I realise that slowly, over the past year – and particularly the last six months, worry, distress, fear, despair and unknowing have been tightening their screws on me. Incrementally. I have been rushed, irritable, stressed, strung out – and it is only now, thirty-plus days into my grieving, that I feel little parts of me that were wound up drum tight, slackening off. All of this is new. The process. Life after my dad.
Everything is a process. Slowly slotting back into the everyday stuff – birthdays, toy library duty, work – today while we were out the Smalls had been incredibly patient and well behaved while I got my hair done. (They are not always this way, and on one memorable occasion, my hairdresser – who also teaches hairdressing and is no stranger to pulling rank – told them to get out of the salon until they could behave. Which I thought was fine.)
But today they were angelic. And my immediate idea was to take them to the fancy bakery and get them their favourite icy-poles. Luckily, my mouth stayed shut while my brain kept going – past the “food as treat” and on to… “You guys were soooo patient all that time! Why don’t we go exploring on the beach?!” “Yes! Yes!!” And that is what we did.
My brain, clagged with worry and fatigue, has started very slowly to move. Basically this depends on sleep. I have started circumventing being awoken during the night (even as I type this I know I am jinxing myself) by letting the Smalls take turns. “You can sleep with me tonight, Small Z,” I say, “And Small DB, if you don’t disturb me, you can sleep with me tomorrow night AND… I’ll give you twenty cents.” So far, it’s working. Whatever works.
My dad is never far from my thoughts. The beach where I took the Smalls today? SIx or seven months back he was cycling there with his friend, exploring the boardwalk through the wetlands. Back in the boat we now have RUNNING WATER. Almost every time I hear the pump bellow out at night I think of him coming to stay in our Queensland house for the first time – sleeping on the kitchen floor – right over the equally loud water pump. I talked to him the other day in my head as I put air in the tyres of my Humber and got it started.
I am finding my way. I am beginning to remember.