Helen Grant

United Kingdom

18 | Linguist | Anxious resting face

Message from Writer

Hiya! I hope you like my ramblings and ponderings - any and all constructive criticism is pretty much guaranteed to be met with a 'yay!' Please note British English spellings ;)


July 14, 2015

One of the less frequently discussed effects of death and grief is the mandatory overhauling of one’s interior décor.

I am not just referring to the I’m-absolutely-fine-and-look-I’ve-found-some-lovely-tangerine-emulsion-for-the-downstairs-loo phenomenon, although that is indeed a common manifestation of the complaint. It can often be something smaller, like the repositioning of a photograph to the centre of a mantelpiece, or the stuffing of gaudy bouquets into vases and milk jugs.

(Bouquets may of course be sourced from the deceased’s coffin garland - although from experience, the open grave effect caused by this does not make for fantastic emotional health.)

I myself am currently reorganising my bedroom. In fact, I’m writing this very piece surrounded by the shrapnel and debris of seventeen years of childhood, all in one big pile in the middle of my bedroom carpet. Progress has been sporadic, due to the combined evils of disinclination and distraction, but soon I will be approaching the sorting and binning stages.

Then again, for somebody who is loath to discard even old French vocabulary tests, sorting and binning are far from easy concepts to get one’s head around. I have more sentimentality running in my veins than blood cells, and while I am reluctant to portray myself as a product of capitalism and consumerism, I do tend to pin my memories to inanimate objects. But how does one go about discerning between rubbish and relic? How do I just throw away that Aristocats snow globe from Disneyland, as if it were nothing to me? How can I possibly have the right to look at an ancient, discoloured Barbie doll with a missing foot and deem it – deem her – extraneous?

I cannot.

Over the past year I have had to endure the carpet of my life being slowly pulled out from under my feet, thread by thread, as if by mice. And almost everything in my bedroom seems to be a memento from before.

Here I am, a victim of the human condition: I continue to tell myself that if I keep that pile of History flashcards by my bed, I can stay in the revision era and forestall the exam results day in August. If I save those old birthday cards, I can ignore the fact that we’re all going to different sixth form colleges and will probably never see each other again.

If I keep those holiday postcards from my father, I can change the fact that he is now happily ensconced in a Bolivian slum, chewing coca leaves and abusing all his friends and relatives, safe in his schizophrenia-induced knowledge that he is the one and only Prophet and holds the key to the Revolution.

If I don’t tidy away that pretty red dress my grandparents bought me in Rhodes in 2004, I can disregard the intolerable truth that as of two months ago my grandmother has been unhinged by a head injury, and wasn’t even able to understand what she was doing at my grandfather’s funeral.

It would be so easy to keep going on like that.

But it would also be wrong. Time cannot be trapped in a little kitschy snow globe from a theme park. It can’t be woven into the embroidery of a little girl’s dress, and it can’t be preserved in the ink in somebody’s wish you were here. Moments, like the fashion for avocado bathroom suites, cannot and should not be revisited.

I can’t change what has happened, and I can’t anticipate what is yet to come.

But I can be ready with a bin-liner.

And you know what?

Perhaps a lick of paint is in order after all.


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1 Comment
  • ...emily

    Wonderful edits!

    almost 5 years ago