The family weekend at my Dad’s was unusual in two respects – there were no arguments and I was first to bed. Granted, we’d been drinking since lunchtime, but I pride myself on normally being the penultimate one to stagger up the wooden hill at these events – Dad is always last on the pretext of ‘locking up’, which is shorthand for a whisky nightcap. (Gotcha!)
This time, however, I was tucked up by eleven, shedding fat mascara tears onto the pillow. It was my sister-in-law’s fault. She has the misfortune of being a good listener and a pragmatist, and also had a soft spot for M, all of which combine to make her a lamb to the slaughter in the face of my mental state.
She made two fatal errors. Earlier in the day, she mentioned Him in conversation. No-one EVER mentions Him. Indeed, she went so far as to reminisce about a time when He was alive. Then, much later, she invited me outside for a cigarette and put an arm around my shoulder. Consequently, she bore the brunt of an emotional eruption of seismic proportions. She stood, helpless against the onslaught and said, finally;
“I’ll dispose of the fag ends. At least it’s one thing I can do to help you.”
I’ve been weepy for days, so it was perhaps inevitable that a sun-soaked, booze-fuelled family gathering without my beloved family member was going to be tough. And the reality is, there’s nothing anyone can do. Except dispose of the fag ends.