I had a baby and a partner who wouldn't acknowledge responsibility; and I simply existed. My life has always been my child, and perhaps back in 2000-2001, it could have been my partner too. But he didn't want me; nor did he want his child which made me realise a bleak future as a family unit. I already knew the Farmer back then, had known him since 1993, long before I met Amy's father in 1997. I was frightened of what lay ahead; frightened of my life as it was; frightened of the fact that I had no money and nowhere to live, as the house we lived in belonged to my partner. Everything was his. Except Amy and me.
I came up to Northumberland with my parents in June 2001, our last family holiday. Amy was eighteen months old. Her father didn't come, work commitments kept him at home. His home; not mine. Back then, I had no home. Of course I could have gone back to live with my parents, but independence, and perhaps pride, dictated otherwise. And as unhappy as I was, I stayed put, listening to abuse being thrown at me, waiting for a phone call to tell me he had decided to stay out for the night and would see me soon. Sometimes it did not come. That was at weekends. He worked away during the week.
I suppose I was feeble. But I was also a mother. That final holiday in a cottage on the farm changed me. I knew where I wanted to be. I had known for some time where I did not want to be. The Farmer and I were friends. Simply that. Yet he offered me a home, and somewhere to bring up Amy. A place I knew I would be happy. And a place I knew I would be living away from my parents. That frightened me more than anything.
I returned to Lancashire after the holiday, to a cold house. Twenty-five days later, Wednesday 25th July 2001, at 8.45am, I was watching Tin Tin with Amy. The phone rang. It was my mum. "Your dad's collapsed. He's at Wigan Infirmary. I'm here now. Just come when you're ready. And don't worry, just drive safely." I arrived at the hospital at 9.30am. My brother greeted me at the front door, his wife taking Amy from me whilst he led me inside. I will never forget the words he said to me. "He's gone." I cry when I write that sentence for my dad will never be gone. Yet there we all were, sat in a little room, in shock.
And so I rang the Farmer. He was my best friend. I rang Amy's father next, he was at work in a different part of the country and he couldn't talk to me. He was in the middle of a meeting. It was Friday night before he got home. All day Saturday and all day Sunday he spent at his parents house, doing what he enjoyed best; spending time as a batchelor. But I couldn't care less where he was. I knew what I was going to do. Frightened at the prospect of spending the rest of my life without my dad, the only man I truly needed, I waited five weeks, then packed mine and Amy's belongings and announced to my family that I was leaving.
Amy needed to be loved by a mum who was content. She needed to be brought up in a happy environment, one where the birds sang continuously, where daisy chains were in constant view. I knew a challenge lay ahead, I also knew I was leaving my grieving mum. But I no longer just existed. My dad had set me free. And I, together with Amy, am now truly happy because I took that step; I felt the fear and did it anyway.
Just to clarify, Amy sees her father from time to time when I visit my mum, and we now get on better than we did when we lived together. He's married and has a lovely new family. Funny how life turns out.
I was inspired to write this post as part of Josie's workshop #12 at Sleep is for the Weak