It’s the bedroom you never wanted. It’s partly the smallness, but also the strange stench, but you have no option so clean as best you can, twice, thrice, then again and more. Not satisfied, but it’s late, you spread your picnic sheet upon the stained carpeting, lay down a rug and on top your camping mattress. Yes, we’re camping in an empty rental, our furniture is in store.
You wake with that smell you’d rather not have next to your head triggering a set of reflections on why those stains are there. Poor woman. The house tells of her depression. These stains, her last mark in her last home after she’d overdosed.
It takes me back to my mother’s last night. Exactly this scenario. Writhing on the floor….but not self induced, cancer. Suffering, why do people need to suffer? Poor Mum. Somehow I find sleep again.
The mind can’t let go, though I’m tired her final active moments were here. Poor Jo, the pile of letters give her name. I try not to dwell on her struggle and visions of my mother’s last fight remerge. It is late, so late in the night. I wonder how this woman Jo called for help.
They all know about her, they say Jo was a lovely person. A musician. It reminds me of my friend Julian. Dear Julian. He was at the Royal College, extremely talented, but very mixed up and I spent hours for years helping and then one day he jumped into oblivion. It cut me deeply. It is why he is in my novel.
Suicide is on the rise. What’s wrong with our society? The next day we go to the cafe seeking wifi and search the internet for cleaning tips. We do this later in the day for ways of ridding the house of the sticky residue of years of heavy smoking. The walls take four days of scrubbing. Two, three, five times, we steam the carpet, sprinkle baking powder over the heavy stains, wait an hour and vacuum the lot. Then again. Spray on white vinegar. It’s time to settle down.
The night is better. The woman has been laid to rest. More cleaning. Memories of my mother fade and the following night sleep is deeper. Julian no longer inhabits my thoughts. But my mind dwells on the poor immigrants found dead in a refrigerated lorry. How cruel this world. And that Kurdish boy burnt by Turkish phosphorous. How dreadful we are to each other. And perhaps Jo couldn’t see her way out of this mess humanity habitually leaves in its wake. Julian couldn’t. I struggle, you too, I’m sure, and perhaps that explains why so many case to flee.
Potentially, we are all on the edge of depression. For most of us who don’t suffer severely, the way out is to know that each hour is precious. Count your blessings. Generate compassion. No, not three trite statements, not if you sink in to their meaning. That is where my mind glides, aided by settling in my senses to bring me here, in this moment. What it takes is deciding that you can lift yourself and then doing it, for months, then you start to live.