Empty October

This is the first October that I have not had any of my children home. Ever.

Through school they always enjoyed a fortnight’s mid term break. Which I enjoyed more. For a long time we used to go to the beach then; October being the best time of year on the East African coast. Not too hot. But hot enough.

I didn’t imagine that last October would be the last halfterm that Hat would be home; she came for just 12 days to the little house we’d been lent on a mango farm. I was fragile. She was brave. Life was fraught. We walked a lot. We visited the Sokoke forest together and  giggled naughtily behind our guide’s back, she wrote a story about it afterwards. We swam. We watched telly too late curled together on a sofa, the cat stretched out beside us. We saw a huge cobra work its way beneath fallen leaves and called the dogs off for fear somebody would get nipped. A palm frond fell on my head and Hattie worried fretfully all night. I told her it might just knock some sense into me.

It was a brittle, betweentimes two weeks. I don’t miss that period in my life. But I do miss her.

This October Hat is going to France, to improve her speaking in preparation of final school exams next summer. She will be with another mother. Annette. We have corresponded often, Annette and I, with the help of Babelfish and Google translate, and she has told me that she will take Hat to shop in markets, visit castles, she will make pastry with her. She sounds warm. And I can hear ready laughter in her words. She signs off bisoux Annette.

And that, I tell myself sternly, is all that counts; that Hat feel at home even when she isn’t.

Hat

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4 Responses to “Empty October”

  1. carol Says:

    Hattie will be fine… but it must be very hard for you to remember all those lovely holidays. How much things have changed in a year. I didn’t think i’d be welcoming a rainy day on my half-term – but i am loving the cool breeze and sound of distant thunder after too many hot sweaty days.

  2. Addy Says:

    We worry when our “kids” are in foreign situations, as you well know from when Kay was in Africa this summer, but they are far more resourceful than we ever were at the same age and thankfully the internet comes into its own, so we can stay in touch with skpe and mobiles and wotnot. Annette sounds lovely and I am sure she will look after Hat well. Try to distract yourself with a project of some sort – it’ll help mask the maternal pangs.

  3. Catherine Says:

    I am sure Hat will be fine, she is expanding her world, but I know exactly how you feel as our grand daughter has out grown us and from having her stay with us every other weekend for fourteen years, holidays,etc and so much more we now have hardly seen her more than three times since March. We feel it terribly but she has no concept of not coming to us as she has such a full world to grow into. We are trying to keep busy and not feel it too much.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Catherine, Addy – we do worry, but yes, Hat’s expanding her world. and will cope much better than her mother!

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