…The worst is death, and death will have his day.
Richard II, Act III:II, L. 102
I’m lying in my own bed, new laptop perched upon my crossed knees with Srto Gato purring beside me, his head bobbing about as his curious eyes watch this screen in puzzlement. I don’t know what I think or feel as of this moment in time; the last 18 hours or so have been completely surreal. You know, I’ve not written much on here lately because, although there were a few abstract issues I wanted to talk about, there was otherwise nothing to say. I haven’t had the Lamotrigine for a week and proceeded to self-harm on Saturday night – but so what? It’s hardly remarkable reading, especially given the myriad of similar lamentations that have previously adorned these pages.
Now, of course, there is too much to say. I know what you’re thinking: “she was only your aunt, and not one of whom you were particularly fond.” That’s true to a point, but I’m not sure I can convey in writing – or in any other medium, for that matter – the sheer gravitas of this situation for my family. This is almost certainly the single biggest event for them in my lifetime. That sounds ridiculous when you consider that my grandparents – Maisie’s parents – are both dead, and in particular when you know how much I adored my grandfather who died when I was 15. But my grandparents, to my cousins for example (though not to me, vis a vis my grandfather), were a degree of separation away.
Maisie had no degree of separation from anyone, at least not when she had her own way – which she usually did. I’m not going to take back my earlier commentary on her and start lauding her as the greatest woman that ever lived. She was manipulative. She was devious. She was vindictive. She did treat Sarah (her daughter) like shit and she did start rows about fuck all squared. All of these things – and others – remain true, regardless of her new biological status as lifeless.
As such, many of the relationships she so deeply fostered were in many ways engineered by her, even if they ultimately did result in some form of mutual love, or at least affection. Two of her adult children still live in her house; the other two might as well do so. One of her grandchildren lives there, and until very recently so did a second. The second in question – Suzanne – might as well still have lived there, along with her two children. And for those that actually didn’t live there – Mum and (to a lesser extent) I, for example – well. You didn’t have to be there to be thoroughly under whatever spell Maisie had (whether unwittingly or otherwise) cast. I call the house Hotel California, because you can check out, but you can never leave. This was the power and depth of her familial influence.
My cousins and their children have had, therefore, what I regard as a bizarre upbringing. Everything – everything – for each of them came, ultimately, back to the matriarch. Their lives all focused around Hotel California. Without the Head Californian, there is nothing. Life for these people will, when all the funereal nonsense is over and the sympathetic callers go back to their own lives, become an occupational desert without point, function or comprehension.
I don’t know how clear I’m making this, but maybe I could simply have summed it up thus: Maisie was not just a person. She was an entire way of life for my family. The reach extended less to Mum – and lesser again to me – than to her children and grandchildren, but it has still been keenly felt.
Her death is a big deal, regardless of what anyone’s actual views on the woman may have been.
I said above that I wasn’t going to unspeak my assertions that she had many negative traits. I’m not. I’m sure that hitherto this post demonstrates that. On the other hand, though, she was always personally nice to me. Although I hated going to Hotel California, she was always – fucking always – wanting A and I to go there and see her. We rarely did, for some obvious and some less obvious reasons, and I feel bad about that, because she probably died thinking I didn’t give a fuck about her. But, in actual fact, in many ways I did. The insistence that we visit her was borne, I think, not of altruism, but out of her own perceived needs (though I’m not sure that she realised that herself). But nevertheless, she was always accommodating and highly generous. She seemed to genuinely ‘get’ my mental illness, and had great empathy and sympathy for the pain I suffered. The last ten, twelve, whatever years of her life were punctuated by quite serious illness and at times profound deafness, but she was still capable of having a laugh with us at times. Although they argued occasionally – and when they did, it was big – as my mother said yesterday, standing over her sister’s body, they were life-long and close friends.
And I suppose therein lies another point: Maisie has always been a key fixture in my life. Even when I hadn’t seen her for months on end, her existence somehow hung around in the periphery of my own. As I said, I had only checked out of her life; I had never left.
So for her to just disappear from this world, and relatively suddenly at that, is…a blow, maybe, but if not a blow, then at least a fucking shock, encumbered with a massive amount of bewildered “what the fuck happens now?” Because without her, I don’t know what will become of the McFaul dynasty. Moreover, I don’t know how the interplay between them and my mother/me/A and Aunt of Boredom/Uncle of Boredom will develop, or if it even will at all.
It’s not just the end of a life: it’s the end of an era, it’s the end of an entire and tenacious lifestyle, and – in the worst case scenario – it’s the end of a faulty, dysfunctional but somehow still strangely close family.
I had intended to make this entry a run-down of what had happened in the lead-up up to, and immediate aftermath of, Maisie’s death, and how I planned to play the difficult cards of both Paedo and Aunt of Evil. But I’ve written 1,000 words of introspection instead, so rather than turn this into one of those insanely mammoth posts of which I am capable, I’m going to leave things there for today. I felt the above was important stuff to say, one way or another, rambling as it is upon a second reading. A few people had asked me what the exact nature of my relationship with my aunt was; this post probably hasn’t explained that specific dynamic well, but I do hope it gives some idea of the kind of magnitude her death is having on us all. Regardless of my relationship with her during her life, her death will have a hugely wide-ranging impact for a very long time.
Thanks for your support, lovely people. <3 xxx