So, it is officially now British Summertime. We all lost an hour’s sleep last night, meaning our nights will now be lighter and our mornings darker – I think that’s right, or maybe it’s the other way around? Mmmm….I have enough trouble thinking straight with the amount of sleep I normally get without a policy established 100 years ago robbing me of more shut-eye.
It hasn’t helped though that Hubby and I were either entertaining or out being entertained the last two evenings; meaning we drank too much, ate too much and were late to bed both nights. Indeed, I have been looking forward to today, Easter Sunday as a day when we can just relax (and detox a bit) all day, cook a nice family meal, have a windy walk to blow away the cobwebs and settle down to a family film later on. Oh, and doing all these things whilst consuming gargantuan amounts of chocolate. It is surely the only day where the calories of chocolate don’t count, in fact, it should be decreed that chocolate is good for you on Easter Sunday, and not in that dark-chocolate-is-good-for-your-heart nonsense. But, in an eat-whatever-you-want-and-enjoy-every-minute-whether-it’s-Smarties-or-white-chocolate-or-that-cheap-nasty-doesn’t-really-taste-like-chocolate-chocolate. That’s my philosophy today anyway, and believe me, I am practicing what I preach!
It nearly didn’t happen though, our Easter Sunday – or not in the way it should when you have three small people who believe in the magic of the Easter Bunny. Martha and Archie both wrote the Easter Bunny letters last night (bloody hell, crossed my mind!) asking him how he was and leaving him a carrot (Martha), some chocolate (Martha again) and a daffodil (Martha). Archie did his very secretly and it was only as I moved his pillow as I checked on him before I went to bed that I found his note. He simply asked the EB to leave any eggs for him in his room (no chance buddy!). I think he does his notes quietly and secretly to test the magic – luckily, this time he was not disappointed.
This writing to magical, legendary creatures started some years ago, when Archie lost his first tooth and came home from school declaring that one of his school friends had written a letter to the Tooth Fairy and she had replied and left fairy dust and footprints in it. He was spellbound! “Can I write to the Tooth Fairy, Mummy?” he pleaded. There are so many advantages of living where we live – in a gorgeous part of the country with super people – but sometimes, some of them just go a bit too far and raise the bar a bit too high. I mean, come on people!!! Footprints and fairy dust!? I had little choice but to join in and now both my children write to their own Tooth Fairies – Blossom (Archie’s) and Apple-Finch (Martha’s), who have their own back-stories and family dramas going on…..honestly, I have surpassed myself with the amount of fantastical bullshit I am able to conjure up in my replies to their regular letters. And, it would now appear we have progressed to writing letters to the Easter Bunny too. I have, it would seem, raised my own bloody bar and have no one to blame but myself.
Hubby was tasked with buying the eggs this year – one each from us, a large, fancy, costs-more-than-it-should egg and then some small, colourful, shiny foil-wrapped ones to hide around the house and garden. He, surprisingly completed his task without any problems or complaints. Wonderful. We went out last night for a friend’s birthday and had a lovely meal at a local Thai restaurant. We drove into town, left the car and got a taxi home. It was only when we were home and had paid our babysitter (Lovely Linda) and seen her out the door that I asked Hubby to get the eggs so that we could set up the hunt before we went to bed. He dutifully popped downstairs and then returned within seconds – hands empty. He had left them in the boot of his car. The car that was now a few miles away in the centre of town. All the eggs in its boot. We had none in the house – nada, zero, diddly bloody squat. I did contemplate calling for a taxi and going to pick them up, but it was after midnight, which actually meant it was after 1am and I just wanted to go to bed. So instead, we thought we’d figure it out in the morning when our heads were clearer …… So, this morning’s task was for Hubby to keep the kids upstairs, whilst I sneaked out the house with both sets of car keys, dashed to town, collected the eggs, returned home, ran around the garden with the colourful shiny ones, launching them very ungracefully into the bushes, (whilst checking no one was twitching the upstairs curtains) and returning to the bosom of my family, looking slightly flushed and muddy. It was a big surprise that not one of my children asked why I had sprung out of bed so quickly, dressed myself in my running gear, disappeared for a bit and then returned without having been for a run (they have seen my post-run face, and a slight flush doesn’t come close). They were too eager to get downstairs and start their egg hunt. They didn’t care where I’d been, but my return signaled that their Easter could begin, and that it seems, is all they needed to know.
