I had a lovely email this morning from an old friend, Juliette’s godmother, which reminded me that I’m not the only one with a Juliette-shaped hole in their life. She was remembering after reading my last blog entry the times she’d spent alone with Juliette in hospital, and how special that was. From her viewpoint, hospital was an adventure for herself and for Juliette. She’s right about Juliette. She did enjoy her stays in hospital, at least once her initial crisis was over. She always had a favourite adult there (Steph, her godmother, one of my parents, my sister, or me) to do things with. The staff made a fuss of her and sometimes if she was well enough the nurses let her do the ward rounds with them, which she loved more than anything. And it was the sum of her experience. What did she have to compare it with? Besides, Juliette was a girl who seized each day. She wasn’t going to let a little thing like leukaemia stop her from doing that.
This dark mood I’m in has been insidious in persauding me that no one else misses Juliette like I do. It’s not true. S’s email this morning made me see how losing her has affected her godmother and though it sounds selfish, that really helps me. If I needed another reminder, I read Elodie’s facebook status from last night, and it just said, “This is when I miss her the most.” Poor little girl. I feel guilty that I wasn’t here to give her a hug. Where depression has narrowed my lens, these lights switched on make the landscape of grief three dimensional again. More realistic, and a lot less lonely.
I went to a talk last night by the writer, Andrea Levy. This was part of the Essex Book Festival, the sort of event which probably has all sorts of marketing aims but to me is just a wonderful indulgence of booky stuff. She was very good, reading excerpts from her most recent novel, The Long Song, in the voice of an elderly Jamaican woman. The voice was so startlingly different to her clipped English tones that I thought at first it couldn’t possibly be her. I don’t know why I was surprised. Being a writer has so much to do with being able to adopt others’ voices naturally. Not so very different from acting. Speaking of voices (ha ha) I still can’t talk, so the friend I was with kindly read out the question I wanted to ask the writer about character and um, voice. Andrea Levy lit up as she talked about the writing process and I felt the smallest burst of elation, thinking “Yes! That’s what it feels like!” The thought that I will soon be working on the novel again, and writing the new chapter of Watching Petals Fall (plus a thorough much-needed edit) feels like more proof that I am shifting away from the flat viewpoint of depression. I hope so, anyway.