My birthday

“Tell me something good.”

“I can’t. I don’t have the words.”

“Yes you do.”

“You know I’m not good in English.”

“Yes you are. Go on, tell me something good.”

“I love you. And I miss you.”

His eyes were closed, head resting on his hand which lay between him and his pillow. At first his words seemed unreal, almost humoured in tone: his go-to when I ask him to open up. But then, as he continued, his tone changed and I knew that every word he said was true.

“I miss your kisses and your hugs. I miss coming to you in the morning and coming next to you in the bed. I miss wrapping your legs with my legs. I miss kissing you and touching your body. I miss making love.

I miss your laughter and your smiles. I miss coming home from work and you’re waiting for me.”

He laughs a little.

“I miss those kisses where I am afraid, but you hold me with both hands and you kiss me again and again. And I am afraid my parents will see but you kiss me again.”

Tears ran down my face as he spoke but I was smiling too. For he said everything that I felt, everything that I loved and everything that I missed too.

The best birthday present I have ever received.

Insatiable

There is a hard stone in the middle of my chest, weighing me down. I feel like it’s threatening to pull me over and then down, down, down in to the earth.

Very little seems to take away the sensation. I’m binge eating like never before: each day telling myself that tomorrow I will eat better. But my non-hunger is insatiable. Nothing helps so I keep cramming it in. I crave salt and then sugar. I am thirsty. Nothing satisfies me.

I miss him.

I always miss him. Every day. And every time I go, I don’t want to leave him. But this time was different. I didn’t want to come home.

When I did, the world seemed dull. Like all the colours were muted. Cold seems to seep from the ground and into my bones. I walked into my home, and I hated it. I hated everything about it.

My children arrived and for a moment, when they hugged me and kissed me, my heart was light again. But soon they were bickering and arguing…the dishwasher needed emptying, food needed cooking, and needed to unpack…and I didn’t want to. I don’t want this life.

Just thinking that makes me feel bad. Another stone drops into my heart, heavy and aching. How can I be happy leaving my children behind? I’m not.

But nothing, even them, is erasing that heaviness in my chest.

Last night, for a moment, I was free.

As I do sometimes, towards the end of our call, I ask him to tell me something nice. He usually does the opposite in jest and makes me laugh, or acts like a pantomime dame in his over exaggeration.

But last night, he told me he misses me. He misses my lips and my kisses. He misses my face and my smile. He misses my eyes, he misses my laugh.

And my heart felt light. I felt my soul soar, I was surprised at his honesty, his tone, his rush of words like he had no control. And I told him, “you sound serious this time baby.” And this time, this time he was.

Thoughts of you

“Sometimes, my love, I get so frustrated. So frustrated that I could just explode like an overfilled balloon.

Occasionally, a really BIG frustration is our language barriers, simply because I can not explain. Sometimes there are emotional things to say, layers of things, and we don’t have the words. So we simplify and in simplifying, we are missing a huge part of what needs to be discussed. 

Take tonight. Yes, we’ve discussed this before. But the simple sum of it, not the complex and unique equation. So let me try now.

I miss you every single day. From the moment I am awake until the moment I fall asleep, thoughts of you are with me. Most days,  just to see your face and hear your voice is enough to keep me going. I still miss you, and wish there was more, but I can be satisfied with what we have as it is a promise of more to come.

Some days are not so easy. Those are the days I need you. I need to feel the warmth of your skin and hear your heart beating. I need the softness of your lips on mine.

On those days, seeing you and speaking to you is not quite enough. I need more.

Sometimes, I just need a date, somewhere in the future that I can fix my mind on, so that these hard days are just a step towards when I will next be with you.  Covid has stopped that. Yet again we are in the unknown, not knowing when borders will open and we can plan to see each other again.

And then there are days where something will happen, something small, but it just adds to how I’m feeling. Maybe you’re busy and we can not talk as much. Maybe you’ve had a bad day and you can’t be as present. Maybe an ex has called or … anything that makes me feel further away from you. Perhaps I’ve seen a couple in love and feel jealous. Maybe I’ve had a bad day. I,, n those small moments, it feels like you are a million miles away. The missing you and that little thing come together to just explode the distance in my mind. Then, my body is filled with the shrapnel of those thoughts and that pain.

