There is a song called ‘Today Has Been Okay‘ by Emiliana Torrini, which on the one hand makes me think of Dirk and his loss as it speaks of the death of a lover:
“Friends tell me its spring
My window show the same
Without you here the seasons pass me by
I know you were not new
That loved like me and you
All the same I miss you”
On the other hand it reflects on death in general, and repeats the phrase that I roll around in my head sometimes: ‘Today has been okay’
“Wind has burned your skin
The lovely air so thin
The salty water’s underneath your feet
No one’s gone in vain
Here is where you’ll stay
‘Cause life has been insane but
Today has been okay’
Okay. I’m doing okay. We tell this to ourselves, to others; we make this into our story. What does it mean? To me, it means that I’m full of pain, anger, timeless, senselessness, and confusion: but I’m still here, I’m still moving; life ticks onwards, with its little joys and pleasures and challenges. I am functioning. I am holding together. It also in contrast to the days or times that are NOT okay, when everything crumbles and many little things seem to go unbearably wrong.
Yesterday was more than okay. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and while Clive was unfortunately working, I had a relaxed morning at home with my two boys – playing, cooking, tidying, washing, and baking a truly awful mocha cake (if anyone has a good coffee cake recipe, please send it to me!). In the afternoon I had a visit from a dear friend, and we walked with the boys to Manor Park, enjoying the sunshine and speaking about death, and life. I felt mellow, calm, and grateful for friendship, sunshine, and good conversation.
Then the evening slowly descended into a strange sort of nightmare. Neither of the boys wanted to go to sleep, and the first sign of things being less than ideal was a deep, aching exhaustion settling over me at about 8pm, by which time they are both usually fast asleep. Clive was still on his long journey home from work, and I could feel my patience start to grow thin. The boys had both been ill with a tummy bug during the week, and Tristan has been getting a slight cold too, so a few hours after finally getting them to sleep they were awake again – Rhys up screaming for what felt like hours at a time because of sore gums (he is still teething) and a sore tummy, and Tristan waking up occasionally crying because he couldn’t breath through his blocked nose. I was a stumbling, exhausted wreck by the time Clive got up to take the boys downstairs for breakfast so I could grab half an hour of uninterrupted sleep before work, and things got really fun when Rhys started projectile vomiting in the kitchen.
Layered under and over all this was a growing depression, after I had turned my computer on last night, and read emails and blogs, and re-read the story of ‘What happened to Tessa’ that I posted last night. Many of us are finding this time, as we crawl towards the end of the second month after my mother’s death, the hardest yet. It is comforting to know I am not the only one feeling this way, and it is eye-opening to realise how many people feel that the hardest point in mourning seems to be during or after the point at which those around them expect them to be ‘getting over it’ (though what impact the latter has on the former, I am not entirely sure).
In between all of this sorrow and exhaustion, there were many things to remind of the joys of life, even if they didn’t actually lift the shadow sitting on my heart today. There were the hot air balloons that floated past outside at 6am this morning – unexpected in busy London airspace.
There were my husband’s never-ending attempts to cheer me up with hugs, kisses and sweet tea. There was my dearest of dear friends, Cate, who sends me love and sunshine even when her days are cloudy and difficult. There was the wonderful, long facebook message from my friend Katie Sweeting, which I read on the bus to work and had me weeping from her caring and honesty. There were those who posted replies to my blog, or emailed me, and made me feel heard and acknowledged. There was my colleague Elizabeth who fixed two of my mother’s necklaces and surprised me with them this morning, when I needed them most. It is amazing how small, thoughtful kindnesses can melt the heart and make the world glow brighter. Thank you, friends. Thank you, world.