Friday, August 29, 2008


She talks, and it's like listening to my own thoughts.

We have known each other since we were eleven, and I want to hear, yet can hardly bear to hear, what she has to say. I know that her clear-sighted pragmatism, softened at the edges by her love, will be far too like the words I don't want to bring to the forefront of my brain.

We are in Suffolk on a short break, our two girls asleep upstairs. Each of us is curled up at one end of the sofa, clutching wine glasses and discussing the awfulnesses of the past week in quiet tones. The cottage is like an old friend, too, and I know that I can just about live these moments within its warm, containing walls. When I speak my stomach lurches as I let the words out into the air, but they need to be tested in this kindest of environments, with this kindest of arbiters: I give her a glance and understand what it means that she is allowing them to pass.

Earlier today I swam in the sea. A seagull wheeled above me and a long, long way down the shore one other lone swimmer bobbed. It was not a sunny seaside day. It was grey and blowy. Strangers stopped to applaud my water entry, for God's sake, on hearing my cold water screams.

I thought it might be cathartic, and it was. For the first time since the Bim said those words last week, I felt free. I was not on dry land anymore, where he was. I was somewhere else, separate, swimming, gasping with cold.

Afterwards my hair was matted. My arms were tight with salt. But it was worth it, for those few, short moments of respite.


Elsie Button said...

Hi Livvy, have been reading through and am so sorry to hear all this. beautifully written yet utterly heartbreaking. i just don't know what to say. Am thinking of you x

Flowerpot said...

I love that feeling when your skin is tight with salt - makes you feel all tingly afterwards. Take care Livvy. Have you tried reading Mary Wesley? I find her very cathartic at times like this.

Heidi said...

You capture beauty and pain in such exquisite, heartrending gems of expression. Thinking of you.

Marianne said...

You write so beautifully Livvy. And I feel so much for what you are going through, having been there myself, but without the language to express it.

Whatever you do, don't stop writing.

Thinking of you.

Heidi said...


Thank you so much for your wonderful message. I’m so glad we can read each other! Yours was one of the first blogs that inspired me--over a year ago--in its simplicity and authenticity, and I felt I got to know you through it, and felt very privileged to be able to do so. I'd like to link to your blog as well if you wouldn't mind.

Posting here so you'll be sure to find this.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you. I hope you find time for yourself - at times like this friends who know you inside out are what you need. Beautifully written, thanks for being brave enough to express what you are feeling.