A Glass of Ricard, a Dash of Water
My lovely brother, Martin, packed me off on holiday to Malta with my niece last week.
I suspect she was under strict instructions to feed me up.
I was anxious about taking the trip. It is the first place I have been since Terry died that holds no trace of him. Would I think about him less often without the visual prompts that are on every wall and in every room in our home? Would I fail to dream about him while sleeping in a different bed? Would I feel disloyal for taking a sunshine holiday without him, since he loved the charms of a Mediterranean beach more than anyone I know?
Terry came late to the idea of a sea-and-sand trip abroad. His first was our honeymoon, near Lisbon. He took to beach life like a whippet to a lap. Terry didn't swim, but you couldn't drag him away from the water's edge if the sun was out. Set him down at a beachfront cafe in Crete, Spain, or the South of France, and he would still be there, hours later, with a slim Cafe Creme cigar burning away in a fragrant cloud, a glass of Ricard clouded by a dash of water, and an espresso, gloopy with sugar.
Before Millie and I travelled, a caring friend suggested that, during the trip, I try to clear my mind and focus only on what is in front of me at the time. It is, of course, smart advice and it comes from his own experience. I did take it to heart. Millie and I laughed a lot and soaked up the beauty of the place. We enjoyed the sweetest trip. She is a delight to be around - sparky, savvy, and comical.
I did catch myself in the mirror one evening as she and I were getting ready to go out to eat. It reminded me how much I miss the wordless rituals and the quiet choreography of getting dressed for the evening with someone you have shared space with for years; Terry would hand me his neck chain so I could fasten it for him, since he found the clasp too fiddly. Then he would watch me fasten my shoes or paint my nails.
He had a charming interest in the nail-painting process. I think it was because he had such an eye for old-fashioned glamour minted in the 1940s and 1950s. That was fine with me. My idea of female beauty begins with Capucine and ends with Sophia Loren (with a dash of Diana Dors if I'm going downmarket.)
I realise I'm thinking about him too much.
It is hard though, isn't it, to make the decision to think of someone you love less frequently?
If I do so, will I lose this mind-map I have of Terry that I can summon up so easily, and in such sharp, comforting detail? He is so present and so real to me that sometimes I think not being able to put my hand on him is an irrelevant detail.
You would tell me if I was losing my mind, wouldn't you?