Humdrum and BittersweetBy Emma Pearson
December 6, 2023
Main image by Robin Lyon on Unsplash. Other photos my own.
1 May 2022
(My Granny May’s birthday – 1/5/1909 – Happy birthday Granny)
As I reflect on what to write about this weekend – which is what I do when nothing immediately springs out at me – it’s about how used I have become to having complexity in my life.
Sometimes I get to the end of the day when I journal in bed, and feel that my day has had a week’s worth of “stuff” in it. And I don’t mean busy work schedule – though sometimes that too.
It might be that there’s been an ominous-looking leak, or the cat has vomited or brought in a very bloody vole or mouse or bird and left it, badly dissected, on my office rug (again). All in the same morning.
And also that I have – finally – begun the process of sorting out my damaged – potentially lost – data on an external hard drive – with a magician who says he can bring it all back, for a hefty fee. I would pay anything. Photos, photos, photos is all I can think about.
And also that I have held, for what seemed to be far too long, one of my kids’ silences – not wholly unusual but this time unusually long… He’s okay – just busy. I have suicide anxiety for my alive kids, for sure. Their lives are not altogether easy, they too have multiple moving pieces, and they don’t necessarily think to check in with their mum, and my brain spins off somewhere unhelpful.
And also that I have welcomed a new Ukrainian woman to my house and started to hear her very hard life story through Google Translate.
And that I have facilitated a Maison de Tara session for new volunteers – finally face to face again at the lovely house, rather than on zoom. I love this work. The most challenging part of the experience was to ensure I had appropriate food for the 10-hour door-to-door shift, and had organised dog care for Black. You can’t leave a dog alone for 10 hours. I didn’t want to have any expectations of my lovely Ukrainian resident, though it transpires that I could have.
Blips in a day, blips in a week.
Some dropping, but even if they drop, I usually foresee their dropping and warn people of the dropping.
And sometimes I feel that despite all the blips in the days, nothing much stands out.
Perhaps it is because I am better at living in the moment?
Perhaps it is because I am forever juggling stuff? It is the norm for me now, and just gets absorbed in my day, in my week, like sugar or salt in hot water.
Perhaps it is because nothing much fazes me – which worries me a tad because I do want to care – I do care – about stuff.
All the above did happen this week, and glancing through my journal, there’s even more.
But the one event this week that did stand out was that Medjool and I celebrated the 3rd anniversary of our meeting. Not on the exact date, but honouring instead that it was the last Friday of April, 2019. We went back to the same Indian restaurant, close to where I live – on my territory, not his.
Medjool wanted, in a cute, nostalgic way, to play some of the initial details over again – to arrive separately, walk in after me, and meet and greet as though we had never met before. I am far too practical for such romanticism, and said, “erm – no – let’s go in one car”.
It was a sweet idea though, and the idea to go back there was perfect. There was sweetness and shyness in our retelling each other our first impressions, questions and concerns of the other. I told him that my honest-to-God first reaction was, “Hmm – he’s greyer than in his photos”. And then, as we parted company that first evening, “Hmm – I didn’t get that ‘Fwor, I’ll have him’ feeling I had when I first set eyes on Mike in 1987. Does that mean it’s a no-go?”
Looking back on that first dinner, I remember a feeling of, “That was really nice. I enjoyed the time we spent together. I liked our conversation. I feel like I was myself, and that I was seen and heard. And if nothing comes of it, I have met a decent, kind and interesting person.
I knew nothing about dating in this millennium, this century, this era. I knew nothing about dating online. I knew nothing about dating full stop. I still don’t.
I feel very lucky that I didn’t spend – waste – time on meeting wholly inappropriate people. Perhaps both of us were already self-aware and relationship-aware enough to be able to articulate what we wanted from life, from love, from a relationship.
Perhaps we were both already comfortable enough in our respective skins to be able to show up fully, wholly and naturally at that first dinner. Which meant that our healthy egos could be put somewhat aside, and curiosity and transparency could play bigger, more significant roles.
Perhaps we were just both lucky. I hear horror stories from my widbuds about dating post-loss. So much disappointment and triggering of abandonment issues. Over and over. So much trepidation to talk about death, grief and loss. And express our ongoing love for our dead spouse.
So yes, I do feel that luck played a part.
Or perhaps it was pure celestial intervention. A necessary support for what was to unfold those following weeks and months as Julia first spiralled, then took her life.
I had told my friend Joan, when we spoke on Friday morning, that Medjool and I were celebrating our 3-year meeting that night, but that it felt bittersweet and heavy, being so inextricably linked with the end of my time with Julia.
Joan wrote to me on Saturday morning,
“Dearest Emma…this morning I know that the evening you spent with Medjool as Julia struggled was necessary so that you had someone by your side who would hold your heart as it was further torn to shreds…and would keep holding it whilst you, yourself, made such a beautiful Kintsugi with all the broken bits. He was a gift from the universe to hold and love you. That was my thought this morning. Sending you love as always Emma. ❤️
I do feel, at some level, that I got to have someone the calibre of Medjool in my life because I would need resilient, unquestioning, selfless support for months and years. I could not be with someone – not then, not now – who is needy. Who needs total resilience from me. And I could not be with someone who cannot hold the contrasts – the joy and the pain, the love and the grief – for all these people I pine for.
He took on a lot, did Medjool. I have often wondered whether he thought it was more than he signed up for. But apparently not. And he still has to deal with a lot of messiness. I am so grateful he has the skill, the love, the steadfastness, the capacity, to do so.
Poignant and bittersweet as that first meeting is to remember now, I am grateful for all of it. I feel that I get to live the best of times in a backdrop of the worst of times.
Perhaps it was less of a humdrum week than I initially thought.