Why is it that to so many new beginnings are so terribly painful, when by their very nature, they promise so much joy? Is it, I wonder, because before we can say hello, we have to say goodbye?
My Mum and Dad are moving house. After twenty five years they find themselves up to their eyeballs in suitcases packed tight with all our yesterdays, emptying a loft bloated with the flotsam and jetsam of our childhoods, and packing into tea chests only that which they will be able to fit into the tiny but perfectly formed cottage in which they will start again, just two minutes around the corner from Finn and I.
I am excited for them! In my mind there is no room for sadness or regret for what amounts to bricks and mortar… though it has in the past few weeks become astonishingly clear that packing up our family history is a telling old business, and that the way we view what matters differs hugely from person to person, even in a family as tightly knit as ours…
Whereas Helen wants to keep every little scrap of paper she ever wrote on, every book she ever read and every tiny little plaid skirt she ever wore, because she wants to remember who she was then, I am more than happy to cherry pick through the mountains of junk we once saw fit to keep and treasure forever only four pretty (and oh so desperately seventies!) little me dresses, a pile of Princess annuals, a couple of cute dolls and an absolutely hilarious A-Level Art wall hanging I am too mortified to show you. (I know who I am now).
While they bag up all of Helen’s university files, and ring me every half hour to keep on checking I am ok with them binning mine, Mum cries and Dad wonders out loud whether the hot water is heated by the combi or immersion in the new house. For Mum every little scrap of our childhood is at once precious and overwhelming. The house she is leaving is the one her Mum came to visit the day we moved in , the one where our Darling Roy sat a few Christmases before he died, and the one into which her girls, me and Helen, carried our new little babba bundles, and watched our babies grow into tearaway cherubs.
For Mum all her memories are written on the walls of the house she is leaving. But it isn’t true is it? Memories don’t paper walls. They decorate our hearts. And wherever my Mum’s heart is, mine is sure to follow.