The first month.

I’ve not spoken to you for a month. That in itself, is not so hard to take. I also didn’t speak to you for a month in July when I was abroad. I didn’t speak to you for a month last year when you were away. And so a month without speaking to you is not, historically, that bizarre. But this month is different, because I can get over not speaking to you specifically for a month but I’ve spoken to our gang far more, almost daily. And we’ve always all been tangled together, so why is your voice not chiming in? Where are you on the Facebook threads and group texts?

Part of me imagines that maybe we’ll catch up in a couple months. That still seems likely, though somewhere I know it is not. I can accept you’re not here right now, and we had this big goodbye and all these associated emotions and feelings, but I cannot accept that it is all over, I cannot accept the never-ness of death. And by “never-ness” I mean I can accept that you haven’t spoken to me this month, but I cannot accept that you will never speak to me again. Or that I will never see you again. We will never hang out again. That stupid “never” bit, that’s the bit I can’t make sense of. Those statements simply don’t seem possible; rather than solid fact they are incomprehensible theories I’m trying to digest.

Progress, if it can be called that, has been slow. I hesitate to use the word “progress”, are we progressing? Most of the time it just feels like the world is hurtling forwards into the future whilst I stand there mutely, gaping; as if time had become a spectator sport and I’m on the sidelines trying to work out the rules. But I guess I am slowly progressing. I’ve stopped crying so much. I’m sleeping better, even if just from exhaustion. I regained my appetite pretty quickly and have actually put on quite a lot of weight. Walking around and being active seems to take more effort, so I’ve been sat down more, and eating later in the day.

Really I’ve been coping better then any of us would have guessed, all things considered. And even though you’re not here now I can imagine you, and it’s like there’s enough of you here being worried about me reverting to my Laila coping mechanisms of the past for me to avoid them. I know you’d be worried, like James and Will are now, so my mind is supplying my old habits but I, crucially, am not doing them. It’s funny, because you’d think if any of us would die early it would be me. But for some reason that hasn’t happened, and I am still here and you are not, so maybe there’s something I still need to do, or maybe these things are just random, or maybe somebody somewhere is laughing at us, or maybe fate screwed up and that’s that, “oops sorry guys, can’t go back though, better luck next time”. Fuck off, fate.

Grief, my other new pal, has been taking it’s toll. I’ve got 12 grey hairs now instead of 2. My eyesight has continued getting worse. My short-term memory is completely fucked; this would be terrible in any line of work but is particularly bad for rehearsals and teaching. And my focus is mostly gone; I feel overwhelmed by what I was doing before. E-mails are just stacking up; how was I running a business and teaching 80 kids and being part of other ensembles and doing all this other stuff? Just getting to work on time is an effort. Just waking up is a boulder.

I say that, but somehow stuff is still happening. I went to Isle Of Wight as planned, just 4 days after you left. I had 5 planned gigs this month; I did all of them. I went to Frankfurt. I threw that party. I went to Thanksgiving with my family. I organised a Christmas concert for my private pupils; it’s next week, you probably would have come if you could because it’s in your neck of the woods. Biggest of all I rehearsed the band for Quizcats, staged the show, presented the quiz, ran the whole thing; it felt like a Trojan effort. I had to summon every potential drop of heroism I had to succeed on that day. I’m not sure I’ll have to work that hard for anything ever again.

People have been trying to help. People often try to offer help they can’t give; my Mum for example. If I want to talk she’s there, but like she said, what does she know of this? She’s never lost a friend, not even a family member, with their weird survive-y genes. It’s weird, the things I need help with are the things you can’t ask for. I don’t need help processing my thoughts about you, but I do want help in that I want to see a friendly face at a gig, because it’s taking all my heroism just to turn up. But you can’t ask people for that kind of help. You ask them to a gig, they think it’s just the same as all the other gigs. It’s looks just the same as it was before, except it is not, because nothing is the same. And thus I wander on.

