A Writer’s lover…

Listening to Neil Gaiman on Tim Ferriss’s podcast “The Interview I’ve waited for…” was quite a joy. My favourite over used adjective word came to mind, it was “inspiring” but no that was not the word to use here. There was a sanguinity to his tone of voice, something decadent about the way he spoke, his reverence for notebooks and fountain pens; and esteemed love and sadness for his friend, the late Sir Terry Pratchett.

To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from this interview and for the first fifteen minutes I was thinking, really…we’re going to listen to Neil Gaiman talk about the materials he writes on and pens he writes with (long). But as the adoration of using these tools to craft one’s art went on I realised that I share the same love for notebooks and passion for writing. I do enjoy typing but there’s nothing like a pen in your hand and writing on paper, gliding the words on the page, the continuity of thoughts.
I worried that my love of stationary was a fetish and I had an unhealthy obsession with pens but what I have discovered is that they are my lovers, and I am just a lover who requires the tools to play with. I know what you’re thinking but I am talking about the  form and process of writing.
Journalling, story-telling, screenplays, poetry – I love words. My vocabulary may not be the landscape of the seven wonders of the world or overwhelm you with colours and shades of the Sistine chapel but I’m sure there is a place for me as there is for you. I guess I feel “normal” and less “abnormal” to be a lover of writing, is it a form that is dying out?

When my partner gave me ‘Neverwhere’ for my birthday, I remember reading a few pages, found myself bored and put it down. It didn’t interest me. I came back to it a year later and couldn’t stop reading, what had changed in a year? I’m not sure, sometimes I’m not ready to read certain books which is why I buy them and shelve them for years. I might read them one day, my aim is to read the ones that I have on the shelf and in storage (gulp).

I love London and reading a book that weaves inside and outside of London streets that I know captured me, I could relate. Whilst working for an old Livery Hall that dates back to the 15th Century, even more stories were animated in my head.
(SPOILER ALERT) I remember leaving the bus just as I finished ‘Neverwhere’ and looked up. I was astonished as there in front of me, I caught a glimpse of ‘The Marquis de Carabas’. I was grappling for my mobile phone lost in my bag as the bus stopped at St Pauls to take a photo, and I thought there it is, London Below has come up to visit London Above. I was so excited I tweeted @Neilhimself

 

I became even more of a believer in fantasy, wonder and possibility. I thought of my “inner child”  not the psychologically damaged one but the “innocence of youth”. It had taken me back to Edgar Allen Poe, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. Dark stories that I read in my childhood, stories of truth with characters not so beautiful and perfect but those that questioned thyself and others. I grew up with horror and  thriller influences (poor me). I look forward to ‘Good Omens’.

I loved Neil Gaiman’s honesty in what friendship was for him and the loss of a loved one. The beautiful memories of past conversations, accents, admiration, devotion, hearty laughter and an emptiness of being when they are gone. Death reminds us of moments we’d almost forgotten, a period when we experienced happier times. A soulmate of another kind.

Have a listen.

If I only had today…

Today I came home crying, I’ve been here before, losing one parent was difficult enough, not knowing how long it would take, the journey it would take and how Cancer would play out. This selfish all consuming, all devouring disease with no inhibitions or care in the world just an egotistical swipe left ghost of a figure.

Why did I cry? The next part of the journey is a different equally challenging one, Dementia. A debilitating, short term memory swiping not quite disease. Still a condition that is labelled with stages from mild to essentially “no hope”. Still not answering the question, “why did I cry?”.

Gratitude – that  I had this moment today? Grateful that I had a day with my Dad?
Self-congratulatory – pat myself on the back because I’ve done my duty and spent some “quality” time with my Dad?
Guilt – that I didn’t spend enough time with my Dad?
Relief – that if anything happened between now and tomorrow, “at least I had today”
Sadness – that I wish I could have seen the signs earlier and spent less time frustrated and angry and more time patient and understanding?
Fear – that I won’t have anyone who will love and care for me in the same way if anything befalls me?

Did I cry because every time I’m there for my Dad, he says “sorry” for taking up my time, “sorry to disturb you”. I never make my Dad feel guilty and boundaries have to be made clear, but it makes me sad and angry to think why he has to say “sorry” and if others have made him feel like a burden or a bother.

