The memoir is done, as far as I can take it. Now it needs the care of an agent and an editor within a publishing house to help send it out into the world. I’m slowly piling up the rejections, each one a little badge of honour, showing that I’m trying. Here’s just a flavour of one of the chapter’s that tells my timeline. next time, I’ll post a piece from Dan’s timeline.
This is the end of Chapter 11
Sunday 10th June 2018
I visit the allotment. It has been strimmed back and is now an enormous plot of tufted scrubland and I cannot do anything with it. I sit in the sunshine there, propped on a wall. This was supposed to be my place to escape to, something to transfer my nurturing capacity towards as Dan spent more time occupied in other increasingly grown-up ways, with other people. Now it is just a space that is not home, neutral. I dig over some clumps, shift thorny strands of bramble. It is just something to occupy time. Nobody disturbs me.
I pick bits of dirt from my nails as I try to compose words to say on Tuesday. I know it’s only a small gathering, but I want to make sure we have something to follow. It’s more difficult than I thought. How do I sum up a life that was still blossoming? How do I pick the best bits? Every single day was another best bit, a life that was still accumulating meaning, developing promise. I see Dan diving for Euros in a pool in Majorca at seven years old; sitting up in my bed in cosy pyjamas playing a spiderman game on my phone as an eight-year-old. I remember him twiddling my hair as I read stories to him on the settee as a two-year-old. I see him laughing with friends as he climbed into the car for a lift home after playing football aged thirteen. Out of the millions of moments, how do I choose?
This is madness. What am I doing? I make a mental note to research poems about love, and grief, when I get home.
Monday 11th June 2018
The book beside my bed has not been moved since the morning we left for Manchester. It lies splayed, spine creased. I flip it over, close it, and it bounces back against my palm. Two weeks of lying prone has left an indelible fold in my second-hand Rebus novel. I open it again. The words stand out from the page, crisp, hard. I understand each one, but the collective meaning melts away. My concentration has no power to even lift a sentence. Reading, my favourite pastime, is out of reach now. The letterbox rattles downstairs and I take the book with me, press it into a tight gap on an already full shelf, before picking up what the postman has delivered.
More condolence cards. The bookshelves are filling up. I move the Mothers’ Day card Dan bought me in March, to give more room. The awfulness of this makes me shudder.
I drive to the supermarket. The car windscreen is dusty. As I squirt water at it, there is a grinding noise and the wipers move once and then clunk back. Repeated attempts fail to move them. I drive to Morrison’s anyway. There are more flowers on the lamppost. I collect my shopping – is this all I need, again? – and then to the garage that serviced my car earlier this year. I explain the wiper problem, and we book the car in for Wednesday. I just have to pray it doesn’t rain tomorrow. I don’t want to have to order a cab to my son’s cremation.