We all wear masks. We lie every day, even to our loved ones, and often they know we are lying. It is easier that way.
Today I stood making dinner as the sun beamed in the window. I could see my husband outside working in the garden and my kids were around the house doing their own thing. To anyone passing I was a mother standing at the cooker. Nothing to see here.
However standing in the empty kitchen I was in fact not alone. Many voices and intrusive memories surrounded me, demanding they be let in. I could hear a phone ringing incessantly somewhere in my mind, and try as I did to ignore it, it just got louder and louder. Despite that voice in my head shouting ‘Don’t answer it’, I couldn’t resist. In a distant place I could see her name on the phone as the incoming call, and without ever leaving the kitchen I saw myself hurrying away to a quiet room.
I answered the call, and for a brief moment I heard nothing. I called her name, then I heard a loud sob and a voice barely understandable said,‘They have made the call’. Without fully understanding what she was saying, I knew. A wave of sickness passed over me, and I joined in her tears.
Reliving that dreadful day, with fury I chop the veg, as that voice in my head continues it’s tale. I listen to a conversation I have heard so often in the past year and I hear myself ask quietly, ‘Can he come home?’. ‘Yes’, was the heartbreaking response, and as I heard it I began to cry again, but this time in real time.
Back in reality I left the cooker and picked up his photo, which smiles out at us from the dresser. The mischievous grin, the vibrant boy I remember so clearly. In that moment I felt an enormous wave of so many emotions engulf me and the train that is grief hit me hard. Why? How? Can this really have happened? Could he really have died? ‘Is he gone forever?’. And looking into his smiling very young face grief won.
Just then the kitchen door opened and my daughter walked in. I quickly returned to my task in hand and felt somewhat relieved. The spell had been broken. I was back in control again, and that unwelcome beast that is grief, was locked up once more.
Seeing my tear streaked face my daughter asked, ‘Are you okay?’, and I answered ‘Feckin onions’. We shared a smile. Both of us happy with the response.
Except there were no onions in todays dinner.