It is the last day of Christmas. J, in his pedantic way, continually reminds us that it is Twelve Days of Christmas and Christmas Day is only the first. So today, the tree comes down, well, the trees. The lights around the picture frames and the bannister and the bowl of baubles. It feels a time to spring clean, to replace festivity with austerity.
The armchair in the front room is always moved up into our bedroom to make way for the tree, so today it moves back. Otherwise it is an uneventful day. Except for the phonecall I make to L’s sixth form college, to tell them that she will almost certainly need to withdraw due to her imminent admission. L seems sad and defeated. I feel the same. L goes out with a friend for her snack and comes home for tea. She goes to stay with her dad for the evening. After she has gone I tidy up our bedroom. And all at once I am overwhelmed by sadness, of the thought of her leaving home to go back as an inpatient. It feels as if the party is over. Even if the party was fraught, distressing and exhausting. I clear my bedside table and shelves. I stack the books I plan to read, starting with Bridget Jones, moving on to Donna Tartt. My bedside table is a record of recent events, the beads and wool from the Christmas decorations I made for K, endless receipts for presents, a bottle of Benylin and Vaseline for a sore nose. And the book L gave me for Christmas, a book she made herself, titles “Things I Love About You”. It is full of photos of the two of us and beautiful words from her. I place it next to the small kangaroo toy she bought me for my birthday, complete with a baby kangaroo in its pouch, as a memento of our post meal kangaroo time together. They are both close to the side of my bed, where I can see them easily. In the coming weeks I think I may need them.