Thursday, January 05, 2012

The 4am Phone Call

Apologies in advance. This is wholly solipsistic and self-pitying and melodramatic, and will probably get deleted in the fullness of time, but it has to come out. The time for tributes will come, but it's not yet. I do not in any way mean to come across as callous or insensitive and hope anyone who knows me personally will understand what I'm trying to get across and my reasons for putting it down on the internet as opposed to screaming it down Wandsworth High Street of a chilly evening. A trouble shared and all that...

You think you live under the constant shadow of fear of the 4am Phone Call until it happens, and you realise despite having your phone on, by your side, every night, in proper Scoutly readiness for the 4am Phone Call to rudely burst into your life, you haven't actually thought about it for years.

And so you're totally unprepared on how to react.

The most amazing thing is how quickly and clearly the brain works in that scenario. You go from fully asleep to your stomach being 90% of the way out of the front door in the half a second it takes you to read the caller ID, and by 2.3 seconds later when you've answered and heard the first half-choked attempt at a word from the other end, you know in perfect, chiming clarity exactly what's happened; that your life has taken a mathematically precise 90 degree turn into an unknown which quietly and without drama reveals itself to be an infinite plane of blankness. No wailing, no weeping. Just a sudden absence of anything, like your brain is a line drawing in MS Paint and you've just clicked in it with a black paint can.

Two thoughts were my constant companions on 23rd December. Number one: "Oh. Oh, well, that's happened then."

And number two, a small snippit from the film BASEketball, which I had watched a few weeks previously, where Squeak, a small rodent of a man, is trying to psyche out his enormous and threatening opponent with something hastily passed to him from his team-mates:

Squeak: (reading awkwardly from a card) Your mum's deaf.
Opponent: My mum's dead, you little squirt.
Squeak: Well, I guess that's why she didn't move around much.

The first was understandable. The second was thematically relevant and would not leave me alone. Grappling for any kind of reaction, my poor godforsaken subconscious had desperately typed "mum dead" into the google search of my memory dump and hit "I'm feeling lucky", and played it over and over and over again. And I wanted to tell someone, I wanted to share that ridiculous thought-spasm, but how could I? And when I found myself in a Little Chef after a hurried drive to a hospital in Salisbury through dawn's crepuscular light, and there was no toilet paper in any of the cubicles, I wanted to tell someone how fortunate and timely and hilarious it was that I was so freshly bereaved because I had pockets full of tissues. But how could I?

I wanted to tell everyone in the world that I had used the word crepuscular in its correct sense like I was Will bloody Self, but how could I? How could I even be thinking those things at such a time? Shouldn't I be inconsolable?

I wanted to ask someone why I wasn't inconsolable. Why, beyond a few chemically-induced, post-adrenaline run-off, meaningless days, I hadn't really cried, and still haven't. But how could I? I was with my family, and they were devastated. They didn't need my questions and inappropriate quotes from spoof films. Tricky.

So many questions. But in absence of any answers - apart from the large, obvious one, which is that I am careering Road Runner-style down a path that leads into a dark and foreboding tunnel with a tantalising glimpse of light at the end, but that tunnel is actually painted onto a rock which soon I shall smack face-first straight into without any warning whatsoever - there was instead something else: quite spectacular loneliness. Unsurprising, maybe. But I just wanted to reach out to everyone, every single person in my life, those people that I loved, and people I was fond of, and people who probably had no idea how much they meant to me, and...

(An aside. My partner and friends have been absolutely the most amazing partner and friends anyone could ever hope to have. If you're reading this, you're probably one of them - the friends, that is, I don't have thousands of other, well, thousandths - and basically, I have no words to describe how much every single nugget of support and comfort has meant to me. Each one has helped chip away a tiny bit more of this expanse of solid cement that seems to have appeared instead of my normal brain workings, and I literally, literally, would be nowhere very pleasant if it were not for all of you. Cannot thank you all enough. I might try. Be prepared for epically damp shoulders)

..and just talk to them. Tell them things. Tell them anything. Everything. That I had just had my favourite umbrella from Japan destroyed by the wind and I was sad I'd probably never get to replace it. That they were the best thing in my life. That I couldn't believe Darren Boyd had been ensnared by the terrible net of Direct Line advertising and was ruined forever. But how could I?

And I went back to work and I wanted to tell everyone that there was a reason I was monosyllabic and morose, and that when they cheerily said "Happy new year!" to me there was a reason I could only half-mumble in reply, and that the oppressive silence pounding the insides of my skull was exhausting, but how could I?

And I want to go back on Twitter and say stupid things about TV and the Bloody Wind™ and that even though I knew how ridiculous it was, I was frightened that while I was the girl trapped inside this perspex bubble that I'd created but had no idea how to crack, I'd be forgotten, replaced, I'd fade away. And how silly and guilty I felt for even thinking that, given I'd been overwhelmed by the genuine shock and warmth of reaction of the people who had managed to peek through the fogged-up doom-sphere. But how could I?

Because what could I say?
What could I possibly say?

Ach. I guess I've said it now. And I know that in time the plane of blankness will turn a quite frightening blood-red and then eventually fade away. Again, thank you to everyone who knows who they are, and sorry to anyone I may have offended. This was all done in a splurge. And seeing as I still haven't worked out the noble art of ending pieces of writing, I'll just say: It's highly likely probability-wise that I love you. Take care. Jules x


Helen said...

We love you to JRME, signed me and the whole internet.Xx

Ishouldbeworking said...

I'm so truly sorry. Been there myself. This changes everything, but you WILL find your way through it. Just don't expect too much of yourself, and keep accepting all the help and support that so clearly surround you. You'll go backwards and forwards, have good days that make you feel guilty and bad days that make you feel tiny. And there'll be no logic as to when you have either. Just be kind to yourself.

Jon said...

This is beautiful and I love you dearly for writing it..

Nick Tann said...

It's a shitty horrible thing that happened and I'm so sorry for you. When my dad died no words of advice helped me at all so I haven't given you any. All my love XXX

LTucks said...

My thoughts are still with you, old bean.

And in other more banal comment-territory, isn't it awful about Darren Boyd?


Fiona Mayhem said...

You could, and just did.
You can say stuff however you like, whenever you need to, to us here, and IRL.
Big love xx

Anonymous said...