Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Grace of Unconditional Love

This is me procrastinating (or trying not to not). Reginald is curled, sleeping in the crook of my legs, head cushioned against my calf, heat pouring out of the pads on his perfect little feet, paws pushed against my other leg, not pushing me away, but keeping me close, for comfort.

His eyes crack, a slit of frustration at my every movement. I am, however, allowed a notebook, held firmly against my hip bone, allowed the gentle vibration of pen across page. Moreover, I am in love. And. I am reminded, directly, of the first time I ever experienced unconditional love.

I was ironing. My mother lay sleeping on the sofa just in front of me. The house held in the late afternoon quiet of early June: children ensconced in schools; parents avidly earning their keep at desks, depots, in front of computer screens and customers. The gentle moseying of pensioners and young mums, breathing in a space, a baby snoozing respite, a point in the day that momentarily demanded nothing of them. An unconventionally magic hour.

The dust snowed rhythmically in the sunlight, refracted and dancing through the net curtains. The iron sighed and steamed; creases desisted and clothes became hot and smooth and all at once, listening to the catch of her breath, my body became love. I was the dancing dust, the dappled light, the steam, the silence, the sigh of the occasional lazy car sliding past the front room window. I was the sleeping mother and the love-filled daughter; the turning earth, held, momentarily, in perfection.

"There is nothing I cannot, nothing I will not do for you" I breathed to the sleeping mummy. And for that moment there were no limits, only capacity which in turn made way for more capacity. I was the expanding, expansive universe.

It was a grace that carried me through the tumble and rumble of the next few weeks, of sleeping at the foot of her bed in the hospice, dog-like and determined she should not now, nor ever whilst so long as I continued to breath, feel herself alone, feel fear at the hands of strangers.

I crashed onto the rocks that were her death. Naked, unprotected, unprepared, like Milton's Satan I fell through the heavens, through the earth and kept falling. My lake of fire the burning sensation of having to continue, to be normal, to be.

Tonight my kittenish cat sleeps snuggled up to me. He fidgets a bit but is mostly a warm furry ball of heart beat and I love him and I'm grateful for this time we have, for his love. This is my procrastination as I wonder how to tell the tale of my relationship with my mother, through fantasy and fiction, wonder if, how and why I am compelled to share it.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Grief, or, things I normally avoid blogging about...

Grief is such a peculiar creature. She doesn't behave at all how you'd expect her to. Like today, just over four years since my mum died and boom, I had to run to the ladies and have a cry because a dear and wonderful friend text me to say she's going to run a coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan nurses and would like to do so in memory of my mum.

Such a nice, thoughtful thing to do, so why the tears?

Reading the word 'Macmillan' in relation to mum my memory jumps, split-second, to attention.

Flash one: the image of the first Macmillan nurse who came to visit us, a kindly blonde haired lady who misunderstood the extent of mum's illness and thus wove a beautiful tale of a future we wanted to believe in, with my mum, sister and I taking trips to the coast, where we wheeled her up and down the promenade, poorly, yes, but happy to be out and together. We wanted that reality so much.

Flash two: an image now of the second Macmillan nurse, a blonde haired, tanned gentleman, who quickly sized up the situation we were existing within, foresaw that we could no longer continue in her little devon terrace without the necessary equipment (a hospital bed, a wheel chair and walking frame) and knew he couldn't get us those things as quickly as he could get mum a place at the hospice. "It's just for a few nights Mrs Megson," he said, and we were reassured, grateful. "Just till we get all the furniture in here and have it all nice for you."

With breakneck speed the cancer ate her all up, faster than the oncologist predicted, faster than Macmillan could've known, faster than the hospice expected. Less than a week later she inhaled for one final time.

And my grief reminds me, in flash backs more often than not, that quietly, in the background of existence, I am still waiting for the exhale, for the moment where we can pick up from where we left off.  I've so much to show her, so much to share.

Because you see that's the oddest thing, the thing that makes grief the most peculiar creature: there has almost certainly never been a time in my life when I have been happier, more contented, more delighted and more grateful for the world I find myself living in and yet.....And yet happiness is no foil for grief. She stalks the sunny days as much as the dark nights; laughter and high jinx are no protection from the sharp claws with which she'll knead you.

And cat like, this pain is one borne out of love, a kittenish throwback of shocking flashbacks and a deep deep harrowing knowledge that life is finite and once gone won't ever come back.