I realised my email account might start running out of space and I think about deleting some old emails. It turns out I have emails going back eight years. Conversations about meeting up with people for lunch, exchanges with my ex and money we have in the joint account, Mum sending me information about a dishwasher…
I’m not sad not to have a dishwasher (living on a narrowboat is it would be pretty ridiculous although I’m sure some manage it), and I’m definitely not sad about the ex being an ex. But in the emails you can only read the good stuff – not how I was feeling when I wrote them or read his – and I wasn’t expecting that. And then there are the emails with friends – before the days of WhatsApp – arranging to meet for lunch, weekends away, all the nice things in life. All the pre-ill days.
And then there are the real life memories. I walked through Coventry city centre where I used to live and work a few months ago and felt a wave of emotion wash over me; for all the hopes and dreams I had for working in the city; for the relationships I’d made; for the ones yet to be made. I thought I could continue to build my life there and through those relationships, bring about positive change.
With change there is loss and, unlike death, the path of grief seems even less laid out. There is no clear end, no idea of what those memories wanted you to do with them once they are over. How do we release these memories in celebration, without the sadness overwhelming us? I suppose it is like standard grief, in that it will fade with time, and yet remain part of us.
This is a sad post, because sometimes reflecting makes us sad. I do not shy away; I turn towards this grief and for once do not find a positive spin. I will sit with this experience and have my own funeral for the memories I feel sad about, the ones I cannot come close to recreating and stay in my mind; for better or for worse, through ill health and onto the next chapter.