50/50. Half-and-half. That’s me now. I’m here/not here. I have spent three and half years immersing myself in work and study, doing my best to stay positive and move determinedly forwards from what happened to Dan. I’ve examined the aftermath in journals, in stories, in counselling. But always moving onwards. Like Forest Gump running and running after Jennie dies, till finally one day he just stops. I need to just stop. I need to sit and stare and listen and be.
It’s as though I split into two people the moment I knew Dan had been in an accident. I turned up to KFC expecting to pick him up and take him home. Instead, I found myself speaking to police officers, asking if they’d seen my son. The police officer asked me who Dan banked with. At that second, I knew that they had used his bank card to identify him. That he had been unable to tell them his own name. At that instant, I broke into two. There was the me that was Dan’s mum living in Sheffield who could not quite bring herself to believe that things would turn out to be that bad. And there was the me that took a deep breath and started running. There’s been two of me ever since. The one that people can see, whose face smiles, who works and reads and eats and watches TV and talks about how brilliant Dan was and how proud she is of his organ donations and how she believes Dan would want her to stay positive, get on with life and make the best of every day. Then there’s the atrophied, ragged-footed runner with sunken features and hollowed out heart who’s staggering, limply, on her spindled legs and bloody-stumped feet, still trying to run, still desperate not to stop and accept what really happened.
I look in the mirror and I can see this pale, torn, version glitching in and out of view. A hazy, scratchy simulacrum of me. It’s time to hold her hand and let her rest. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully integrate her with corporeal me, but maybe now she can at least stop running and sit in sad defeat. What I am more sure of is that if I don’t pay her some attention soon, she’ll fall down, breaking every brittle limb, organs turning to dust. And she might well take my sanity too, when she crumbles.
So, I’m taking pre-emptive action and scheduling some time away. Time to really rest, and hopefully to heal. I am counting down the days.