And then comes the next pain. Because I try to hide it. I know i’m being irrational and stupid and I try but I always fail because you know me. But in telling you, it makes it worse because then you’re frustrated too.

In those moments, I wonder if you’re better off without me.  I’m no good to you.

Unfortunately, my mood this morning was not much better than yesterday. I was low with no clear indication of why.

I applied my make up in an attempt to cheer myself up. It wasn’t long before Wildcard called me, which put a smile on my face.

Apparently, not big enough though. He knew – as he always does – that something was off. And, as always, he wouldn’t let it go until I told him.

Problem was, I was not sure I knew myself until it just came out. I said how Christmas was a difficult time for me. He asked why. I said because I felt lonely.

Was that true, I asked myself? I had said it without thinking. I don’t look forward to Christmas like I used to, even as an adult I was excited about the experience for my children and as a married woman.

Wildcard asked how I could be lonely: I would be with my sisters and my children. This is true. And my children and sisters are everything to me.

But. But at that moment, I could only think about my Dad. And my mum. And Wildcard. How I couldn’t have what I wanted. I’m not a greedy person. I don’t care about gifts. I just love Christmases with my whole family around me, like I when I was a child. I can’t have my Dad. Or my mum. Or my boyfriend.

Yes, I sound like a spoilt child. And his words made me realise that which is one of the things I really love about him. He challenges me to see things from a different angle. I was feeling sorry for myself and it needed to stop. I needed to find my Christmas spirit again.

‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens is a wonderful novel all about just that. At the end, Ebenezer Scrooge says he will live with the spirit of Christmas the whole year through – the past, present and future.

I had wonderful Christmases as a child and that was because of my parents and my sisters. I need to remember that.

At present, I am lucky enough to be in a position to see my sisters, spend part of Christmas with my children through my amicable relationship with my ex and then have some time with myself/Wildcard.

The future is unknown of course but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight for the future I want.

Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone!

The sharing, the look, the love.

The share… A mixture of feelings. Intrepidation as I walk through the garden because I try to see it with fresh eyes, their eyes. I want them to love it which is bizarre in itself as they may never get to see it in person. A sobering thought.

After, I hastily show them as it was: pictures of long ago, of a time when my father would be seen daily with his hoe or his wheelbarrow. His mother smiles and compliments and I am happy.

What are they thinking? Why does it matter so much? Why did he want me to show them?

The call ends, for now.

The look… Later, we are laughing again. He pauses in his mimicry and mischievousness to look at me, eyes crinkled in a smile. I know that look, love that look, as I know it mirrors mine. He disappears for a moment and then when he returns I watch him. I’m always watching him.

He’s preparing some food and whilst he does, a look of such intensity passes his face. In the hours and hours of my study of his face this look is new. At first it excites: it shows off his deep dark eyes well, his full lips pursed invitingly. But, within moments, my attraction is forgotten. I sense that this face is not as it should be.

I ask if he is OK, and he says yes but I know better.

We walk to his room and he lies down, his head resting on his hand, on his pillow. There is sadness on his face.

And so the dance begins… The to and fro, the questions and answers, the hiding and seeking. Eventually he tells me.

As he was talking with me, he had remembered something he had watched on the news earlier that day. It had come to him and replayed in his mind and had made him sad. He asked if I wanted to see and I agreed because I wanted to understand this transformation in him.

I watch. The boy, small and slight, frightened and alone, is led out of the house. The picture is fuzzy but you can see the little mask on his face. The paramedics are gentle, caring, as he is lifted into the ambulance. Another follows with his bags. Despite this care, there is the knowledge that this little boy is now alone, at 4 years, carrying a virus that he may not survive.

My heart aches for the boy. As a mother…as a human being, you cannot help be touched by that video and all its implications.

But my heart aches for my man too. For his grief. For the way the memory of that video could transform him, so quickly. My heart fills with love for this affectionate and compassionate man and I wish, more than anything, that I could be with him so that my love could pour into him and soothe his pain.

Another day, another ending.

The share… He is lying on his bed again and we are talking. His mother enters and sits with him. He begins to translate. I watch his face as he turns to her, listens, concentrating, and I can hear the lilt and tumble of those words and sounds that I can not understand but love so much. He turns to me then and translates and I write down his instructions.

