in the blue hotel

I recently discovered, when he told me, that Libby’s partner, Darren, isn’t sleeping in his bed. That he has slept in it only once or twice since Libby died, and that for over two years he has been sleeping on the couch. It’s not even the same bed. The bed he shared with Libby was dispatched early and he has a new one, fresh out of the box. But it is the same room. Her two dressing gowns still hang on the bedroom door as if she’s going to get up, slip them on, and go make breakfast.

No wonder the couch looks weather-broke. Two years ago the couch was second-hand but in good condition, now it looks like I feel today because I woke up with a headache; manky at the corners, dull, and in need of a bit of sunshine.

Two years and four months since Libby died and Darren isn’t anywhere near, ‘getting on.’

He says the couch is his safe place, his bubble. I can relate to that. My bed, my room, is my safe place, and on worse days than the ones I’m experiencing lately, I have called my bed my headquarters or my cave.

Couches are comfortable for snoozing on, for watching sports on, but what is it doing to his back, his body, how he feels about life?

Darren’s place is, for want of a kinder phrase, a bloody pigsty. Before Libby died, Erin and I spoke about how to approach the idea of helping them ‘spring clean’. But how do you say, your joint’s a fucking biohazard and we wanna fix it without hurting people’s feelings? Libby is gone and things have not improved. Plus, there are boxes of Libby’s possessions, books, trinkets, crap, that haven’t moved since the day there were filled.

The place looks like it’s about to be moved into or out of and I’ve started to wonder whether that could be not helping Darren’s mood.

And I’ve started to wonder, probably late because half the time my head is in the head, if I’m not helping Darren’s poor emotional state.

I’ve said in the past that grief is like a washing machine, rough, smooth, dirty, clean, tumultuous, tidy, but lately I’ve been thinking it’s like you’re in a nowhere state, a place of no fixed address, a Blue Hotel. You’re in flux, waiting for something to happen, you have a foot out the door but you don’t know where your next step will take you, so your foot hangs, mid-air, waiting for contact with the ground.

Maybe me hanging out with Darren, taking him to the shops, to appointments, to his grief counsellor, isn’t helping in the way I hope. It’s practical, sure. He doesn’t have a car and though he shops light he couldn’t carry it home all by himself, so I’m useful. But am I helping him to stay in this nowhere state? Because it does feels like a holiday from real life when people are taking you places and looking after you, when they call and see how you’re going, how you’re feeling. Did make it through the day okay, Darren?

And if I feel like I might be unhelpful in the ‘moving on’ to Darren, is he unhelpful to me? Am I doing us both a little bit of harm, here’s your room key, Darren. Mine’s adjoining so if you need anything just knock. Darren talks and my brain clings to things he says because he says them like Libby did. He’s my living link to Libby. He bloody smells like her! I’m not ready to walk away, I don’t think I ever could, I’m not a walk-away-er-er. But are we in a Blue Hotel? Does anyone know?


don’t you love how the clothes pegs hang in

the tree like domestic fruit?  

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