Fallen Tree

This is so fake. I know you can’t hear me and if I wanted to talk to myself I could do that at home.

I’ve never understood why people do this. Your mother said it would help me to come to terms with it but she won’t accept that I just don’t want to talk to anyone any more. What’s the point in talking when there’s nothing you want to say?

I did tell her I’d try though.

You’d like your gravestone. Your brother picked it out. It’s black granite with golden oak leaves and acorns around your name. It gets quite hot in the sun and it sort of feels like your body heat. I know that sounds silly.

He compared you to an oak tree in his eulogy too. Tom, I mean. He said you were the sturdiest member of the family and that you had always watched over us. Then he promised to do the same from now on. Sounds nice enough but I haven’t seen him since.

Your mother has the opposite problem. She’s barely left my side since you went. She treats me like I’m going to fall apart any minute. She won’t even let the boys play when I’m in the room.

Jacob got into a fight at school. I spoke to him about it and I’m pretty sure it was a one off. One of the older boys was teasing him and he lashed out. He promised it wouldn’t happen again.

Toby has been quiet. I’ve been trying to get him to open up a bit but every time he does your mother just tells him to be brave and not to cry. I’d like to ask them to give us some space but your dad has been amazing. He’s been keeping the garden going and I think that helps him too. I don’t think I’d know where to start if it were left to me. If I could ask Ruth to leave and hang on to Joe I think I probably would. You know she’s never liked me.

I had to go for a walk yesterday just to get a bit of peace. I went up across the heath and around the pond. The weather was quite nice. It was sunny but not too hot. Up at the pond, where all the birches are, one of them had fallen near the path and I just sat on it watching the world turn for a couple of hours. There are still no geese. I haven’t seen any all year. Plenty of ducks though. The ripples they sent across the water looked almost silver in the bright sun. It still smells foul up there though. I’m sure there must be a sewage leak somewhere up that way.

You’d think that might be the perfect place to get a bit of peace on a Wednesday afternoon but I’ve never seen so many people up there in my life. Almost all of them knew you and had something to say. I didn’t recognise half of them.

I walked down the high street on my way back and that was even more crowded. No one tried to speak to me though so at least that’s something. I really wish I didn’t have to talk to anyone. Not your mother, not your friends, not even you if you can’t hear me. And I definitely don’t want to talk to myself. I don’t even want to hear myself thinking. I’ve been searching for a bit of silence ever since you died but wherever I go, there I am, talking again.

The thing is, Jack, I’ve only really existed in relation to other people. I was what, nineteen, when we got married? I went from being a daughter to being a wife, and then a mother of course, and with you gone it feels like you’ve taken a large part of who I am with you. It’s like I’ve lost a leg but I keep trying to walk on it.

Ruth seems to be doing all the mothering now and with my family up north what’s left to define me? I feel as dead as you are. Like a ghost that walks around just looking for some peace. It’s purgatory, Jack and I’m starting to think life is wasted on the living.

Maybe Tom was right. Maybe you are the oak of the family, even now. Maybe that’s why we’re all so lost.

You’ll understand why the last thing I want to do is talk then. Talking won’t change anything. It’s better to just get on with it. And I think I better had. I will be back though. Tomorrow. With some flowers. I’ll speak to you again then.

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