Letters to my sons. Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

August 19, 2019

Missing Mrs D.

Filed under: Family,Memories — Administrator @ 9:50 pm

Dear Boys,

Yesterday we set off for the annual Trini Limers cricket match and it was a very good day. An annual catch-up with people flying in from around the world – some staying for Nottinghill Carnival, some not.

And for the very first time, it really hit me that Theresa was missing. I wept at her funeral as both of you did, but the momentous loss was always just out of sight, hidden over the horizon with only the odd sight of smoke from a fire, to give it away. Easy to turn away and pretend it hadn’t been seen then to engage, walk over and confront it.

Yesterday there was no where to run. At the end of the match there was a brief act of remembrance and once again I cried. Grief is, at it’s very core, a selfish act. The person who died maybe doesn’t even know they are dead, they aren’t suffering, and in some circumstances will have wanted to die. But those of us left behind are now missing out and we don’t want to, and we don’t know why we should have to. 

With the benefit of time and the suppressed emotions and memories forced to fore, what better time than now to really get all the poisonous grief out of my system? Because ultimately that is what grief – a hideous toxic chemical that had a half-life of millions of years, it  can not be broken down, only expelled. Caribbean funerals are great at this – no stiff upper lip nonsense. Cry and wail all you want and no one judges, everyone left to grieve in the fashion they see fit. Your great grandma, Uncle Wayne and then your grandma; they all had fantastic and emotional send-offs. So did Theresa.

We all went to visit her in hospital, a week before she died. She was still strong, still bossy. She wanted water with 4 ice cubes in it. We gave her a kiss on the forehead as we left. Mummy was visiting almost every day but I had stayed away. I apologised for not visiting more and said I would explain when you guys weren’t there. She told me she knew why and it was okay – and I sincerely believe that she did know why: in the face of death I run away, I distance myself from it. I did it with my mother – I ran away to France and then to South Wales. I moved back to the North East when they moved to the North West and then, sensing that even that was too close, moved to London. I had even planned my escape to back to Chamonix when I met your mother. Her emotional and loving gravitational pull and then the birth of you too – there is no way I could ever leave of my own choosing.

So what can I say of Theresa? She was the first of the Trini crew that I met when mummy took me to her and Edison’s house. Her smile when she first saw me – I knew I was going to be accepted. She had a clarity of thinking that I envy – how ever big the project, she seemed to know the different steps required. She was honest to the point of brutality but not for brutalities sake – she took no joy in it. Always ready to listen. After my mother died she became more of a mother figure than the big sister she had been before. There was always veggie food for me and her macaroni pie …

No person is perfect and after a death there is a tendency to re-write history to the extent that the deceased has a Midas touch and their shit smelt of roses. We had our differences over the years – and the odd argument. But nothing major, nothing worth noting.

I still miss you T. Your wise words, your unflinching optimism that every problem can be broken down and solved piece by piece until the obtainable goal is easily in reach, the telling off’s for being defeatist, the pep talks when I was down, having the right words at the right time at the right pitch. Grief is selfishness. I want all that right now, I don’t want to have to dig into my own psyche and find answers for myself – I want you to do it for me. 

And I can’t find the picture that I want – of you asleep on our sofa, with Philip the dog keeping you company. So instead I’ll use a picture from the Ion Bar, now a Sainsburys, from around 2002.

Theresa D’Abreu 1966 – 2018.

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