Saturday, July 29, 2006

Soul searching

You cannot stop this thing that is happening, it is part of the circle. An inevitable part of life and death. A truth.
I could tell you of my life whilst I wait and perhaps that would help you to get through this time.
I just hope that you are listening.
I had stolen your heart from the beginning. With the skill of a consummate thief, I took without asking and never gave it back. Swaddled in your love and affection, I grew a little too much in my first year, outgrowing the production-line knits that Nana Martin provided with monotonous regularity.
You took photos of me in every imaginable pose, and left the embarrassing one of me, naked on a sheepskin rug, in full public view for years to come. I was stimulated by numerous spinning shapes and squeaking toys that I could hardly focus my new eyes on, and my virgin ears were exposed to every record you had ever bought, or ever loved.
In the time that we had together at home, you spent every moment filling my world with colour and truth. I loved the stories that you read to me last thing at night. With an imagination that could have written a thousand books, you turned the banal into fairytales, and the boring into struggles between life and death. Enid Blyton had never had such a makeover.
You took me to Cornwall when you couldn't afford France. We made angels on the sand and elaborate, gravity-defying castles that were the envy of every child on the beach. You also taught me to fish with a piece of string and a safety-pinned orange peel. We never caught anything, but I always thought we did.
Back in the city, we raided art galleries and played commandos in the museums, taking out our targets with the stealth of renegade panthers. We ate the food of the world in every cafe you could find with a foreign name, and we soaked our bare feet in important fountains. Exotic camps were constructed under the kitchen table and we performed dreadful plays to a worldwide audience on the patio. We laughed at the stupidest things and argued over the green triangles at Christmas.
As my hormones kicked in, you took it in your stride, ignoring my rudeness and adapting to my myriad moods. I fashionably drifted away from you for a few years, ignoring your steadfast counsel for the erratic advice of my newfound, platform-booted friends. When boys dumped me for a new model, you were there to pick up my many pieces and put them back into some semblance of order.
University challenged us both, and when Nana died in my second year, I felt your pain at losing two of us. We got through it together and I came to that point in everyone's life when they realise that they must stand in those shoes that they have been avoiding like the plague. I was, at last, at the beginning of adulthood. We had nearly made it.
These gifts that you gave so freely, prepared me for life and when I found someone that I wanted to be with, you feathered our meager nest and cooked us a hearty meal on Sundays. Your shoulders took the brunt of my first marital arguments, but you patched me up, gave me the knowing benefit of of your mistakes, and sent me back into battle, helping to forge a relationship that would last a lifetime.
At the birth of my first child, you took the traditional role of knitter, and produced some items that would have won the Nana Prize for Three-ply Endurance. I took up the traditional role of suddenly understanding what a parent goes through. I looked at you with new and wondrous eyes. My daughter was the apple of your eye, but when I produced another two apples, you never faltered in your care of all of us.
I grew, my children grew, and when you died I thought that I was going to die too. The empty void remained for years to come but I had so many rich and varied painkillers that I could not hold you in that dark place for long. You were, and always will be, my lighthouse, my guiding light in the coming storm. You loved me, and I could smile again.
As the grey replaced the brown, and lifelines invaded my face, your grandchildren left the house one by one. I could see the legacy of our children stretching out in front of us like shining beacons, to the horizon and way beyond. You were the best of mothers and I was content.
Yes, I could tell you of our life, but the contract had already been signed long before we ever got to this point. Now, as you push me along the birth canal I know that there are only a few precious minutes left. The hole in my heart will not stand the pressure of this birth, I can already hear its death knell. As I break through life's barrier I cry with the sheer joy of being, and you cry along with me. We sit in the midst of red lights and screaming bleepers, trying to make some sense of it all. I am flooded with all that could have been but was not meant...this time.
It is all there you know, in those deep blue, newborn eyes. Our future history is laid out, if you only know where to look. I hope you do.
(dedicated to the ones I lost)