Blood, sweat, tears, and a bag of sick later, and I’m back from the States. It was always going to be a challenge (ref. earlier post), but the trip threw up some revelations in addition to the airline meal.
In other circumstances, it would have been a dream excursion. A week in The Hamptons (apparently for purposes of research, but mainly spent looking for Richard Gere who lives round the corner) followed by a long weekend in New York. I should have been grateful to have been there at all. But like a moody teenager, I couldn’t shake off the cloud of malaise which had descended over me shortly before take off in Newcastle. No amount of whoop-whoops! or high-fives were going to dispel it.
I walked on beautiful beaches, ate wonderful food, was overwhelmed by the dazzling kindness of strangers. But like in the early days of my bereavement, I seemed to be pushing against an invisible screen which prevented me from whole-hearted, visceral engagement with the world.
On reflection, the highlight of the trip for me was my daughter. She laughed and skipped and sang her way through the entire twelve days, waking next to me each morning with a smile, raring to take on the new day. She sampled radish, crab claws and a nip of American wine, (this is the kid who will normally only eat Wotsits); she collected blossom from the pavements like it was gold-dust; she chased squirrels round Battery Park, sang Jingle Bells to street vendors.
In fact, her unrelenting sunniness was so starkly reminiscent of M, in a sense it was like being there with Him. This revelation was at once heart-breaking and comforting – she broke up my malaise cloud in the same way that M always could.
He does, it seems, live on.
N.B. To my knowledge, M never collected blossom or chased squirrels round a park, but He might well have sung Jingle Bells to a street vendor.