I get one of those telephone calls which is like a blow to the heart. It contains, at second-hand, carelessnesses and unkindnesses from someone I hoped might be careful and kind. The darts sting into their soft target, so that I can almost hear them as they fly through the air. The poor messenger is awkward and apologetic. I don’t shoot the messenger because I never saw the point of that. ‘Poor you,’ I say, telephone tucked under one ear, kneeling in the mud as I anoint the wound of my little brown mare. I wish, slightly ironically, that my own wounds could be cured with a bit of Manuka honey.
After you lose someone you love, your skin is thin as paper for quite a long time. You look normal on the outside, but you are not normal. You have been stripped of a protective layer and you have no defences. Rather as if you were recuperating from a long illness, you have to give yourself metaphorical beef tea and bed rest.
So I have no defences for this. I feel sad and battered and bruised.
I trudge back from the field, in the rain. In the kitchen, I make soup and voices on the radio talk about Brexit and the high courts. I feel myself falling down the rabbit hole of sadness and regret.
Then I think: you have a choice. I love the power of binary choice. In 77 Ways, I devote an entire chapter to binary choice.
So I tell myself that I can be sad and woeful and doleful and miserable, if I want to. That is absolutely allowed and possibly the correct response. If something sad happens, one should probably feel sad. Or, I tell myself, I can eat my soup and let the thing go and stop being tragic and read Pride and Prejudice for the ninth time. (Jane Austen is like my rock in a stormy sea.)
I choose soup and Austen.
I damn well choose.
It’s not quite as simple as that, but it’s nearly as simple as that.