I woke up this morning with a memory. Well, it wasn’t so much a memory as a feeling. Because apparently old memories are mostly feelings. I woke up remembering the way my parents used to say my name together when I was a child. And it was mixed in with the feeling I felt when they called me by my name. So, I guess it was a memory feeling.
I don’t know why I remembered. It came to me as I was waking up – I turned over in bed and from nowhere, I heard them say my name in that kindly, authoritative way they had when they were together. They were my authority anyway. After they’d split up, in my very early teens, I never heard them say my name like that again. The way they said it changed when they weren’t together anymore. My parents always sounded different as individuals.
It was nice to hear them this morning. Bittersweet. It jolted me forwards and reminded me of something I’ve read recently – that children can deal with grumpy parents and fractious relationships in their family much more than we think they can. This is because children’s propensity to forgive and be optimistic is justified by knowing their family are together. In other words, children aren’t seeking perfection. They’re not trying to live their best lives. They’re just riding on their sense of togetherness.
It was nice to read. Not only because it made me feel better for the, at times, worrying instability happening within my own family. It also validated the feeling of loss when my own family fell apart.
My parents’ breakup was such a strange thing to grieve. I realise now I had no way of navigating it as a process. My parents, after all, weren’t dead. I remember justifying I had no reason to grieve it as if someone had died. What I realise now is that something did indeed die. It was the way they spoke my name when they were together. Such a small thing. This intimate sound that had been my earliest memory. My safest place. It would never happen again.
I didn’t pay it enough heed at the time. Plus there was no choice. I just tried to get on with my life. My teenage years were starting and I desperately wanted to believe the hype. I wanted to believe it was the time to live; when you’re young and strong and anything is still possible. There was just too much noise around me. Grief was a low, sort of static.
In spite of it, I tried to promote our family’s happiness – my parents’ happiness, my brothers’ happiness. My own happiness. I wanted it to rise above what I was going to miss. So imagine hearing your name spoken after so many years, out of nowhere, while waking up on a Tuesday morning.
Writing every day now means documenting the small stuff. This particular blog has to be one of the smallest.
Who knew it would be so big?