The wind had been blowing around the house all night, howling furiously. With a pounding heart I had listened to clattering gates, flying branches and dogs barking restlessly. As I delayed the moment when the dreams of the past night had faded to the point where I had no choice but to enter the real world with all its limitations, the memories came.
The white stuffed elephant my mother received from a visitor while she was in the hospital recovering from her mastectomy. How she answered ‘someone I used to know long ago’ when I asked her who it came from.
How I helped my mother set the table for what would be her last Christmas dinner.
The words of Zjef Vanuytsel, her favorite singer, cutting right through me, as if my soul was made of butter.
My mother’s sad voice as she sang along.
How she secretly cried in the kitchen.
The smell of fresh soup.
This couldn’t go on like this. I pushed the curtain aside just far enough to see the wind snatching at the pine trees with long fingers. In the field next to the garden, crows frantically pecked at the last remnants of autumn. It was December 24, but winter had not yet made its appearance. It seemed as if this autumn lasted forever. Slowly, I wandered through the house I called my home. Thoughtless, I stroked the walls. It gave me a comforting feeling, knowing they were still there. Solid. Tangible. Walls don’t die.