I’ve been sleeping better recently, in spite of the dastardly Sydney humidity at this time of the year – I suppose it’s one small positive to be had out of the daily bleakness associated with giving up caffeine.
But the other night something woke me up at 3.30am. You know that feeling, when your eyes suddenly open and you are instantly alert and worried about something you can’t put your finger on?
And I suddenly felt really lonely and scared about what lies ahead for me. It was the first time I had become aware of the old man’s mortality.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to spout some existentialist crap about my place in the world, but there’s no doubt that the older you get, the fear of loneliness begins to set in.
My mother-in-law suffered from anxiety like me, and I remember how much living alone scared her after my father-in-law passed. Even now, with the comforting sound of the old man’s heavy breathing by my side at night, the slightest sound can send me in a spin, triggering my mind to play tricks on me, concocting all the worst possibilities that the noise could be.
It’s usually just some drunk or wildlife in the street, and living in an apartment, four floors above danger has assuaged many of the fears I used to experience living in our old, thin weatherboard house, that didn’t cope well with the sea breezes. But I have already begun to worry about going after the old man – a ridiculous concept with my tragic familial medical history – but one that can keep me awake in the middle of the night.
And I don’t like that feeling of dependence on him. I’m a strong woman.
One of my oldest friends is a GP in the UK and I remember when I saw her a few years ago her saying to me, ‘watch out, because we’ll all start dropping off now,’ and how I laughed in mock horror with her, still blissfully ignorant then about my own mortality.
It’s not like I think about dying all of the time…just a lot of the time… although there’s been no conclusive medical proof yet. I don’t even think I’m afraid of death as much as I am of being left alone; particularly here, in a country that I love and have made my home in, yet which is geographically so far away from the blanket of security of my extended family.
Even more strange is that I love my own company, and often fantasise about escaping to some hotel by myself for a few days, away from the traumas caused by family and responsibility.
Or I catch myself looking wistfully at tiny, one bed apartments online.
I assume that if Kurt ever forgives me for being the worst parent in the world, I will still have my children in my life in some capacity, if the natural order goes to plan. But who knows if they will live close by or even want me in their new lives.
And supposing the old man does put NC in charge of our nest egg, (as he has threatened so many times, out of frustration at my lack of interest/ineptitude with our money), and she shoves me in some awful home and throws away the key? I can’t see Kurt wanting me to tag along to his prison cell.
I shall just have to make sure I go first.