For someone with little religious faith and none at all in saints as people able to intercede from beyond the veil on our behalf, I am quite demanding of Edward the Confessor whose tomb lies at the heart of Westminster Abbey.
Today I filled in a prayer card for Cousin’s close friend and my partner in crime at literary events in NI, Ann Diamond. Cousin sent me a message yesterday saying that Ann is very ill, and there is now no room for hope. In short, Ann is dying, will most likely be dead before the weekend is over.
We say prayers for ourselves, as much as for the person we name. But they are also an acknowledgment of that person, of the impact they have had, how however unknown they may be, they have lived and by living have changed the world to some degree.
I shan’t see Ann before she dies, shan’t attend the funeral. She’s beyond the point when I can call her, and if I could the chances of her answering were slight even when she was well.
So the prayer card is my way of hoping that her passage from this life will be gentle and pain free, and saying thank you for the gift of knowing her, for the warmth and fun of her friendship. If she were more well I’d be cross with her for never giving herself to her writing, for squandering a talent so rich, so she’ll die without leaving the written words that should have been one of her legacies and our comfort.
She’s a one off; maddening, erratic, funny, clever, witty, warm and charming. She’s no saint, but no one is better company or more ready for fun. We have shared poetry and stories; swirled in unlikely fake fur coats in a branch of TK Maxx on the Boucher Road; I have read to her beside her hospital bed; shared jokes about psychopathic visitors who don’t respond to yawns with more yawns. She has become my friend and someone who company I enjoy and whose intelligence I value. She has slept through presentations and even snored. She has asked pertinent questions of eminent writers. She has walked slowly with Mother discussing goodness only knows what. She is at once an innocent, childlike, and a Methusulah. Once met, she is never forgotten.
Shine on Ann. Derrygarve and the world will not be the same without you. No other diamond has or could ever have your brilliance.