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Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)
By Pamela Weeden
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I was angry with you. You’d spent all your wages on an iPod and a laptop, no money for your rent yet again, no reasoning with you. Seventeen, earning; we couldn’t get through to you. We tried to get you thinking about putting a bit away, saving for a home of your own, preparing for your future...your future. Seems ridiculous now.
I don’t remember much about that night after the knock at the door came. Blue lights, sirens, the police car going so fast. Everyone panicking and you just lying there. One nurse, she came and told me you’d gone. Gone. Just like that. All that life, promise, all that energy ... gone. And then I was gone. Just like that. I don’t remember anything else. They tell me thousands came to the funeral, that traffic stopped, that they released balloons for you. I don’t remember.
I do remember that the coroner told me you had the most beautiful eye lashes. I do remember the snowman we built on your grave that first winter and the champagne we drank there on the day you would have been eighteen. The way you believed in Father Christmas for the longest time! I do remember you arrived a bit early and I had no cot ready. I had to keep you in a drawer in my bedroom for a while, till I got some money together.
I do remember that sometimes I didn’t like you. That you had needs I couldn’t always recognise or understand. I do remember that sometimes I wished you were someone else’s child.
I didn’t mean it.
And now you’re gone.
For a while I wanted to be there with you, to go where you’d gone. Living, well, I didn’t want to do it anymore. Inside my head the guilt, it was screaming at me. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t breathe. I thought about it, coming to find you. I really did. But other people, they kept hold of me. They found the glue and they started sticking me back together again, one little piece at a time. The trouble is, I can’t be what I was. That’s the thing I can’t explain, the thing no one gets. It’s why I can’t drink beer anymore, why I changed my cigarettes. They are the old me. That is gone too.
Some of your friends came to see us a few weeks after you died. They gave us film they’d taken of you doing stunts on your bike. I watched it over and over. Why didn’t I know you could do these things? Why didn’t you tell me? All these sides of you hidden from me. When we picked the music for your funeral, had we got it right? Was it really your favourite band? Did you honestly like Japanese art or was this something I imagined? I thought I knew all there was to know. I find myself wondering about other things: Had you smoked? Did you drink? Had you ever had sex? Would you have told me even if you had? Most of all I wonder this: why is it that you had to go before I could discover you?
You were my only child. At first, I wondered if I had stopped being a mother after you had gone, that I had no right to the name anymore. Then I found I couldn’t be a wife anymore either. I was no one. It’s going now, that feeling. I can understand a bit more now that you might be gone, but you’re still mine. That fact, it can’t be changed.
Sometimes now, I remember more of the things that we laughed about, that you would have found funny. I think that’s a good thing. It makes me realise that you are gone, but not altogether far away.
I will always love you.
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