It’s Not An Easy Story To Hear

By Emma Pearson

July 16, 2024

23 June 2024

Photos our own – from 2008 when Julia was four.

I was in my kitchen at home, and a young man was stood on a chair, reaching up above the cupboards, presumably to fix something. One of the lightbulbs is forever blowing – it’s true. I didn’t know the young man, but he seemed kind and competent enough to let into my house to sort something out.

Black the dog wandered into the kitchen, walked around the island and rested his face on the chair the man was standing on.

“Oh – hello doggy!”, said the man. I like that kind of language. Kind. Welcoming. Inclusive. “You look like you’ve lived quite a story, now, don’t you?” And then a questioning glance towards me.

“Yes – he’s got quite a story”, I replied on behalf of Black, who is unable to speak for himself in language we bipeds understand.  

“Tell me”, said the young man.

“Hmm – it’s not an easy story to hear”, I said, brain scanning my rolodex of losses, as well as the man’s face, wondering what his capacity for “hard” was.

“I’d like to hear it anyway”, he said.

Okay then. I brace myself.

I start to tell the story of Black the dog, where he had come from, how we had found him, and who was included in the “we”, back then, so many years ago.

I was saying I had three children, when suddenly, standing in the hall with me – for I had moved out into the hall by then – was Julia. Aged about four. Simply standing there, with short, bobbed hair, eyes big and blue, face calm yet curious. Waiting. Observing. Wearing a dress I remember well – white background with a green, purple and pink flower effect.

“And this”, I say, not taking my eyes off my youngest child, “is Julia, my youngest. She looks very young for her age, but she’s twenty really….”

My voice trailed off and I stared, uncomprehendingly, at Julia.

What do I say about you?
What to say in front of you?
What to tell you?

Do I tell the man, in front of you, that somewhere down the line, way too soon, you will take your life?
Do I tell the man… do I let you know… that you will lose your dad and then take your life?

I stare at you some more. I know you’re dead. And I know this is a dream. But I just want to soak you up. Realising this moment is so precious, so fleeting.

I wake up.

Now, a couple of hours later as I write this, I still see your little four-year-old face clearly in my mind’s eye.

Julia sweetheart – thank you for visiting me last night.

Different dresses to the one in my dream, but her face is exactly like this. Classic Julia, aged four.

About Emma Pearson

3 thoughts on “It’s Not An Easy Story To Hear

  1. Dreams can be powerful and bittersweet.
    Maybe dreams should be one of your chapters?
    I’ve been seeing my mum in my dreams much more recently. We are standing together and there is a sense of calm and compassion. It is healing but also startling when I wake up

  2. I’m happy you were visited Emma. Your story helped me to remember mine. Sending blessings to you.

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