Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 18th to 20th April 2014
A week is a lot longer, when you’ve lost a child, than it is in politics.
When Bink was twelve (in 1997) she went missing for two nights – one, by the time we realised – and it felt like years.
I last saw Bink on Friday night (last week, 10th May, 2019). Since then I’ve tried to contact her approximately once a day, and – after our friendly text exchange early in Saturday’s dark hours – heard no more from her than the silence of the roaring of the seas.
I should be used to it by now.
You never get used to it.
If she were in Thailand, India, Senegal, without a telephone or wifi, it would be easy. She would be having a life. Doing. Being young. Adventuring.
Instead, I see her years still slipping away...
Looking back, I am amazed how short the dates are in between (in 2013-14). It felt she was gone a dreary half-life.
We heard nothing.
After that débâcle at Rose’s school in mid-March, more thundering of the waves of nothing. She hadn’t spoken to us since February.
When Shaun gave up being a parish clergyman in 2009, Ben became counter tenor in Dublin’s Christ Church cathedral. When he came home from Ireland, Rose became a chorister. The family revolved around whoever was working at Christmas and Easter.
For three years it was Rose.
We would beg digs or college rooms from friends at the university, borrow the van from the school where Shaun was working, all decamp to the North of England for half a week or more, my father included.
Most times I ignoring, as best I could, the ache that is Bink’s absence.
That Easter, 2014, we booked guest rooms in a local Priory, through a friend Shaun did theological training with.
We arrived in on Maundy Thursday.
We had several bedrooms, a little kitchen and sitting room, a tiny garden in the Easter sun.
I picked daffodils and forsythia, and put smiling vases of them on tables and windowsills.
Rose would be singing until evensong on Easter Day.
Bink’s coming, Ben said.
It felt like a sick joke.
Ben’s jokes can be quite edgy, but always very funny. Not like that.
She’s on the train. She’ll be here in an hour.
I did indeed feel sick.
I should feel celebratory.
Could it be true?
What about... I don’t know. Apology. Explanation. Something.
We hadn’t heard from her for a lifetime.
What about, Have you got room for me?
We made up another sofabed in the sitting room we’d allocated to Alex’s girlfriend.
I went to meet her at the station.
Just Bink. Her little blue rucksack. And her fiddle.
So good to see you! How are you, Bink?
Don’t call me that, for God’s sake.
What do you want me to call you?
Anything you like.
Just not that.
This might perhaps not go quite as smoothly as a longed-for reunion might...
It was an awkward weekend, in many ways. Glorious in others.
Bink seething, somehow, underneath. Nothing easy with her.
Good Friday supper, we invited Rose’s college organist (an old friend from teen years) and spouse; her head (a new friend, still is) and spouse; wondered how to seat us all; divided the party up between tiny kitchen and tiny sitting room; put Serena and Christian in charge of one table, Shaun and me the other; had a lovely evening together.
All of us trying to remember to call Bink, Lara. Her baptismal name.
Situations like that, she can be a pleasure. Charming. Socially adept.
Next day, Holy Saturday, Rosie free much of the day.
Tea in the garden. Books in the sun. Hired boats on the river.
Went to meet the others... saw Bink, sorry, Lara, outside a pub on the river bank, Rosie with her, several strange men at their table, all very drunk and loud and surrounding them.
Bink drinking with all of them
Oh my dear life and great aunt’s bones, what now?
However ill she was before, she always protected little Rose.
How do we get her away, without a scene?
And how long, oh Lord. How long?