I love that they never questioned it. Martha is just too good and kind and naive to doubt or question us, but Archie is 9 now and despite also being good and kind, he is less gullible than his sister and I think on some level he probably wondered why on earth he wasn’t allowed downstairs this morning, but instead of questioning it, he was swept along in the excitement of believing and just went with it. It is much more fun believing in magic, than seeing and knowing how the trick is done.
I spoke to my mum last night, just as I was getting ready to go out actually. Mabel spoke to her first and told her that she’d been swimming that day and that she was excited about the Easter Bunny coming (little did she know he nearly didn’t!) and mum sounded great. Still slightly muddled, but she sounded animated and alert and interested in the conversation. There is always a moment though on every call just now, when I hear my dad telling her that I am on the phone or that, on this occasion Mabel was on the phone and wanted to speak to her, that I hear him trying to direct her to the handset. I can hear her walking away, looking around for us, confused as to where we are and him trying to get her to see the telephone, for her to make sense of what it is and what it means. I think you don’t really notice these things when they first happen and then they start to happen more and more frequently and suddenly they are the norm and you can’t remember how long it is since she did understand where the voice is coming from. Is it days? Weeks? Bloody hell, is it months?
Just before Mabel was born, Mum and Dad came to stay. They came to help me paint the nursery and mum had made a lovely blind for the window. It was only as we were hanging the blind that I noticed it didn’t have the black-out lining on it. I asked my mum about this, as she had made blinds for the kids’ rooms before and had always put the heavier lining on to help keep the room dark. Indeed, we had spoken about it before she made it – it had, or so I thought, all been discussed and agreed. She got extremely cross and agitated and told me that I had not asked for that particular lining and how on earth was she to know. I felt bad, but I was also concerned, this wasn’t like my mum at all. She was so on the ball it was untrue – she’d have been the one reminding me that we needed black-out lining and not the other way round. Mum spent all of that day and into the night taking the blind apart and re-doing the lining, despite my protestations that it would be fine, just as it was. She was ruffled, you could tell and I think I mentioned to my dad at the time that it was a bit worrying, as she was becoming a bit forgetful don’t you think Dad? But was that the first time she had made a fairly big blunder like that, a blunder she was clearly very embarrassed about? Or was it the second? Or the third? Did we miss the first time? Could we have helped her more if we’d seen it coming earlier? Would we be in a different place now or is our pathway already marked out and the stages of her disease inevitable in their steady, unwavering destruction?
When I really think about it, I can recall lots of worrying signs but yet we did nothing. Not really. I mentioned her being a bit forgetful to my dad and sister and brother, I vented my frustrations at her increasing confusions about dates we had agreed things on, to my hubby. I ignored the painful truth, or signs of it anyway, just like my son did this morning, and instead chose to see and believe in a version of the truth that was digestible, that I could cope with. We clung on the the fact that her symptoms could be side-effects of her medication for depression. We clung on to the fact that the nurses thought she was missing her family and needed to move back to Yorkshire, where her anxiety levels would improve. We clung on to whatever chink of light we could, desperate to steer away from the dark, slippery slope of stinking mulch that was the alternative.
A friend recently told me that he son, at the age of 11 or 12 had asked her straight out if Father Christmas was real. She was shopping with him in H&M and she turned to him, thinking he was old enough to know the truth and explained that no, he is not. She described her son’s reaction as looking so stunned it was like she had just shot him and to this day, she is full of regret that it was her who burst the bubble of his belief. She wishes that she had let him get to that point on his own, a more gradual awareness of the truth and I think that is perhaps a good way to deal with a lot of painful truths in life. Gradually and gently, letting them creep up on you rather than smacking you, square in the chops, leaving you feeling like you’ve just been shot. Denying the truth, or running from it is, of course, not an option, the painful truth will always catch you, but I do think not fully knowing, or not fully acknowledging and instead believing in or focusing on what makes you happy and what makes your heart sing is a much safer option.
So, I will call my mum and hear her voice and block out the sadness that threatens to envelop me when I hear her confusion or the empty silence at the end of the phone as she struggles to continue with our conversation. Instead, I will be glad that I can still hear her voice and I will close my eyes and listen for the few magical moments when her voice; her musical, lilting, bubbly tone appears for a few seconds and she once more sounds like my Mum. I will believe in the Easter Bunny and I will believe in the Tooth Fairy. My painful truths; what we have lost so far and what we have yet still to lose, are pains I am not ready to deal with yet.