For the past few days I have been with my son, as I am almost every day, as I have been for the past four years. But just at present, things are a little different. He is, of course, still as annoying… he takes almost a professional pride in that.
I usually do his housework and cooking, of course, and the other things that need to be looked after on a daily basis. I may be his carer, but I am also Mum… as well as his personal house hobbit. And we have a lovely relationship. We can talk about most things, and do. We laugh about a lot of them. We insult each other creatively and know each other’s moods so well that a look will do, every time.
His home is a bachelor pad to die for. Technology hides in every corner, gadgets and gizmos nestling in between the glossy black surfaces. The carefully designed minimalist house quickly became a home as he added his own touches and humour to it, pinched my paintings and took up music. But of course, change is afoot and now the house has to cease to be a bachelor pad and become a home for two as he and his Faith prepare to begin the journey of a lifetime together.
Of course, he has spread out since he moved into his own home and every nook and cranny is full of stuff. It worked for him… but for it to be a home for both of them, space needs to be found and the place organised somewhat.
A determined assault was begun. So, we’ve tackled the overstuffed cupboards, gutted the wardrobe and drawers, washed walls and windows and are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unless, of course, you go in the living room, which has become a holding area for things needing to go in the loft.
But something struck me, as the entire contents of the wardrobes were stacked in piles across the bed, with my son half buried under the heaps, directing operations. It may explain some of the lurking weepiness of the past few days. This is our last little bit of time as things are. Things are changing, wonderfully, beautifully, joyfully… but changing nonetheless.
I suppose every parent feels it in some way or another. My sons, however, left home a long time ago and settled into their own lives, the way it is meant to be. That was fine. It was something I expected … welcomed even…and I have never been one to hold fast to my sons’ shirt tails. They have always been encouraged to be independent and I happily helped them pack and watched them walk off into the sunset, so to speak, laughingly threatening to change the locks.
Yet, watching my eldest son take that first impossible breath without the ventilator, seeing him grow into life again, it seemed likely that his life and mine would remain closely entwined for as long as I was able to care for him. Back then we were given no hope of independence, far from it. And as he took his usual path of achieving the impossible, breaking the rules and defying every prognosis, we grew into a closeness even deeper than when he was a child. Issues had to be addressed that no-one should have to face. Emotions, hope, despair, determination…blood, sweat and tears… all were shared and I have taken such delight in his company and the bright mind that somehow, incredibly, survived the attack that left him so close to death.
As we went through the cupboards, remnants of the past few years reminded us of the journey we have taken, the extremes to which we have been pushed and pulled, the pain and the therapies undergone. As I washed the walls today I read in the marks there a journey of utter courage and a relentless and indomitable will. The marks show the scuffs and falls, the traces of the stubborn workouts and walking practice. I erased them as best I could, smiling through the tears in my eyes much of the time. A new chapter now begins where living life matters more than the details of a purely physical recovery.
This chapter is full of adventure and excitement, a journey into unknown territory. I could not be happier for them both… they are a beautiful couple and every day I give thanks for that beauty coming into being.
He gave me a T-shirt today. Were I a house-elf and not a house-hobbit, the significance would be obvious… it represents freedom. Very soon I will watch as they head off into a sunrise, this time hand in hand and with so much love and possibility before them.
Yet, beneath all the joy, beneath the hand-rubbing glee of a woman who sees light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, there is a Mum not afraid to say … I’m going to miss him.