Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Time for Goodbye - Short Story


Time for Goodbye
“What do you mean you haven’t told her yet?” Jane whispered quietly “We are supposed to be going next week.” Jane sighed and shook her head. “I understand it’s difficult.” She continued softly “but it’s been months and I know you and Lisa need this to be over. Everyone can finally say a proper goodbye. It’s for the best and the cottage is booked.”

“I know. It’s just she rarely answers the phone now a days and I haven’t had time to pop over.” Brian replied sounding anxious.

They didn’t realise I could hear them. I closed my eyes enjoying the sun streaming through the windows and imagined I was at the seaside. I loved the sea, the crashing waves, and bracing fresh air. I hadn’t been in a long while come to think if it. Not since Harry became ill. I shook my head dislodging the thought and tried to relax and enjoy the sunshine again but the moment had passed. I felt a familiar lump form in my throat and my eyes watered.

“Hey Mum.” I heard Brian say as he eventually entered the room, “How you doing?” I smiled and nodded. He came over to the chair I was sat in and perched uncomfortably on a small footstool. “Jane is just making a cup of tea.” As he finished the sentence Jane appeared with a tray, three mugs and a plate of biscuits. She also had a bunch of flowers wedged under her arm and struggled to open the door. I’ve always liked my daughter in law, she’s kind hearted, and I can see my son clearly loves her but we’ve never really gelled. I’ve always felt she looked down on me and Harry a little. I remember when Jane and Brain married I fretted for weeks about my outfit. I feared I would show Brian up and didn’t want to appear dowdy in the wedding photos. Of course Harry said I was being silly and Brain wouldn’t care if I showed up in my cleaners smock. The day had been lovely and even I had been pleased by my appearance in the photos.  Harry had looked fabulous in his suit and we’d reminisced about our own wedding day. The sound of the tray being put down dragged me back to the present.

“Mum we wanted to talk to you about dad.” Brian said holding my gaze, “Do you remember me saying about going on holiday?” I shrugged feeling confused. What holiday? What did Harry have to do with it? I saw Jane and Brain exchange a worried look. I sighed wishing I could go back to my seaside dream. “I’ve booked it. We go next week. All of us.”

“Mary it will be lovely.  We can have a stroll along the sea front and spend some time together. I think it will do you the world of good. You’ve been cooped up a lot lately.” Jane smiled.  “I’ll help you pack. Just let me know what you want to take. It’s only for 4 days but will be great. The boys are excited. We’ll take Harry and say goodbye.” I understood what they were talking about now. Various friends had told me it was time to move on. People seemed to think I was living in the past. I had been withdrawn but liked being home with my thoughts. “We’ve been worried about you Mary.” Jane said softly and stroked my arm, “The children have missed you.” I missed them too but just seemed to lack the energy and motivation.

“Mum we all need to move on. Dad would hate this.” I knew Brain was right but I wasn’t ready. I wanted more time. Jane and Brian chattered on about times and places but I didn’t take much notice. Later when they had left I noticed Jane had stocked the fridge with four cooked meals all neatly labelled. It was kind of her as I hadn’t much felt like cooking recently and I realised I was fortunate that she cared.

The following week I was picked up and our holiday began. The children excitedly babbled in the back of the car. Both boys said they were happy grampy was coming with us. I had mixed emotions. Their happiness was infectious however and I began to feel lighter than I had in weeks. Once we arrived at Hollowell Shores the boys raced off. Both needed to get rid of some energy after being stuck in the car for several hours. Jane unpacked and I surveyed the little cottage. It was in a beautiful location. A small play area was a few feet away and you could see the sea in the distance. Seagulls squawked overheard. My daughter Lisa appeared and hugged me tight. Lisa and Dave (her husband) had travelled in another car and arrived a few minutes after us. “Isn’t it lovely? I wonder if the beach huts are still there.” She said kissing my cheek. “It’s lovely to see you mum. I’ve missed you.”

 The day passed quickly and as night fell I had the best night’s sleep in months. The sea air seemed to have cleared my mind. The following day we went down to the beach. The beach huts were still there and it was a beautiful day. The waves gently lapped the shore and the sky was dotted with white fluffy clouds. The boys raced off looking for crabs. “Mum I think dad would love this.” Lisa said sliding an arm through mine. “It’s hardly changed.” As I stood looking at the sea I realised it was time to say goodbye. I had been selfish in my grief and removed myself from my family. I had worn my grief like an invisible coat and as the sun shone I realised it was time to take it off. “You’re right love.” I replied squeezing Lisa’s hand.

For the first time in 9 months I talked about Harry. We had brought Lisa and Brian to Hollowell Shores many times when they were young and memories came to me in vivid flashes. I laughed and cried as I recounted stories including an unfortunate incident involving a fishing hook and trip to the local hospital. Brian fetched the urn from the car and we all stood on the beach our feet getting wet as we let the ashes scatter into the sea. “Bye Grampy.” Oliver said eyes watering.

“Don’t get eaten by a shark.” James said smiling and waving. We all stood peacefully for a few moments before James continued “Or a seagull. I hate seagulls.” I laughed and ruffled his hair.

We enjoyed the rest of our break and Brian enquired about the beach huts. We put our name on the waiting list and vowed to return every year to have a family holiday with my beloved Harry.

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