The older girls are bonded in an extraordinary way because of Purdy. They huddle together to laugh and chat in the eldest’s bedroom – a shared destination of great importance to both. Sadly, I know deep down this is in part avoidance of the chaos Purdy brings. But duvets, pillows, mood lighting, all feature – designed by their own hand – as they seek sanctuary under the blankets. As long as the door is shut, they are feeling some ‘normal’.
The torturous nocturnal antics, sustained over 10 years, define my needs when it comes to sanctuary. I need sleep. Probably there aren’t enough hours left in my lifetime to catch up on all that I have lost. There are days when I can truly feel my cells degenerating. There is no obvious place for me to escape the constant comings and goings when this happens.
Crawling onto the sofa bed in the cold, dark space of the playroom on the ground floor is my best bet. If I sneak upstairs I am followed. If I lie in my own bed, I can hear just enough to worry, but not enough to know what’s being managed. There is something about the size of this sofa bed, the particular mattress topper, the weight of the chunky knit blanket that anchors me, allows a little child-like trust, and just for a short while I don’t have to ‘adult’.
Then there are the times when Purdy deigns to sleep and we light a fire in the garden, drawing out our teenagers. We get to really listen to them, to hear them and marvel at them…until the dog catches her tail in a flame. Stupidoodle!
And more frequently than we might notice, when all our batteries are over 50 per cent, we step into Purdy’s world by raiding the costume box and whacking Alexa up to a million decibels. We do dress up in costume outfits much more than any normal family.
Would I change anything? No. Not about our lives, our loves, our children. But would I like a comfortable, soundproofed, subterranean bunker full of oil burners and million thread count sheets? Yes. I would.