Seven, f*&K ing Seven.

Hey Ma,

7 years. HUH. Well, I’m just going to dive right in here – this year I find myself jealous of the people who still have mothers (or those who had mothers for longer). Those who can go to tea or talk on the phone, who can give the advice, hold the baby or approve the dress. I am fathered, parented, loved but I worry I have forgotten what it is like to be mothered. Perhaps that is the 7 year itch of grief.

It is easier to recognise when you are sad, than when you are happy, did you ever notice that? Why do you think it is? Are we generally a melancholic breed? OR is it just January, that makes it feel that way?

It still catches me off guard. The Sad. Earlier this week I had a client who was wearing the perfume that you used to wear. I’ve avoided it for years, thinking it might be a trigger to a wave of something, some emotion, I would not be able stop. I didn’t notice at first, an itch you can’t reach, an ear worm you can’t place, and then a little bolt of shock. So I chose to let myself remember.

I chose to. I don’t always. Sometimes I don’t let you in. I feel guilty about that, but I’m not at the point where I can guarantee I’ll feel uplifted and I’ve got things to do. I’m sorry. I worry that is why I’m forgetting.

I like to think I’ve gotten better at recognising the happy though, generally speaking. To take a breath and, for want of a better word, to honour it. To turn my face to the sun and take a breath and be grateful for the feeling. Whenever I feel grateful, I think of you. Gratitude is your greatest gift to me and it’s so circular.

I see a lot of people now, different people, practically strangers. It’s been a busy year. The good mama juju I asked for last year  (along with the juju of all my friends and loved ones) came through in spades. Getting a business up and running – it doesn’t give you much time to think, or write or breathe. There is always something to do. I got overwhelmed before Christmas. I have noticed since my own brush with cancer, I feel easily overwhelmed and I am very protective of myself. I hedgehog, metaphorically speaking – internally I drop into a ball and scream to the world to stop. It never does. I’m not sure how you’d mother me through that. Generally speaking, we are a deep breath and carry on family. You had what is politely known as ‘a lot of grit.’ That’s hard to live up to.

Anyway, I see a lot a people now, grief has many faces, so many guises. It affects the body too, I didn’t realise that. Muscles remember.

The human body is a wonderful thing, but it can fail in a lot of stupendous ways, not just cancer. Which at first I found shocking. Cancer is all I knew about failure. The millions of tiny processes a body has to perform, of which  we aren’t even aware – they can fail, go off kilter, they just go rogue.

Is it weird that I find that comforting? It’s weird, I know it is. But very few bodies function as the manufacturer (or evolution) intended. We are all walking around with a dodgy chip, or a wonky bolt,  a chemical malfunction. Very often all three. Yet here we all are, living life the best we can. Walking, working, loving the best we can – getting massages even.

I have been told that I have walked with death much closer than most my age, this past decade I guess, perhaps thats why I find bodies so infinitely fascinating. I do you know, find every body fascinating. Like coming back to an area, somehow familiar, but with only a very old map. It’s the same but different. If I’m very lucky I can get those muscles to tell me their secrets, give up a little of the sadness they remember.

I remember washing you, the last morning you were here. I remember every freckle, and scar. Those massive clavicle dips, you would tease, you kept pepper in. At least, I think, I remember it all.

I’m not sure I’ll have children myself. Yet, for an hour at a time, I get to mother another human’s body, to comfort it. Not necessarily their mind but the rest of them. I coax it, nudge it, soothe it, so I guess something of the mothering has stuck.

Skin and muscles and tissue and blood and bone. The substance of life. So beautiful, and I get to work with it every day.

I love you. I remember what I need to, sometimes that’s just snatches on a whiff of perfume. Sometimes that’s all we get.

I hope the stars are fine this year.


ps. Whatever you do don’t watch the news – the world has gone crazy, don’t worry, the good people are working on it.