A obvious one this one really, but somehow this one failed to register with me for weeks and weeks, after 26 February 2016.
There are patterns and habits of everyday daily life. Normal, mundane, inconsequential things you do without thinking about them. Without really being aware of them.
Stretching. Yawning. Going for a wee. Radio 4, kettle on, coffee. You get the picture, I don’t need to go on.
Then there are bigger regularities and rhythms of life. Work, weekends, washing days, ironing catch-up, family Sunday lunches, work rotas, counting the weeks to a holiday. Patterns, albeit irregular at times, but still patterns.
When Beth and Iz went, we’d prepared ourselves, to some extent, for them not being at home. For a temporary pattern. I’d written a card to Trace to say, hey, it’s gonna be a bit weird without them, without anyone else in the house, but, heck this is an opportunity. Something to embrace.
Date nights maybe? Let’s try out some new restaurants, starting with that new boutique burger place.
I had it in my mind I wanted to show Izzy (“Get out of your comfort zone dad”) that, yes, life had moved on here too, things had changed. It wasn’t just you having the the time of your life, the trip of a lifetime.
I started to go to the gym 3 rather than 2 times a week. We bought a new kitchen sink bowl. Minnie had her first dog haircut. (Izzy got upset when I sent a picture. She wanted her to be all puppy and fluffy.)
Then on February 26 2016, everything stopped, everything. Abruptly.
So, so abruptly.
So now I sit on the living room floor, where I sit to watch TV. I look at the sofa and see them there. Their outlines, watching TV. Joking. Complaining. Their beautiful, everyday selfs.
I pass Izzy’s room and she’s sat in the red chair (she hated her red chair) putting her mark-up on, in her towel. ‘Go away!’ she says.
I go up to Beth’s room and knock on the door. Grunt. And she’s there, curled up in bed, half asleep, as ever. Murmur, grunt. I leave her there.
These are everyday rhythms that are not there, and there’s nothing to replace them. There’s no shape or projection to the future. It’s like Google has suddenly disappeared. No short or long term trajectory.
There are no patterns, plans or rhythms to life.
Nothing is normal, nothing will ever be normal again.
And I, we, a dramatically shrunk family, have to find new patterns, plans and rhythms, without them, but with their ghosts, who live inside us.