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the legacy of loss.

The Legacy of Loss: my mother’s legacy.

A book I read recently described how the author presented herself around the time of losing her mother, quoting a column, ‘For a long time, it was all you needed to know about me, a kind of vest-pocket description of my emotional complexion: ‘Meet you in the lobby in ten minutes – I have long brown hair, am on the short side, have on a red coat, and my mother died when I was nineteen’.’ She continues, ‘It was the core of my identity, my very state of being’ (Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss – Hope Edelman). Over the past year that is exactly how I have felt. To call it a ‘legacy’ seems a strange way to describe a loss, but that’s exactly what it is. Despite everything else, that is what you left with, what you are granted, the ‘understanding’ of having such a loss. To have a loss like this means that you feel that it is stamped across you, that is apparently obvious to everyone you meet. You feel like it is so much an intense part of you, you are surprised really when someone doesn’t know or doesn’t see it. You feel like they should. It is as much a part of you as the colour of your eyes, or the size of your feet. It can’t be changed or altered, not in the slightest. Something like this doesn’t happen without leaving you permanently changed. No matter what you do, it will change you, your fundamental being. Of course it does. It is everything you’ve ever known and your whole life changing, in an instant, never to be the same again.

Even now, I look back at the last year and wonder how I did it. How I had the strength to carry on in the way I did and pretend that everything was okay, when really it wasn’t. It was never okay. But I pretended to make sense of it and pretended that it was. Because that was easier. It was easier to fit in to everyone else’s agenda than make my own. I still don’t make sense of it. I’m still pretending. Maybe I always will be.

If she had still been there I may have been content to sit in my room and do nothing – I don’t know. You can never tell the way something might have been if it was different. Because who really knows? In the end it’s not down to you. You can’t control the world, nor God. There must be a reason. You have to keep telling yourself that it must be a really good reason for all this to happen, but there can’t not be a point to it all. You have to be positive – and strong.

I’m glad I somewhere found the confidence to go do all that, all that I did.

But the thing is, it’s not just about that. It’s more than that.

It’s missing someone who is so central and fundamental to life – or at least the lives that we live here in this culture. Unless it has happened to you, it doesn’t cross many people’s minds that it could have happened. It’s just not something you take into consideration when talking to someone, or even when designing a marketing campaign, or a global holiday. It’s like the centre of our family has fallen out and it’s up to us to re-centre it, without anyone knowing how or why. It’s like a part of yourself has gone missing, and you’re waiting for it to come back, not quite able to realise that it won’t. It’s hard for anyone else to understand – no matter what they say.

It’s still impossible for me to quite put it all into words. I have tried many a time, to understand it all, to know what this is. But I really don’t know. I don’t know if I ever will. I can keep trying though. And I will, keep trying.


Latest Month

October 2010

quotes and things

“He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm and the heart of the sun…

He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of the time and he can see the turn of the universe…and he’s wonderful.”

“They say you’re supposed to talk to people when they’re in a coma, don’t they? I have absolutely no idea whether you can hear me Jack.

I never heard of anyone coming out of one and carrying on the conversation. So I suspect it’s probably something the doctors tell us to do. To make us feel better, rather than help you. We don’t feel quite so useless and helpless. We get the feeling there’s still some sort of purpose in our lives. We’re not just waiting. Waiting for the science to work. Or the miracle to happen. Or the nightmare to end.

I’m not much of a talker Jack, you know that, but I’ll talk to you now on the off chance that it helps.

Just promise me, if you’re hearing this, that when you come round - and you’re going to Jack. You’re gonna come out of this - just promise me you’ll bring up anything I say to you now. How’s that? We got a deal?

This must be the longest I’ve ever looked at you and not see you smile. I’ve watched you in your sleep, did you know that? So many times.

Just woken up beside you in the middle of the night, and watched you. Watched your eyes move behind your eyelids as you dreamed. I tried to imagine what a man like you could possibly dream about. Things you’ve seen. The lives you’ve lived. The people you’ve loved. I wondered if you were dreaming about me, I hoped you’d be dreaming about me.

But let’s be honest Jack. I’m nothing more than a blip in time for you. Everyday I grow a little older. But you’re immortal. You’ve already lived a thousand lifetimes. How could you watch me grow old and die? How can I watch you live and never age a day?

I suppose we both know that will never be a problem. Not in this job. No-one in Torchwood ever lives to draw their pension, do they? Even if, by some miracle, I survive to see my hair turn grey, or god forbid fall out, I don’t kid myself that you’d still be around to see it.

One day you’ll go again, just like you did before, and this time you won’t be back.

Maybe that’s what you’re dreaming about those nights when I watch you sleeping. Maybe that’s why, even when you sleep, I see you smile. But you haven’t gone yet, Jack. I know that. I know you’re coming back to me.”

"But you never will be just a blip in time, Ianto Jones. Not for me."
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