After early hour rumblings about feminism, I thought it was probably time I brought the blog up to date on L and her progress. She is doing well, despite the huge pressures on her. She has pushed herself, ordering cream in a milkshake while out for a snack on her own, she ate Tarte Tatin with scarcely a murmur, never mind the usual look of horror. She is catching up with schoolwork, spending time each day working way in her room, preparing for full time school and she equally diligently works her way through three meals and four snacks each day.
Her mood goes up and down. Earlier this week, I suffered a major depressive episode and suddenly our roles were reversed. She chattered away to me, trying to make me laugh. I had a fairly significant crisis of confidence due to incidents at work and when L urged me out to IKEA, she spent the evening saying “The reason you like that amazing rug is because you’re an amazing woman, an amazing mum and an amazing boss” and sneaking up on me and yelling Hug from Behind and grabbing me. She held my hand as we walked around the shop, and I reflected on the irony of her looking after me. After a day or so, I felt better, L felt worse and we curled up on the sofa watching the comforting Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood making Easter cakes and bread. L told me her favourite baking time was Easter, because she loved all the flavours. I kissed the top of her head and told her she could bake anything she liked as long as she ate it.
And this week, there was a stark reminder of the challenge of recovery. A friend of hers, one she made in the unit who was discharged earlier this year, will be back in as an inpatient next week. This seems to have had a sobering effect on L. If the same time frames applied to her, she would end her GCSEs and instead of going to the prom, she would be heading back to hospital. Her scarlet taffeta ball gown would hang unworn as a permanent reminder of a life stolen by anorexia. I told her that I believed she was strong enough to do this and that I would not let this happen. She seemed encouraged by this, but it is chilling to know the threat anorexia still poses. Like a Dark Mark hanging over the house, it will be many months, possibly years before she is free. But she can do it and she is not alone. We are all on her side.
J is home for three weeks of Easter Holidays. His solid presence, usually standing at the fridge looking inside, or draping his six foot frame over the sofa, headphones on, listening to contemporary music, is reassuring and comforting to L and all of us. He is a Labrador in human form, without the moulting. K of course, never left, and she and L alternate between panicking over exams or chatting about bands. I know the three of them are eccentric to the point of distraction, each time we sit down to a meal, K searches her chair anxiously for cat hair or fleas, sometimes insisting on hoovering it down before sitting, J hums tunes loudly while playing an imaginary piano and L looks anxious and scared. I sometimes think in exasperation, what must a “normal” family be like. But I also know there is no such thing and even more to the point, if there were, I would not change them for the world.