I’ve been back in the country for a little over a week. In that time I took two days to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I watched TV. I went for a run/walk. I slept. A lot. I cooked for myself. I tried not to think about the impending school year and how much I had to do to prepare myself, and instead tried to regroup after a very full and emotional seven weeks.
It was worth it. Now, a week later, I have had my first teaching day at my new school and I feel focused and ready for the year.
Being away on a trip like that is like being in another world. Your brain works in such a different way, and in those few days I let myself just be here without thinking about anything, so that now, I can work. I’m still yawning a fair bit, but if I’m honest with myself I’d be doing that anyway.
Amongst all this business, the craziness of the new school year and arriving home from my trip, I know that the anniversary of Eva’s death is creeping closer.
I have been doing a diastasis recti fitness series recently (finally decided to get those stomach muscles sewn up, almost two years later) and when I lie on the group doing my deep breathing, I look up and see Eva on the wall in her outside bath. It was this time last year that she was doing so well. In one photo she’s looking serious and thoughtful and in the next minute she’s throwing her head back to smile as the dog licks her cheek. I lie on the ground and in the heat of my lounge I can put myself back in that summer, momentarily.
The summer had been so good to us and Eva was blooming. She was making big leaps and bounds with her development and I was too, with my ability to cope with it all.
A year ago I felt confident in us. Happy with who we were as a unit. I was so in love with her and so proud of everything she was doing. I was back at work, and while I was worried about whether it was going to be something I could maintain with all her appointments and surgeries, I was loving the time I had with her from when I picked her up from her in-home day care to when I put her to bed. I would race home to put her in a luke warm tub outside to cool off. And then we’d lie about, her rolling and pushing up on the carpet, practicing her moves, me relaxed on the couch or the floor next to her, less athletic than her after a hot day at work. We were doing so well.
I remember when she died someone said to me how unfair the timing of it all seemed. They commented that just when I had put my head up above the parapet, I was being shot at again. And they were right. It was unfair. I still feel angry about that. I suppose I always will. But alongside that anger I am very grateful that I figured it out in time to have those six months with her, to see those developments and that potential. To witness it as her mother first hand, not from afar, not as a visitor.
I am grateful that I had that time at all, and that I got to be the one who was with her almost a year ago when she died.
Because while her death will always be unfair, it would have just about killed me if I had heard about her death from someone else with her not in my care. If I had had that news delivered to me, rather than delivering it myself, as her caregiver, her mother. The one her knew her best.