Sunday, 12 July 2015

A time to reflect.

No pictures from Barcelona - they will have to wait a week.

For a woman I've known since I was a small child died while I was away.  She was very old, and frail, and had made no secret of her wish to put living behind her.

I would love to write about her. But she believed that the internet was the sperm of the devil and if she is looking down (or up) from wherever she is now she would curse me forever. (Actually, I have no belief in an afterlife. But I shall respect her feelings after her death as I did when she was alive.)

Nevertheless, it has rocked me. Her death was expected. Dying is what happens when people are old and frail. It's as much part of life as birth. The whole cycle of existence is predicated on people dying, to make room for all the new people being born. That's how it works.

And yet - in spite of all that common sense - it's hard to adjust to the loss of someone who has been a part of life for so long. One minute she's here and then - poof - no more. A shocking not-being. Just the detritus of her living (she was a frugal woman, I'll tell you that much), and memories.

But then I reflect. These adjustment times are necessary. However much this was expected, it is right that I take time to hold her in mind - she was part of me for so long I can't just close a door on her. I must let her linger in my thinking - in an absorbing, almost obsessive way - until this feeling of dislocation passes and I can rethink my world without her.

Somewhere, as she slipped away, a baby was born. His or her family will be equally obsessed - babies take up far more thinking space than one can possibly envisage. Family stories are founded here. For babies, too, need to be held in mind - the prerequisite for the love they need to flourish. Gradually the obsessions lessen and family life takes shape.

And so, at the end - as at the beginning - of life, when we are unable to care for, or even think about, ourselves, we need others to do it for us.

In the meantime, S, I shall miss you.


  1. I am sending you a hug. Each person we love who leaves us takes a drop of joy with them. Enjoy your memories and the time you spent in her company. She may have gone, but these things remain. x

  2. Sorry for your loss, Jo. It's always a big jolt, however old the person is, isn't it? In time, talking about her with affection and remembering times with her will keep her alive in your mind :) x

  3. I'm sorry for your loss... you write beautifully, and this is an incredibly touching post.

  4. It doesn't matter how "expected" a death is it is still a loss, a little bit of oneself that has gone because of the unique relationship between you and the other person.
    A virtual hug from Downunder

  5. So sad for you and for S's other family/friends. I think the worst is the suddenness of now they're here, now they're gone. During recent holidays my father died unexpectedly and (another hol) my cousin was lost. I'm thinking that on the weighing scales, the side with eventual acceptance and the recall of happy/fun times gradually comes to outweigh the side with grief. Thankfully ... All the best, Jo.

    1. I've only just read this properly - and am so sorry for your losses. Life must be such a challenge for you at the moment.

  6. Oh Jo. This loss has just happened in my life too. Everything you've said here is what I've been feeling. That dislocation. You have expressed it just right. A big, big hug from me. The world will seem somewhat dimmer for a while.

  7. Thank you all - I'm touched by such kindness. Life will resettle - and you have all helped in that realignment. You are all stars!

  8. Hi Jo - difficult times to adjust - they hit us out of the blue ... the shock and then the realisation of that huge loss of a special person in our lives. My thoughts to you ... I lost a friend at 51 and still remember back and those times ... as I'd no idea til it happened, she was almost a twin ... we'd grown up together ... Take care and those happy memories, and special times will keep coming back - so she will be forever with you. Hilary

  9. This is such a good post. Whilst not compromising your non-belief, you respect hers. Your post shows empathy Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  10. A good reflection on someone whom I know was very important to you.

  11. I can feel your hearbreak. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    "It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we love. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of thing." [Lemony Snicket]

    It's wonderful that you're still respecting her wishes. That's a sign of a true friend.

  12. So sorry that I have come so late to this post. I'm afraid life took over my timetable last week! I know that logically we are all going to die but it is so unfathomable an event that I completely understand your struggle to accept it. I still feel that way about the passing of my mother and that is now years past. It is a reminder that, whether there is anything after this life, we really do need to enjoy what we have in the here and now. Take care.