Sunday, 27 July 2008

Packing and crying

We are leaving Belgium in two weeks time. I first came here sixteen years ago. My husband has lived here for twenty years. We love our house here and Brussels is a wonderful city in so many ways. But we're going .... I know it's right. We badly need to start again and we can't do that here. At the moment I'm packing all day, every day. Our house is big and we are very untidy people. I'm taking car loads of stuff around to the charity shop. I know that this has to happen but it is so, so hard. Everything I touch is charged with some huge emotional significance - and I haven't even got to all that baby stuff in the attic yet. But the truth is that the life we used to have in this city came to an end three years ago ....... What we're leaving behind is the shape of a life, not a real life. I just can't think about what is happening. I can't. All I do is tell myself (and everyone else) that we'll come back often - even though I know that we probably won't. Since I got married seven years ago I lost my father and my brother (both of them refuse to speak to anyone in our family), then I lost my daughter, a good friend died of cancer, another is dying of it now, and I'm leaving a city that I love. But life is all about loss, I suppose. And the people who survive best in life are the people who are good at losing things. Well, let's hope practice makes perfect .....

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The motherhood door slamming shut

I suppose every woman comes to a time when she realises that she isn't going to be a mother again. And probably every woman is sad at that time. No woman wants to let go of that part of herself. But for most woman the motherhood door eases shut slowly. Many women I know have two or three children and they know that, in reality, they won't have more. But they don't confront that fact, and they hold onto the baby clothes, and they continue to talk half-heartedly about having another child. And it's probably not until they reach the menopause that they'll really face up to the knowledge that motherhood is over. The problem for me is that the motherhood door has slammed shut suddenly. And also, unlike most women, I can't even comfort myself with the thought that, after all, I had my fair innings. Because I didn't. For me, motherhood was over before it had really got going. And now it's like I'm going through the menopause early. I've been trying to find some small upside in this and, on a good day, I can just about succeed. The upside is this: if you're in your mid fifties when you have to let go of motherhood then it's hard to start re-making your life at that time. I'm going to have to re-make my life now (aged 41) and I do still have time for that. I am still young enough to start a new life and I think I will find one to start. Except that just now I don't have the energy or confidence for it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


I've been going to see a counsellor ever since our daughter died. Today the counsellor finished the session by saying, 'Would you perhaps feel ready now to write a letter to Laura saying good-bye to her?' I said without hesitation, 'No, I wouldn't.' Is it just me or was her question really stupid? To me it seems stupid for two reasons. Firstly, Laura is dead so why would I be saying good bye to someone who is dead? I said good bye to her three years ago. Secondly, even if the counsellor was asking me to say good bye to the memory my daughter, I still find it a stupid question. Because I'm never going to say good bye to the memory of my daughter. If I live to be ninety I won't do that. Why would I? I had her name tattooed on my foot specifically so that the memory would always be with me. I feel really let down by the fact that the counsellor said this. I now suspect that, in her own mind, she has perhaps spent three years waiting for me to get to the stage when I can write this letter. But if that's the case then all of our meetings have been based on a fundamental misunderstanding. I really feel like it's time for me to stop wasting my time and money. I used to be a big believer in counselling but now I'm not. I think counselling maybe useful for problems which do have a solution. My problem doesn't have a solution so I don't really know what counselling can acheive.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

What is lost?

One thing my experiences have taught me is that, when you suffer a loss, it is important to work out what the loss really is. What part of the loss is truly sad and painful and hard to bear - and what part of it only involves waving good-bye to things you didn't care about anyway? I ask myself those kind of questions often at the moment. It works like this. A few days ago I went into one of those mega toy stores which house acres of beeping, plastic, electronic, sexual-stereotyping crap. I was looking for a bike for my six year old son. But, of course, as luck would have it, I had to walk through the baby department to get to the bikes. And there were all the baby toys ..... And, predictably, I was ambushed by emotion and tears rushed down my face as I realised that I'll never buy baby things again. And then just as I was about to start out down the road of two-days-weeping-at-the-bottom-of-the-bed, I pulled myself up short and thought it through. Actually the truth is that I can't bear those huge mega toy stores. They make me feel sick. They're all about want, want, want. Yuck. So I don't need to cry about the fact that I have no reason to go into a baby store any more. I just need to cry about the loss of my daughter and my two miscarried babies. They are the only loss that matters.