This carries on for a little while. Occasionally I ask questions, sometimes he mimes to clarify. I’m filled with pride for him as he explains in a language he claims he is not good at but I know better. Hours of us talking every day have helped him and I am proud of that too. Equally though, I can see the concentration on his face and the occasional frustration too.

“You know I get nervous when I have to talk like that and I am trying to listen to my mother and then find the words to tell you. It’s exhausting.” He sees my smile, my laugh and says “but you like it though, don’t you? You like seeing me like that?” He laughs himself but the chance to reply or explain is taken from me as the call has to end abruptly.

The look… Later. Another call. Laughter, laughter, laughter. My sides ache, tears run down my face… And yet, I still see that moment. The moment when he is laughing too, uncontrollably, so much so that he pauses his performance and we just laugh together.

And although he is laughing too, I know this is all for me. I see it in the way he watches me, his smiles at my laughter. He continues until I can barely breathe.

But then he tires and so do I. The joking slows. His head rests on his hand, on his pillow. And at that moment I am overwhelmed. He looks at me with such intensity and love. My heart fills with love and it aches to be near him, my body to touch him, my love to pour into him. I’ve never wanted him so much in all our time together… Our bodies and souls to connect physically as they have just done mentally in our shared laughter.

“What’s this face? I’ve not seen this face before. Tell me what’s on your mind..” and the dance begins, the to and the fro, the questions and answers. I don’t tell him but the explanation is not needed anyway. Within seconds he tells me: knowing me and reading me with ease, as he always does.

As the day before, the call ends with love.

“I love you, so much baby” His voice is soft and a little gruff and the sound and sight of his kisses threaten to overwhelm me.

He watches and waits for mine and I send them, my heart and soul willing for the magic to transport the gesture over time and place so he may feel just a little of what I feel for him.

Back to reality

Yesterday morning’s journey home, and the rest of the day in fact, was filled with messages and phone calls and expressions of love and longing.

It’s a weird situation to be in: whilst my body ached, physically missing him (you know, unsettled stomach and butterflies etc) the regular contact and heartfelt affection from him made me happy. Made us both happy.

“Come here. Come here to me and rest your head on my chest: it’s your place. Come here to me. I want to stroke your hair and kiss your face and kiss your hand.” Every word a memory of him doing exactly that, of me resting my head on his chest as we cuddled in bed, every single day. Knowing that he wanted those moments again too, well, it makes it all the more special.

Today I was back in work. I woke at 4am, again. And whilst I dozed for half an hour or so, eventually I just ended up looking at our photos and reading all the messages from yesterday.

At 6am I wished him a safe journey – for the remainder of his time off work he was travelling with his family and was about to set off on a seven hour car journey to stay with relatives.

I’ve thought about him all day. Of course I have. And whilst I feel justified in that – we’ve only been apart for a day and I was concerned about his long drive, I know that I have to get back to reality at some point. He can’t keep dominating my every thought, can he?

Sure, things are really good between us. But this is going to be a long process if it works at all. And my life has to carry on.

This is going to be the hard part, I guess. Not just missing him. Not the anxiety and wondering. The loving him from a distance and trying to live a normal life part.

Part of this is self preservation as much as anything. If it does end then my life needs to carry on. I can’t put my life on hold for something that probably has the odds stacked against it. It hurts me to say that, but it’s true.

My life has to carry on. And yes, he will be a part of it. We will continue with our routine and hopefully we will see each other again soon. But I can’t live on cloud nine, can I?

When I finished work I messaged him and asked if he was OK, still driving etc. He called me and he was indeed still driving and deep in concentration. God it was good to see his face. And then his Dad saw me from the back seat and made such a fuss of me, saying hello and talking about their trip. It was so lovely – he genuinely looked pleased to see me. And when my gaze drifted to Wild Card’s face, I could see he was pleased with his Dad’s reaction too. That was nice.

He’s just messaged to say they have finally arrived at their destination. I’m longing to see him, to speak to him, but his life has to carry on too. So, I’ve told him I’m glad he is safe and sound and have asked him to call later, if he can, because I miss him.

In the meantime, whilst every sense is attuned to my phone and waiting for that call, I have to carry on with washing and tidying and getting ready for work.

Reality is not easy.