Posted on May 10, 2016
They were all there when I emerged from the terminal on Sunday.
My dearest love, with a little girl in a pram at his side. I’m not sure she knew I left, but she seemed happy to see me back. Three others, with hair from blonde to brown, all talking over the top of each other to get their stories told first!
Seven days felt like a lifetime, to me, without them. How was a lifetime without me going to feel, to them, without me?
Joy has a hangover, I’ve found. It doesn’t come from too many cocktails by the pool, or too many vodka’s from the mini-bar. It comes, instead, from having seven days to think about what potential your life has, if only you were going to live long enough to enjoy it. It comes from seven days of anticipating a reunion and realising that one day there won’t be a hello at the end of the long goodbye.
When I walked in the door, I melted into the warmth of my home, the comfort of my people, the familiarity of my routine. Gaz hoisted Georgia onto the couch next to him and I asked her all sorts of questions, what she had learned at school in the last week etc. Gaz and I both giggled at the silliness of this routine, as Georgia has no speech, and whatever she might have to say in answer to my questions shall remain a mystery, but I ask anyway, and she giggles in response, just because she likes it when we talk to her.
I’d give anything to keep this – anything. I want to hang on, for dear life, but I don’t know how long I can. With the news that came via my last test results, we know that I am not going to get that reprieve now….that period of maybe months off chemo, where I could have just one more beautiful time of being a “normal mum”, and dreaming that it won’t end so soon. Now it’s just putting out fires, until we run out of water. No exhaling, no meandering, just running headlong in one direction and another, looking for a dam with a bit left in it. Every bit of me wants to live, but I’m so tired. SO tired. The tide is turning. It’s subtle, but I can feel it.
Sometimes I watch my children walk away from me, and I feel a physical pang, like they are walking away forever. I felt that this morning, as I dropped Dakota at the drop off zone, and she ran to catch up with a friend. She hates it when we say so, but she swings her ponytail like Marcia Brady. I wanted to yell out to her. Come back baby. Spend this day with your mum. Did I ever tell you how proud I am of you? That you have such self possession, at an age when I would have been terrified if anyone so much as looked in my direction. Come be with your mama today? But I can’t, I’d want to hang onto her not just on this day, but forever, and I bought her up to live her life, and she does it with such gusto. Half of her is me, and I will just have to continue on with my day, holding the pride of that close to me. Wishing I didn’t have to teach her to live without me.
People tell me all the time, to comfort me, I’m sure, that I must just get on with my life, that any of us could go out and be hit by a bus at any turn. That I’m no different. I don’t think anyone realises how often I have wished that lunatic bus would come swinging around the corner and take me out. The sheer relief that it would be not have to think about saying goodbye. I think, ALL THE TIME, about the first time they were in the room with me, these four beautiful souls, just minutes in the world. I felt so lucky. Now, I think just as often about the heavy ache when they are no longer in the room with me and I know they won’t enter it again. It’s unbearable. I know I’ll never be ready to say goodbye to them, and they won’t ever be ready either. It’s like we’re in one of those dreadful wind tunnels, with the wind pulling me one way, and them the other. I scream and scream for them, I hold out my hands, but I can’t reach them.
This morning after I dropped the girls off at primary school, and was on the way home in an empty car, a truck slid across the wet road and into my lane. There was time and distance for him to correct, and me to swing a little over into the verge, but I did wonder if the timing was just a few seconds different….how easy it would have been. Not one part of me wants to die, but just today, I don’t want to live in this hell, either.
As always, I will dry my tears, and go and get them from school. We’ll have some dinner, and then we’ll tuck into bed for Masterchef. We’ll laugh, not at the way the fennel is presented on the plate, but that they dreamed of putting fennel on there in the first place. Indi will tuck into me perfectly, and say “you are so warm mama”, and Tana will look over enviously and ask if she can have a go in a minute. We still have that tonight, and that tomorrow, and we’ll keep on having more, for as long as there is water in the dams, and the lunatic keeps control of his bus.
And that, is the hangover of joy.