Has my heart hardened?
I ponder this, often. Time between thinking about Connor stretches or repeatedly collides creating shifting and unexpected shapes. I don’t think about him all the time now. [Howl.] Grief rituals seem to be slowly disappearing. The weekly Thursday morning ‘getting that call’ pain hammer has largely gone. Marking the 107 days Connor spent in the unit has receded. Comic Relief – the start of that unfolding – crept up on me this year.
We’re moving house. After twenty odd years of living here. Eight years after Connor died.
Stuff disturbed. Memories shaken from slumber and disrupted. Revisited in a different space and context. A backdrop of global pandemic. Boxes of stuff. Paperwork. Years of reports, condemnation, reviews, reports and condemnation. The paper, typeface, words, postmark, pre-internet. The careful and meticulous pathologising and marking of a tot who wouldn’t reach adulthood. Because of a lack of care, pathologising and marking.
Should we just chuck it all out?
I brusquely pat my forehead upward with the palm of my hand. Like Connor did when faced with something that bothered him.
Forget about it mum. Yep. Forget about it.
I funnel stuff from the loft into a skip that sits outside our house for weeks. Operating a piecemeal ‘keep or chuck’ operation with the aid of a giant Ikea blue bag and Rich or Tom when necessary. Precariously balancing ungainly and leaking bagfuls of stuff down the loft ladder. Emptying the content into the cold metal container out the front. Lobbing some bits from the front door with a sense of ‘fuck you’ satisfaction and achievement. Squeezing by later, to go to the Co-op or walk Bess, I rummage about and pull stuff back out. Worrying about rain and snow.
Why? I’ll do something with it. What? I dunno. Write about it. Mark it. Like it marked Connor. Marked us.
I started playing Candy Crush on Mother’s Day 2013. A week before Connor was admitted to the unit. Rosie told me about it that weekend.
It’s so good Mum, me and Becky haven’t stopped playing it.
I was heading to Manchester that afternoon to see her, see a mate and attend a stupid fucking work meeting on Monday morning.
I left Oxford early, late morning. Rich encouraged me to go. Things were not good at home.
I downloaded Candy Crush on the train.
Days (weeks?) after Connor died, a neighbour stopped and told me her daughter had died some thirty years earlier. In her early 20s. A road accident.
How is this possible? We chatted on this street for more than ten years. I sat in a meeting about primary schools with your daughter-in-law. Your grandson went through school with Rosie. We’ve talked weather, empty niceties for years. What do you mean your daughter died?
She shared kind words of wisdom. I don’t remember the detail. I could not understand how someone could weave the enormity of such loss into their everyday life without it being visible. Tangible even.
I still play Candy Crush.
We’re moving to the Manchester area.
I still don’t understand the ‘hows’ of weaving loss into everyday life though I think we’re doing it.