I do not know the truth, or I do not know how to tell the truth. All I have is stories, night thoughts, the sudden conviction that uncertainty spawns. All I have are ravings, more like. She loved him! I say. She must have loved him! I wait for the kind of sense that dawn makes, when you have not slept. I stay downstairs while the family breather above me and I write it down, I lay them out in nice sentences, all my clean white bones.
I am trembling mess from hip to knee. There is a terrible heat, a looseness in my innards that makes me want to dig my fists between my tights. It is a confusing feeling – somewhere between diarrhoea and sex – this grief that is almost genital.
I will do al this in deference to grief that is biological, idiot, timeless.
There is something wonderful about death, how everything shuts down, and all the ways you thought you were vital are not even vaguely important. Your husband canfeed the kids, he can work the new oven, he can find the sausages in the frisge after all. And his important meeting was not important, not in the slightest. And the girls will be picked up from school, and dropped off again in the morning. Your eldest daughter can remember the inhaler, and your youngest will take her gym kit with her, and it is just as you suspected – most of the stuff that you do is stupid, really stupid, most of the stuff you do is just nagging an whining and picking up for people who are too lazy even to love you, even that, let alone find their own shoes under their own bed; people who turn and accuse you – scream at you sometimes – when they can only find one shoe.
But though it hurt, I found that I was able to draw on more ancient hurts than that – and this is how I survived. This is how we all survive. We default to the oldest scar.
I realised, too, that I was not in love with him, but condemned instead to a lifetime of such false intesities, that I would have to love each man I slept with in order not to hate myself
Children do not understand pain; they experiment with it, but you could almost say that they don’t feel it, until they are grown. And even then, it seems we always feel pain for the wrong thing.
He has no cause for complaint. What he asks is what Ada refuses most to give, he asks her to believe in his grief, the ordinary grief of a man with a wife he doesn’t love overmuch and four children who he does not, for a moment, understand; the usual grief of men when they find thatthey have done nothing, and there is nothing left for them to do.
God, I hate my family, these people I never chose to love, but love all the same.
My review of The Gathering
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska