I came back to Bilbao to spend time with my boyfriend. His parents had planned on spending a week with us, and I didn’t want to miss seeing them. They are fun, and very kind.

Unfortunately, my brain felt like someone had put it in a blender, which was quite inconvenient for speaking foreign languages, cracking a smile, or standing up and walking around like someone who wasn’t a depressed zombie. His parents understood, and I made a huge effort while they were staying with us. I didn’t cry all the time, lying in bed, thinking of chucking myself out the window. I think I managed to achieve about 40% normality.

Yoann wanted me to meet his best friend, a Basque guy who is living in London for a bit, but was back visiting. We went and met him and “the gang”, the tight knit group of school friends called a “cuadrilla” that the Basque Country is famous for.

They tried to make conversation with me and be friendly, and it was the first time I had spoken about Mum’s illness in Spanish. Instead of saying “I’m so sorry your mum is sick”, they kept on saying “How is your mum?”, which took me aback. I didn’t really have a socially appropriate response ready, and I felt like the question was twisting the knife. If this had been in English I would have said quietly “dying”, and changed the subject. I felt deeply uncomfortable mingling and making small talk while my mum struggled to eat.

I’ve felt like a puppet whose had it’s strings cut, off and on, for a while now. Keeping busy has kept me going for a time but now I can’t do much for Mum I feel like throwing myself out the window. This isn’t too bad when I’m in her house, as she lives alone in a bungalow, but in Bilbao we live on the fourth floor and I feel like people are looking at me and thinking “What is wrong with this güiri?”, and I want to reply and say “Everything”.

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