Dancing with Knives

A large part of grief is fear, and my fear is grief. I don’t want it near me, yet like a suspense thriller, I know it will come, maybe not in the first or second act, but it will come.

Death is life.

I’m currently in the scene of the movie where it’s sunny and everyone is happily playing in the park. It’s still early, the relationships have been established. When it’s tumultuous you can still see there is love, but the music is changing. There’s someone standing over by a car, or behind a tree, looking on. You know there’s something coming, it’s too good, you just know this can’t last.

My fear is the obvious, my children. If they were to leave me I would no longer be me “the pain is indescribable” – that’s how it was explained to me by someone who knew. If I was to leave them they would no longer be them, they will become a new them, a them that comes after grief. I’ve seen it.

April is poetry month at the school. The little travelers are writing and telling me over dinner about editing and publishing. Today was a big day for the second little traveler, she read her piece to me while we sat on a green couch with the sun on our backs. I watched parents sit awkwardly in chairs made for children, while they smiled and listened proudly, mothers swept hair off of faces.

As I read her story she giggled and buried her face in under my arm, she was embarrassed but completely delighted to share. She had changed her name to Stefana. Stefana was “awesome” and could do anything. Stefana had gone against her mothers wishes and used a knife to cook while her mother was out. Naturally Stefana was an “awesome” dancer, but she made the fatal mistake to dance and cook with a knife in her hand. The second little traveler and I both giggled throughout the story. Stefana was extreme, she did everything three times.  She danced and danced and danced, she screamed and screamed and screamed.

While we read the story, we laughed and laughed and laughed.

And then it was time to read a story with someone else.

A little boy with the neatest handwriting and the most descriptive text, told me about getting lost in a forest. How he was scared and punched his way out, “like a boxer who was in his tenth round”. He wrote of falling from a building with the speed of an elephant. His voice was gentle, I had to lean in closer to listen.

“You’re an amazing writer, you have an incredible way of describing things for a boy who’s only nine.” We talked about his name, how many languages he spoke and how he had the name of a future king. I told him I was the from the same country as the future Queen. “Did you know Mary is Australian?” I asked.

“My mum has cancer” he answered.

It wasn’t the answer I was expecting.

“She has to go back and have treatment”

I floundered, I wasn’t ready. I said something stupid like “I’m so sorry, but I’m sure she’ll get better soon, once she has the treatment”.

“She’s had it before, it came back”.

I put my hand on his knee.

“I hope you show her this, you’re really clever, she’d think this is amazing”.

 “Can I go and get something to eat now?”

This is not the part of the film where it is sunny and they are playing in the park. The man who was hiding behind the tree has come out, and the film has become dark and scary, and this film is particularly confounding because some of its characters are children. We’ve moved from a G rating, it’s not suitable for children.

While I watch him pick out a cupcake, the second little traveler sheepishly returns with a donut “I’ll only have half” she says with a grin. Her biggest worry right now is that her mother will not let her eat an entire donut for a snack. As she breaks off a larger piece for herself, I look toward the window and pretend that I’m dabbing at my mascara.

For a moment, I was a part of someone else’s story. A story that I cannot edit. I cannot change. I can only hope that the scene changes back to the park with the sunshine where the characters are laughing and laughing and laughing.

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