I was hiding a great love; now I’m hiding a great sorrow.
I am bereaved. Nothing you hear about the person after their death takes away the love; nothing brings them back.
Often the bereaved rant and rage, because for a time, that is all they can do – point their fingers at fate and curse its intransigence. Resignation then acceptance comes hard. Sometimes the bereaved go to a seance in the hope of comforting messages from the other side. A lucky few may even get them, words communicated by a third party which make them believe that love goes on or that the beloved is happy or not unhappy in the other place; but most have to deal with the fact that there is nothing but a sheer rock face, impossible to climb, dismal to behold.
Sometimes the bereaved bang their heads against that rock face, because it seems so unjust that it should be in their way. They cannot yet accept that it’s just the lie of the land, how things are, not a terrible injustice.
The bereaved will always wish that they could have had more time with the deceased, that they could have told them everything that was in their heart and head, and have the chance once again to listen to what was in theirs. They will wish harder than anyone who has not been bereaved can know that they did not have so many unanswered questions.
But eventually, one day, even the person bereaved of a great love sees that it’s the light in front of them which leads the way.
To be closer to her I listen to the Nocturnes and New skin for the old ceremony. I apply the same mood to them as to A boxful of treasures and About farewell and they apply the same constriction to my heart. Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye. Neither of us got it right, and if I have one regret, it is that.
One moment I’ll be ok, and then bidden or unbidden in will come a memory or thought or reminder and I’ll miss her with such a stab to the heart that I know this is forever, that she is the one, that no-one else will do. Even as I understand that with determination and luck I can forge a way past feeling that. Or rather, that I can hold that love archivally, retrievably, lovingly, even as I love again.
If there was lack, it was on both sides. And I prefer to see the searching we both undertook as an urge to complete ourselves rather than fill a hole. I am not afraid to say that I am incomplete. And in that sense, perhaps it wasn’t so much that I lacked any more than anyone else does, but that I positively wanted and needed what she had, what she was, what she offered, because it made me more myself and I in turn was able to make her more herself. We used everything we had at our disposal. Everything.
I think of the energy I brought to bear on her. I think of the millions of words, our high wire acts of imagination, of how we saw and raised each other. I think of the most intimate things that we shared over and over. What she called me, what I called her. Just as she did me, I gave her things she had never had before and may never have again, in my absence, as I may never; though I hope with the whole of my heart that she finds what she wants and needs to sustain her till the day she actually dies.
I never wanted her to be jealous of my strength of feeling; simply to feel it, to let it permeate every inch of her till she had no choice but to glow in it, to reflect it back in waves of love and longing. And that’s what happened, over and over, when she felt strong, when she let it. But equally, I never wanted her to be imprisoned there, in my love. I wanted her to feel both loved, and free. Now I am sorry if that was an impossible ask, if it was all too much, or somehow ultimately not enough. But that is the only thing for which I am sorry, because we made something special together, unique and irreplaceable, and I am both proud of what it was and humbled that it ever existed. Truly, it was a time of gifts.
Tomorrow morning I’ll be moving on, but I think I will always look back, whether I am looking inside or out. And one way or another, she will come back from the dead, and not be simply memory.