The internet has been on and off for the last few days. Sometimes it flashes a furious amber at me and goes off altogether. Sometimes it moves at a surly and glacial pace. In these times, one can go onto it, but it’s like driving along with a slow puncture, so there is no point. All the flashing, glancing pleasure of online is lost. I miss the political reports from New Hampshire where people are feeling the Bern; I miss the baby pandas; I miss the bulletins from my friends about their dogs and horses and families and lives. I realise how much I love these little ticker-tape updates – somebody has gone to Edinburgh with her daughter, someone has been to Hampton Court Palace, somebody else is doing something fascinating with poetry. I like the little triumphs, the flushes of pride when a child does something small but marvellous, the comedic rue when the dog snaffles the Sunday joint.
In real life, I read books instead. That is the good side of the internet being off; it gives me much more time and attention span to read. I’m reading a book about the evolution of the horse. I’m becoming slightly obsessed with the dawn horses, those funny little scampering creatures who look absolutely nothing like the grand thoroughbred I ride every day. The dawn horses. It’s the best name for a thing ever.
Darwin the Dog is increasing in cleverness and now can do sit, wait, and lie down. I am especially pleased about lie down. The sun came out for two whole days and everyone in the village talked about it. ‘It does cheer you up,’ said the kind man in the chemist. I’m wrangling with my work, trying to get all my ideas in a row. The stepfather and I discuss Europe every morning over breakfast, and, this morning, the fundamentals of political thought. We like that kind of conversation although the dogs get so bored their ears practically fall off.
I miss my mother about twelve times a day. I get a sudden reminder, and then a shot of intense sorrow and regret. I’m trying not to have the regret, because it’s such a pointless emotion, but it pierces me like an arrow. I saw her every day, but I wish I had talked to her more, listened to her more, asked her more. And now it is too late. I find this almost unbearable.
The days have moments of high normality. This morning, I cantered my red mare up the hill and looked at the mountains. Everything was usual and peaceful and fine. I do my work and make a green soup and listen to Radio Four and walk the dogs and all that is usual and fine. And then I get whacked round the head with the missing and the yearning and nothing is normal or fine at all. It’s like having an internal pendulum, swinging between the two states of ordinary life and extraordinary loss. I don’t want to be this person, the person who writes about grief, which is odd and foolish since I greatly admire people who can put sorrow into words. But still, I don’t want to be that person. Yet I have to write it down because it is my reality and words are the things that stop it overwhelming me.
This evening, in the gloaming, under a shining sliver of crescent moon, I stood in the field and told my mare a story. She loves the sound of the human voice, and so instead of just talking nonsense to her I told her an actual story, as one might tell a child a fairy-tale at bedtime. She listened gently, resting her head on my shoulder, and then she let out a very long sigh. I could not quite tell whether it was in sympathy, or acute boredom. I laughed a bit and stood with her some more. Her world is so steady, so sane, so immediate, so authentic. It brings me peace.