Tuesday, 6 September 2011

New beginnings and old endings

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?

12 comments:

  1. It will resonate forever, but you will not be the only one to feel sad that their child is now at sixth form college. The next move she makes will be away from home. And with that you will be sad again, and happy - just as you are now! You've been through so much recently and you were probably holding yourself together for Elodie - now she's gone you've collapsed.

    Look after yourself - you are the most amazing person, with a beautiful family. Take care...

    Pxx

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  2. You are untangling your emotions - through your writing, Geves. It's testament to how well you've cared for Elodie that not only is she starting to recover but that she has the strength of mind to pursue her dreams. I hope her feet go from tapping to dancing those full routines very soon. How wonderful that the college are being so good.

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  3. What a lovely thing to say, Petra, thank you. I'm sure you're right as well, I'd be emotional anyway. xx

    Thank you, Tricia. I really hope so too. xx

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  4. I know of several mums who have gone to pieces a bit this week with little/older kids off to infants/secondary/college for the first time. You're experiencing something very normal!

    It's natural to feel this sadness or grief when school starts - I experience it everytime I start work at school again - ho ho!

    Y'know, you me and the SC live close, we should meet up one night and go for a drink.

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  5. GK, that sounds like a very good idea!

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  6. It will be there forever, mixed up with general family and teenage life and everything else. Vacuums always want to be filled, but give yourself some time and space and enjoy being at home alone [come over for a brew if not]!

    I'm so pleased El has started sixth form [and tapping out dance moves]. I'm sure she will love it and find her own way, and she will make new friends and move on again... scary all round, but she can do it [remember when you did it?!].

    Sx

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  7. I know you're right, Sazza. I ought to be celebrating (on one level..) and getting on with some writing or something. She's had an exciting, tiring few days but they would be whether she was ill or not. As for remembering making new friends etc... terrifying!

    Lots of love to you. xxx

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  8. I too brought up my son to be independent...got to the stage where occasionally I had to remind myself to tell him that he could also live at home when he was an adult. I hesitate to say this, as one who has only known the bereavement of losing grandparents...but when he left home that was what it was like, some part of him had died. Or was it some part of me? I cried and cried. My husband would come home and find me stuck in the bath, crying and crying and crying. I was so angry, too. Angry that 'someone' hadn't told me it would be like that. No idea who that someone was meant to be. BUt it also gave me some insight into how my own mother must have felt when I had left home. Something I had never considered before.
    He's 'home' right now. He and his girlfriend arrived in the week. So great to have him here for even a short while.

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  9. I'm so glad that Elodie's college are being supportive and that she will be doing her dance. As 'Twelfthknit' has said, even the non-bereaved really struggle with their children growing up and becoming independent, so it is sadly to be expected that it will be so difficult and complicated for you after losing your darling precious Juliette.
    Love, Sally
    xxxxxxx

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  10. Wow... No wonder you're looking for words to make sense of it all.

    It's wonderful and inspiring that you didn't stop Elodie dancing. Personally, I find doing the things I love and like give me the energy to do the things I really don't want to do...

    As for Juliette, a tragic loss for someone so young to leave their physical life so early. I hope you have good times to remember and hold on to.

    When times are tough, do the things that make you happy, too, cos emotions are like the tides, they spread. And I believe, you don't have to if you don't want to, that the ripples go as far as heaven, wherever that may be, and all the angels that reside there :o)

    Thank you so much for sharing your words.

    JJ xxx

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  11. Twelfthknit, it's reassuring to hear there's probably a more normal reason for my feelings. I think it must be very hard to adjust when our practical role of "mother" is redefined. I hope you've had a chance to enjoy time with your son while he's been home. xx

    Sally, thank you. xxxxxx

    JJ - I think you're right about doing things that make you happy. If I stopped Elodie dancing for the good of her physical health, it would just make her miserable. No one gets well when they're miserable.

    We have lots of lovely happy memories of Juliette, yes. Perhaps I should put some of them together for a new post here. This is my personal belief, but I feel Juliette around us when we're all happy as a family.

    Thank you so much for reading, and for your thoughts. xx

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  12. Ahhh... I'm glad you can feel Juliette around you, so don't be sad... send her a thought and she'll always be with you. xxx

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