In the Street


Saw him in the street today.
I could say we passed like strangers,
but it wouldn’t be true.

Years of  abuse
curled like vapour
in the grey space between us.
I caught the rueful look on his face,
maybe shame, maybe regret at having lost
his power to use me.
He limply lifted his hand in vague salute,
and my view willingly slid from his face.

He didn’t slow his pace –
neither did I.

After we’d passed each other by,
I felt chilled relief;
throughout the vacant years of addiction,
I have clung on to a fake picture of a wonderful son.

I don’t know when he went, or understand why,
but he died, leaving but a shallow crust,
to be squatted by the horror I saw
in the street today.

Maybe I need to grieve,
but it feels like I’ve been grieving forever.

Please don’t criticise,
nor empathise or sympathise.
Don’t tell me he’s still there, or that he cares;
don’t treat me like an innocent,
or like a green beginner ~
I may be too brittle to take it;
I may break.

©Jane Paterson Basil


39 thoughts on “In the Street

  1. Giving birth is one of the most complicated endeavors on the planet, I do believe…

    My grieving is a little different, but I grieve nonetheless. I didn’t meet my son who was raised adopted until he was 24. He’s 24 now, will be 25 next month. Like I said…it’s complicated. It’s always going to be complicated, I’m beginning to suspect.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually, it significantly soothed the pain. The pervasive feeling before we met in person was that of a noticeable chunk of me was missing, and the wound of the big, gaping hole that losing him left finally began to feel like it was scabbing over and on the way to healing. It merely brought a completely different kind of pain, like that of tender flesh when it gets bumped with a little bit of force, if that makes sense…

          I came to except years ago that the part of me that ceased to be when he went away will never fully be completely right again. Some things are life-altering, and one cannot get away from the hues that life took on from the moment that defining moment took place.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You describe the sensation really well.
            When someone significant comes into your life (in my case it was my son), that in itself is life-altering, so their loss is bound to have the same effect. He/she gives, and he/she takes away.
            We’re like grains of sand that shift with each turn of the tide, disturbing the grains around us, except we have emotions.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what it must be like – all those years of wondering what he’s doing, if he’s well and happy, not even knowing if you’ll ever see him. Lots of adopted children never seek out their birth mothers, but at least, these days, they have the option. There was a time when few children were told anything about their families. I hope you and your son find a way to build a close relationship. It may at least help to heal the pain of loss.


      1. Everybody’s got something.

        The thing that haunted me the most was thinking about him as a little boy, as a teenager, alone in his room with his head on his pillow after turning out the light and grappling with having to wonder if his original mom wanted him and if not, why. It still haunts me, even though I got to tell him in no uncertain terms that giving him up had nothing to do with not wanting him, in fact, quite the opposite was true. I wanted him desperately. The over-simplified version of the dynamics taking place that led to the adoption decision was that, at the time, I didn’t believe I deserved him. It’s a common malady among mothers who lose their children to adoption.

        As he got closer to 18, which is the legal age that parents who relinquished are free to contact their children, it started to bother me how disconnected from the whole thing it felt like I had been – like it was somebody else’s story almost. But when I’d take the time to actually think about it, I would find myself frightened of the possibility of the real feelings around it coming to the surface once again. I was afraid that if I let myself cry about it just one time that the tears would never stop….and I wasn’t wrong about that, either.

        One has to disconnect sometimes in order to survive and continue on with life in spite of the horror.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree. The feeling of disconnection sometimes makes you feel as if you’re crazy, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the emotions you’d feel if you zoned in. I have to apologise – I just sent you an inappropriate message. I had someone talking at me while I was writing, and it caused me to get you mixed up with somebody else who’s finding it hard to get over a broken romance. I’m really sorry.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Not to worry. I happen to love both inappropriate messages and messages accidentally sent to the person other than the person but was meant for…apparently….’cause it seems I pull those kinds of stunts a lot myself. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s hilarious… They’d have to be very small, these ubuses, or Paul and I wouldn’t have seen each other. – Paul was walking in the direction of the bus station, at about the time the shops were closing. I’m laughing helplessly, as I imagine small, worm-like vehicles (containing tiny dogs that prefer travelling by ubuses to being carried under the arm, or in handbags), weaving between the legs of pedestrians as they rush to catch a bus.
          You’ve made my day.


          1. actually, you two, I thought it was meant to be the new bending buses which they have in London but I have never seen. Then I just thought Jane was being hyper clever because abuses was much more appropriate to that aspect of her life’s tragedy. Shows what a wonderfully thin line divides digital communication 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    1. You didn’t have to tell me to smile, Anton – just the sight of your face did the job. I’m so pleased to see you again. I’ve been watching out for your posts, but I think my notification have got themselves in a twist again. As for Paul, all I can do is stand back and see what happens. Did you see my post about Laura, written about a week ago?
      She’s doing really well, and looks beautiful again.
      I want to start a new blog. I wrote about that, too, several weeks ago. It will be designed to bring addicts back from the brink, as you have done with Laura. As soon as I got the idea, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before, but it was you who inspired me.
      Sending you my love xxx Jane


    1. Did the feeling of love come back?
      I’ve gone cold. Any feelings of sadness are buried so deep I can’t reach them.
      I haven’t seen since I wrote that, but he’s using devious means to try to get money out of me. There’s no way he’s getting it.

      Liked by 1 person

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