That night in the Turkish bar Mumzie made some witty quip that reminded me of how clever and entertaining she can be in the most unexpected way. Impulsively, I leant over, hugged her, and gently kissed her neck. She whispered
That’s what I miss
I knew she meant dad. We had barely talked of him. At that time, 6 months after his passing, I hadn’t even seen her cry. Not even at the funeral. I was amazed by her stoicism. I’d burst out in floods of tears as soon as I saw the coffin and couldn’t stop until it disappeared from view. Some people were disturbed by mum”s lack of emotive expression, some thought it meant she didn’t care. I didn’t think that. We talked of practical things, of all the bureaucracy, furniture shifting, and belongings sorting that follows a death. We worked our grief through engaging with things and doing.
Here, in Minneapolis, almost a year to the day after his death, I first saw her cry. Mum had accompanied me on a trip here to help me choose a place to live. We visited museums, historic buildings, art galleries and the American Swedish Institute (ASI). In the ASI we looked at traditional Swedish glassware, stoves, decorations, weaving. It was beautiful and very reminiscent of things in my parents home. As we walked into one room mum whispered ‘your dad would have loved this’. She was right, I could see his happy face and hear him telling us stories about his childhood in Sweden as an evacuee during WW2. I gave us a big hug. She knew why I’d wanted to come to the ASI. He’s part of me, I seek happiness in the things that made him happy. Mum and I share memories of dad’s being in a way that cannot be spoken. I think we miss him in a similar way, though I’m more prone to talking, writing, about it.
Recently, during a skype call, mumzie enthusiastically described her first trip to the Lake District. It sounded marvellous, snow capped mountain hikes (she’s 79!), lakes, windy roads, old trains, and then she mentioned the mill. An old mill “Your dad would have loved it”. This time without tears, and I smiled. I visited a Mill here in Minnesota recently and thought exactly the same thing. He’s with us on all our adventures, in spirit. Then mum started talking about the Russian formula 1 race that was on her TV. She described how it’s not as much fun to watch when she doesn’t have someone who cares more about it to share watching it with.
“I know what you mean” the words sounded weak to convey the depth of understanding. So many experiences loose their ‘edge’ when the partner you’d shared them with, enjoyed them with, even enjoyed them because of that partner, is no longer there. So many everyday things that I once engaged-in with agust, have faded from fun things to enjoyable things. As if the loss of a loved one throws a permanent damp blanket on one’s capacity to fully engage with those things.
Loss seeps through the jolly chatter of everyday things