Today, out walking, I stumbled on the other side of distance.
It was a nothing, the dog pitter-pattering down a jetty alongside me, clouds scooting overhead. I’d forgotten everything but the gurgle of the river when memory tripped and blind sided me.
I was back in the weeks before dad died, when he’d finally had to accept he was just too weak to walk. He’d agreed to something we thought he’d never accept – a mobility scooter. It seemed practical, sensible, but I understood it was another indignity, just one in a long line of humiliations.
We picked it up grudgingly, an unwelcome guest foisted on our day out, and drove to a nearby lake where the sun shone for us. Dad had a great time whizzing about; laughingly chasing the dog chasing ducks. I was so proud of him for getting past his sense of all that was not; for enjoying the little freedom, grabbing it even though it was so much less than enough.
This odd unbidden memory splashed over me like a bucket of ice water. There, standing on the river bank sobbing, with the deeply confused dog bouncing around me like a jumping bean. I couldn’t see what in this happy memory (or at worst happy-sad) made me cry
Then I realised I had unearthed another goblin to wrestle. There is part of me that plain does not want to let go, that sees moving on as a betrayal, a disloyalty to love. The recognition that I have moved on a just little has flushed this cranky critter out of the safety of its’ cave,so now it’s vengefully poking me back into pain.
When I mulled, I realised that a chunk of me still denies with every fibre of my being that there will not be another happy-sad day with my dad. It is utterly illogical and yet makes perfect sense.
But I don’t want to be stuck and to journey through grief, to get anywhere but here, I have to accept, have to let go a little, like it or not.
So it seems I am plural – whilst walking the dog. How ridiculous. Of course I don’t want to let go and of course I have to. I felt so at odds with myself that I could have shouted at and had myself shout right back. That spectacle would have certainly raised the odd eyebrow!
Thankfully another memory rose, this time in a bubble of gentleness. Dad and I were sitting in a coffee shop talking about what was to come. He’d asked me not to cry, looked at me with shiny eyes and said, with his usual choked understatement, ‘believe me, I don’t like any of it either but there is just no choice”.
Maybe I will use that as my line for negotiating with this goblin, my broken off self – there must be some way to talk sense to it!