It’s A Small (Small, Small, Small) World

My daughter and I have recently returned to the homeland after a trip to Eurodisney.untitled (10)

She, light of spirit. Me, light of wallet.

And of weight, given the amount of time I spent on various squatters, home and abroad, in a state of abject angst.

Everything represented a challenge to me, from the boarding of the Eurostar (now my only remaining route off the Island as flying, ferry boats and the front-crawl are out), to dining out.

Being on the Metro felt akin to being buried alive. I feared intruders in the night in our tiny, ground floor apartment. And those irritating little hairdryer-powered scooters they all skitter about on over there were like swarms of hornets out to get me and my child at every corner.

Fortunately we were in the care of an understanding and endlessly patient friend, who organised and ushered us around like a small but highly troublesome school party, and dealt with my sudden gush of tears on the RER with a deft wipe of a tissue and a rousing chorus of ‘It’s A Small World’.

And of course, being in Paris itself was a challenge. Mark lived there, studied there, flounced around its trottoirs wearing turtle-neck jumpers and smoking Gauloises with well-rehearsed Gallic insouciance. We loved, Paris, He and I, almost as much as we loved our Geordie homeland.

Time away is becoming more and more difficult since Mark’s death. Crushing transportation fears aside, the truth is, I simply don’t want to go anywhere. Coming home, to our little village, I feel a weight lift in my heart. It cocoons us, this place, and increasingly, I don’t want to leave it.

“You’ve got some help, mate,” my friend told me as we bade farewell at the end of our Small World weekender. “You’ve always been anxious, but it has reached a new level.”

The world has indeed become smaller. But at this rate, I’m worried it’ll soon end at my front door.

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The Plaintive Parp of the Cartoon Horn

And lo! As the toxic trinity of Christmas, Mark’s birthday and the second anniversary of His death approach, the widow finds herself spiralling further into the bottom of a wine bottle with no desire to re-emerge.last photo - together

Actually, she could just do with getting away for the next eight weeks. Ideally somewhere hot which doesn’t involve air travel, and where TV programmes featuring “Top Chefs” or Matt Baker are banned.

I haven’t felt like myself for the past few days. (My new self, I mean – my old self departed 22 months ago along with my husband.) This is a shame, because I was kind of getting used to the new self. The self who is perpetually miffed and who pretends to be all hard but really is as flimsy as a warm fart. That self was no fun unless she’d had a drink, but at least I was learning to live with her.

This New, New self feels flimsier than ever. Crushed beneath the weight of the people I have lost. I can hear it coming, the weight, like an acme anvil whistling down from the precipice above. And I’m Wile E Coyote in the valley below, waving resignedly to the plaintive parp of the cartoon horn.

Perhaps it’s the season. Perhaps it’s because He would have turned 39 in January. Perhaps it’s because a new series of Take Me Out starts in the New Year, and we were about to watch that when He died. Perhaps my desperation to see Him again has reached a new level, because it’s coming up for two long years and there’s no let up in the amount I’m missing Him.

Which wise-arse said this gets easier?

Him and her

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This is Him, and her.

Hello. I’m having a glass of Rioja at the end of one of those ‘Oh sweet Satan’s ball-sack, I’m a TERRIBLE mother’ days. Will you join me?

I have had the emotional resilience of Wensleydale cheese today (crumbly, for all you non-Northern-English people). And I’ve been unable to toughen myself up.

And my child has both a) witnessed it and b) had to stay at my Mother’s whilst I spent time collapsing on the bed at home. It sounds melodramatic, but I swear, today, I’ve not even been able to THINK about, you know, Him, without going all Wensleydale.

I don’t know why it hits you like this. Anyone? Anyone?

If I’d even tried to compose a post earlier I wouldn’t have had the energy to press the buttons on the keyboard. Fortunately, Rioja has the same effect on me as spinach has on Popeye – it makes me strong to the finich.

