The sun shone and I rode my red mare and I had a long and happy talk with my friend in the field as we basked in the warmth and I watched the dogs race along the burn and I made breakfast for the dear Stepfather and discussed the knotty problems of the Euro-decision.
Then I went home and wrote 1916 words of Secret Project. I was supposed to be doing editing today, and I did, forty pages of it, so the 1916 words came as a lovely surprise, a sweet bonus, a gleaming cherry on a dear old cake.
All good. There has been a lot of good lately.
Because my mind is a contrary, labyrinthine thing, good is not always unalloyed. It’s Tuesday, and I have not written this blog for five days. Why could I not just tell you about the good, about the sunshine, about the dear animals, about my dear family? I’m supposed to be cataloguing the last year of my forties, for some idiot reason of my own, and there were fine things to record. Last Friday morning, I found myself dancing and singing in the field. I really wanted to tell you about that. It was such a glittering, absurd moment; it was a true sign that I was coming out of the gloomy tunnel of grief.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners were on the radio with Chris Evans, and did a live version of Come on, Eileen. When I was in my teens, every single party I went to ended with that song, and the crowd went mad. It was a great version, all these years later, and it took me right back to those wild, heedless, carefree times, when all I had to do was dance my arse off and find someone nice to snog. I turned it up to full volume, and forgot that I was forty-nine, and jumped about like a maniac. The mares politely pretended not to notice.
I really, really wanted to tell you that story, but I did not.
I know, intellectually, that goodness and sadness do not fight each other, or cancel each other out, but trot along like a pair of the Queen’s matched Windsor greys. In my fearful, irrational head, I find them difficult to reconcile.
The dear Stepfather has been to the south and found his new house. After I drove him to the airport, I went back to the house he shared with my mother, the one I visited every morning to make them breakfast, the one I still visit to make eggs for two instead of three. Many objects have gone from that house now, as he prepares to leave it. Huge pictures, lovely pieces of good furniture, a whole collection of books – all have been driven off to auction. There are actual spaces to go with the emotional space where my mother used to be. The house has a forlorn aspect, as it gives up its life, its memories, its ghosts.
I find this unbearably sad.
But I am not accepting the sadness, as I know I should. I am fighting it, tooth and nail. Look, I yell to myself – there is the sunshine, there are the dear ducks, there are the dancing dogs, there are your 1916 words, there is the dazzling, powerful canter of the red mare. Look at that, I tell myself, furiously. Choose, I say, stupidly, even though I know it is not a choice. Choose life; choose happiness; choose sunshine.
And that is where the cognitive dissonance comes in and stops me writing the blog because I feel oddly dishonest. I pride myself on authenticity, and I am not quite being authentic.
And then the kind voice gently says its piece. It’s all right, says that voice. You are only a human being. You can’t get everything right all the time. You can be sad and you can be happy; you can be empty and you can be full; you can be lost and you can be found. All at the same time. That’s what human beings do.
Finally, because of that dear, sensible, human voice, I can write the blog.