I’m reading and his name crops up.
Tucked into the also ran prose of my current book, a little local colour, a little added detail.
On this occasion he peeps at me from inside the name of a favoured jazz player, beloved of the main character but far from essential. Not part of the main plot.
I stutter on the words, even though I’m reading silently. My brain rams up against it like a suddenly and unexpectedly jammed drawer, or a car that cannot rev itself out of muddy ground.
I want to glide past but instead I find that I slip the groove and over and over again I read the sentence.
Freddie. Freddie. Freddie.
And I try to see it as a small ‘hello’, a way for him to peep in through the shrouding curtains of my life and wave, that shadowy little figure that walks beside me, always concealed but never absent.
I try to smile and think the practiced fond thoughts, the wry smile and the wistful warmth of mother memories that I’ve rehearsed so long that now I nearly believe them.
I try to move on but the rhythm has gone and his name has jarred the flow and suddenly the words are scritchy scratchy, raw and brittle, bright and painful.
The story is gone and the words are solitary lumps that no longer make a sentence and I don’t think it is only the blur of tears that stops the story. Every so often I crash against the fault line that tells me my life is irretrievably broken.
Bang. Gone. Just a husk.
I’m just good at ignoring that.
I want to call him and say ‘look, can you find your name in my book?’ and praise his little 5 year old face as he scans and beams and spells it out… “F for Freddie,” he would say, like my customers always do down the phone, without any idea of the twisted leap my heart does every time.
But he wouldn’t come if I called and so – in the ultimate betrayal that five years of learning to live with grief brings – I breathe, bite my lip, pull down the shutters, nudge the needle on.
No one wants to be a stuck record. Or more truthfully, no one wants to know one. I keep reading and shove him backwards though the pages and pretend it never happened.
Five years on, he’s a little shade in my day, a little extra colour, a tender detail of my life that often goes unshared and unremarked until into the moment he darts - Puck-like - the boy who never grew up, the also ran of my life, an unexpected fae.
Not part of the main plot, you might say.
But only if you didn’t know.
Only if you thought that five years on was not just a blink of my eye.
Only if you didn't know what strength it takes to hop the fault, nudge the needle, triumph over mud, slam the drawer and overcome the obstacle.
Freddie. Freddie. Freddie.
And on and on it goes.
How do you cope with the unexpected reminders that pop up in every day life? Have you developed a coping technique or are they still flooring you every time? If your loss is new, have there been particular instances that have seemed cruel or even welcome? And if your loss is longer ago, have your coping mechanisms caused additional losses in your life or do you welcome them as places to access memories or grief?