annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Day 57

Daughter and I both wrote pieces about Sam today. The photo-a-day prompt was throwback, and I did a writing workshop that resulted in a piece about me and Sam in the early 80s, before the internet and mobile phones, when plane tickets were paper, in your hand and things were different. I found this pic of Sam on the beach in Venezuela, taken on that trip:


We did loads of preliminary exercises, and this was the last version, written as instructed in 1st person, present tense.

I’m just coming into the airport building now, Maiquetia, Caracas. Just me and Sammie, age 3, my dodgy Spanish, even dodgier suitcase and an out of date ticket. Don’t ask – I tried, I really did.
It’s so hot my clothes are soaked with sweat and I’m anxious as fuck, my stomach’s all knotted up, it’s all shit. I have no idea what I’m going home to after all these months away.
In through the doors, Jesus it’s cold – oh man, air conditioning, I start to shiver as the chill gets into my damp clothes.
Come on. We head for the Viasa check in desk. The woman smiles with her eyes only, glances at the ticket and “No, it’s not valid,” she says, sliding it back to me. She looks past my shoulder and gives the family behind me her cold smile. A conversation in rapid Venezuelan Spanish erupts around me. My time is done - I’m excluded and sidelined and find myself drifting away as my eyes fill with tears.
Fuck. I’d bought a bloody return tickets, but it needed the return confirming and I hadn’t been able to get a phone line, then when I could, the flights were all full – Christmas, New Year, peak time. But I’d paid, I’d bloody paid. My heart pounds under my sweaty blouse.
I drag Sam and the suitcase through the crowds of travellers, and park us up against a wall. Sam tells me very seriously that her muñeca is hambre now, as she sits on the suitcase, undoes her dunarees and starts to breastfeed her dolly.

I squat down next to her, brain whizzing. It’s not my fault, really it isn’t and I have no money – just enough for one last arepa and a coffee. I have no idea what to do. Not enough for a flight, not even for a taxi or a bus, let alone a night’s sleep somewhere. Sam is chattering to her doll, in her mixture of English and Spanish. ‘Would you like an helado,’ she asks, oblivious to my rising panic, to the hordes of people pressing urgently past, to the smells of beer and garlic, of aftershave and hot bodies, the racket of announcements in muffled Spanish, all the conversations, the mayhem all around.
Fuck. I sit and watch the cabin crew on the check out desk. There’s Miss Prissy Hawkeye, with her immaculate hair and hard face. Beyond her is another woman, in the same blue outfit, with the same stupid hat. But this one is a bit slumped in her seat, yawning, examining her nails. The stupid hat is pinned at an unflattering angle, strands of hair falling down on one side. Hmm. She’s not so on the ball. I wonder…
I wait till Miss Efficiency is busy with a large group, grab Sam and the suitcase and make a mad dash, dungarees and dolly trailing in our wake. It works – this lovely, kind, scruffy woman barely looks at the tickets, just asks if I want smoking or non-smoking and we’re in, we’re home and dry, we made it, we fucking made it.


Daughter's writing was in response to one of those Facebook memories, a photo of Sam from 2015, in the first care home, smiling as she hits a metal tube in the sound garden:

All of it felt so much like the last days when it wasn't really, we still had 4 years left, but she couldn't speak by then, or not enough, just "that sounds amazing" and "I am absolutely fine" and sometimes you could trick her into singing or adding numbers to a sequence, things that are embedded deep in long-term memory - row, row, row your fucking boat - and none of it meant anything but it did because she struggled to say it or she enjoyed trying and so then it was precious. Those days hurt, wounds that were hard to ignore, seeing how much of you we'd lost and having to fight to keep laughing with you but I'm glad we did because now I have the memories of those sweet painful days when you couldn't speak but you could still laugh. Whatever else with me and Oliver, this was the best of us, driving across London to catch the last of you.

Sunday was my birthday and it was filled with love but I didn't want it because I was 36 when you died and now I'm 37, and I want it all to stop because I. Want. My. Sister.

And it is like that sometimes, a footstomping tantrum, a demand to the universe to take it back or else!

Sighing, tears, a fluctuating acceptance and a gratitude for Facebook memories and the flood of you it brings, not enough but something at least.


And that's all for today.

11:09 p.m. - 07.05.20


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