Walking away from the children this evening after spending the afternoon with them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve done it before obviously but today was really hard. I don’t know why today was different, why it was just so much harder, but there’s no way round it. It had to be done. And it felt fucking terrible.
Yet I feel I’ve gained something from it. An insight into how someone I know felt or feels.
When I was a little boy and used to spend time with my aunt, whenever she said goodbye and went home, I’d get upset. I loved her and she was fun. I still do because she is and, despite our ups and downs, she’s always got my best interests at heart. When I was a little boy she’d sit and play and interact with me. She’d sit on the floor and play with me. She’d say ‘ohhh let him do it’ when my mum would say ‘stop that.’ And then it would be time for her to go home. She’d tell me everything would be okay, and I’d be fine, she told me to have fun and be good for my mummy. I could see the glassy layer appear over her eyes as she fought back the tears, and she’d sniff, kiss me and then just say goodbye and leave.
She told me a few years ago that doing this, leaving me, was hard for her. I accepted that for what it was, but today I truly realised what she meant. Today I truly felt what every loving grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, mum and dad must feel when they walk away from children they love so dearly. Their relentlessness and their enjoyment of life gives you an extra energy. These children who, when you’re with them, fill a space in you, entirely, with their questions, chatter, requests for you to do this and that, play with them in a certain way, their way, do things just how they want it, and endless requests for cuddles and questions like ‘what is that?’. Fill you with something that only children can.
And after you’ve left them. After you’ve said ‘goodbye’ and ‘I’ll see you soon, I promise’ and ‘I love you’ and ‘be good for your mummy.’ After you’ve felt your eyes fill with tears, and after you’ve done the sniffing thing to stop them from falling. After you’ve said goodbye and closed the door and can still hear their chatter in your ears as you walk the quiet streets home…
…the massive space that was filled to the brim with these small things, now feels utterly, utterly empty.
God knows how my aunt felt when her husband died suddenly. God knows how my aunt felt when her son decided to move to Australia. I think I thought she just got on as she’s a strong person. She’d probably say she did just get on, but today I felt something that she probably felt all those years ago when she used to goodbye to me. Obviously it’s a different situation, of course, but today when I was prepared to wallow in my own misery, instead I gained an insight into the way someone else feels. So, it’s a good day. Albeit a sad one, if you get my drift.
It’s a cliche saying ‘you learn something every day’ but it’s oh so very farking true.
Other things I learnt today include, when my son waves goodbye to all the trains leaving the station that it’s not the grannies that wave back to him, but the bang tidy fitties who smile and give an exuberant wave, and I also learnt that my daughter gets more beautiful by the second.
What new thing have you learnt today? From the philosophical to the banal, to the emotional, to the plain #facthard. Let me know by slamming one in my usual hole.
Oh, and thanks for reading.