2011 turned out to be one of those years. I had just finished the exciting Cambridge run of Is it too late to save Oscar Pike, featuring my son’s band, Fred’s House, when my mum, who had been ill for some time, passed away. Instead of taking the show to Edinburgh, as planned, I spent most of the summer in California, where she had lived. It was a really tough time. Going through her papers, I discovered a copy of a poem, which I had written and sent her twenty years ago just after she’d come for a visit to our home in New Zealand. The paper, crumpled and in a folder with important financial documents, was tear-stained. We were never able to talk about how we felt about each other, and our relationship was very difficult, but I know she hated it that my whole adult life was spent overseas.
I’m sharing this poem now, because 8 months later, and with my lovely dog Cassie now also gone, it still pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling lately…
One Day After the Airport
I woke up at six to a dark house and
Lachlan’s voice saying softly, “Mama, turn the hall light on,” and
I jumped out of bed thinking “He’ll wake Mom,” but
of course you were far, far away by then.
Almost home, I expect.
And I felt empty.
when we got home from the airport
I went into the kitchen to make dinner and there it was, warm and pretty
like I liked it but
I began to cry and
pretty soon I couldn’t stop.
It won’t be any fun cooking with you gone.
The others don’t like my cooking.
They don’t understand what it means.
you taught me the language.
I never told you how pretty you looked when you were here.
How young and fit you seemed.
How nice it was
– how suddenly essential –
to have another woman in the house.
How by your presence
you formed a home around you.
Even Quentin felt it.
“It was nice having your Mum around here,”
I feel bereft.
I feel insufficient.
I feel motherless.
I miss you.
I just found out
Home is where your mother is.