This is a bad time of year. Well, it’s the worst time of year.
My internal clock tick-tocks towards the day that my mother died. The Anniversary, I suppose one calls it.
Four years. It hardly seems possible it will be four years.
Grief is not something for which there is a timetable. I was in shock – real, proper, enervating, pulse-defying shock – for a long time because the practicalities took up a great deal of time and I had to concentrate of that. Then, in a sea of physical and emotional exhaustion, when I thought I must be able to either crawl out of the canyon of missing or stop peering into a chasm of despair, when I thought my father and I (because it’s only the two of us) could do some things together, maybe have a tiny lunch party…you know: polish the silver, “good china” ferreted out of a cupboard, find proper napkins, do flowers for the table and the hall and the sitting room…Daddy was ill. Really, really ill. The little lunch party didn’t happen. He said he didn’t feel very well and could I cancel the lunch party. All that I’d bought – not a grand lunch, but treaty things – went into the rubbish bin, with great dollops of heavy, heavy tears on top.
His body had been building up to be being so ill while my mother was still alive: she would say to me that she was worried about him and wished he’d see a speciliast…little knowing that she was the one who should see a specialist, although – judging by the coroner’s report – there was nothing that could have been done to prolong her life.
When it became clear that Dad was so ill, I fought like a tigress, willing him to get better. I could not bear the idea of losing both my parents so quickly. After two six week spells in hospital, he had an operation. It didn’t achieve what was intended. He went home with what I call his “attachments” which were meant to be temporary. All sorts of other problems happened: always, it seemed, in the middle of the night, involving paramedics and ambulances and more stays in hospital. When he was at home he had carers (still does), but I was with him 24/7, sitting by his bed in the night, trying to persuade him to eat during the day (a very good wheeze is serving something minuscule on a pudding sized plate), battling with doctors, making a proper nuisance of myself with hospitals, all the while thinking how much I wished my mother was there. And, then, thankful that she wasn’t.
He’s still here, my Daddy, confounding the medical profession. He was (which I write with an enormous but rather wobbly smile) 89 at the end of January. He’s bloody-minded in the extreme with his determination to be independent, or semi-indepdent, or demi-semi-independent. His carers, morning and evening, are wonderful. We struggle on. My tigress-fighting paid off. But neither of us are the same people we were 4 years ago.
How I miss my darling Mummy. But on The Day I’ll toast her memory and give thanks. After all, half of me is her.