One Thursday evening in late August 2016 I was making plum jam. Then the phone rang. It was from a hospital in Galway. It was The Call. The call I had on some level been waiting for my whole adult life. A stroke. OK. What does that mean? What should I do?
That Thursday evening lives forever in my memory as a separate kind of world. A world where my father was alive and well. It’s a distinct time and place that I can never revisit. The evening sun filtering through the blinds, the smell of boiled jam, the giant bowl of still unused plums spilling out over the kitchen table. It was a place where my biggest concern was if I had enough jars, a place where everything was OK. And then suddenly it wasn’t.
Suddenly I was throwing things frantically into a backpack and calling my sister to tell her to come if she could. 20 minutes later she had booked her tickets and we were to meet the following morning in Dublin.
There’s the Thursday evening where I was making jam, and there’s the Thursday evening where I was packing funeral clothes. It was one and the same, but they feel like two distinctly separate places, times and events. The train tracks split and went in two directions. I followed one, and then my father died. It’s not like I had a choice in the matter. I couldn’t stop the train and get on another one. Oh, but I wanted to.