We have friends staying at the moment whom I haven't seen for nearly two years. They now live in the wooded hills in the south of Portugal and are here in deepest Bavaria for Xmas family visits.
Talking the other night, Verena asked me how I had managed with getting over my mother's death last summer. I realised I hadn't.
It's a strange thing, you get used to it... to the bare fact of it; so, if someone I have not seen for a while asks how she is I can blithely tell them she passed away last year; there is a kind of routine rehearsed storyline I can relate automatically without engaging my emotions.
But, for example, last week, when we had a look at some of the excellent photos my older son has had taken for his acting portfolio, my first reaction was to think how I could send them over to Liverpool for my mother to look at and then there was that shock of bereavement which reveals this big empty hole in my universe where she used to be.
The other night we also talked of that strange feeling of wondering if your parents, although they have died, would be happy with what you are doing. I don't know if everyone has this feeling but in my head it's in a file called "parental approval" which is in a little section of my brain called "still-a-child".
Finding that in myself it seems weird to think that it was probably in my father and mother too... that they also wondered whether their father and mother would approve long after they had died... and I wonder if my kids suspect it in me?