The rain is still pitter-patting around my silent house, large drops, after the enormous thunderstorm. We drove through it all the way from Birdhaven, it became hectic on Linksfield road where hail began. The hail, which had the little Mathilde and Apolline hysterical with joy as we approached the Airport, was growing bigger with each kilometer. You just don't get that kind of storm in lowlands of the Pas de Calais. The chatter from the back seat matched the cracking sound of the rather large stones hitting the windscreen and the car body.
I felt strangely alien in the swirling crowds of the departure desks, the coffee shops and the stringent controls, the girls were giggling through. They made it with their precarious passports and unabridged birth certificates and a little too much peri-peri sauce from Nando's in the hand luggage. They will have to make their own in St. Omer. Then they were gone, flying to the north.
The pillar of strength, Gaelle who was there through the weeks of the trauma of Aline's pain and death, drove back with me, in near silence punctuated by her knowledgeable navigation commands. Then Gaelle was gone and the house was bereft of chatting people and permanently active, bright little girls and very caring larger ones.
Just a little blue box on the window sill. It seems only a bit lighter than the live person I picked-up in my arms only ten days ago and carried to her bed.
I lit every possible light inside and outside of the house, tidied up a little but not too much, it's better to go slowly. Every candle is burning.
Now is the time to start again.
The beginning of the last lap. Without those familiar sounds and pictures of forty-five years.