I have your journal. The one you started when you were in hospital, during your breakdown (I don't know what else to call it, Mum. "Depressive Episode" seem so trite, doesn't it? You referred to it as your breakdown, so we'll leave it there for now).
It's beautiful. Achingly sad. A window into your soul. I know you won't mind that I have it, you placed it in my hand one day, while you were still in hospital. You were tentative. You wanted someone to read it, to understand. But handing over such intimate evidence of your wounded heart and mind was (understandably) difficult for you, (the strongest woman I know) to do.
Bravely, you pressed it into my hand. "No. I trust you. Read it." A hurried amendment "Not in front of me, though. And I don't want you to show anyone".
You went to eat dinner with Dad, and I stayed behind, and read. I felt odd at first. I desperately wanted this insight. I wanted to read your words, to understand what you were going through. I wanted to find the 'answer' to how I could help you. How stupid I was. So arrogant. So ignorant. I thought I'd be wise enough to read your words, and instinctively 'know' the best approach. The path I would traverse, to bring you back to us. To bring you back to you.
Of course, no such solution presented itself, though I certainly did learn more about the real issues you were just beginning to (finally) deal with. You didn't put them in writing, exactly, you didn't say the words. But somehow, as though you'd used invisible ink and left a message for me, I knew. And despite having faced something similar (though not as horrifying as what happened to you), I did understand something important. That this was bigger than me. This was bigger than Dad and I, as formidable a team as we could be. You were in the right place, but these wounds would not heal easily. They may (and indeed, they didn't, did they?) never truly heal. But that the right decision was made, for you to stay in that hospital. I'm so grateful even now (as I was then) that your insurance allowed you to stay there, rather than the alternatives, too terrible to let myself think about.
Anyway, I'm rambling (it's 1.30am. Bear with me). This wasn't actually my point.
What I wanted to tell you Mum, is that I love the way you write. Wrote, I guess. I wonder, did you know what a writer you were? You knew you had a way with words, certainly. And you loved to use them well. You could be so eloquent, so inciteful. Your words could move me, in their sheer poignance. And on the next page, you could make me laugh, so dry and wicked. ;) I wish that more people knew that about you. You were funny. The kind of funny only a sharp mind (For those who didn't know her, she was, quite literally, a genius) could deliver.
Sometimes, I steal away to my bedroom and bring out your journal. Joel sometimes worries, when he finds me, tears streaming down my face, clutching the diary, reading again (sounds like I do it often. I don't. Just now and again, when I need to). He worries that it is simply too upsetting for me. Just like when I play Eva Cassidy singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", my eyes closed, images of you filling my mind.
But he knows now. He knows that sometimes, I just need to feel your presence. I don't mean I need to feel you with me now. I know you're not. But I mean, I need to feel that place in me you inhabit. Not push it back a little (it's always there, you know. But sometimes, I need it to take a lower profile, simply to live life and cope), but really, really let it wash over me. The best way for me to do that is in the power of that journal. I can feel you. Those words, they are so utterly you.
I'm not explaining it right. (See, however much I love to write, even more than you did, I'm not sure I have your gift for it). Some people, when they write, 'sound' different. It's not them. They don't have the ability to make the words sound like them. You can't read it and almost hear their voice. Some people are better with the spoken word than the pen (we all know you were blessed with a gift with both).
But you, you could do it. I see your writing, I read your words, and I almost hear you. Certainly, I feel you. It is as though you are there, in my presence. Just chatting. That's it! Reading your words is like talking to you. It felt the same. That journal, despite it's content (this was, of course, the darkest time of your life) felt just like a chat with you. A difficult chat, in this case, but nonetheless, that is how it feels. Like we're once again sitting at that kitchen table, a cuppa in our hands, talking while the rest of the family sleeps (those are perhaps my favourite memories of you and I. While the rest slumbered, and Dad worked, we would have our morning cuppa and talk, alone, mother and daughter).
Anyway, I got a bit off track, yet again. I just wanted to say, I love the way you wrote. You were good. Really good. You talked a lot about my writing, back in school. You thought I'd be a great writer, and you loved to keep the things I wrote. Did you know, I got it from you? That maybe you were better? I wish I had it, that talent you thought I had. But I think you had it too, and I so admire it in you. That's all. I hope I told you.