Day 32: Ease

001But mostly the days are easy. Too easy, I think to myself sometimes. How can I have slipped so effortlessly and quickly into life without Dylan? I almost feel guilty, some days, for not suffering more. One evening, cleaning my teeth before bed, I realised I hadn’t telephoned to ask how Dylan’s day had been. How was it possible that this had slipped my mind? I had been overtaken, I told myself, by an excess of ease.

Perhaps, I speculated, this was a temporary response to Dylan’s leaving; that I had collapsed into sleep and forgetfulness after my years of being vigilant and on alert. It would pass, I told myself, when I had drunk my fill of the waters of recovery. Because it must be more difficult than this, I told myself, unless there was something I was missing?

And then two things happened. This morning, a memory. A passport-sized photo of my Grandma I had found recently had fallen over in the night. I picked it up.  It wasn’t, I thought to myself, the Grandma I remembered especially; the frames of her glasses were too modern and her coat too casual. It must have been taken the year she went to Germany, I thought. That trip had been a talking point in my family; if Grandma’s decision to join her church exchange visit had surprised us, it had shocked her. What I found unfamiliar in the photo, perhaps, was the sense of adventure.

Grandma’s trip to Germany was, in a way, the culmination of the life she re-built after my Granddad died, relatively young, from TB. I remembered how she had stayed with us the night he died and I had watched her, curiously, the next morning as she prepared my breakfast. I wondered if grown-ups ever cried. Why did Grandma seem so normal?

It would be years before I realised she had been keeping busy. Just before she died (aged 96) Grandma talked to me about how hard she had found life without Granddad at first. It had taken her a while, she told me, to understand she would have to build a new life for herself. And now, she told me, it felt as if she’d had two lives. Had I known when your Granddad died she said, shaking her head, that I would be on my own for 25 years… She stared at her hands, twisted her wedding ring.

I stood Grandma’s photo back on the chest and thought of Dylan. It’s not the same I know; my absence is not a husband nor through bereavement. Even so, there are parallels in our experience it seemed to me; I will have to rebuild myself, live differently, have another life. And this is perhaps the thing I have been missing; that Dylan is not away for a week or a month but permanently elsewhere. I have been easing myself in a day at a time, I thought to myself, as I drove to work.

And then the second thing today; an email confirming Dylan’s transition review.  This is the point at which a placement is confirmed and becomes permanent. I realised, with a shock, that the situation was not temporary; Dylan hasn’t been away on holiday, nor I on extended respite. I stared at the email, thinking about Grandma making my breakfast that morning years ago. Ahead of her, a quarter century. I could still do it, I thought. I could just say: Thank you. Now could Dylan come home please?

5 thoughts on “Day 32: Ease

  1. Hi Liz, Another wonderful piece. Left me sad. I do think some separations, some of life’s ruptures, are bereavements. That is not to take anything away from our losses when people die. But it is to remark upon some of the effects. Thank you again for these posts – very very much.

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  2. Pingback: Day 33: Three Things | Living with/out Autism

  3. You could. The reasons for his going in the first place would still be there, however. I know you know that but maybe it’s hard knowing that not only do have a new and different life, but Dylan does too. He must miss you, but he can manage being apart, at least for now. I know you don’t want him to not be able to manage. Remember how lucky you both are that it is going well!
    You’re right, there isn’t the same sadness as bereavement from death, but there is a loss. He’s adjusting well, and you are doing it at Liz-pace, in a Liz-way, thinking, analyzing. And you got a nice visit from Grandma! It set you to thinking: she never forgot about Granddad and by the sound of it, she found her new way to live her days. Dylan will always be a part of you and a piece of your life, no matter what. You will find your way.

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    • Hi Nettie -thank you for being so understanding. I think knowing that ‘I could’ helps – that sense of choice, where previously there didn’t seem to be any. But I know that Dylan is better off with more care than I could give – so it would be a selfish choice for the wrong reasons if I made it. It was good for me, though, to slip into imagining him coming home again – I sometimes check my decisions that way, by living the opposite for a while and seeing how it felt. At the moment, I am still convinced that Dylan is in the best place he could be. The visitations are so nice 🙂 I wonder if going through ‘life changing’ episodes makes us more prone to them? I wish my mum would visit…

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