Me: “I think Coraline’s bored.”
My mum: “I don’t think she’s bored; I think you’re bored.”
Me: “I feel like maybe she needs different books with musical buttons.”
Mum: “I think she likes the buttons in the books she has. You know the main thing she likes is to be with you.”
This time late last summer, my mother and I had this conversation. I often remember it. My mum was living with us for a month and a half, after she had been diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer, in between the hospital and the hospice.
Fast forward to this summer, and the school holidays, and it is the same scenario. Coraline prefers to sit pressing the buttons in her musical books rather than to engage in whatever activity we have taken her to; be it a friend’s house, a soft play or a small farm for children.
This summer I have come to feel guilty when I don’t take her to things, as I feel I should be, and guilty when I do take her to things, because Coraline is not interacting with anything there and I feel that it shouldn’t be like that.
Should. Shouldn’t. These are words to do away with. I have wrestled the summer long with the feelings and what the answer is. I’ve come to rest upon a word: Allowing.
Coraline has already taught me much about acceptance, and I think this summer she has taught me even more. I told our old neighbour Margaret, who has a strong bond with Coraline, about it and she said, “Coraline is perfectly happy doing what she’s doing. There’s no rush. She will do everything all the other kids are doing, just a little later on”. This summer, my mum is no longer here with us in this world, but her words are. A year on, I realise she had the answer.