Back in the winter, when L was starting her second inpatient stay, The Boyfriend and his family booked a holiday in Fuerteventura, on the understanding that she needed to be well enough to join them. I was cynical at the time; in those dark days, it seemed as of nothing would pull her out of the grip anorexia held and I remembered all those other holidays in which we hovered anxiously over food, while at the same time wishing Ed would stay at home so that we could enjoy a holiday too.
But somehow, she is in a different place now. My mum visits for a couple of days and we eat out. L chooses pasta and a side order of vegetables, covered in butter. My starter of prawns in chilli oil and lemon, with ciabatta is part stolen by her, with hungry looks being cast at my every forkful. Perhaps it’s a sign that I’ve moved on too, when I don’t immediately offer her all of it, but begrudgingly share another chunk of bread and prawns. For dessert, a Strega sundae and throughout a happy babble of teenager nonsense between her and K. At breakfast the next morning, specially prepared for Granny, consisting of croissants, fruit and yogurt, she helps herself to the almond croissant I was eyeing, where before she would have only had the fruit and her usual cereal.
She prepares for holiday, excitedly and happily. I pay for her to have a spray tan and she appears back at home, golden, but suddenly downcast. She sits for a while on my bedroom floor, looking sad and I start to worry. My questions of what is wrong are met with a shrug and “Nothing”, and yet I know it’s a lie. Eventually in her bedroom, I ask her to tell me and she says her period started. Pretty much a month after the last one. I realise her sadness is that she is off on holiday, with The Boyfriend and the much awaited second period is a nuisance. I hug her, trying to be sympathetic, while Hallelujah choruses play inside my head. We laugh about her text to The Boyfriend – “Babe, the good news is, I’m definitely getting better….”
This morning at 5.30am, she leaves, happy and excited. I feel absolutely no need to worry, except for the obvious things. You know, plane crashes, hurricanes hitting the Canary Islands or sunburn. For the first time, I feel that Ed is small and cowed, not disappeared altogether, but shrunken by months of determination and the force of the happiness that is a life waiting to be lived without anorexia. Actually, not waiting, but being lived, out in the sunshine. We are winning.