Someone died. Someone I never met, and did not know beyond a couple of exchanges of emails, but someone who was part of a profound change in my life.
How long ago was it exactly? Fourteen years or fifteen? I was married to a man who spent a lot of time in
His idyll lasted long enough for her to bear him two girls; he lied about our marriage and tricked her out of thousands. She threw him out in the end. He returned to
We just heard that she has died. Her two girls are fourteen and twelve. It wasn’t her fault. None of it was her fault. Her daughters are the half sisters of my daughter, and, singleton that she is, she loves them as the sisters she never had.
It would be too simple to say that had things been different we would not have lived such a frugal life for so long. Maybe it would have been even more limited. Certainly we became the authors of our own destiny, for better definitely, not for worse. But from a life of comparative luxury we certainly came to know how to make things go round.
From that time I remember some things most strongly; there we were, in a gamekeeper’s cottage that would, under other circumstances, have been deemed romantic. Our heating came from a wood fired stove. Each morning in the winter I pulled wellingtons on under my dressing gown and trudged to the wood heap to keep the fire smouldering. Not very romantic. I daren’t let the car revs slow as I took my daughter to school, for fear it would stall, as it often did. Sometimes there was flooding, sometimes gales howled around the eaves of the little cottage, sometimes there was an evil black ice over all the roads.
But the farming people hung braces of pheasant on our door handles for us to pluck and dress, and up the road was a house where they kept hens, and we got our eggs from them, fresh as you like. And one day we had new laid eggs and we found ceps in the wood, a whole lot of them. Next day we told rich friends about our omelette and their eyes grew great.
I can’t really see her as the author of misfortune. Without her things would definitely have been different and it is not often that you can see so clearly the place where the road took a different turn. I never knew her, and I might not have liked her, but her girls are sisters to my girl, and they have lost her. And I have never had such eggs again.