Today the Hatchling is 20 weeks old…we’re officially half way there!
I have been feeling very tired recently, so I am sitting and resting, looking at the living room that I have created.
Well that’s not quite true. The bones were laid whilst Mark was still alive. He picked the egg blue on the feature wall, the cream on the rest – I wasn’t sure about both. So little confidence in my own taste and how it might work out in practice. Putting pictures from my head into real life has never been something I am brave with.
The carpet was here when we arrived. I immediately hated it, but we were to live with it until Ethan was potty trained…and then I never got around to it. I still hate it. So much. The deep blue sofa that arrived in our first married home as a present – an extravagance that I had never imagined. Buying a sofa made to order…new…in a colour I liked, not one that was cheap, or borrowed, or donated. I love that sofa. It contains so many memories. Breastfeeding Ethan , him falling asleep – satiated – on my shoulder as I sit in the corner, in front of the bookshelves. Watching Damages as he suckled contentedly but determined. Sitting on it 7 months pregnant feeling so uncomfortable (I’m not looking forward to that this time around!) – reading Mumsnet threads that made me laugh so hysterically that I cried. And Mark finding that so funny that he insisted on filming me. That bloody camera, a present ready for the baby being born, that he determined he would be behind at any opportunity. But that meant he was rarely in front of the lens, and photos or video of him with Ethan are few and far between.
Wiping it with muslins, removing sick and crumbs and yoghurt and chocolate….oh the germs that must be on it! The red fluffy throw that used to be on the end… The cotton throw with elephants, purple and red, to help me make the rented house fell more put together. The low, massive coffee table in front of it where Ethan first started pulling himself up onto his own two feet – making me so proud.
Moving it to the new house – our first that we owned – Mark’s massive accomplishment. A new house, new community. Everyone who came to see us had trouble getting off of it – so deep and enveloping. Made for snuggling with the one you love. The cushions at the back never being plumped enough. It’s lasted 10 years and it looks – almost- as good as new! I will be sad to buy another. The loveseat that I bought all by myself to fill a gap I saw in the space. Terrified as it arrived and I didn’t think it would fit through the door. Terrified as I unpacked it that it was too big for the space and that I’d made a stupid mistake. Proud as I set it up, matched cushions and posted it online because there was no-one in real life to be proud of me and praise me. The curtains that I hate, but have to keep as we have no others. The piano which stands as a reminder that I never have time to fit in all of the things I want to do into my life. I don’t know whether that’s because I want too many things or I waste too much time – this is my eternal question.
The TV bought with Marks first bonus at KPMG. Remembering the hours he spent researching and comparing, hunting for prices and discounts. Me thinking that no-one ever needs a TV this big, that it was too massive for the room – taking up the corner like a big black blank space. Greedy. But, you get used to it…spoilt now.
The painting hanging over the piano. Mark’s birthday present a month before he died. He was meant to come home and see it framed – the colours matching perfectly with our sofa, the paint he’d chosen. All together and peaceful for him to die in. Because the loveseat was bought to shut out the memory of another chair which had sat in that corner of the room – the motorised, old people’s chair with the padded cushion so he could get up and down and be comfortable. So he could take the pressure off his tired joints, his bed sores, so he could rest and not have to walk up the stairs to the bedroom too often. The kindness of our friends who found and bought the chair. The defeat it represented to me as it sat there. And the fact that he never got home to see the painting, to see the walls, to see the creation, to use the chair, to lay in the hospital bed that was to be delivered and placed in our living room.
And so, now, this is my space. I have created it. With the chaise longue from my wedding to Nick in the corner instead, Blitzen the reindeer skin draped over it. Liam the wooden giraffe next to it. The piano with Nick’s mother’s dinner gong sitting on top of it, underneath the birthday painting (which was the perfect blend of my love for Jack Vetriano and his love for motorsport). The space where I can do my workouts, even though Mark hated me doing them in the living room.
It feels warm and cosy. It feels like an amalgamation of all of the men in my life and all the things I love about them. I have battled to keep it clutter-free for years, for this to be the front window of my life – see, I can keep something clean and tidy! – I need peace and calm and tranquillity and order somewhere, otherwise I feel like everything is spiralling out of control, like I’m not good enough at this being an adult thing, like everyone else manages and I’m hopeless and lazy and self-centred.
But this is my space. I get to choose.