Of all the places to see true clarity, I was in Marks and Spencer yesterday, the food bit. Shuffling along in front of me was a hunched over old woman with grey hair hanging by her shoulders and her body bulky with coats and jumpers and scarfs most of us ditched last month. Quite ordinary? Yes, I suppose so. But this woman was bent over, rummaging through the ready meals for one. All I wanted to do was run over and give her a hug, to tell her that it will be alright, to smile and hold her hand. I don't know why I didn't, probably because if a hoodie went up and hugged her she might faint.
Then I switched position with her in a second, but in that second I saw everything.
Me, a small child of three or four shopping with my mum. She asks me what we want to eat that night. "The pink one! The pink one!" I chant with my possessive yell. I did not know what 'the pink one' was, the packaging was pink, pink was pretty, pink was my favourite colour. In my three year old logic, this was the most amazing choice for dinner that had ever previously existed.
A child of eight I run from home for about two hours, I had that much dedication to my plans at that age, because my parents were so unfair, life was so unfair. That was not unfair, not even the littlest bit unfair. What was unfair was what that old woman was doing. I had so much to learn, and no doubt still do.
A child of ten, I look down on the grave of a friend about to be filled and know that I have not seen the last of this. The worst thing in life is to have people die before you. But it was better for her to have died young and not have to witness the same action I was witnessing with her own friends and family. Is that so hard for my parents to understand.
A teenager of thirteen I deal with all the normal heart aches and everything else.
Then it skips ahead of my years.
A young woman of seventeen I lie, drunk and hurting all over for some reason with clothes ripped and tear stained face.
A woman of thirty odd, standing yet again at a grave; this time of my own child and the pain strangles everything off.
A woman of forty odd with four children hovering around the house, begging for food which I am cooking willingly and laughing at their needy habits.
A woman of fifty odd and my young are grown up and the house is empty.
A woman of eighty odd. Alone at the ready meals for one section in M & S bundled in coats and jumpers and scarfs while others waltz around in thin shirts.
It dawns on me then. I am just one person, but inside me I am a child of three years old, eight, ten, thirteen, seventeen, thirty, forty, fifty.
And yes, there will come a point in my life when I will be exactly like that old woman.