Single Mum: Bidding farewell
This is our last Single Mum column. The story of Sav-and-me has lately divided into two stories – and I am only entitled to own my own. Sav’s documented life in these pages is finished. And so, here is the very last episode.
Sav hurt his ankle badly enough yesterday that I had to pick him up from school in the car. He had also skinned his elbow and wrenched his wrist. Was it football? No, it was a spontaneous, hour-long, Year-11-versus-Year-12 arm-wrestling contest, followed by a “friendly scuffle” with someone called Big Jordan.
We continue to irritate the marrow out of one another. Sav’s bedroom floor is hidden under a thick skin of discarded clothes and coagulating half-bowls of cereal. He fails, still, to grasp the practical relevance of phrases such as “tidying up” or “doing the dishes”. They are theoretical to him; he finds my constant, meaningless repetition of them drearily aggressive…
One of Sav’s dearest friends will be speaking at our church soon about his varied experience of being a devout young London Muslim. He will explain his day, his week, his religious year, his take on God, and his slant on the faiths – and the faithlessness – which he comes across living as a 17-year-old in Hackney. If we are blessed, his parents and siblings will feel they can come too…
I suppose I’ll continue to serve my pastorate, in poetry and with prayer; struggling to understand the United Reformed Church, so dear to me and so frustrating. It talks so big and risks so little. It loves prudence, buildings and compromise. Jesus did none of this. I hope that God prefers me to stay; but there’s been, as yet, no final word from that quarter.
Sav’s philosophy of religion teacher has asked that her A-level class visit our church. They will come on Easter Day, (many in church for the first time), to a small, close congregation of people carrying amongst them 16 languages and many more theologies. They will hear Sav’s mum preach on “Christ’s Resurrection and our resurrections” and watch the baptism of a tiny Bethnal-Pakistani daughter of the church. Perhaps some of them will catch a glimpse of how Sav grew up…
I have joined a gym (which my friends claim will last about three weeks).The Baptists have invited me to speak on the same platform with Jürgen Moltmann later this year; they have liked my poems for a long time. The two cats and I will move to a littler house within a year or two. I will finish writing another poetry book and begin a novel. I will learn proper French. Perhaps a man with complementary and dovetailing quirks will wander by…. Perhaps, one day, I may become a Grandma….
Sav is keeping company with a witty, gently poised, and striking girlfriend. They have been an item for quite a while. The young woman is very tall, almost his height, with a face as reposeful – and as stunning – as one of those slender, wooden African masks. The two of them drift home from school together through the park, leaning inward to each other at a slight angle, absorbed. I hope that I have managed to give Saville common sense enough to deal straightforwardly, in ungrasping love, with the people he’ll meet. I certainly tried.
Now and then, Sav’s Beloved walks up the hill alone, to visit me between her classes. She is a graceful gift. Thank you, God, for sending Sav a girl who I can, so very easily, love.
This article was published in the April 2013 edition of Reform.