I keep thinking and thinking and thinking (and feeling and feeling and feeling) about my Father and Mother. About the fact of my Father's illness and my Mother's sadness and struggle to care for him while maintaining some kind of independent life. About what I should really be doing, about what I really want to be doing. What is my role and how do I really decide out of love rather than fear and guilt.
There's no way to explain to someone who hasn't been in my shoes how much of a journey I've taken to be even be able to type that last sentence and really think I know what I'm saying.
It's been a long journey since March.
That (I think?) is when my Father fell sick and was hospitalised again. We've been through this before, I thought. We'll go through it again. Here we go. I was so practiced. My Mother phoned. I heard that beeping on the other end, before I heard her voice or just as I heard her voice. Her call had awoken me out of an uneasy sleep. And I knew before she said anything. I jumped out of bed, I pulled on my jeans. She said hello? I felt nothing, I thought nothing. I just knew, in the cold, emotionless, sharp way of knowing that comes over me when I hear that beep - Papa is sick. Papa is in hospital. I need to go there. I will need to have a meeting with my boss today, urgently. I will need to ask for leave. We have a conference in 4 weeks. I'll need to pack the papers on my office desk. I should get to the office.
Beside me, the Man was still in a warm, soft sleep, his eyelashes perfectly still against his cheeks. My Mother was talking, telling me what happened. Heard it all before, I thought, heard it exactly this way - concentrate on what you need to do.
She said I wish I could be there with you to help you too.
I snapped, ice-like: I don't need you to do that. I'm fine. Just tell me what I need to do.
And there we have it. The last time I said I don't need you, I'm fine.
I felt horrifying in every sense of the word.
I went to work and planned and planned. Clip clop, clip clop. Papers filed, meetings shuffled, everything cut and paste into place.
I walked into my boss's office with a list of items to sort through before I could leave. 3 A4 pages long.
Before I told him anything was the matter, we exchanged the usual pleasantries: How are you, nice weather we've been having.
He said: I have some good news for you - We've decided to make you full-time as soon as possible.
I've been waiting for this for years.
I won the funding that will make it possible. I work full-time hours regardless of what's on my contract. I wanted this.
I felt nothing, I thought nothing. I just knew, in the same cold, emotionless, sharp way of knowing that was still over me: It's happened. What a day for it to happen. Should I turn it down? Should I tell him now that I have to go, urgently and I don't know when I'll be back?
I felt like ice. Cold as ice, hard as ice, broken as shattered ice. Go, stay. Too much going on here, too much going on there. A sharp drop into the abyss (or it would have felt like one, if I hadn't turned to ice) in the morning, a huge flight into the open sky in the afternoon (or it would have felt like one, if I hadn't turned into ice). The beep beep beep on the phone, the words full time in the office.
He smiled and asked: Aren't you happy (or something like that)
I thought: I wish I was deaf. I wish I was blind. I wish I could go back to bed. I wish I could cry.
I smiled back and said yes, of course, I'm thrilled.
I've been walking around feeling snapped in two since. I think back to that meeting, and I feel it as clear as crystal. I'm surprised there wasn't a large cracking sound, like a twig breaking.
I didn't tell anyone that I'd just been made my dream offer for my dream job. I didn't tell anyone who didn't need to know that I would be away because my Dad was ill.
Maybe I should have done. I should have connected the two parts of my life. Maybe I would have done if I hadn't turned to ice. But I did, and I snapped, as ice will snap.
I'm only starting, slowly, to thaw now. Taking a deep internal breath, and realising: the Universe is not toying with me, and I did not actually break in two, no matter how it felt.