Daily Prompt: Feed Your Senses

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Daily Post prompt: Feed your senses.

Mostly I’m a contented sleeper; I fall asleep easily at night and wake happily enough in the morning. But sometimes – this morning for instance – I wake with a faint shadow of unease, apprehension, something that makes my breath catch and my heart sink a little into my stomach.

When I open my eyes, I know what this feeling is. I see an empty space beside me. I see smooth sheets and pillow; lacking the creases and hollow made by my partner’s head.

I’ve woken up alone twenty out of the last thirty mornings and I will wake up alone for the next eight too. Then my partner of twenty five years will be home – for a while. Maybe a week or two, perhaps more.

He travels because his job requires him to. Although this last month has been worse than most, he still spends about a third of the year sleeping in other beds in other countries –places where I am not.

It’s been like this for a long time. Early in our relationship I travelled – though not nearly as often or for such long periods as he does now. But since our son was a toddler, my partner’s job has taken him away from us so much that I think our son’s school believes the child is being raised by a single parent.

Mostly I don’t think too much about this. I’m accustomed to friends and family opening conversations with “where is he this week?” or “is he in the country at the moment?” I’ve even got used to our son asking the same question. Continue reading

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Daily Prompt: Earworm (learning to be kind to myself #2)

Sometimes I think I’ve let someone else record the soundtrack to my life. Sometimes I look back and think I wasn’t in charge here and I don’t really like the result.

But I’m changing that. I’m taking charge, writing my own script, recording my own soundtrack – performing from my soul. I’m doing things that nourish me and make me happy. That includes listening to music more, acknowledging how much it affects me and letting it happen. Sometimes it’s sad music, but more often these days I’m choosing a soundtrack that lifts me and makes me smile. Makes me dance even!

September was released when I was an angsty, pretentious teenager listening to SuperTramp and Black Sabbath. I didn’t like funk or disco. I didn’t like music that just made you happy. And although I’ve mellowed and have probably enjoyed Earth, Wind and Fire in the intervening years, I didn’t really “get it” until I saw the French film The Intouchables.

I’ve spent years choosing not to listen to music – afraid of how it makes me feel. It’s meant that my life has either – like I said above – been lived with someone else’s soundtrack, or more often, in silence.

If I’d written a response to the Daily Prompt yesterday, there would have been a different song in my head – this one:

This is the song that plays over my moments of blackness, of doubt and of grief. And you know, I’m ok with that. I’m ok because I can acknowledge those moments and still find beauty in them – the beauty of Jessye Norman’s voice and Henry Purcell’s music.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime #4

apple spinach1

Apples, spinach, celery and mint. Wasn’t sure what this one would taste like.

Surprisingly good.

Surprisingly good.

I’m not sure if having dental work has made the juice fast easier, but I think so. Since I’ve had to have the temporary crown replaced, I’m so conscious of it, and drinking is much easier on my teeth than eating.

Daily Prompt: all grown up

My baby brother as a toddler.

My baby brother as a toddler.

The first time I really felt “all grown up”  – I was eight years old and my mother had just given birth to my youngest brother.  The birth had gone really badly; she’d almost bled to death and I had to be strong for everyone – my mum, my dad and both the baby and my other brother who was two years younger than me.

I remember my dad waking me very early in the morning; it was early summer and the light was already coming in through the curtains, but it was way before my usual wake-up time. Also, my dad was never home at that time on a week day so I knew something was wrong. I don’t remember his exact words, but something like “you’ve got a little brother and your mum’s really ill.” I do remember his fear and his pain.

The days after that are blurry in my mind. I remember going to visit mum in hospital – the big women’s hospital on the other side of town. I particularly remember the motorway off-ramp. I still think about my mum when I go off there now. I remember the smell of hospital; disinfectant, floor wax, the perfume of cut flowers. I remember the baby; soft and blonde and wrapped up with only his little head sticking out.

I remember neighbours getting my other brother and I off to school in the morning cos my dad had to go back to work. I remember the tears when a family friend had to take me shoe shopping and she bought me a pair of horrible red sandals.  I remember wearing them to the end of the driveway each day, then stuffing them in my schoolbag and going to school barefoot.

My brother was only six and had always been “mummy’s boy”. I already had to fight kids in the playground that bullied him, but when Mum was in hospital I had to look after him in other ways too. He didn’t know what to do with himself without Mum around and he seemed to me just hopeless, he missed Mum so much. So did my dad. He tried really hard to look after us, but the worry on his face was too obvious. I know now that his own mother had died when he was only 17, and the fear of losing his wife as well must have been terrible for him.

My mother was in hospital for ages. I used to think it was must have been weeks and weeks, but in reality, it was probably only a week or two.

It was when she came home that I really became a grown-up. She was too ill to do much, so I mixed formula, fed the baby, changed nappies, dressed him, undressed him, rocked him to sleep. I think there was a church roster for providing meals and housework; I certainly remember the minister’s wife doing our vaccuuming. But between us, my dad and I organised mealtimes too. The other brother was instantly jealous of the baby, so dealing with him was another task that fell to my dad and me.

My baby brother and I; December 2011

My baby brother and I; December 2011

Looking back, it all seemed so natural. No-one ever said “wow, she’s just a kid.” But I think my parents had already constructed a narrative about their clever, compliant daughter that made me an adult before I had a chance to be a child.

su and tom funnyI’m middle-aged now; a mother myself and as I’ve been writing this post I realised that my life has been a bit backwards. Instead of thinking about when I became grown-up, it’s almost as if I need to figure out when I got permission to be a child.

Oddly enough, raising my son has given me that permission. I have been able to play with him, and laugh with him and although I’m still “responsible” – there have been times when the pleasure I’ve had from his company has been really quite childlike.My son and I; goofy expressions and all.

My son and I; goofy expressions and all.