It has been a deeply emotive week for me, bookended as it were by Sunday’s Remembrance Service – a year exactly to the day since we lost H– and the quiet, deathly stillness of my office today as I stand here, cup of coffee in hand looking out at the lunch time crowd milling about. As the week has gone along, the flurry of phone calls, emails and messages of commiseration I have had to field from people has eased off, allowing me some time to begin to reflect on where I am, and how things have evolved over the past year. Not much has changed by all accounts, I still haven’t brought myself to delete H’s details from my phone or my FB page for that matter – deceased 19th July 2014 is the only addition I have made on my phone – which led to a birthday reminder from FB in my feed the other day, as raw a reminder as there could be of the keenness of the loss we still feel.
By some coincidence, the Poets.Org Poem-A-Day feed on the 21st of July featured a poem about death (The Sadness of Clothes), specifically the emptiness it leaves in its wake from the perspective of the clothes which thenceforth lie unused, but also metaphorically in the lives of those who are left.
Inspired – and I use that loosely – by that Emily Fragos poem, I trawled through my Pocket archive, eventually stumbling on a number of articles related to loss and grieving – where there hasn’t been the chance to say a proper goodbye, where a child feels like their proper duty hasn’t been done, and where a writer deals with the blankness by crafting a story around his recollections of it.
There is a sense in which for me, loss and lostness is every one of these – craving (and not yet finding) a new normal, some regret for not making the most of the time we had and the lingering sadness that a few thousand miles meant there were never any proper goodbyes. Loss in its suddenness does that, snatching what comforts the opportunity to say proper goodbyes might have offered one.
Grief is difficult to talk about, particularly given the sort of deeply introspective personalities A and I, which is how I guess we have somehow managed to skirt the issues, focusing more on all the doing and changing we have had to do rather than the reality of loss. I still don’t know how he felt as he stood there helplessly watching life ebb out of someone he’d spent the better part of 40 years knowing and doing life with. With my sisters – far more connected to their emotional selves as they are – those conversations have occurred, and still occur. Maybe with time A and I will be able to transcend the inherent difficulties in grieving. For now we persist in flitting in the shadows of a less distressing re-memory.