It turns out I’m wrong. Which is not unusual. I have been wrong more often in the past 12 months than I probably have been in the last 12 years.

I had an idea this might be the case, because I seemed to be walking to school alone. There were no other teachers around—either I am early or I am late or it’s the wrong day.

It’s the wrong day.

Meetings start Tuesday.

Fine.

I’m glad actually to get a rehearsal, because the morning is harder than I expected it to be. Quite a bit.

It’s harder because I want my mommy. I want my mommy to kiss me on the cheek three times and hand me my packed lunch and send me off to school with good wishes.

I want Nata. I want her like the small child I once was.

There’s this whole stripe to my past—to the trauma of it—that’s about separation. Days like this remind me of it. Beginnings of things, endings of things, culminations of things.

And school.

So today is not the first day of school, but it’s the first day of school for me, It’s bringing everything back, but not in a narrative way, just in an emotive, punched-in-the-gut kind of way.

This is something I had not even the faintest idea about before six months ago. Maybe not three months ago. And even one month ago, I think it was still all a little vague to me.

There was the trauma of her death and the grief of that, and there is also the memory of the day-in-day-out grief of not having her with me except sometimes.

There is an upside to this. If Nata had not been there, I would have had no one. I would have had foster parents for a few months and a family that was more like an abusive boarding school set-up and I would have been really and truly alone in the world. So I’m grateful I had this one person, this one positive relationship to rely on. But it also means I spent a lot of my childhood wishing she were with me.

It also means many ordinary life events trigger two significant traumas: separation from her while she was alive and grief after her death.

They are traumas that need each other. What I mean is that one is the answer to the other. Her death is the reason I can live with the separation. It is the reason I can notice she is not there and yet feel she is there. Otherwise, the separation would be unbearable. Otherwise, I would have to go and get her. I don’t think that would even figure in as a choice in my mind.

And that is the other reason I still carry the broken earring around—which has been joined by a sparkly blue marble (two tokens evidently being better than one). It reminds me she is dead.

It reminds me I am safe from the separation from her: I grew up and could no longer be frightened into submission and she died and is no longer bound by the limitations of her body. I cannot see her, but she is with me. And that is the present. It is different from the past. It is not great, but it is at least different.

The grief of her death is not really easy though.

Neither of the traumas is insignificant. They are both painful. They mean that, on the first day after the holidays, I feel both the despair of living when she has died—that sense of just there being no point to all of this—and a kind of stabbing longing that is the memory of missing her when she was still alive.

It’s a terrible way to start the day.

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