I’ve not spoken to you for a month. That in itself, is not so hard to take. I also didn’t speak to you for a month in July when I was abroad. I didn’t speak to you for a month last year when you were away. And so a month without speaking to you is not, historically, that bizarre. But this month is different, because I can get over not speaking to you specifically for a month but I’ve spoken to our gang far more, almost daily. And we’ve always all been tangled together, so why is your voice not chiming in? Where are you on the Facebook threads and group texts?
Part of me imagines that maybe we’ll catch up in a couple months. That still seems likely, though somewhere I know it is not. I can accept you’re not here right now, and we had this big goodbye and all these associated emotions and feelings, but I cannot accept that it is all over, I cannot accept the never-ness of death. And by “never-ness” I mean I can accept that you haven’t spoken to me this month, but I cannot accept that you will never speak to me again. Or that I will never see you again. We will never hang out again. That stupid “never” bit, that’s the bit I can’t make sense of. Those statements simply don’t seem possible; rather than solid fact they are incomprehensible theories I’m trying to digest.
Progress, if it can be called that, has been slow. I hesitate to use the word “progress”, are we progressing? Most of the time it just feels like the world is hurtling forwards into the future whilst I stand there mutely, gaping; as if time had become a spectator sport and I’m on the sidelines trying to work out the rules. But I guess I am slowly progressing. I’ve stopped crying so much. I’m sleeping better, even if just from exhaustion. I regained my appetite pretty quickly and have actually put on quite a lot of weight. Walking around and being active seems to take more effort, so I’ve been sat down more, and eating later in the day.
Really I’ve been coping better then any of us would have guessed, all things considered. And even though you’re not here now I can imagine you, and it’s like there’s enough of you here being worried about me reverting to my Laila coping mechanisms of the past for me to avoid them. I know you’d be worried, like James and Will are now, so my mind is supplying my old habits but I, crucially, am not doing them. It’s funny, because you’d think if any of us would die early it would be me. But for some reason that hasn’t happened, and I am still here and you are not, so maybe there’s something I still need to do, or maybe these things are just random, or maybe somebody somewhere is laughing at us, or maybe fate screwed up and that’s that, “oops sorry guys, can’t go back though, better luck next time”. Fuck off, fate.
Grief, my other new pal, has been taking it’s toll. I’ve got 12 grey hairs now instead of 2. My eyesight has continued getting worse. My short-term memory is completely fucked; this would be terrible in any line of work but is particularly bad for rehearsals and teaching. And my focus is mostly gone; I feel overwhelmed by what I was doing before. E-mails are just stacking up; how was I running a business and teaching 80 kids and being part of other ensembles and doing all this other stuff? Just getting to work on time is an effort. Just waking up is a boulder.
I say that, but somehow stuff is still happening. I went to Isle Of Wight as planned, just 4 days after you left. I had 5 planned gigs this month; I did all of them. I went to Frankfurt. I threw that party. I went to Thanksgiving with my family. I organised a Christmas concert for my private pupils; it’s next week, you probably would have come if you could because it’s in your neck of the woods. Biggest of all I rehearsed the band for Quizcats, staged the show, presented the quiz, ran the whole thing; it felt like a Trojan effort. I had to summon every potential drop of heroism I had to succeed on that day. I’m not sure I’ll have to work that hard for anything ever again.
People have been trying to help. People often try to offer help they can’t give; my Mum for example. If I want to talk she’s there, but like she said, what does she know of this? She’s never lost a friend, not even a family member, with their weird survive-y genes. It’s weird, the things I need help with are the things you can’t ask for. I don’t need help processing my thoughts about you, but I do want help in that I want to see a friendly face at a gig, because it’s taking all my heroism just to turn up. But you can’t ask people for that kind of help. You ask them to a gig, they think it’s just the same as all the other gigs. It’s looks just the same as it was before, except it is not, because nothing is the same. And thus I wander on.
I’ve written a couple of lengthy posts; not for you or about you but about this weird alternate reality, this vortex-like cavern of grief that I now exist in. I’m not sure why I’m sharing them, but often somebody recognises something in it and momentarily, we can feel like this together. The togetherness helps with the neverness. Most of my usual blog readers have deserted my blog. What is there to entice them now in these essays of grey? It’s hard to be the person I was, remembering, organising, cooking, the one directing the nights out, the one sorting the rehearsals, the one posting the event. The little everyday things. With the big things like processing death and dealing with it and thinking about it, it’s easy, because survival instincts kick in and force you to process, which in my case is just to write it all down, maybe turn it into a song. I’m about 40% present at any given time, my survival instincts clouding my brain, my mind a constant showreel of our million moments together, my ears constantly ringing with the sound of your voice. You’re so clear to me. How can you be gone?
And so, it has been a month, and whilst I can see evidence that time is passing I’m not sure I believe it. The leaves are still orange; I’m not sure they believe it either. But it is, time is passing, and so we go on, we go on, it goes on, days ticking by in a constant rhythm. And even though you are not here, I am somehow keeping in time with everybody else.