Tuesday, 24 July 2012


I'm feeling feelings that I can't adequately convey. They must be French feelings .. you know how the French have words that don't exist in English?

Calling my sisters in the morning to see how they managed to get up today because seriously, how do you get up?

You just get up, that's how.

About fourteen years ago I walked back to the halfway house I was living in after rehab. I'm sure I was wearing a short skirt and red lipstick, but that's not the point. Point is, a big group of people were watching the last ten minutes of Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks. I cried so hard when the astronauts made it safely back to earth. Everybody looked at me strangely, because I hadn't even watched the movie.

The astronauts made it back to earth!

In rehab, all your feelings are a tangled mess. Short-circuits and knots. It takes time to identify what you are feeling and why ... you've stopped using substances to numb any pain you ever felt and it all comes back like a ricochet.

When my first son was a toddler I bought him a set of books about feelings. Sad, happy, scared, angry ... they all clearly and simply described the range of human emotions. I learnt stuff from them as I read them to him. Knowing why we feel the way we feel makes life navigation easier. It's vital to teach children this.

Early last week Dave's mum came over with some crumbed lamb cutlets. She told us to pan-fry them in some oil and a knob of butter. The exact moment she said the word "knob" Dave and I laughed so hard. He didn't know how to explain that we were laughing at the penis euphemism in the word "knob." I felt happy for about three seconds because it was stupid and funny.

I did indeed cook those cutlets in some oil and a knob of butter. Dave and the kids sat and ate theirs at the table but I hoiked a leg up onto the sink and ate them in the kitchen like a caveman. They tasted so beautiful and I was halfway through when I suddenly thought of Jim in hospital.

Jim will never eat a crumbed cutlet again.

I stopped chewing and the emotion welled up.

Who was I, to eat this crumbed cutlet? It wasn't right or fair. I thought of throwing it in the bin. No. I'm going to eat this cutlet. And then another cutlet. And I know Jim can't eat these cutlets so I'm going to enjoy them for the both of us.

And I did.

My tears fell onto the insides of my glasses and then into the sink. Those cutlets were beautiful.

I keep not eating, not brushing my teeth, not sleeping very well. I haven't even constructed a ledge that I can be talked off, yet. I'm a swirling mass. What's going to happen? The whole world is going to die of cancer is what's going to happen.

People we love die. I'm going to die. Some of us are already dead. Quick, do something meaningful, to prove you're alive. Or, not.

I came across this poem today in a book in a bookshop. It blew my mind a little.

For The Anniversary of my Death
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

by W.S.Merwin

Every year, we pass the anniversary of the day on which we're going to die.

But for now ... we eat cutlets.


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