I have coffee in my hand. I’m sitting in my favorite chair by the window with the view of the woods bathed today in beautiful sunshine. My iPad buzzes. It’s my Dad wanting FaceTime. With a characteristic squeal the picture stabilizes to a view of the white wooden door with aprons hanging from it, the wall crammed with paintings, the thick red curtain and the tiny round table in the kitchen in my parents house in Halesworth. My Dads smiling face beams at me as he tells me of the warmth of everyone there welcoming him home. I am glad for him. I really am.
But when I sign off there are tears in my eyes because I couldn’t shake the desire, all through the chat, to ask him to go get mum. The way he always did, but never will again. She won’t bustle in and tell him to get on with cooking or interrupt to tell me about ‘Halesworth in Bloom’ or the Hooker Bicentenary or insist he ‘turns the TV down”. No. Now it is Dad that tells me the Hooker Rhododendrons have died, there is no TV on and he is waiting to cook supper till after he talks to me. The elaborate Steamed Sea Bass and Samphire or Porcini Garlic Risotto meals he used to make for mum replaced by ‘Mushroom Soup”.
Sitting there after the call ends I take my final sip of, now almost cold, coffee and wonder if I will ever get over losing mum.
Later My friend and I talk about it as we walk my dog around the comfortingly British feeling old golf course. We agree that you can divide the world into those who have lost their mothers and those who haven’t. Until you cross that divide you can never really imagine how empty the other side feels: like a missing limb or the broken unstable ground after an earthquake.
The feeling of loss has built since Dad left. But last night I dreamt my mum reappeared. She told me that she had had to pretend to be dead because of some course that I had enrolled on, but she was back now. I told her how I had missed her and hugged her really hard feeling all the soft warm solidity of her, breathing in her flowery scent and thinking, as I always did, how beautiful she was in her elegant layered clothes and coordinated jewelry. It felt so good to do that. Even in a dream.