The importance of being dirty

Posted Wednesday 21st November 2012   By Ericka Waller

We lost a dear friend this week. It was sudden, it was shocking. It's turned our world on its head. All the things I thought were important suddenly seem so trivial.

The husband had a £20 bottle of wine in the fridge for almost a year. Deemed too good to drink any old time. It was being saved for an occasion that was worthy. We finally drank it in front of "Take Me Out". That suddenly seemed special enough.

I have a blue cardigan. I love it so much I never wear it. I thought it was too good to get ruined by kid's snot and yoghurt stains. I've had it on all week. My life is kid's snot and yoghurt stains. There may never be a day for me when it isn't so.

I didn't do my midweek hoovering this week, but I did let the kids do chalk drawings all morning. Even after they were dressed for the day. Because really, how bad does a grinning child covered in chalk look?

I had a bath with the dusty, luxurious bubbles that the husband bought me last Christmas. It lives on the shelf next to the one he bought me the year before that. I'm going to use it again tonight. I might even use my posh skin serum afterwards. What am I saving it for?

I've made a promise to myself that whenever one of my Things wants a cuddle I will stop, or drop whatever I am doing (so long it isn't one of the other Things) and I will cuddle them, for a long time. Till they have to prize themselves off me. I will sniff their hair and marvel at their small star-shaped hands. If their hair is dirty I won't care.

It wasn't dirt that killed our friend. It was stress, and pressure and no time to relax. To stop. To drink £20 wine in a luxurious bath with chalk-covered children before watching shite telly with the one you love most all evening.

I must learn from this tragic loss. I must keep seeing the hole it has left, and use it as a reminder of what is important. It's not setting up the wooden cake-stand in the right order each night, or worrying about the sour-milk smell coming from the car.

I'd drive round with that smell forever if I could just have one more conversation with my friend. To tell him how great he was. How much I appreciate the faith he had in me and my writing. How I love how much he loved my children.

But I can't do that. All I can do is honour him by looking after myself and my family a little bit better.