I just dropped Pierre at the station and came back to an empty house for the first time since April. Elodie started at sixth form college today. It's amazing she's there as even last month we wondered whether she would manage it. It turns out that four other students in her year also have chronic fatigue. The college has 3100 students so perhaps that's not surprising, but I feel reassured that Elodie won't be the only "odd" one. Her tutor has suggested that she does either mornings or afternoons to help her cope, which seems brilliantly enlightened.
It had been suggested she drop Dance AS. There's a significant practical element to the course and not knowing Elodie yet, it seemed crazy to staff that she squander such energy she has. However, a life in dance is all Elodie has ever wanted. Although I'm very afraid that pushing herself the way she always has will set her recovery back, I don't have the heart to stop her. This past fortnight it's been a joy to see her dance moves again. I don't mean full routines but the idling, subconscious tics I hadn't realised had gone away while she was ill. So she's tapping out a routine with her toes as she watches TV, or when she stands eating a snack. The symbolism is spirit-lifting, so why do I feel so bereft?
I think I hadn't realised being so absorbed by the stresses of her illness, how much I loved having my daughter at home. It felt like another chance to get to know her again. Of course I'm glad she had the self-belief to start college rather than take the year out she was offered, but I feel with this new stage that she's left me. I don't like the fact that makes me sound needy, as consciously I've always encouraged our children to be independent. But Elodie went and I feel bereft. Bereaved.
I think the key is in the parallel of caring for Elodie as I cared for Juliette, and then she left. I'm sitting here crying at the realisation. I don't want to be feeling this, when it's so clearly different. Elodie is not dead and the fact that she has made it in for her first day at sixth form after several months of illness is a fantastic, positive thing. Why can't I untangle my emotions? Will it always be like this? How on earth am I going to manage when the four of them really do leave home? Is losing my beautiful girl going to resonate through events for the rest of my life? Probably, yes, but then what did I expect?