Thursday, 28 July 2011

Grave conversation.

It tends to be one-sided. At least, that's been my experience, and to be honest, I like it that way. I think I'd be more than a bit disturbed if my father had had something to say this morning, when I went to visit him.

The graveyard is beautiful. I find most graveyards beautiful, but perhaps it's just because of the trees and the quiet. There is nothing to fear in a graveyard, even at midnight, except perhaps for rats, snakes stray dogs, or stray men (living ones).

The dead pose no threat. They return no greetings and answer no questions, and if they're happy to see their visitors and hear our voices, we can't see their smiles, not unless we shut our eyes and seek out their faces in a memory or a dream.

But we don't know for sure, do we? And we'll only find out when it's our turn to take a place under the earth. So I found myself babbling along, trying to remember all the important things I had to let Daddy know. Just in case. I felt a bit silly, talking to a tombstone - but surely it was no sillier than buying a lottery ticket, or blowing a fallen eyelash off the back of one's palm and making a wish ..

I would have sat there for hours to tell him all that I had to say, but the living were waiting for me at the gate, so I rushed through as much as I could, then left. Now I'm sitting here wondering if this is how we humans first created prayer: conversations with an unseen unreachable parent, someone who gave us strength, care and protection, who loved us in spite of what we were.

I suppose an atheist would see in this, the invention of God by a bereaved child. And a believer would think of Adam, separated from his Creator, calling out, yearning for that lost connection.

No answers, so all we have to go on is our faith, and on what we choose to believe, even if it's make-believe. And so I like to think that my father might have had something to say back to me this morning, after all. I worry that I left too soon, but I like to think that he understands, and that he'll get the message across to me anyway, in a language I'm only just learning to unlock.

Good night, everyone, wherever you are. Good night, Daddy, wherever you are.

(Edited 15 April 2014)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Upside down.

It's four months since my father died. My world has turned
upside down. I've gone from being the baby of the family
to being its general manager. I've gone from reading and writing
to 'rithmetic. I've gone grey. I go home every morning to do work
that isn't mine, and I leave home every evening to sleep in a bed
that isn't mine. I go crazy once in a while, and go into the abyss
even more often. I go on. I indulge in a lot of emotional overeating,
and am intrigued by the amount of emotional weight loss. I smoke
like a salmon and cough like a cancer patient. I cry, even in front
of other people. I wake up screaming, and wish I had an Edward Cullen.
I obliviate by drowning myself in Harry-Potter-abilia, which works well
until my favourite characters die, and then all the heartache comes back,
and I cry like it's four months ago.

But .. Nature spoke to me this weekend, and this is what she said:

So - it's been four months since my father died, and my world
has turned upside down. I'm not the baby of the family any more,
I've grown up. I'm learning new skills, like how to balance accounts
and pay taxes. I am getting to experience emotions that I've spent
most of my life running away from. And when it gets too much,
I have places to escape to, some down the road, and some
inside my head.I do smoke and I do overeat and I don't exercise,
but I haven't walked into a bar and I haven't got hooked on
sleeping pills. It's difficult closing my eyes because the nights
aren't very nice, but the mornings keep coming, and when
my eyes are open, that's when I catch such glimpses of
the loveliness of life that is always there to find if I just look.

Upside down isn't all bad. I'm growing. Just not in a direction I'd expected.

P.S. I don't know what these amazing flowers are called. They're growing on a tree 
in my next-door neighbour's garden (she calls them "trumpet flowers"). I've been 
driving past for more than a decade, but I only noticed them a few days ago.

(Edited 15 April 2014)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Happy Bathday.

Or not. In spite of it being a wonderful sunny afternoon, Teddy Dog and Siggy here don't look too thrilled at being pinned up by their ears to dry.

Introductions are perhaps in order. Teddy Dog is, if I remember correctly, 22 years old. Cruelly abandoned by my niece when she decided she was too old for teddy bears (or dogs), he was taken in by me, and will remain with me until Ayesha comes to her senses. Teddy Dog is of a fine pedigree, and comes from the second most wonderful toyshop in the world - a gigantic building filled with nothing but toys, in London. I think the shop was called Hamley's? Or something beginning with F. Whatever.

Siggy, on the other hand (and on the right, in this picture) is of humbler origin, picked up at the Manama souq in Bahrain, back in 1999. Amazing that, really, because he does look much older than Teddy Dog. Presumably being born in London gives you some sort of anti-ageing advantage over being born in China.

I remember meeting Siggy on my first day back at work at FP7, when some of us took another new colleague, Marius, for a nice hot Indian thali lunch on a nice hot Bahraini spring afternoon. Siggy was waiting for me at a souq corner, where a Malayali gentleman was babysitting him and several other furry orphans. After trying several of these orphans on for huggability, I realised that Siggy was the one meant for me, and that was that.

By the next day, I had discovered that this bear had great listening skills, a sympathetic yet non-judmental eye (two of them, in fact) and a complete commitment to client confidentiality. I knew at once that this was a bear to whom I could pour out all my heart's woes and fears. Like all good therapists, he never answered my questions for me, of course. And best of all, he did not charge 30 dinars an hour. I named him Sigmund Furred.