezed my hand sympathetically.

I swallowed down the fury that was slowly building, managed to eat something, and asked if she needed any shopping whilst she had the car at her disposal. She did.
When we got to the supermarket, to give myself a breather from her, I wandered through the clothing section. I found a skirt and tried it on. Pleased with what I saw, and glad I had something positive, however trivial, to focus on, I said, “Oh my word - this is a 12 and it fits perfectly on the hips but I’ll have to reduce the waist by 3 inches – it looks like I’m officially an hour glass figure now.” Considering my massive weight loss over the past few years, (and the daily criticism as I grew up re my obesity) you might think she’d want to congratulate me but instead she said that all the sizes were wrong - "they're all big in here" - and then added that she could probably get into a size 6. To prove her point, she grabbed one and held it against her. Again my daughter shot me a sympathetic glance as I said, “It’s OK Mum – I won’t compete.” However, the irony was lost on her.

It was a relief to get her and her shopping back to her flat and to leave as quickly as possible.
I arrived home to some much-needed emails from people who had remembered and a lovely card that a friend had popped through my door. This was quickly followed by a couple of texts acknowledging the date. What a relief. I thought it had been completely forgotten by almost everyone.

I had a text from my sister in law – that’s the closest I got to any contact from my family. Ironically, she buried her grandfather last week and is very low but still managed to find time to lay some flowers for Al and get in touch with me – unlike either of my sisters, my brother or my father.
I nervously logged onto Facebook to find half a dozen messages for him from his friends. It tickles me to think that they speak to him via Facebook. It feels as if they imagine him sitting on a cloud with a couple of beautiful white wings fixed to his back and a halo (albeit, knowing my boy, somewhat skew-whiff) and logged into Facebook saying “Yo bro!” as he reads messages from old friends. Those messages, from young people who knew him, meant a lot – he hasn’t been forgotten.

And he lives on in their hearts as well as mine.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh ...

Whatever ‘moving on’ is, I think I might be doing it. Last weekend, I had a conversation with a man who wanted to date me. I was open to the idea. He seemed like a nice enough person, we shared some interests and he came highly recommended as a really lovely man.

Quite early in our first  phone call he mentioned that his mother had died almost a year ago. Later I told him about losing Al. The conversations flowed quite freely and it was all pretty relaxed. We covered all kinds of subjects and seemed to have similar values.

We met for coffee and at some point, we talked about coping strategies. I mentioned that I’m good to have around in a crisis as I tend not to panic but instead, to appear incredibly calm and focussed on everyone and everything else around me. I mentioned how I had acted the night that Al died. His response floored me.

There was no acknowledgement of the enormity of what I’d just said (OK I didn’t expect an in depth analysis of it) but instead,  “Yes I’m also good in a crisis – the weather was awful when I got married for the second time. My family were all late so I just took over as an usher.”

He actually thought it was perfectly acceptable to respond to my comment about the night my boy died, with an anecdote about his wedding – to compare the crisis of my son dying with the crisis of being an usher short at a wedding. And to casually include the info that he had already been married twice.

Later he asked if he could see me again and I declined and talked about him being a nice man but I felt there was a lack of chemistry etc. I spent the next half hour politely fending off his attempts to get me to change my mind.

Oddly enough, every time I think of this pillock’s response to my comment, I laugh. It’s funny because it’s so ridiculous. It doesn’t make me angry as it would if a family member had said it. Just a few months ago, I’d have seethed for days but now it just makes me laugh. Maybe this is ‘moving on’. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Say my son's name

What can you do for me, you say?
You can bring me a gift, a gift today.

Say my son's name, say it loud and clear,
Help others to remember that he once was here.

Speak of his antics, his joys, his pain,
Talk as if he were here again.

Remind me of the laughter he brought to you.
Sit down and tell a story or two.

I'll let you do the talking 'cause it's ever so rare
That you would even bring him up - some won't even dare.

What gift could you give, what words can you say,
That would make my heart lighter as I face the day?

The song of his words, the music of his name,
How wonderful if would be just to hear it again.

Rose Thompson