November 4Today would have been my mum's 69th birthday.
Earlier today, I had an email from S, my sister. She was telling me about her daughter's birthday, earlier this week. She said something funny happened and she reached for the phone to call Mum.
It is like that. It happened so suddenly we are shell shocked. We do not quite believe it. We do not want it to be true. Sometimes life is just a procession of things you do not want to be true that are true.
So I haven't been coping well with it. I feel like a prop that was holding me up has been knocked away. A couple of days ago my girlfriend walked out. I'm not going to get into the rights or wrongs of that. If she doesn't want to be with me, well, that's fine. I have supported her as best I can -- sometimes tried and failed to support her is nearer the truth -- through a mental illness that makes her difficult to cope with. I would so much like to talk to Mum about that, just to let her know what has happened and let her know I am all right with it. And I am all right with it. After all, this is a woman who did not express any sorrow that my mum had died and never once asked me how I was feeling about it.
It is going to be difficult. This is something that should have had a proper transition. We have a family that has broken up. It's not decent to just walk out on that. It's not really decent to walk out on a lease that you just signed but I pay the rent anyway so all I have lost there is the hope that she would find work and contribute at some point. I am more concerned that I am left with the mess she and her kids made, which we have both put off and put off until I suppose we move out. I will have to cope with that and with suddenly having to take care of things I didn't take care of before.
But it's no use talking about decency with someone who focused so much on herself that she did not know how to be decent. If she had, we would still be together. Of course, she will feel that I should have been nicer. I should have been, perhaps, but I have always worked in a transactional way. I find it hard to do things for nothing because I'm selfish like that. I wish sometimes I was different but I'm not. It's not as though I wasn't kind to her, don't get me wrong. It's just that people want what they want and sometimes you can give it to them and sometimes you can't. Sometimes you need them to give you what you want too.
I think she will be okay. When I have thought about splitting up with her, I have been concerned that she would not cope, that she might kill herself. I was scared of seeing her crying, how much that would hurt, that I had caused it. But in the end, I don't feel like I've caused anything. I am willing when I do wrong to accept that I have, and of course I know I did wrong here and there. I would feel discontent if I felt I had driven her out. But I didn't. We had an argument because she insisted on taking something the wrong way (which she couldn't help; her perception and reality are permanently a few degrees off from each other -- which is hard to deal with when she insists people's motivations, including mine, are bad when they are not) and she chose to leave. Well, she threatened to go, as she has done several times, and I yelled, right, go and don't come back. I would be sorry if I made someone sad enough not to want to be with me. I was very sorry I was not a better husband to Mrs Zen, although there too I was stuck with a woman who wanted to take without giving (and seriously, I was not asking for very much from her) and I can't handle that very well.
It didn't help that she didn't like two of my kids and let them know it. Zenella is a teenager and isn't very likeable if truth be told. She can be difficult and moody. But she is not evil, just hormonal and selfish, the way teens can be. I don't blame B for finding her hard to deal with and I don't really blame her for blaming me for not being able to manage Zenella very well. It's hard to share parenting with an ex. You end up in a downward spiral of competitive bad parenting, neither wanting to be the one the kid hates for being hard on them. And I'm not very good at being a dad in the first place. Is anyone? I mean, seriously, are any of us equipped for what the job takes? I am good at loving kids in an abstract way and not always so good at the practical love that you have to give. Should I be hated for that? Should I be punished by someone who themselves is terrible at giving love, terrible at thinking about anyone else? Maybe it is fair to judge me against some absolute, I don't know. But I tend to feel you must consider everything relative. I may not be good in every way but I have good in me. Or so I want to believe.
But she was also mean to Naughtyman, who did nothing wrong except be a small boy. Her elder son's flaws she would quickly forgive: she didn't mind that he's a bully, for instance, or that he would hit her younger boy. She minded that Naughtyman is loud and can be trying. But where she could see the sweetness in her son -- and he is also a sweet boy, don't get me wrong -- she refused to see it in Naughtyman. My gentle, loving boy. A boy who has no bad in him, just a desire to have what he wants. No different from her in that, yet she wanted me to see only her good (and she had lots of good, I'm not trying to paint her as some devil, not at all -- I didn't choose to be with her, or to stay with her, for no reason).
I am not bitter though. Just worn out. For months I have just not had the emotional energy to cope with a person who needed much more than I felt able to give without return. And my mum's dying has drained me emotionally.
That's all. If you've read this post through, you have been my mum for a few minutes. Thank you for that. My mum would say something uplifting but I don't need anyone to do that because it only really meant anything from her. She would always end her letters by saying she sent me good vibes. I felt them and I know that even though she has gone, the vibes remain, and I will try to do better so that they are not wasted on me.