We gave him roots and gifted him wings, so why does it hurt so much, she asked.
Is he okay, he asked, how was the call ?
Unsentimental, she said. Practical. Checked out.
Are you finding it difficult or just annoying ? All of us cope differently with change, he said, and he is the most different of us all. Happy for him though.
I wish I could turn the clock back, she said.
Think about time in a different way, he suggested. The past is always here, it is not even past, and nothing ever ends.
And yet, he said. A past life, a departing son, a different world ahead, a different world behind and a child we will never recognise in the shape and form we left him today. Is this something to be happy or sad about ? Not sure, but sad mostly. I miss the fact that he will no longer be in the room upstairs as we remember him.
Hope you are less maudlin.
Look ahead, not behind, she messaged. Let’s go forth and conquer.
What she did not say was I wish I could transcend this sense of deep loss for a time and period that is now down to its last hours because life irrevocably changes from tomorrow.
Sad, sad, sad, she thought, the implacable, engulfing hollowness following her from room to room, marking the hours as she cleaned his table (exasperated by the lint and nail clippings under the computer), folded his clothes, opened the curtains to let light into his bat-cave, wiped dust off books, lenses, cameras, keyboards, monitors, consoles and remotes; plunged into the thicket of tangled wires under the table, flicked through papers, sorting, piling, filing.
Change is part of life, he said. It is in essence, transition, it will always involve some sort of loss. And the new will be different, not necessarily worse.
Yes, yes, yes, she thought. But this is my grief. This is my child.
There must be many things you promised yourself you would do one day, he said. Be kind to yourself, look to your own needs. Your journey will take you where you are meant to be.
Ahead and onward, that’s the essence of life and parenting she said, willing herself to accept the searing realisation that selfhood begins with a walking away, and love is proved in the letting go … *
Love you, he said.
Love you more, she said, like she always did.
* Walking Away by C Day-Lewis