After 24 hours in transit I have continent hopped, snoozed and flopped and now I am back in Wales and the rest of the world feels far far away, as if I dreamt the distances.
The air here has crisped in my absence, tired leaves carpet the ground and the bushes hang heavy with blackberry droops. Darkness has oozed into the edges of the days and the dim light says that winter is well on the way.
I enjoy it all because I know I am leaving. The slugs trail out novelty hieroglyphs for me. The slate skies seems dignified, elegant in their restraint. The wet slap of cold air feels like an old friend and my bed feels warmer now the nights are brisker.
Everything is overlaid with other impressions, made a little more special in comparison. I am giddy with the simple pleasures of drinking out of the tap, showering with my mouth open, having the freedom of a well-stocked pantry and the run of a supermarket. I have eaten more biscuits than makes any sense.
Of course dad is not here. This home coming is another first without him. The first time I landed in an airport and did not call. The first time that the pile of presents was a little smaller.
I was braced for the blow. I am practised. I pull the plaster slowly and unpack the pain a thought at a time, in moments when I have strength to spare and the space to fall apart a little. I have tried to leave room for mourning.
This afternoon, my brother and I went up to the little church hidden in the hills where my deeply irreligious family go to remember. We sat awkwardly in each others silences, unwilling to go too far into our own.
I flicked back through the pages of the visitors’ book and felt almost angry with all the names that have marked out the time that’s passed since he last wrote his name. I didn’t want their Sunday drives, school trips and weekend walks to push him further back. As if a few pencil strokes could widen the distance between there and here.
Just as he came with us to remember his mum and dad, now we will go to think of him with them.
Raging at the curve of a circle as it closes seems as futile as asking the summer to linger and the evenings to stay on light and long. The seasons will still pass. So I let my anger blow over me and lose itself in the shifting dance of leaded glass and shadow.
Death is painted on the wall. Him and his scythe have glowered there for centuries before I came, before the visitors’ book, peering through the paint when he fell out of fashion. No doubt he will scowl on when I am just a breath of dust and, strangely, there is a kind of peacefulness in that thought.
Each leaf falls like a lifetime, a one time dance drawing fleeting beauty on a falling wind. Everything is special, precious, because I know that I am leaving. I too am drifting on a dying breeze but other winds will rise.