It’s the school holidays and I’m up to my ears with the sound of kids shouting for their daddies. I’m sick of people rambling on about going on holiday together. I’m weary of people complaining about the forthcoming fortnight they’re going to have to endure with their husband and kids. I’d sell a kidney for the chance of a holiday with just Him and her.

“Are you cryin’?” My daughter asked me, as tears powered down my cheeks.

“Uhuh.”

“‘Cos you miss Daddy?”

“U”- snort- “Huh”

She doesn’t say anymore than that these days. She just goes and gets a length of toilet paper from the bathroom and clumsily tries to stop the flow.

And I thought to myself today – with no level of profundity whatsoever – I thought, nothing really matters. Nothing.

All I want is you, Buble. Can you hear me?

The Rule of Three

Dog sunny Day Afternoon

Dog sunny Day Afternoon (Photo credit: allert)

Do I resent the dog? I was signing a birthday card for my Dad today and there he was, the little git, his name third on the list of well-wishers after me and my daughter. I’d even drawn a cute little paw-print on his behalf in place of a kiss.

Thing is, the pooch wouldn’t even be part of the family, let alone sending paw-prints to my Dad, if M hadn’t died. He was a comfort purchase, a distraction. Something I’d always aspired to own, one day, once my desire to circumnavigate the globe and earn a million had been sated. Besides, M always vetoed such an acquisition. Ever the pragmatist, He worried it would end up like the dog pictured. Don’t worry – the hound is definitely part of the family now. Head on the pillow. Raincoat. Whiskey nightcap.  Much like the dog pictured, actually.

In the very early days, I found it hard to write cards without M’s name. I tentatively included Him on birthday cards, as if writing His name would magically mean our little family was still intact. Those in receipt of the cards must have thought I was delusional. But to not include Him was yet further evidence – if any were needed – that a) He was dead and b) I was now a single parent. My daughter and I, two lone female warriors in the cut-and-thrust world of greetings card etiquette.

When did I stop including Him? A few months after I got the dog, I think. The triumvirate that was M, me and our daughter became Me, my daughter and the dog. Not that the dog has replaced M, but somehow he makes me feel less alone. Despite his relentless bloody chewing and his exuberance to get up at the first sign of dawn, I like having him around.

It seems the rule of three exerts itself in grief, too.

Bah, humbug!

English: Mint humbugs

English: Mint humbugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hadn’t realised until I lost M just how many Hallmark Holidays we celebrate in this country. The obvious one is Father’s Day, which is currently taunting my every shopping trip with its Wisden Cricket Almanacs and jars of Mint Humbugs. I’m not even sure when it is, or if Fathers necessarily eat Mint Humbugs (presumably they do, in the same way that Mothers eat Terry’s All Gold). But for me, and every other widow and bereaved child,  it’s another reminder of the role that He is not around to fulfil.

The other ‘holidays’ are just as bad. Mother’s Day, for example, reminds me that I’m a Mother without a Father to complete the picture. Grandparent’s Day makes me wistful for the future generations who will only ever know M as a face on a photograph – a long-dead relative with whom they have no connection. Valentine’s Day…well, you get the drift.

Truth be known, we never had much truck with Hallmark Holidays. Even Valentine’s Day was usually marked with a hastily bought card from the offie and possibly a bunch of scraggly flowers (if He was lucky). But now they have taken on new resonance – a Valentine-festooned florist’s window reminds me of the flowers He’ll never (not) send me. Each Almanac seems to jump out at me from the shelf, waggling its dick, insisting I notice it. “I’m for DAD!” it seems to shout. “Remember him?”

Of course, there’s a huge element of self-pity in all this. As I said, I never gave it a second thought before. But just as when you buy a new car, everyone else on the road seems to have the same one, when your child loses her daddy, it highlights the feeling that everyone else’s is intact. Readying themselves to receive a Father’s Day card. And a jar of Mint Humbugs.

Bah!