My brother rang me in Bangkok where I had placed a prayer wheel on the altar of the golden Buddha lit incense in that foreign space hoping for some efficacy and any gamble worth a try
I have no right to this grief. That is what I’ve been told over and over again by those of my family who are the most qualified to know. After all I was only two when she died. I have no memory of her face, her voice, the warmth of her hands. There are no lingering memories of regretful goodbyes playing on the fringes of my mind. I don’t see her in the crowd and run to her side only to offer tearful and embarrassed apologies to a woman who, on closer inspection, could never be her at all. I don’t close my eyes on a flood of images that centre on hospital beds, beeping machines or hands grown cold, with any sense of desperation. I didn’t, full of pain, wish it to be over only to feel that I would do anything to have her back again later.
I do not master well this art of losing— last year our Dad, and now the house is sold. Instinctively, I grieve for all that’s passing. So many homes we’ve had—we’re used to moving— yet strange to see Mum taking charge alone. We pack and sweep, distracted from our losing.
All I can do is sit by your bed and watch you die. I don’t yet know that what I am feeding you will become your last meal on this earth.
I used to be a selfish man. Never cruel or avaricious; merely unaccustomed to living outside myself. That all changed the moment you arrived. There you were, the very best of me, a tiny bundle full of promise and possibilities.
You, c-shaped, ankles crossed under a piano stool, suspended notes, pages the colour of weak tea, cases buckled, black and stiff. Rememberings—the kitchen
Today I had a call from the young woman who used to be my kind and loving daughter. The special ring tone that I reserve for her calls punches me hard in the middle of my chest. I take a deep breath and press ‘accept’. It’s what I am trying to do—accept her for who she is now. “Hi Mum!” “Hello Darling, how are you today?” “Fine. Can I borrow your car? I need to pick up my stuff from a friend’s place.”