Help the jaded.

Out of the shadows of the reapers expansive cloak: I can see that life is exactly where I left it. People are moving forward and making plans as if there will never be an end to all this. People are still doing shit, getting married, having babies, getting new jobs and buying houses. How would the economy cope without them, the people who believe in annual upgrades of everything. And there are things that make me happy too, sure there are. Phil making me tea and toast every single morning. The way he always tells me I’m gorgeous and that he loves me. The way he laughs when I slag people off that he tells me about. I’m happy the world is still moving, that people are still positive and doing stuff. I really am, and even though you wont believe it, I do smile with them and for them.

My cousin had a beautiful baby girl recently. She is SO fucking cute. I haven’t seen her in the real world but I have seen photos and she is just the loveliest little creature. I couldn’t begrudge anyone having her in their life, especially not my cousin who always took me everywhere with her when I was a kid. I’m happy about that. My brother-in-law is getting married too next month. Out of all my husband’s siblings, I’ve had the most to do with him. And honestly, for his sins, I would still take him for my very own brother any day of the week. His wife to be: a classic beauty but not the vapid sort that has little personality and no gumption about her. She’s feisty and strong and all the things a woman needs to be. They’re good together. You can just tell. And I’m so happy about their wedding. I’ll even shave my legs, why not. Another friend of mine is moving out with her boyfriend, a lovely chap by all accounts who does seem to be better than the parsnip idiot she dated years ago and the other awkward sulky little fuck that’s still breastfeeding from his mother. Another friend is now engaged to be married and I’ve yet to hear all the exciting details of it. And so there are things that give me hope. There are things that cheer me up. Mainly the joyous skirt-floating glee of other people’s lives, but none the less, there are things. And I hope that I too have some more happiness to come. More cheery news on the horizon for my future. Not just doom and fucking gloom till the day I die. Let’s hope.

A sister-friend of my soul, who once showed an interest in my boyfriend at the time till she realised she liked me better, has recently split from her partner. She came home and the fucking spineless coward had moved out. The amazing thing about this story isn’t that there once was a man who left his partner because he felt his freedom had been restricted for too long: but that my friend is coping perfectly well without him. And why am I surprised that my beautiful, poetic, nihilistic friend is fine without the man she planned to be with forever? And for her, thoughts of death are almost like the buddhist thing about the bird on the shoulder ‘will I die today: how have I lived?’ The woman who takes comfort in the indifference of the universe and texted me today to say that the idea of extinction makes her so happy, why should it surprise me that she doesn’t rage against the dying of any light. I seldom envy someone for their mindset, but in this instance, I’ll make an exception.

Trying to rewire my feelings and my cupboard-monster fears about the possibility of extinction, it occurred to me that the kind of cancer my dad has is not curable. Just popped in there whilst on the way back from another of my dad’s hospital appointments. After the wonderful conversations and tea I’d been having in the cafe with Phil while we waited. After I’d knitted one side of the tea cosy I’ve been making. After I stared at Phil’s face for the millionth time and thought how tragically painfully handsome he is. Not the sort of handsome that feels easy to cope with, the kind of handsome that stirs everything inside of you, makes you want to tear out of yourself and flatten against a wall. The kind of handsome that makes me so completely able to bare the pain and sadness of anything just for lifetime after lifetime locked in this excruciating happiness with him.

No one has said it to me outright, but I know. Hidden behind the euphemistic hopefulness that people veil bad news in, I saw it again: the promise of death forever looming. And if that’s not the most fucking depressing sentence I’ve ever written then I don’t know what is. But let’s face it, with a blog of mine, you’re spoilt for choice on the depressing sentence front *wink*. But within himself he seems so well. So positive and cheery and…happy. And I can safely say, it’s not a front for I’ve seen my dad when he’s depressed and he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near it. I saw a document on the first day they began chemotherapy. It contained the word ‘palliative’ and in my stupidity and eagerness to have misunderstood that word, I looked to my mum for some of that hope that she seems to have an ubundance of. And she talked around the facts as she understood them and somewhere between the lines, I misread that as long as dad had this treatment, he would be completely cured in good time. But some truths wont stay hidden, and sometimes it’s hard not to let things slip, especially when you’re as used to honesty as my mother is. So I’ve been collaging all the bits of information that made the prettiest picture together and hanging them on the wall in my head. For once, I didn’t google anything, didn’t ask any questions, just went along steadily from one hospital appointment to the next, unquestioning, not pushing it as I usually do. Of course my mum wouldn’t tell me that outright because of course she’s not letting it sink in either. She’s like that. Deals with things as they come and has faith that really in this life, anything can happen. And for a while, I returned back to the reassurance of my mum and the fact that if she’s smiling then it’s safe for me to smile too. What’s the alternative for her? To tell her only child that their father could die? Who can say that and keep moving on? No one. And am I being overly dramatic for the sake of my prose? I wish. Am I being overly depressing just to squirt out a few of my own hard-to-come-by tears as I type? No. These are just the little tiny stitches of life, the small but frightening words that make up our stories. The thunder-clap in our own inevitable storms. And I’m not depressed, even through all my miserablising, I’m really not. I can work and function and smile and laugh. And from what I understand of it anyway, depression is not necessarily a sad situation that happens which results in your sad emotions but a cloud that comes and goes randomly raining more on some people’s souls than others. Mostly, for no reason at all so it would seem. Just because they are them and that’s their lot in life.

