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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Borrowed time

Fifteen minutes to describe what it is like to be you.

Okay so this is an idea borrowed from another blog, who borrowed the idea from another blog, who borrowed the idea from a writing course. If I could remember where I’d borrowed the idea I’d put in a link, but as I can’t remember my age (useful) or how many times an hour I repeat the journey to the kitchen and stand gazing into the fridge trying to spot non-existent chocolate cake amongst the 0 % fat yoghurts and once fresh broccoli spears, it’s not going to happen. Ah well, as my Mr Sunshine likes to say ‘There is no such thing as an original idea.’

                If you were me:

                Your first sense of the new day would be a sense of loss. The lost is the dream you’re losing your grip on. In your dreams, your always thirty five, slim, adventurous, and all the people you’ve loved are still alive. Some people say you can’t dream of the dead, but you do and you don’t like losing them again.

                Your second sense is one of horror, what foul creature crawled into your open mouth during the night?

Your third sense is one of horror too, as you remember your mouth has tasted like this every morning since you were thirty five years old.

Grabbing the glass of water by your bed you forget to lift your head from the pillow, water spills in two rivers away from your mouth and soaks the pillow, again.

The sound of heavy breathing reaches your ears and something damp nudges your hand, Mr Sunshine?  Nope – Alfie, and the heavy breathing means you have to get up NOW. Alfie can manage several hours (unlike you) without the need for a toilet visit, but once the heavy breathing starts you know you’ve only got minutes before disaster. You find your clothes quickly and tiptoe out of the bedroom, bypass the bathroom and deodorant (big mistake) and get dressed in the hall. Orange snow coat and beanie hat are a Godsend at this time in a morning, not only to keep warm, but to hide a multitude of fashion and hair sins.

Damp deserted Breda
It’s seven am, the streets are deserted (the Dutch in Breda don’t do early), and Alfie is on a mission. You’re dragged passed the remnants of last night’s party at the Hijgend Hert, into the Boschstraat and across the main road. Thank God there is no traffic this morning, because Alfie can’t wait for no traffic signals. In the park he barely glances at the wildlife in his rushes to reach his designated toilet.

Once Alfie's uncurled from his question mark, you move on. It’s important in the designated toilet not to lift your eyes from the ground, but you do. Two young men cycle quickly past, you’re about to shout out when your foot lands in something a little mushier than the soft grass – it feels like déjà vu.
Never! look up

It’s lucky you didn’t shout out, because the two young men were not your sons, your sons are hundreds of miles away working in the UK, not cycling through a Dutch park at seven am on a damp morning.  It’s amazing how many times a day something triggers a memory of Richard and John, the park alone provides a million reminders. The wild rabbits there take you back to Mother’s day several years ago, and a fluffy bunny holding the trophy, The world’s best mum,  a present from John, that still sits in your bedroom with your other treasures. Every morning when you see the chickens running around the park, you’re reminded of the day Richard endured countless scratches, scrambling through the bushes in Breda, trying to take the perfect shot of the Chickens sitting in the trees for one of your first blogs.

You start to walk back towards your practical apartment, blind to utilitarian residences and the emerging inhabitants of Breda. Instead your vision has been taken over by memories. Memories of two small boys trembling with excitement on Christmas morning, of a whispered ‘I know Father Christmas isn’t real, but let’s not spoil it for my brother.’ Images of those two beautiful boys growing into handsome young men deserving of so much, crowd your mind.

You try to keep your face hidden from Mr Sunshine back in the apartment; but it’s pointless.

‘Look at me.’ he says.

Fighting to keep the tears from falling, you do.

‘What’s wrong?’ Mr Sunshine asks, even though he knows.

‘I’m just sad.’

That’s all you need to say, he knows because you’ve been through this a thousand times. No amount of reasoning on his behalf will ever make you believe you were a good enough mother.

The rest of the day flows pretty much the same way the rest of them do, you study, you write, you try to cook, you and Mr Sunshine will eat too much and talk about the Derbyshire hills. Underneath all this are your constant companions, guilt and the awareness that time with your children was only borrowed, and you didn't get a second chance to do it right. You hope your children have forgiven you, your many mistakes, because it’s a certainty that you never will.

Richard and John

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