I've been on a hiatus, but it has been a good one. When I started work in April, I made a ridiculous commitment to give a paper at a conference at the end of july. I'd drafted the proposal for the paper back in November, in that other life I had, pre-accident, thinking, perhaps Haloumi would be ready to travel overseas at 6 months so that she could accompany El Prima and I to the conference. It would be in Singapore - some welcome heat in the middle of our winter, and we'd have a fat, sturdy baby who could hopefully adapt well to travel. Or maybe she wouldn't, and we could cancel the trip - I was happy to put it at the mercy of our imagined baby-parenting lives.
By the time I found out that my proposal had been accepted, my life was almost unrecognisable: no baby or pregnant belly, broken knee, scarred body, new city, no busy working life, and a strange weepier, more fragile version of myself. The way I walked, the clothes I wore, the things I needed to do to get myself out the door, the small things I needed to have close to me - it was as though I'd developed this new invalid personality. But I knew that I would need some kind of deadline if I hoped to get any research done in this new job, and there was nothing like a conference paper to spur me into action.
I couldn't get funding for it, I had to pay for it myself, but I needed a date to work forward towards. As the date got closer, as June and July dissolved into more grief and sadness, I thought, "I've made a terrible mistake - I won't be able to do this. The bit of me that could draw research together and write is gone." But I had to come up with something.
And somehow, I did. It was only after I became too tired to be tired, and too panicked by the deadline to panic, that from weariness came something that was there all along. For a little while, I had my concentration back, and I could look at all my work and pull the threads together, say what I needed to say.
It was such a relief, to get a taste of that pre-accident me, to remember that I'm still there, that the sadness hasn't wiped away everything.
El Prima came with me, and after the conference, we took a bus, then a boat out to a little malaysian island - adrift not only in the South China Sea, but when nighttime came - also in the middle of the Milky Way. I've never seen so many stars.
One of the lovely things some friends did for us after Z died was to band together and to name a star after her. We have a chart, a certificate and everything. After a few unsuccessful attempts at finding her particular star with zero astronomical knowledge (and without a telescope), we've taken to appropriating whichever star we liked as 'her' star. Usually, for me, it is the first star I see in the west as I'm walking home from the tramstop. Given its brightness, I think it may actually be a planet (maybe Venus?). But that night on the island, our heads together and our toes in the sand, El Prima and I saw a shooting star, and felt like she'd sent it for us - a tiny solitary haloumi firework.
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