At the risk of sounding like a complete Moaning Mildred (look, if you’re a regular reader of my blog you know it goes that way sometimes), I got no joy from the build-up to the opening ceremony of Rio 2016 Olympics.
Not for any particular political or humanitarian reason (I have loads of those, but can’t verbalise them tonight). My reason was far closer to my heart. In fact, it WAS my heart. Living with the daily cacophony of loss and absence that the loss of a parent creates isn’t enough for the universe to throw on you, apparently. It’s got to remind you at every outstanding opportunity of what you had then, and what you’re deprived of now. SOUND.
As the opening ceremony approached, I’d be lying if I didn’t feel like I’d fallen out of the Delorean completely pissed like Edina Monsoon out of the cab in the first episode of Ab Fab. Like what the fuck were they doing with all this Olympic shit? Didn’t we literally just watch the whole thing in London a few months ago? No? Oh.
Has it really been four years? Hang on a second. You’re taking the piss, okay buddy? I feel like it’s been mere nanoseconds since I sat in the family home on my corner of the couch with Mom in her spot across the room from me, where we watched Danny Boyle’s genius broadcast from the family telly. I feel like we JUST had 2 cups of tea and chatted about how shit the subtitles were because my Mom was deaf at the time, and the subs had no fucking idea what was going on. So we had a great laugh watching me trying to explain why there was hundreds of nurses dancing around beds in the Stadium. My Mom loved it because it was so visually stunning, and it was also the night she decided to quit smoking for good. She was pure chuffed with herself. And she’d stuck to it too; right up until she died seven months later.
So fuck you 2016; don’t you go telling me it’s an entire Olympic cycle since I’ve been able to sit in the same room as my Mom and shoot the shit with her. We also watched Felix Baumgartner do his historic jump from space a couple of months before, because I had it lined up on my computer for us to watch. I’ll bet dollars to dimes on both historic occasions, we were wearing pyjamas or something along those lines. You and me Mom, locked in our own physical and mental battles on different couches, one across from the other, but with some sort of fragile bridge of understanding between us. The night of the opening ceremony though, we had a mutual peace, contentment. I was so happy you had decided to quit smoking, you were delighted that you’d chosen a momentous, easy-to-remember date. You told the girls and Leonard (our brother-in-law but actually more of a full brother) as soon as you saw them, and you made sure to tell them that you’d officially announced it on the night of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, nonetheless. So we’d all better sit up and take note. But fair play to you, you stuck it out until the end.
So excuse me, oh wonderful Olympics, while I hide away and cry a little; while my sisters and brother-in-law and I remember a hero you will never know; for achieving the biggest feat that your sporting history never witnessed.
To the world you are a universal time-stamp of sporting achievement; and more power to you. But for me, you’re just a really shitty time machine. You throw me back onto my couch, in a home that’s no longer there, sitting across from the woman who was the centre of my at times fucked-up universe and who isn’t here anymore, watching an opening ceremony full of lights and joy and hope, only to snap me back to today’s reality. No family home, no Mom, no sharing of news. It’s a cruel, inevitable comparison.
Something as momentous and as many years apart as this will have the same effect on many people; I’m under no illusions that I’m the only one whose thoughts will turn to where they were during the same events four years ago and be met with a cold kick into the stomach for loved ones who are not there to see this year’s festivities. Four years is a lifetime of happenings, so nobody is safe from loss between one Olympic ceremony and the other. This is just me voicing my somewhat impotent rage at the passing of time and its total disregard for whether people are ready for it to move on or not. It’s not your fault, Opening Ceremony. I’ll try not to shoot the messenger. It’s just really sucky to be reminded of who’s not here in such a global way. Know what I mean?