I’ve written a couple of lengthy posts; not for you or about you but about this weird alternate reality, this vortex-like cavern of grief that I now exist in. I’m not sure why I’m sharing them, but often somebody recognises something in it and momentarily, we can feel like this together. The togetherness helps with the neverness. Most of my usual blog readers have deserted my blog. What is there to entice them now in these essays of grey? It’s hard to be the person I was, remembering, organising, cooking, the one directing the nights out, the one sorting the rehearsals, the one posting the event. The little everyday things. With the big things like processing death and dealing with it and thinking about it, it’s easy, because survival instincts kick in and force you to process, which in my case is just to write it all down, maybe turn it into a song. I’m about 40% present at any given time, my survival instincts clouding my brain, my mind a constant showreel of our million moments together, my ears constantly ringing with the sound of your voice. You’re so clear to me. How can you be gone?

And so, it has been a month, and whilst I can see evidence that time is passing I’m not sure I believe it. The leaves are still orange; I’m not sure they believe it either. But it is, time is passing, and so we go on, we go on, it goes on, days ticking by in a constant rhythm. And even though you are not here, I am somehow keeping in time with everybody else.

aIMG_7678 aIMG_7685 IMG_0090 IMG_0105 copy

If you wish to help please send a donation here:

22 thoughts on “The first month.

  1. jennie says:

    I don’t have the words right now to appropriately follow such a heartfelt piece of writing, but i want you to know that I’m still here, wishing I could do more, and that I’m thinking of you <3


  2. Bas says:

    I read every word you write and feel every feeling that you speak of, (within my capacity to feel and understand, of course) maybe people do not comment because it’s hard not to say the wrong thing? Maybe it’s not because they want to see you in a nice dress instead of reading something so real and so sad and so beautiful. There are some things you write that take my breath away because they describe so perfectly the way I’ve felt when I’ve been through my own “grief” but I don’t comment because my grief is not the same as your grief and I can’t begin to understand yours. I’m only good with words when I know exactly what I want to say, then I have all the ways to say it at my fingertips. But the rest of the time, I’m terrible. And so, just know that there are people out there who are thinking about you, and know that your writing has the power to really touch people <3


    • tapeparade says:

      Such a sweet comment bas thank you. I’m so grateful people like you are still reading despite the lack of cohesive posting recently. I don’t think there is anything right or wrong to be said in this sort of situation; that’s what we keep saying to each other. Thank you so much for your kind words and for you thinking about me xxx


  3. Bel says:

    Laila I ended up reading this at like 4am because I couldn’t sleep, and it’s honestly broken my heart a little bit. Obviously I never knew Pete but it’s extremely affecting and moving to see that you’ve lost someone so close to you, and at such a young age. I’m so sorry that you’re going through something so traumatic at the moment, but your articulate it so well here. I for one wouldn’t desert your blog for anything (unless you became a bigot or something, but that’s unlikely) and I think these words mean a thousand times more than any London based outfit post.
    I’d tell you to ‘keep strong’ but I know that you already will be, so I just hope that the pain will fade with time, and I’d really like to see you soon when you’re not so busy and when you’re feeling a little better. xx


  4. christina says:

    I don’t know what to say after reading your words,thoughts,feelings.. only wish there was a magic wand for these moments. honestly if you ever need to talk or send a late night email ranting, i’m here. sending love and a donation X


  5. Caitlin says:

    I admire your bravery in sharing very raw, deep emotions. I hope that in sharing them, it helps you to work through them, or glean something from them. Know that in sharing how you’re feeling, you’re helping others to see that they are not alone – and know that you are not alone, either. Life is crazy and unpredictable and sometimes shockingly, seemingly randomly tragic, and all we can do is lean on each other and try to grow from it and appreciate the now-ness all the more. But I know that can seem impossible when you’re “in it,” so just keep doing what you need to do, and we’ll all be here.


  6. themysteriousscribe says:

    I don’t know what to say, I’ve never known the right thing to say in times like these, but I hope that your hurt dulls with time, and that things look up. Losing a very close friend is so very painful and I’m sorry you had to go through it.


  7. Kim says:

    I haven’t been on in awhile and wanted to check in with you. This post made me cry and reflect on the people that I have lost unexpectedly. I’m so sorry for your loss, that’s really awesome that you stayed busy, I think that helps <3


I love hearing your thoughts - leave your link so I can comment back!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s