tLP and I get our own time together when Miss Mog is in respite, and the dynamics are different again; freed from the necessity to compete we get silly giggly spontaneous expeditions or calm uninterrupted cuddles, and occasionally a swim, although these are trickier to sort out now that swimming lessons are back in session and pools are closed to the public after school. We get to go for walks holding hands, sneak out for fish and chips, or just sit and chat. And always, she likes to phone Mog at respite, and check up with the nurse that all is going well.
But this was a different kind of tLP free day; Mog and I went into Oxford to the Magic Cafe. And as I sat
And then Mog and her other mother went for another music session of a rather different kind, and I had a whole two hours to myself, to be spent pootling along the Cowley Road. Dipping into Oxfam, I found a book I'd been hearing good things about and thinking I ought to read, a copy of Swallows and Amazons, identical to the one I had loaned out several years ago and never had returned, and slotting beautifully into my newly pruned bookshelves beside the rest of the series, and a new Kipper book for tLP. And then the cashier disappeared with my books, returning after five minutes with an apology, and a discount as one had been wrongly priced. Hurrah!
A bit more of a wander, and the shops began to pall, so I slipped away from the traffic and into one of the more peaceful spots on this planet.
Closely supervised by a very nosy, but very upside down squirrel, I meandered through the churchyard and cemetary
propping myself up on a tree trunk to read a few chapters of my new book
It's an odd place really. Where else would you find four bicycle shops all within a few hundred yards of each other? Twelve different barber shops, cuisine from around the world, little shops selling okra and yams and sharan fruit and rice, university students and staff and young families, two hospices, a couple of convents and some very adult shops and bars, all side by side with this peaceful woodland memorial churchyard and cemetery in the middle?
Old graves and newer graves, beloved husbands and mothers and children. And this:
And so I think of Goldie. I don't visit her grave; she is not there; it is not a site which has much meaning for me. And it is, in any case, far more important to her other family, and it would only cause extra grief if we were to meet there unexpectedly. There are other places which are far more Goldie-ful than one small slice of earth. We will meet again one day, and what an amazing meeting that will be. Meanwhile I'll catch her echoes along school corridors and in quiet spots at church, in photographs and with friends and in the sudden wave of recollections which wash up, released by a phrase or an expression or any one of a hundred unexpected things.
So I paused to photograph the marker, and then paused again when I came to write this as to whether I would include it. It is, after all, someone else's story and not my own to tell. So I hope the flower-giver, the rememberer, will forgive any hurt if I have intruded upon his or her grief. And I hope those friends I have to do visit graves - and how can it possibly be that I have more than one set of friends who nurture a too-small grave? - will also understand that I mean no disrespect by not visiting, and cast no criticisms their way either. We just mourn differently.
And then, because life's like that, and because time runs on even when it feels as though it has stopped, I walked back to one of the hospices, collected a happy singing Mog, and drove back home, picking up a very contented Little Princess on the way. And there was tea, and there were bedtime routines, and there was much silliness with the cat, and it was a good day.