“You have to carry the fire.”
I don’t know how to.”
Yes, you do.”
Is the fire real? The fire?”
Yes it is.”
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”
― Cormac McCarthy, The Road
I get the: “Is it helping?” question a lot about punting this blog along through my river of grief. If it’s moving me along nicely and honestly it hasn’t helped me, but that was never the point.
I felt such a compulsion to do justice to memory and story. It is testament to what a dark individual I am that rather than diving into all the self-help books that were given to me when James died, I found that most solace was to be found in Dante’s Inferno, Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights. The Only book that was to provide any help was C.S. Lewis- A grief observed. In it he recounts a memory of meeting a man he hadn’t seen in over twenty years. He had somehow reconfigured this man over time,so much so that he was unrecognisable as the man who stood in front of him. The man had not changed at all but he had been transformed by the unreliability of memory. I didn’t want this to ever happen to me and so this blog was born.
The blog has not helped me. What the blog has done for me or rather to me, is hurt me, because I am no longer able to swipe left. When I sit down at my computer and plunge into my pain, there is nowhere left to hide, and it’s hideous.
So why do it? Well the answer in on my T-shirt in the photo above.
Love for my son and my daughter, love for my husband, his love for my son and my daughter, their love for him, Really there’s nothing else. And I do not love lightly.
I won’t always been experiencing this level of pain because honestly it’s unsustainable. It’s humanly impossible to navigate through this amount of pain and truly one really needs to find some, if any way out of it. Grief is like Anthea Turner, you can take it in bits, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.
This blog originally set out to chart my progress in terms of the skills I’ve never had, nor needed, but needed to require. But the truth is I haven’t learnt to do anything. I’m still pretty useless. I can’t swim and I never did learn how to blanch a tomato. But I have learnt some things.
I’ve learnt how to spell the word lose, thanks to Gautom telling me “but you wrote it at least five times in that post!” Apparently it doesn’t have two os. I’ve learnt that Dave our carpenter thought I “went on a bit” in my ‘What to do” post.
I’ve learnt that some people are still uncomfortable when I mention James’ name and squirm a bit, but I haven’t learnt why this is. I have learnt though that when this does happen that I want to shout it over and over again in a manner akin to that bloke in The life of Brian who shouts: “Jehovah, Jehovah”
I have learnt that like Sia, I’ve got an elastic heart. I’ve learnt that I really do love a beard and that doesn’t seem to be going away. I’ve learnt to treat time with the respect that it deserves and that Reindeers are not better than people.
I can’t believe what I did for us. Crash and we burn into flames. Stitch myself up and I’d do it again. I can’t believe what I did for love. – David Guetta
For Claire Harwood.
3 thoughts on “What I did for love.”
Apologies for previously asking myself the same question that a lot of other people have about whether writing the blog helps. After reading this beautiful piece I can totally understand why the process of writing this is so extremely painful. At some point in the future you and your children will be so very glad that you put yourself through this agonising process for the love of James and your children. You have such an incredible gift that it feels like you are keeping alive James’s soul, your sense of humour, love and life together as a family through the brilliance and detail of your writing. Keep going. Xxx
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I love all the quotes from The Road you use through this project – it’s one of the greatest pieces of modern American Literature. I remember reading and watching it before I had a family and i’m very interested to watch it again now I’m married and have a son, as i’m sure it will change the context immensely.
I actually re-framed that ‘carrying the fire’ quote in my speech to my wife at our wedding, so it means a lot.
I’ve never lost anyone but reading this is a very important marker for us to appreciate what we have, so for that I thank you.
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