When you are on the water you realise that the breeze, so constant on the beach, is a variable thing. So too my grief:

I am bobbing along on the even waves congratulating myself on how well I am coping. From the corner of my eye I catch sight of a squall. A writhing mass dimples the surface of the water. It moves fast. I have no time to prepare.

It starts in the fold of skin beneath my breasts: a tightening that rolls and boils up along my sternum to colonise my chest. It grows in speed and magnitude, spreading into my throat where its tentacles wrap themselves around my windpipe. It thrashes across my throat and my tongue, crumpling my face, bowing my head.

My hands cradle first my face and then tap, tap, tap at my forehead: a parody of the smoothing, soothing caresses I would bestow upon my son’s brow.

Even as I shudder and gasp for breath a piece of me despises this dramatic show. How melodramatic. How theatrical. I slither from my bed and close the bedroom door to avoid an audience.

Still my breath won’t come, my face stays screwed up in itself. I hiccup out my pain and my tears stream down my face.

Some times the squall passes and I go on with my day.

Sometimes only the tugboat of medication can tow me to calmer waters.

I didn’t expect it to feel like this.