Death, Here Is Thy Sting

On Sunday there’s a memorial service for Caroline. She died just before Christmas last year and I still keep expecting to see her in Marks and Spencer somewhere near the veg counter.
It’s been a year of deaths.
My dear friend Maria lost her mother recently. Afterwards she wrote to me: “The funeral was very much like her. We all felt it matched her life perfectly. So we were all comforted by it.
And the funeral brought to us all her friends and all our friends and, thus, we were, and are, surrounded and supported by their love and by the different aspects of her personality they unfold before us.
I feel grateful to have had her as a mother and as a lifelong honest, generous and loyal companion.”
A good funeral then, but I can’t read Maria’s words without welling up. That awful disorientating period of adjusting has begun. There is no way back.
My friend Celia also lost her mother. For some weeks we had the dying mothers conversation, and Celia’s Mother was the one identified as being on the road with no return, with Mother merely frail in second place. Then Mother suddenly accelerated, sped into the fast lane and died first. Celia was, by chance, one of the last people I spoke to in London before heading East for those final days. Continue reading

Unseasonal and Untimely

I used to joke with C that we should make a map of our local area and mark the spots where we saw each other. This was because often we would see the other from the bus, a car, passing by the shop where we were paying for purchases. When we did catch up, there would be those conversations that began, “I saw you the other day…” We could have added the spots where we met face to face too. Marks and Spencer would have featured quite largely, especially the fruit counter. I met C when she moved in with O. Shy, with a dry wit, knowledgeable, a sommelière manquée, she had a smoker’s laugh and was someone who I appreciated and liked increasingly as I got to know her. I never hid from her if I saw her near the fruit.
Coming home last night I looked at my ‘phone and saw a message from O with the title ‘terrible news-C’. The message explained briefly that C had died, that it had been sudden. For all the brevity of the message, O’s love and loss and sense of shock stalked each word. There was a picture of them attached, two smiling people holding glasses of champagne. A picture to treasure. Incongruously I found I was smiling at it. Death is always dislocating. When my father died I remember seeing people going about their normal business and I wanted to go and shout at them,”Don’t you realise the world has changed? Go home. My father has died.” At this time of year when everyone is hellbent on celebrations and jollity, that dislocation is even stronger.
I hope to see O later.
Life’s a bitch sometimes.