These past few days, I have been assailed, every few minutes, every hour, by an unending stream of panic-stricken thoughts, limited in number to be sure, but they keep returning again and again, repeating themselves, first this one and then that one, and then the last few that came just a few hours ago come again. Oh dear! It is such a long time since we visited my grandparents! They will be wondering why we have not been to see them … not even at Christmas! Oh dear! We haven’t had a day trip to St Albans, to visit the cathedral and roam around the Roman museum, for such a long time … we really must get that booked! And we said that we would show my father around the Open Air Museum. And when my mother comes next, she will be so cross, and say such unkind things, when she sees the mess and disorder in the back room. And my dear, dear J … how long must it have been since I last washed your hair and bathed you? Oh my goodness … so much … so much left undone.
But there is no J. She died over a year ago. And there is no mother to come again, for she died, too, nearly three years ago. And we cannot now pay a new visit to my grandparents, for they both died, a year or two apart, nearly a decade ago.
Again and again, I remind myself of the facts, and each time my losses return, like torturers queuing up to have another go, and they strike me again as if for the first time.
My dear J would know what to do, as she always did for all those years of married life, but I keep forgetting that she has gone, and I keep calling out to her in the other room, for the anxious thought will keep coming that it is hours since I last made her a cup of tea.