Today has been very, very still. I got up in the quiet and made my morning coffee, fumbling for spoons and granules as I usually do when shedding leftover slumber. A quick dash to the shops for Marlboro's and I positioned myself into a pose of work; mug in arms reach, lit cigarette pursued between lips, typing and writing and researching and calling.
The hours ticked away as I clicked at the keys, slowly but surely, being productive. Work is a little less full-on that it has been, but there is enough to be done all the same. There is always something to do for energetic hands.
Suddenly, it's past lunch, and everything is still very still. It's a stark contrast to the hub in the streets yesterday. Residents and locals lined the solo road that is aptly titled "Main Street" as scenes for Love/Hate were filmed. Given the excitement and fanfare, you would think that Jesus Christ himself was about to pop out of the hearse and announce his second coming. He didn't. RIP Elmo.
Have things always been this quiet, or am I simply noticing the silence more? Working at home while I'm on a break from RTE, and there now being only two of us in the house instead of three, has eerily combined.
My desk by the window, I catch sight of clouds gathering out of the corner of my eye. I check the weather forecast and Met Eireann have invented five different ways to say it's going to rain for the rest of the week.
The silence in the house wouldn't bother me so much if I was the only one here, but I'm not, and as such, the silence neurotically whispers to me that something is wrong. I'm sure my Mum filled her days long before I ever decided to take a career break, but when I was working away from home, it wasn't something I felt responsible for. I would worry from time to time, especially if I knew she was having a hard time, but for the most part, it was none of my business.
I know the only thing that's changed in this situation is my location. But I find myself worrying about her the way one worries about a child. Your day is pricked by regular intervals of concern for their well-being and guilt that you're not spending every physical moment you have with them.
In books and movies, the central character always has at least one, clear, flaw. Like any human, they have many flaws - but there is always one that sticks out, or more likely, is pointed out, to us the observer. Their Achilles heel, their particular pressure point of weakness that we just know will result in a terrible stumble when pressed. I've teased male friends of mine before that they have a hero complex and in me, found a damsel who life likes to throw into distress.
The truth is, I think that I might be the one who has a thing for saving. A dear friend visited me this afternoon and as I spoke about my Mum, he told me I was already doing everything I could. I was spending time with her, I make her a priority, I try and do things to make her smile. Short of organising a play-date and ordering a bulk amount of cotton-wool to wrap her in, there's not a whole lot I can do.
"But what if she has an episode? What if things get bad again? What if...?"
"Then you deal with it" he replied, with his thick Northside accent that takes me right back to our first day of secondary school. "You're doing everything you can to support her. You shouldn't feel bad."
But how you feel and how you should feel are two very different things. I feel bad that I'm not doing enough for my Mum. I feel bad that I'm mad at a friend and things are weird between us because of something stupid he did last weekend. I feel bad that I cancelled social plans this evening because I was concerned what might happen with some alcohol. I look at the local church and briefly ponder if going to confession will cleanse me of it all.
Instead, I did what I often do when feeling particularly overwhelmed (as I said, it's been a complicated few weeks), I nested. My go-to option used to be baking until we ran out of butter. But with the medical necessity of being gluten-free and the practicality of not having any gluten-free flour in the house (note to self - get gluten-free flour), I painted my room.
Not the entire room, mind. Just the bit of purple that looked like a nice merlot Hannibal Lector might serve with your liver. And I pimped up my locker with some John Green quotes. But somewhere in between the second coat and Oasis back-catalogue, I felt better. Lighter. I'll probably be scrubbing Tiffany blue off my left thigh for the next week, but it's worth it.
Very few of us say it aloud, but at some point or another, we all wanted someone to come along and save us. But if all the difficult times of my life have taught me anything, it's that you have to save yourself. We don't get to make a choice about what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we deal with it. You are in control of your own happiness and you can only be saved if you begin with saving yourself first. You can't prevent every bad thing from happening and it's not your fault when the sky falls. All you can do is try be the best person you can possibly be, and in the words of my friend, "then you deal with it".