I started writing this on a dark and stormy night. I felt like a cliche. Then my daughter needed thunder explaining. Then the phone rang with difficult news. It was not conducive to writing. The storm abated. The moment was lost.

I am actually contemplating becoming a recluse. It would fit my INFP personality style. My writing may not be helpful for you, but it is therapy for me. And I need it now. I cannot face people. Real people. In talking situations. In going out of the house situations. In answering the phone situations. Even the children. I am doing the minimum and grateful this is my husband’s week off. Something has snapped. I do not want to be broken, but it feels like I am staring into a large, dark blue hole.

Last night I had a dream about heaven. It was closer to earth than I realised. It was a team effort. It was a wonderful mixture of good textures, purposeful creativity, joy and familiarity. I woke up amazed. There are snatches of heaven all around us. That view. That technology. That laughter. That solution. That selflessness. It is at hand. Some of us may never see it. I see it a bit like visiting a National Trust property. Enjoying the wide green spaces and ancient beautiful architecture without having to own the place. It is a moment of ownership which lifts you. Some people don’t get it and some do: ownership is arbitrary anyway.

Teach me to number my days aright.

I am playing Scrabble with my dad on the computer. When you put all your letters down it is called a Bingo and you get an extra 50 points. I fear Bingo is my dad’s secret middle name. With 35 tiles remaining he has scored three bingos and also played YELK on a triple word score and GAZE on a triple letter (the Z, which was used in both directions). Statistically I have more wins than him as I’ve been playing longer online, but I don’t like my chances on this one. I’m not going to throw the towel in. I see the big picture: sometimes you get good letters, sometimes it is a lot harder. At least over many games it averages out.

In life, often it does not. I was thinking about my children. They are really on loan to us. I have them physically until about 18. In Lily’s case, I calculate we already have had 20% of her living-at-home-with-mum-and-dad time. In Joseph’s, just over 7%. Financially however, as well as we hope to prepare them, they may not be fully independent for a little longer. And apparently they will probably live quite a long time. The BBC says people don’t imagine themselves getting older. I think about it all the time. And the Telegraph has a gadget for telling you your percentage chance of reaching the age of 100, based solely on your age and gender. The chances as you reach your late 90s actually improve.

When I feel particularly down the future seems unrelenting and frightening. Life has been unrelenting recently, despite a number of lovely elements, for which I am grateful. When I see the bigger picture I recognise that the pace I’d been going at with parenting, taking on the toddler group, adapting to new situations and a number of other responsibilities will not always remain. There will be different challenges at different ages. But when you are exhausted and need a holiday, there are some points in life where a holiday is just not an option. Pre-school children do need masses of attention. I was grateful last week that my parents-in-law took a lot of the responsibility for them. But the travelling, planning and being unwell at the same time all took their toll. Nearly a week later I am still shuffling off my cold and trying not to shuffle off my coil. I am trying to fight off panic about the future and my identity. I am struggling to breathe most of the time. A heavy cold on a hot day takes your breath away.

Life seems stormy and dark. It will not always. And if I number my days well I can pace myself better. Holidays where I can forget about everything are a distant memory. But I can still revel in snatches of heaven around me. And maybe find the courage in the coming days to get out and face people again. Or at least do a bit more writing.


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