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  • Sudha

Our eldest, my ever-present reality checker

It has been a tough couple of weeks since my last post. Can't quite put a finger on it, but just has been a hard slog. Lots of little things coming together, the lockdown etc, I guess. My best friend from uni lost her dad to Covid, which has churned up the familiar feelings of loss and my constant fear of losing my parents.

I have been feeling like I'm in the vortex around a black hole slowly but surely being sucked into the black hole; sucked in by grief, sucked in by the unique kind of pain that you only feel with losing half of you. And then there's a booming voice that jolts me from this spiral and brings me to the here and now. Harry. who is so single-mindedly focused on his studies, it is worrying. He hasn't grieved for Paul. Any mention of Paul or any mention of emotions in general, he shuts me down or walks away.

I am beginning to accept that Harry is internalising his grief. No amount of talking is going to make him open up to me or to anyone else. He is very private - just like his dad. But what Harry is good at is focusing on the practical aspects of today and tomorrow. I admire his ability to focus on his studies and do well in his exams. He is dedicated and conscientious in what he does. He diligently practises his guitar and drums every single day. Every evening he spends half an hour exercising. I wish I had his focus; I wish I could shut my grief away and pretend it doesn't exist. I have asked Harry how he can carry on like he does. He says, 'why cry or think about the loss because it isn't going to change anything'. I know what he means. It isn't going to bring Paul back, is it?

Earlier this year, Harry and 3 of his friends, took part in Oxford University’s Ethics and Responsibility competition. They submitted a video discussing an ethical problem and how they think responsibility is involved; without any help from parents or teachers. The university wrote to them earlier this week saying they are one of 4 teams who have been shortlisted and have been invited to Oxford uni in March for an all-day event. He was ecstatic when he received the email. The 4 of them celebrated via zoom and their happiness was contagious.

This kid is a motivation for me to focus on myself a little bit. Being a single parent with children to care for comes with a list of competing priorities. In this constant balancing act, I have consciously let one ball drop - a ball with my name on it.

I said to Harry how I admire his dedication and commitment to his studies; and how I wish I was a little bit like him. His response shocked me; almost hurt me initially. "Mum, you need to get a job". As his words sunk in, I realised he was right. What he didn't know was that I have been trying to look for a job, but, with no luck. More about that struggle in the next post, but, for now, I am grateful for Harry's no-nonsense approach to life. I am lucky that while Andrew is my emotional rock, Harry is my practical rock and between the 3 of us, we will be fine.

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