It didn’t go unnoticed, by me, that on Saturday 20th August 2009 was the day that I found the lump that has caused me so much anxiety, sense of loss and belonging together with a feeling of being so alone. I remember so clearly the moment as I was getting ‘ready’ for Mum’s funeral, changing in and out of outfits and adjusting myself when I felt that lump (which then became lumpS). I remember that moment of sheer panic and fear, that moment of anger that Mum wasn’t alive for me to go to for help… instead in a few hours time we would be at the crematorium turning her earthly body to ash. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that moment or, like other moments in this journey, when the world seems to suddenly turn black. That moment when I can’t see any light to run toward or any chink that makes any sense or demonstrates that there is life and light beyond.
So two years on I did something very different. I went to a music festival with a friend. Shellie knows me well but didn’t realise the significance and I didn’t tell her either. I guess I needed to prove that I could do something new, exciting, positive and fun. Prove it to myself. With people who wouldn’t be worrying about me and what was going on in my head… and I did it. I really did it. OK so I drank too much on Friday night. I danced like a looney-tune and I probably embarrassed myself… but I didn’t let the darkness in. I remembered how to forget. I sang in a loud (probably out of tune) voice along to the sounds of the 80s on the Friday night stage for camping festival-goers. And then I collapsed in my tent and slept soundly until the morning.
OK OK, much like my time in the 80s I woke up with a raging hangover, feeling queasy and unwell. Perhaps also a little maudeline and quiet but grateful for the company of Shellie and our new tent neighbours with whom we’d launched our company upon on Friday night and had a great night with. Everyone else was chipper and late morning Shellie and I headed out for a walk along the river. The music festival (Rewind Festival) is held in Henley, my local town when I grew up. A place that I used to go with Mum and where many memories were held – good and bad. Walking along the river and through the town was good, cathartic in a way but one that I could only flash through in my mind whilst we wandered. I’d still not told Shellie or the others the significance.
I didn’t drink on Saturday and danced and sung along (perhaps slightly more in tune) to the hits of the 80s. Memories flooding back but all safely in my head.
This was my first foray into Festival going. I loved it… mostly. No I really loved it… the only part I wasn’t keen on was the sanitation issue with portaloos and very few showers (and a 2.5 hr queue for a cold shower!). Beyond those issues the rest was blinking brilliant. Danced, sang, laughed, chatted, giggled and generally had a ball. With Shellie but also with old and new friends… I even hope to go back next year.
I guess what I was trying hard to do, and I think achieved.. ‘best foot forward’… ‘onward and upward’ etc etc
I’m getting there… but there is a niggle in my head. There was at the festival, as there often is, a friend trying to match make me, concerned that I’m not in a relationship and convinced that I should be. Looking around for my ‘perfect partner’ and then quizzing me on my intention. I don’t think I notice men in a ‘relationship’ way any more. I notice them as being someone who I’d like to spend more time with. Or perhaps someone who I have a great deal in common with. Someone I enjoy being in the company of. But I’ve switched off anything else. Last night as I tried to get to sleep in the cold tent, I spent many hours thinking it through, having been quizzed heavily during the evening. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t think I’m good enough; I don’t want to inflict myself upon someone because what happens if the cancer does come back; I don’t know if it’s because I can’t put myself in the position of being knocked back and rejected; I don’t know why.. but I think right now, I’d much rather enjoy someone’s company, have a laugh, enjoy life, do things together without any expectation but mostly have fun. I don’t know… but I do know that I don’t know!