Sometimes for no apparent reason a memory comes roaring back, interrupting thoughts and breaking your heart all over again. Today, while making dinner, grief came calling just as it did a few years ago when I first wrote this. Grief is a lifetime of pain, sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden but always there. Tonight the families of young Daniel and Ben are very much on my mind as are all who are grieving, whether their grief be days or many years old. There really is no ‘getting over’ grief.
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. Voices and intrusive memories surrounded me, interrupting my thoughts,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, just as I did that day.
I answered the call, and for a brief moment I heard nothing. I quietly spoke her name, but all I heard was her sob before I heard her breaking voice, say, ‘They have made the call,’. Without fully understanding what she was saying, I knew it was almost over. 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 to tell it’s tale. I listen to a conversation I have revisited 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 Daniel’s 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 today’s dinner.