Back In Another World

Following on from the stress of Cannyrob’s illness, I had to face another, unexpected challenge.  I have permission from my Son to tell some of his story. This is a poem I wrote many years ago when he had a serious breakdown.

Code for Another World

If I could break the code,
I could feel what you feel
I could see what you see,
I could know the strangeness
Of your other world.

If I could break the code,
I could know where you go
When your eyes stare blankly
And you listen to the whispers
Which you can't ignore.

If I could break the code,
I'd push through the mirror,
Find a chink to let me in
Taste the terror on the tongue,
Share the shiver down the spine.

If I could break the code,
I would hold your hand
And look into your eyes,
Drag you out of the terror,
Bring you back and change the code

That was also a time of ‘ hanging on in there'(see May post)  Hoping for the right medication.  Waiting for my boy to come back to me.  He did. But it took a long time.

While Cannyrob is in hospital, something happens to my Son, my middle child, thoughtful and caring. Not a boy any more, but a grown man with his own home and friends. He isn’t answering his phone or reading messages. Family, friends and neighbours are worried about his well-being. 

I feel as I did when I wrote that poem more than 20 years ago, waiting for help, unable to look after my child.  I have no power to save him, any more than I did then.  Panic floods me, overwhelming my body and mind.  After him being so well, I had become used to not worrying, after years of ever-present anxiety, like the dog of the Tarot fool which constantly nips at his leg.

I can’t cry, although unshed tears collect beneath my breastbone.  I was dry- eyed when my parents died. I shed no tears when Cannyrob was dangerously ill.   There will be weeping later, when it’s safe to cry, at a sad film or a  song that stirs up feelings. Sleep at night is elusive, although I nod off during the day.  I can’t concentrate on complex tasks but find ways to distract myself.

After an anxious time, the mental health team offer him extra support. Now things are getting better. Son and I are meeting up for coffee, enjoying being together, messaging each other. The panic is easing and everyday routines are back in place.

This month’s card, the Chariot, is a ‘seed’ card, to do with moving on, transition, returning to the world. The charioteer is seeking equilibrium. This fits the situation of many of us in this ‘post Covid’ time. We travel on, hoping for the best.

Audiobooks have been my main diversion:  psychological mystery Liar by K L Slater, Middlemarch by George Eliot,  a 36 hour treat,  Ruth Rendell’s  The Rottweiler (dated and predictable), Ghost Child, Sisters of Mercy, Matilda is Missing, One Chance – more legal thrillers by Australian writer Caroline Overington. Music has been helping too – downloading favourites I had on cassette – Dire Straits, Tina Turner. Elton John, singing along in the car, enjoying driving again.

I’ve hardly read at all. I finished Katherine Rundell’s stunning biography of John Donne. I enjoyed The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan, a young Scottish writer I really rate. My book group’s choice was A Confederacy of Dunces – a Pulitzer prize winning comic novel set in New Orleans with a hapless hero. Not my usual kind of book but it it did make me laugh. On Kindle I’m still reading The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister.

Meantime,  Cannyrob is getting better, overdoing the exercises but mostly pacing himself.  His dance teacher visits with scones, jam and clotted cream.   At first I couldn’t leave him for long, but I now swim early in the morning, go to Pilates and meet friends for coffee.

On TV we’ve watched The Great, Slow Horses (Gary Oldman is the star), Derry Girls (missed first time time round and a real comedy tonic), Severance and The Lincoln Lawyer. The David Attenborough dinosaur series Prehistoric Planet is jaw-droppingly good. I am not a fan of wild-life programmes but this has me hooked. Made in Chelsea and The Great British Sewing Bee are regular favourites. I’m still loving Outlander, on Season 5 now with slavery, Mohawks and home-made penicillin.

Watched/streamed on BBC 1, All4, Starzplay, Apple TV+ and Netflix

I have spent quite a lot of time in the garden. Tulips layered in tubs in the Autumn have provided wonderful shapes and colours. Seed potatoes and sweet peas are planted, flower seeds sown and paths remade.

I attend a Memorial for a former colleague, my boss when I returned to teaching . Lower College Hall is rather like a packed staff meeting from the 80s with many familiar faces, but with spectacles and white hair. It brings back many good memories of this compassionate, fair and kind man who gave equal attention to everyone in the school, pupils, janitors, teachers and office staff. It was an important time in my life and I enjoy meeting former colleagues, while remembering others who died too young.

I can’t overstate the comfort of messages, calls and comments from so many people who know us – family, friends, neighbours – and others who are online contacts – Facebook friends. Instagram and blog readers.  Carole who I met through drumming,  writes about her cancer treatment with a calm insight and responds with empathy to my posts.  Jessica, a fellow blogger, has been through testing times too, yet provides understanding.  I feel supported and held by all of this wider care as well as the constant love of our immediate families. Thank you all, love, Elinor