It Could Be Worse

I keep telling myself. It could be worse. It could be worse. It could be.

I didn’t think it could be when it ended in tears here.

I didn’t’ think it could be when we got here.

But it did. It got worse.

So now. Now. As I write. With a cold beer at my side. A dog at my feet. A kitten called O Malley the Alley Cat purring hotly on my lap because he presumptuously invited himself onto my lap as I ate a pizza in Malindi one night as the tuktuks sputtered and rattled by and he came home with us and the leftovers. His marmalade smudged coat is smooth now not standing on end as it was then, a roll of fat at his neck, his tummy no longer worm-blown.

Now. I say, even though it’s not great, because there is no certainty, because apart from this furry menagerie I am alone, it could be worse. Because if I don’t fate might laugh loud again and turn her knife so that my life is split apart a little further.

It could be worse.

My children are not with me. But they are well. My student son asks if I need a loan. We talked about this Mum, he says sternly. And I laugh. My eldest daughter is doling out good advice and condoms during freshers week as welfare officer. Hat is bravely soldiering through the first term of Lower Sixth, still not feeling as if she belongs entirely. She tells me the story of a girl whose prose in creative writing class describes her mother as a lioness. Her father is ill; her mum must hold the fort. The girl’s words describes how she wants to be like her mother; brave. A lioness, she writes. Later Hat tells her her writing is beautiful and moving. That she thinks she is a lioness already and I cry a little at my daughter’s grace. I tell her she is lionesslike too. For her titian curls, her amber eyes, her courage.
For we have dragged her and her siblings in our chaotic wake these past two years. And still the chaos swirls so that I do not know where home is. Where home will be. Where will I lay my hat which is scuffed and red and old with a drooping suede brim and beads. A dust-devil, a whirly gig we called them when we were little, that twists relentlessly, throwing up everything in its path and dustily obliterating views and horizons. Blurring clarity.
My Hat says ‘aw mum’ when I tell her she is a lioness, and gives me a Skype smiley face.
And my Ant is a thousand miles away where I cannot be because we have bills to pay and because you have to put your head down and you have to keep going.
It could be worse. I know that now.

19 Responses to “It Could Be Worse”

  1. Addy Says:

    I’m alone in London, but through the blogosphere we have friends we can reach out to, even if we have never met. Cuddle your cat and dog . It won’t be long ’till Christmas, when I am sure the family will all be there with you.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thank you Addy. isnt that what’s just so great, about blogsphere. this intangible place for such tangible sentiment. Poor animals repelled by attention being lavished. begin to run a mile at sight of me! x

  2. carol Says:

    It could be FAR worse. You have three kids that care so much about you. And that are successful due to you and their up-bringing. Things will get better – sit tight and it will happen – try and keep positive … And if you can’t I’m only a phonecall away!

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thanks C, and yes, I know. It will happen. about practising patience which I am very bad at. x

  3. Ellie Says:

    Things can always be worse …. But that doesn’t mean that where we are right now isn’t awful and uncomfortable and scary and sad. And it’s perfectly alright to say that it is awful and scary and sad and hard.

    I hope life settles for you very soon. I’m sorry that it is still so difficult.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thanks Ellie, yup. right now it is uncomfortable and scary. I hope it settles soon too. and I hope you’re good xx

  4. iotamanhattan Says:

    Things could be worse, but it sounds as if they could be better, too. Sorry to hear that you’re still in the throes.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thanks iota. yup. they could be better. it’s the uncertainty and the waiting for jobs and homes and what nexts that’s the hardest x

  5. daisyfae Says:

    i went through a dark period a few years back. i kept telling myself to quit whining, that there are so many worse things out there. how dare i complain about my piddly bit of darkness….

    a friend put it quite nicely — “It’s easier to forget about all the hungry homeless people when they don’t have their noses pressed up against the restaurant window. Even when they do, it’s impossible to ignore the fly in your soup…”

    while it can always be worse, it is perfectly reasonable to feel the weight of what is. having tracked your blog for a few years, i am inclined to consider you quite the lioness… and i’m hoping that the fates decide to cut you and your clan a little bit of a break.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      I really love that daisyfae. ‘it’s impossible to ignore the fly in your soup’. my friend F has another great one, ‘it’s still your big toe that hurts’. sometimes you just need the difficulty endorsing, to be told it’s ok, NORMAL, to feel crappy. And I wish i really were a lioness x

      • iotamanhattan Says:

        It is normal to feel crappy when things are crappy. We Brits are far too stoic. It’s ok to be not ok.

        But do you think that sometimes we feel crappy because we need to change something? I can’t help thinking that you’re living on the wrong continent. Or your children are.

      • iotamanhattan Says:

        And I know it’s not as simple as that, and that I have no right to say that kind of thing. But… well… I suppose I just have.

  6. Rob Says:

    Could be worse, once you and family have your health, then that counts for alot. Am sure something good is just around the corner. If you want an injection of positivity, watch this: and make the most of any time you have by blogging frequently.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Yes, i know you’re right. It could be worse. funny though, that over the past two years, when a new difficulty presented, i kept saying to myself, ‘surely it can’t get worse’ and then it did. but i do really know that things could be much worse. the most important things are in place. perhaps I will blog. or blab. and bawl! x

  7. Jackie Says:

    What daisyfae says, you are quite the lioness yourself! Hang in there, it will get better, you have three amazing kids and that is down to you and Ant! Sending love and hugs, and will email you later today! Keep strong and hang on in there!xx

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thank you Jackie. yup. hanging in. bit white knuckled with the waiting. but know you’re right. xx

  8. MsCaroline Says:

    I am not sure I understand what is going on, but I am so relieved that you haven’t been left for another woman (which is what it sounded like at first) and that all of your children are healthy – even if they’re separated from you. I only have 1 in another country, and I thank my lucky stars constantly for Skype. Hope that the clouds lift for you soon – and this dark time becomes a distant memory.

  9. Muddling Along Says:

    Sending much love – and a lot of understanding that sometimes just putting one foot infront of the other and carrying on in the hope it can only get better can be the hardest thing to do

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