The real reason is, I don’t know why, maybe because of all of the above things, maybe because I hate this fucking life with all it’s unfair, injustice shit it places on us. Maybe I’ve had too much wine (two glasses), “maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner and I love London town…”

I chose today, I chose to spend “quality time” with my Dad because in recent years, “quality time” has meant council visits to get him a home and benefits, hospital visits to find out he has Prostate Cancer.  It has meant finding out accidentally that I have a half-brother but with so many questions that will be left unanswered for my entire lift-time. And more hospital/clinic visits to find out that he has dementia and this is the next step.

Did I choose this life? Did I choose to have these challenges in my life to make my soul a more experienced, wiser being in the next life?  To develop to a Nirvana level in this life? How could I have chosen the pain, the suffering, the guilt, the worry, the stress; how? Because I am sure I would have wanted to be in the ice-cream guilt free zone of wealth, wisdom and ignorance, no?

I know I have this immense capacity to love, to give, to care and energy to encourage, but when I walk away, I am sometimes inconsolable with an undeniable outcome. Why was I never prepared for death or just the pain and endurance that one has to go through with life’s incurable toxins. These are not triggers from my childhood, these are not previous experiences before a certain age, this is fucking real life adulthood and it’s shit.

Do I sound ungrateful? Maybe? I sound fucked off with the cards I have been dealt with and I want to throw my toys out of the pram and rant and rave at how unfair it all is. But as most people I know say “it is what it is”. Fuck those words, it seems cold and calculating, a slap in the face of no mercy or prisoners to be found here. Take it or leave it? And I have to accept the inevitable, fate of destiny.

But fate doesn’t have to be a waiting game, I look to do everything possible to enable, to give advice, to make sure my Dad can do everything in his power, while he is capable to slow the inevitable down. While doing this, I have missed on two years of living life with him, having fun with him, day trips out with him, drinking with him.

Have I been selfish in thinking “Well, I was doing my duty as a daughter, at least I was there when he needed me the most, all the appointments”. Have I let my ego get in the way to think, “I’ve said all I can”, given him opportunities and now I can get on my horse and ride off with the knowledge that “there was nothing more I could have done”. I’m an absolute idiot if I think that.

I love my Dad and I don’t want our last months or years of memories to be sat down explaining to him that he has to think now about his funeral arrangements, his Will and whatever “end of life” endeavours he needs to consider. I want to have fun with my Dad, I want him to have fun with me. I don’t want him to get all stressed with me because I’m always talking about the seriousness of every situation.

Today I took him to three of my favourite special places in North London, spaces that make me feel like home never did, peaceful, a space to think and feel/be creative EZ and Moss. A place that always makes me feel like I’m part of the family Mento, Coffee and Flowers and a place “where everybody knows your name” Oak N4

The roles in life have now reversed, it’s my turn to look after, take responsibility of my Dad.  I’m glad I had today and I need to make sure there are more days like today.

Pain not hate!

I hate how I feel when I hear impending doom, I fear the worse, think the worse, I want to scream at the world, at the gods, at the universe to say why do you fuck with our lives like this, take loved ones away so suddenly, I had no time.

“Are you sitting down, take a deep breath”, and the words flow, the news hits and my head is all giddy from absorbing. I don’t want to create a story in my head, I don’t want to think about my send off music, like a walk on music. I don’t want to hear someone I know is dead!

Yes, I know death exists, we have to all exit one day but why smack me in the face, why punch me in the gut, why queasy and sick, why all the moments that I last spent with them and all the moments I could have spent more. Why make me hate.

Where is my grief, is this it? Is this the sadness, another empty hole that gets bigger with each departure, am I part of the whole or the whole of nothing? Images of my own death, images of a peaceful sleep, no one wants pain. Images of how my loveds ones will react, will I be missed,  will I see them from the other side and at least feel them one last time.

How can I hate death when I don’t know it, feel it or haven’t escaped it, or maybe I do and that’s why my feelings are so prominent. Why do I feel time slipping away, reminded of my age, reminded of memories left behind that I never want to see or meet. Nothing about it makes me feel peaceful, gracious of my time, legacies I wish to leave behind. All it does is make me want to fight it, box it, kick it and rage at it.

Leave me and all the people I love the fuck alone! I accept its fate but fate is far away in a distant future. A future where cryogenics restores us, nanotechnology keeps us a live, that potion keeps us young and healthy forever, I don’t want disease, I don’t want to linger, I don’t want to stop fighting until I come face to face with you, and know it’s my time. Please don’t let it be alone, please don’t let it be tomorrow, please let me say to all the people in my life “I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you!”.