Saturday, February 17, 2007


Funny how all of a sudden something snaps and you have to do it. That thing you've been promising yourself for weeks. That thing you've been both longing for and dreading in terms of the effort involved.

I woke up knowing I'd reached the point of no return. The Bim offered me a deal: two hours lie-in for him, a late morning swim - my 'thing' -for me.

I love water. It heals me. Always has done.

The pool was new to me, not my local, which was closed for a Gala. It was pleasing, though. A low Fifties building with a sloping, wood-beamed roof and long windows of darkened glass filtering the sharp, sunlit day outside. The water was a tad colder than I'd anticipated, which made me swim hard from the outset. I had my goggles (The world is purple, Mummy! cried Anna-mouse when she put them on this morning), helping me to focus on the task and forget the few swimmers around me.

I soon fell into a steady rhythm. Gleaming skeins of light danced beneath me on the bottom of the pool. I remembered swimming when pregnant; how they were really the only times I felt beautiful carrying Anna-mouse, the water lifting my load and making me light and fast and free.

And then the rhythmic pull, pull of my breaststroke, and the occasional reach and kick of my crawl began to work on me in a different way. Slowly my body began to give up its most recent secrets. Those thoughts I have been holding all week somewhere, some place about my person - but nowhere previously accessible - came, inexorably, to the fore and made themselves known.

I began to think about death. I suppose it was inevitable, given that I was doing the thing I have always used to reconnect myself to myself. I wondered which way the year is going to go. I wondered whether I will be required to grieve. I felt like the child I am, hearing my own voice phrased like an Anna-mouse: I don't WANT to have to go through this! I don't WANT to feel sad! I don't WANT my mother to die!

Only on the way home did I cry, driving myself back to my loved ones, James Blunt's haunting, quivering tenor wailing along with me. I read once in a rather trite self-help book that it's good to let yourself cry on a timer. Give yourself ten minutes to howl your heart out, be as indulgent as you like, let it all out, then get on with your life. What a great piece of advice that is for someone like me, who used to cry for England. The journey was just long enough to empty my heart of its current ache and stock up on a few deep breaths before re-entering the general fray of life where I get to be the mother, not the child.

All day my body has held the swim, swim, sway of the water, though, and is better for it.



Rachel Whetzel said...

Such a nice thing to clense the soul. I would not want to face death either in this way. I'm praying for your load to be bearable.


Livvy U. said...

Thanks so much for your support, Rachel x