Back writing this morning. It’s strange, or maybe not, how being able to devote myself to it again, after years of caring for my parents, makes me miss them both so very much. “Your time is your own again,” friends have told me, meaning well. Yes. It seems a long time since my mum died. December 6. So, what, that’s only going to be 10 weeks at the end of this week? 10 weeks. That shocks me. I feel like my mum has been gone a very long time.
When the doctor told me I’m “only at the very start” of my bereavement last Friday morning, her words prompted me to burst into tears and say, “Please don’t tell me that” – because grief makes you weary, it fucks with you, it is a weight and it is, frankly, boring. Yes, I said it. I am bored of tears, this unique type of depression, the way I feel like a meat puppet controlled subtly as well as overtly by a destabilising force I have no way of engaging with to ask it to give me a break, leave me the fuck alone, stop making me feel and think things that are not what I associated with myself ‘before’.
Friends say I have to be kind to myself. It’s not easy when your entire life since the day you started school has been characterised by sustained traumas and micro-aggressions but yes, I finally accept what they all tell me, that I am strong and will find ways forward to survive and thrive.
It doesn’t surprise me that I’ve met a good man whose own life has not been a bed of roses, either – and still isn’t, which is particularly challenging for him right now, and therefore for me too. It feels right to stand by him because it’s not only indicative of who I always have been and still am, but it’s ‘what my mother would have done’ – a yardstick I use to measure my actions now, the only resource I have left from her now she isn’t here in person.
I think Mum would both applaud and chastise me right now. She’d applaud my bravery in loving and caring for the abused and frightened when others would lose patience and have no empathy; she would chastise me for the conviction I’ve had since her death, which took root almost immediately thereafter, that I am somehow fucking up worse than ever before, fucking up everything, making a big mess bigger, failing in every way, not helping in a situation where a man of action like myself wants to ‘do’ but can only offer words to try and encourage and motivate, and feel frustration that the law does not allow us to bury villains alive and leave them to die.
Mum would say I am wrong to think and feel these things, friends do, and they’re not wrong; however, the thick, slightly sticky coating of grief on my skin, my eyes and lips and ears, it doesn’t allow for rational thought and self-care. Grief is mucal. It is snot. It is a pneumonia of the soul that can take a long time, I see now, to resolve and heal as much as it ever can.
So, I am writing. It is, I think in my darkest moments and even say this as if it’s funny, the only thing I’ve ever been good at. I know that’s not true but five-star reviews don’t result in a house with a pool, or even enough to pay the gas bill. Still, what else can I do? Writing for a writer is compulsion. It is pathological.
I was going to say my first long-form writing will be an article for an LGBT+ fetish website, which I’m looking forward to doing, but it isn’t. It’s this, what you’re reading right now. A writer never stops evolving their craft, and my work, like my life in general, is now going to be informed by grief and love. It’s fitting that I start work today on a novel that won’t be published under my real name and won’t be linked to anything I have marketed to date. It will mark a huge departure for me in terms of content and style. A new chapter.
So yes, I am back writing. I no longer have my parents to care for. I have grief but I also love and am loved. In just 10 weeks I have regenerated like Doctor Who, into someone completely different but essentially the same at my core as I was before. As I sit and turn thoughts to type for others to read, I feel alive again.
Death is an ending for those who do the dying – but it is the beginning for those who are left behind.