It was a weekend when we received confirmation that the alien was sticking around for longer than expected and in the style of The Matrix it felt as though the world went into slow motion and the universe rearranged itself around me. As much as all my bosses and colleagues were instantaneously amazing, I was not looking forward to returning to work on Monday morning. There was a dread and a new burden to carry. I had changed over night, so had my family, so had my perception of the world, but the world had unsurprisingly kept on turning. How was this going to work? I had to somehow carry on, when all I wanted was for the world to completely stop for a while until I could collect all my thoughts.
I went into work and I was fine; my colleagues were totally normal with me and I found myself quite naturally talking about the situation, until I got a…well it wasn’t a lump in my throat or a knot in my stomach, but more of a startling ball of fire searing through my body – I knew it was the alien, but how was it doing this to me? There was no obvious trigger, my mind hadn’t wandered over to thoughts of it; it just happened, out of nowhere (I’m used to this sensation now).
So I took myself off and found a quiet place to sit. Luckily there is a Peace Garden at work, which I had never been in previously and so thought I’d try it. I gave myself just five minutes to sit and control that ball of fire – focusing on the water feature and looking at the beautiful trees and plants and nothing else. I soon felt calm again. Or so I thought. On my way out of the garden I met the YSJ Chaplain, and again without thought and without warning I verbally vomited all my feelings out at her as I began to cry. We sat in a quiet room together whilst she gently helped me to answer my own questions and to steady myself again. I will be forever grateful to her for how she was in that moment. If you are ever reading this – Thank you Annie!
One thing that Annie said, really struck a chord and has stuck with me every since:
[The alien] might alter the way the future develops and the memories you would have made, but it can never take away the wonderful memories that were made before.
I find a real strength in this. In those really difficult times; those times where the fireball emerges, the times where I can tell my mam is scared, the times I can’t sleep, the times where just the thought of the future is enough to take my breath away, in those really difficult times, I have a secret. A secret that the alien wishes I didn’t know. The alien’s Achilles heal that I know how to slyly kick under the table, right where it hurts.
The secret is that the alien is not as strong as it thinks it is. It’s powers have massive limitations and it doesn’t matter how much it tries, how long it stays around for, how many slo-mo effects it puts on my life, how many devious steps in takes in the future – there are some things that it cannot even touch. I mean not even close. These things are safe and me, my family, our friends and especially my mam are keeping guard of them.The alien will never get to them. It will never affect what has already been. It will never be able to besmirch our memories; discolour, fade or damage the photo album of our life before the alien came! So back off alien!
I’ve had to remind myself of this secret a few times over the past week as the Harper family home, the home that I lived in until I was 18, went up for sale. Now my dad has wanted to move out of that house for a good few years, way before the alien came, and I’ve always been incredibly supportive. It made complete sense; two people living in a big family house, rooms only being used for storage, rooms being cleaned more than enjoyed, energy bills etc etc. My mam has not wanted to move out for sentimental purposes, but now with the alien, stairs, showers, walking, cleaning etc etc need to be reconsidered. So a bungalow it is (a very nice one may I add). Even up until that point I was totally fine. However in the middle of a hen do, I checked my phone and saw that it was official – 2 Beckstone Close was up for sale. There it was – that familiar fireball, that feeling of stepping off the waltzers and the earth is still moving. Looking through all the photos; the living room where we have spent every Christmas in the same places, with presents in the same piles, the kitchen I’d raid every time my mam had gone shopping, to see what was new or what I could scoff straight away, the front room that was our toy room, then my Nan’s bedroom, then the teenage/pre-drinking/anyone-who wanted-to-stop-over-could living room, the computer room with the desktop you’d switch on in the morning to use it at night (slight exaggeration) and where the nice wine glasses lived, the freezing cold tiles in the utility room that you quickly hopped over to get to the toilet if you had no slippers on, or where the magic cake hiding cupboard was (aka the old microwave), the hallway which always had bags, books and piles of stuff under the stairs for all my mam’s jobs or places she needed to go, the landing which had our very first Nintendo on it and from where I’d shout down for my dad to come up and do all the hard parts of the game for me, my mam and dad’s bedroom which was a treasure trove of light bulbs in knicker drawers, last years Christmas presents still hidden in the back of cupboards, photo albums, spare birthday cards and wrapping paper (just in case), my sisters bedroom which I was always jealous of, but in recent years has become mine and Ben’s room when we’d visit and then finally my old bedroom. My bedroom which used to be covered in suns and stars from floor to ceiling, that I used to turn into a theatre, that was then decorated in minimal monochrome, that hosted sleepovers, hungover conversations, marathons of Will and Grace, where I’d go to sleep every night looking at the amber glow from the street lamp that was directly outside my window and think ‘I have got a good life’.
And it was. It still is. And even though I was fine with the idea of selling the house, even though it was never mine to sell and even though I haven’t lived there for ten years, when I saw it up for sale, it was suddenly real, and suddenly noticeable how quickly things had moved in just over a month, and suddenly I could see the alien moving in to my old home.
But then I remembered the secret. And although the fireball is still there…it’s more like indigestion. I can smile at all the wonderful memories that were made in that house, all the times that will never happen again but will stay with me forever, all the things that went on under that roof that have given me my sense of home wherever I live. So move in alien;take the house for all I care, because you cannot lay a finger on the home the Harpers built, the home the Harpers guard and the home the Harpers will take with them wherever we may go.
Alien, we are onto you. We know your secret!
Quick update on the Mothership – she’s now doing stairs, clips are out from the operation, should start chemo tomorrow and will be going home on Friday. Ha Ha alien, Lorraine wins again!!