Tuesday 1st November
Blood taken and sitting in the hospital room alone, less than a week to go, one arm on a pillow, sleeve rolled up, I realise I can do this.
I'm not afraid.
Not only can I do this alone.
I want to do it alone.
I don't want my mother to come the week I'm in the hospital.
Saturday 5th November
Guy Fawkes night.
The month before my daughter was born, 1982, is the last time I went to a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night. The shit had hit the fan, my mother was in full rejection throttle and I was staying with relatives in Ayr. Seven months pregnant. Exhausted. Mentally and emotionally. I'd forgotten how lonely it was.
We went to an organised firework display. I remember being freezing but glad of the pitch black. I was sick of the feeling that people didn't know what to do with me.
The fireworks started and a toddler, about a year, in her dad's arms in front of me started screaming, distressed at the noise. I thought this time next year someone else will be holding my child, comforting my child in the noise of the fireworks. Silent tears, floods of them. Standing alone. No comfort. Nothing. The grief of it flowing out of me. Beaten.
In the hour before I'm due to leave to join them at the Alford firework display, I realise that I don't want my mother to come to the hospital at all. It dawns on me why I've been so agitated about it. That night, the hospital night my daughter was born, she left me. Sat beside me looking disdain and hatred, then stood up and said 'There's no point in my being here.' I was on valium injections, waiting for a section as my blood pressure was so high and she thought no point in her being there. She stood up and left. She didn't kiss me. She didn't even touch my hand.
She just stood up and left. No point in her being there.
Ten minutes later I was in labour.
'We'll call your mum and get her back.
I don't want her here.
In the morning, she races in. It's all over, the baby wheeched away. I'm sitting up post partum high, and all she wants to talk about is herself. How she should have been here, how bad she feels, her her her.
I think, I'm giving up my child today, shut the fuck up.
But I don't say that.
I don't say anything.
A pattern I've only recently broken.
An hour before I leave to go to Alford fireworks, I call and say I want to do this alone. It's brought up ancient history and that's how I feel.
She says "Do you think that's not crossed my mind? What about how I feel?
I say "I understand that, but you're not the one having major surgery.
She's angry, which makes it easier, but she complies.
She knows she's close to losing me forever. I didn't know it myself until now.
Boundaries. The only one that works is 150 miles of Scotland between us.
She's so invasive I never learned. Until now.
"I'm doing this my way. It's what I need.
I sob the whole way through the phone call. I'm so upset, she complies. She says if that's what I want she won't cross me this time and I think, is that how you live? Crossing me?
I say "Thank you. My friend will phone you on Monday. I promise.
The fireworks are the most beautiful I've ever seen. They have become so sophisticated in the last 23 years. Lilac fireworks, I've never seen that colour before. A series that left an afterimage like a huge bunch of flowers, another like a shimmering waterfall. It's beautiful. I stand apart from the crowd, not shrinking from the noise, not looking at anything other than the sky in this freezing cold clear night.
Just me, and the fireworks.
Exploding with new light.