So you see, the lives of others move on. Happily and rightly so. And as jaded and bitchy as I am, I am genuinely happy to bask with them in their bliss as they have done in mine many times before. But others have their sadness. I’m attuned to it. And I worry for others as well as myself. A gorgeous lady I know has a husband who’s in the army. A soldier. And I worry for her, even though I don’t like to think of armys and how I feel about war. I worry for her and really hope that they retire together when they’re old with their thousands of grandchildren both of them perfectly in tact. I worry for Phil’s parents and the stresses they are under. I worry for my mum and the burden that she bares with such a gentle un-complaining strength. I worry for my two depressed friends, who battle to keep hold of themselves when something within tries to tear them apart. And to list all the things I’m suspicious of, that I am concerned about, that I refuse to take comfort in, would be another blog in itself. And so you see it’s not just the aged that ought to get help and charitable donations, but the jaded. School children somewhere ought to collect tins of peaches for them too. xxx

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Nostalgia: a pain from an old wound-for my Yiayia.

On easter bank holiday a few years ago, my grandmother died. I think it was on the monday while I was eating chucky eggs with Phil. In my nightdress, with my bare toes enjoying the early morning sunlight, the phone rang and my mum told me the news. For a while I couldn’t eat chucky eggs. Now I still do, but every time I have one, I think of my grandmother. After all, don’t eggs represent more than just easter? And how appropriate a time for the most magical woman I have known to pass away.

A few nights before she died I had a dream. But it felt so incredibly real. I dreamt she was sitting at the end of my bed in my flat and I woke up startled to see her. I asked her what she was doing there and she told me she was fed up on this place and wanted to go off to see my grandfather and her sister….on the other side. I told her not to go anywhere till I had telephoned my aunty who lived with her. I woke myself up scrabbling with the duvet to get out of bed. I cried myself back to sleep again consoling myself it was just a dream. When I woke up the second time, I told Phil about the dream and we agreed I would call my aunty just in case. Although it was most likely only a dream, it would put my mind at rest for her to tell me everything was perfectly normal and my grandmother was still alive and bitching at her grandchildren as usual. I texted instead of calling as it was really early in the morning and I didn’t want to wake everyone. About a quarter of an hour after I texted, I got a phone call from my aunt. She’d just returned from the hospital where she’d taken my grandmother.

It was one of those times when I felt weird but in a bad way. I tried to feel positive about the whole thing, positive that she’d pull through, be ok, but I couldn’t convince myself. Because of the dream I’d had, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d decided she was bored of this world and ready to move on to another. And when I went to the hospital and saw her, her gorgeous kids all around her, she looked happy to me. Although that’s a fucking stupid thing to say because she was clearly a bit spaced out and a bit uncomfortable, she still did have a kind of smile about her. And I didn’t feel so worried for her anymore. She watched my uncle go over to speak to the doctors and she said in Greek ‘whose that handsome man?’ and my aunty told her it was her son. She seemed to almost laugh at herself. Then she cracked us all up by saying out loud that my aunty’s boyfriend had shit himself ‘o Markos eh shestike bano tou’ and even my English husband Phil laughed.

My grandmother dying was a really big thing for us all. A shift in the world, in the way things would be from then on and I could see it so clearly when I did that reading at the funeral. Wearing the dress I would later give birth in, I stood up and read the most basic and honest thing I’d ever written. I can’t remember what it was but it had a letter from my aunt contained within it and a poem by Christina Rosetti. I read it and I didn’t cry, like I thought I would, because actually I could see how loved my grandmother was. I could see how many people flocked round, people who barely like each other, people who you never see except for at weddings and funerals, people who only knew ofher. But they were all there, for one reason or another and it was clear to see how my grandmother’s family ties extended way beyond just her own family, like plant roots she spread herself out into her community and made people part of eachother. And I swear to god, since that day, I have never seen a flower pot at any of my family’s houses that doesn’t contain at least one plastic toy or shiny stone. A constant reminder of the woman who could make anything grow.

Because my grandmother and I shared the same name: I was always terrified that her death would devastate me. That I would just crumble to dust. But I didn’t. I found a strength in myself that I only ever suspected was there, and I really do believe that it came from her. Even after I’d given birth, I heard Phil telling one of the midwives how my grandmother was an amazing and strong woman. I can’t recall why he was telling her that but it made me smile that he did. And it made me proud of who I am and where I come from in a way that I was too timid to do as a child. As I child I was always drawn to her. Her energy…her confidence…or something. I distinctly recall as a child not wanting to sleep over at my cousin’s house instead of my Yiayia’s because I didn’t think I’d have as much time to spend with her as I would my cousins. Always so hyper aware that she might not be with us for long, and the irony is that as soon as I stopped thinking that, in my complete adulthood, she died. But isn’t that the way. Death comes when you least expect it, and no one will ever know the exact hour it will arrive. Sometimes I’m unconvinced she’s really dead. Not in the actual sense. I feel like she’s lurking with all the other ghosts I know, somewhere in the bottom of my tea cups, fortelling me of things to come. And instead of ‘dead’, I think she’s tiny-big-fragrant and forever.