It’s Sunday evening and we’re peering out of a space that was once filled by our sons’ bedroom window. We’re both tired. It’s been a long, hard, torturous, adjective-ridden few weeks but finally the last box of our belongings has been stored and Reservoir Mum’s eBay addiction has rendered our home a teetering toothless mass. The boys are not with us and the bright blue sky seems over-polished and sterile. The silence around us hums.
‘You might want to stop sleeping on your back,’ I say.
‘I don’t… is this a pregnancy tip for your blog?’ Reservoir Mum asks.
(Note – if you are twenty five weeks pregnant be sure to sleep on your left side. Also, if you haven’t already, buy some supportive pillows. Sleeping while pregnant is hard but by using pillows as wedges you can feel as if you’re on an air mattress floating down a river that smells like Sandalwood PotPourri).
‘How are you feeling?’ I ask.
She shrugs. ‘Tired. But good. You?’
An icy breeze hits the trees in the reserve and then swirls in the room around us a second later. When I reach out to hold Reservoir Mum she’s warm and I think of the baby. ‘I feel a tad sad to be honest…’
‘Yeah? What sort of sad?’
‘Do you remember, before we had kids, when we got home from that clown party at 5am and I was really drunk and I made you stay up so I could go through CDs and choose what song I was going to sing to you at our wedding…’
‘The night you were singing badly and blubbering about how much you loved me just before you fell asleep in the beanbag wearing nothing but a pair of underwear and your favourite ugly green shirt?’
‘…we were moving on from our carefree partying ways to something else and…’
Her chuckling interrupts me. ‘You should never ever sing Cyndi Lauper, drunk or sober.’
‘…well that’s the same kind of sad I feel – where I know some good stuff’s coming but we’re also leaving something behind.’
Reservoir Mum turns to push her preggers belly against mine (which is super strong and hard like armour). ‘Hey, Rick Astley’s kicking a bit,’ she says. I feel him knocking on the womb door just as she says, ‘Can you feel that?’
‘Yep,’ I smile.
In the deepest wisest part of my mind it occurs to me that if the real Rick Astley had made some movies based on his songs he could have been even bigger than Elvis right now. This awareness –of missed chances – only adds to the melancholy. ‘Archie was six months old when we came here,’ I say. ‘This was Lewis and Tyson’s first home… and everything just keeps moving on. Archie’s nearly seven and we taught him to walk just downstairs. And I read to him every night in this room. And we used to lock ourselves in that ensuite with Lewis, to wait out his tantrums. And Tyson took two tumbles down those stairs before he learnt to bound up and down them and Rick Astley will only ever know those occurrences as stories and we’ll never be able to describe it to him perfectly… ’
‘He’ll grow up with plenty of things to remember,’ she says, softly.
“When I was in my teens I was pretty obsessed with death, mostly because I was terrified of it. Then I got over it a little. But I always thought that when I got to this point – raising kids and building houses and all that jazz – that I’d be in a different space. But here I am again, more aware of the house that’s being knocked down than the house that’s about to be built. And when I look down at the garage, where I had the gym and worked out for the past six years, all I can think is that’s where I went when I hit rock bottom after we had the miscarriage… ’
Reservoir Mum pushes her face against my neck and sighs, ‘This baby’s going to be fine,’ she says. ‘I can feel it in my haemorrhoids.’
‘Oh my lord!’ I reply, and when I laugh I feel the baby moving between us.
‘Did you feel him then?’ she asks.
‘I did,’ I say. It suddenly registers that my body feels dulled by the hours of constant movement and effort. I am super fatigued. But I’m not pregnant. ‘Shit, it should be me pepping you up, not the other way around.’
‘We take it in turns,’ she shrugs.
‘Yep,’ I say.
When I look outside I remember all the times we went walking and running and playing around the reserve and I decide it’s time to shake off the fatigue and melancholy. I can feel the new baby. He’s here with us right now. And while we haven’t seen his face or held his hand we have created a space for him. There’s a buzz of excitement inside me when I realise that he’s already inside those memories, running alongside us. When we bring him home we’ll hit the ground running and just as it was with Arch and Lewy and Tys, the time will come where we’ll feel as if he’s always been with us.
‘You know,’ I whisper, as the wind turns icy again, ‘that green shirt was fucking awesome.’
Reservoir Mum’s laughter sets the kicking off again, ‘I’m pretty sure I have a photo of you the morning after that night somewhere.’
‘Well I don’t think we need to see that!’ I say. ‘Yeah. I can’t wait for the little fella to get here. He’s going to drive me crazy.’
‘Honestly,’ she says, as we make our way downstairs and prepare to leave the house to the demolition crew. ‘I don’t think you can get any crazier.’
*We know our baby’s name already but to keep it a secret we’re using the code name Rick Astley.