Many interviewers picked up on my concern that a word doesn’t exist to describe my predicament, in that I’m a single mother who has lost my only child and that I’d adopted my own word ‘smothered’, s for single, mother and ed for expired daughter. Most of us think that it’s too horrid to contemplate, so we can’t spend too much time thinking about the need for that word, which I completely understand.
I feel as though I’m in a permanent daydream, momentary lapses back into reality causing me pain and anguish. You must move on, you must forget, you must pretend this is all very natural to you otherwise you will stay in the past and life will be bleak. A bit like the Wizard of Oz, before the house was swept by the tornado over the rainbow into technicolour, but thinking about it, that journey, despite being in beautiful and vivid colours still contained danger and the bit with the monkeys in particular scared the wits out of most children.
So something sooooo abnormal needs to be my version of normal. It’s as though my shoes are on the wrong feet and I’m looking around me and noticing everyone else is different, but I just can’t quite work out why everything so familiar feels so incredibly different. Although it is obvious, but instincts are so ingrained and I’m still adapting and rewiring. It’s admittedly uncomfortable and causes me to be unsteady on my feet at times, but I plod on regardless, as I simply have to.
I’m looking at myself through a microscope as though I’m a new breed, only just discovered, people in bright white lab coats surround me and take samples to do tests on – ‘this is the first ‘smothered’ sample we’ve ever been able capture – we thought they were an urban myth’. They pinch me and stare as they take blood out of my arm and tell me to stick my tongue out and say ‘aaaaaaa’ which I do dutifully. All for a good cause, I think, put me in a textbook and don’t let the words from my description seep into the readers hearts to destroy their hopes and dreams.
Stick my cells in a petri-dish and shake me vigorously in one of those machines that separate particles. That feels good, shake the pain out of my nervous system, veins and heart - smithereens, fragments of me, all separated, as together they gang up on me and switch the volume on the pain and anguish up to maximum. ‘Turn that music down’ I shout, ‘and tidy your bedroom’ – no I don’t say that…, but I used to.
I’m envious of my previous self, she had no idea how good she had it. Look at her all happy and carefree, was I then I wonder. I don’t think I was, even then. There was a melancholy about me that I could never totally shake off – what was that I wonder now? Little did she know, how lucky she was. Put her and I in a room now and I’d slap her awake – you have no idea how easy that was in comparison to how this is – ‘wake up, you’re asleep’, and the dream you wake up to is an unimaginable nightmare. Hmmm, maybe she should stay asleep? No way, I shake her awake and drag her with me as I can’t just prick my finger and become Sleeping Beauty and sleep through the next 100 years until my lips are softly kissed and I stir from my dreams. ‘Stick the kettle on then and check the milk isn’t off’, I say to my former self.
When you wish upon a star….your dreams come true….I still believe that, I really do, my imagination is commendable – I award my imagination the Victoria Cross for bravery in the face of adversity. Pin it on, hold your head up high and stick your shoulders back – wear it proudly and feel it over your heart as the gentle beat within us all reminds us that tick tick, to get on with it. No putting things off like you used to, get it done and once you’ve done that, there’s plenty more to be getting on with. Tick, tick…ding dong, the witch is dead - as a child you relish ‘baddies’ being killed off, but my girl wasn’t a baddie, but sometimes we learn more from when good people die as the tragedy of losing the good seems even more profound. I tap the heels of my ruby slippers together 3 times and wish that this was all a bad dream, but what’s the point in that - I know that type of thinking detracts from my ongoing healing and therefore I immerse myself in reality most of the time. Immersed very much in the ‘here and now’.
In my mind’s eye, I see the envelope containing my wishes after I die being opened - my loved ones are dusting off Martha’s funeral card to see what I did for her. Well, I buried her with my heart and soul, all the love I had left and my hopes and dreams. What then lived were the remnants of a human being desperately trying to keep going and mend and patch myself up as I went along. Like a teddy an adult has had since birth, one missing eye, the fur badly worn and a half chewed ear– but a new bear just won’t do. Your old one is the only one. So sew a new eye on me, patch my ear and knit me a little jumper – there, I don’t look so bad now do I? Hold me tight, love me afresh and sing me a song…
In the words of Billy Joel:
“But they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done…
Only the good die young.”