I’m not talking about my death here: I am not afraid of dying, I’d just rather not do it quite yet. I want to see if:
Gil becomes the comedian he wants to be:
and if Tate becomes – based on his current proclivities - a palaeontologist, an astronomer or (please God not) a banker:
and if Lux becomes the first Californian nudist pianist, as she so loves running around naked, and just look how long her fingers are:
and what becomes of smiling Cecilia:
And I would also like to see some more of America, to play my sax in a flashmob, to turn down an offer from a publisher, and to see if Microsoft ever get their act together so I don’t regret not replacing my PC for an Apple (oh how I detest Windows Picture Viewer).
No. The title of this post relates to the death of a loved one and the things people say in a misguided attempt to cheer you up when you’re bereaved.There IS no comfort, or as one of my characters in PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS says about something else -
Thank God for Richard. He sees hardship for what it is. He understands the darker side of life. He does not try to pretend that horrible things that happen are anything other than horrible things that happen. He does not buff them up into shining opportunities, he doesn’t frame them as transforming planetary transits which are for the ultimate good of the inner self, like Wendy does (God help her). Richard sees crap for what it is.
Death may be “part of life” but that doesn’t make the death of someone you love a happy, pleasurable or even an acceptable experience. Clearing up vomit, dealing with exploding nappies, and the pains of childbirth are part of being a mother, but does that make them nice? At least there’s a baby involved. With bereavement, all you get is a vast black hole (even if there is the relief of not having to put up with someone who uses Zoflora in the kitchen so your dish cloth stinks and the work surfaces taint every bit of food you absentmindedly put on them – a fairly trivial blessing, I think I can live without.)
When I was grieving for my father, the most comforting piece of writing I found on the subject was not that “I am just in the next room” rubbish (to which I always wanted to retort – “Well why don’t you walk in here where I can see you, then?”) but this poem here, because it told the truth:
Dirge Without Music
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, - but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Edna St. Vincent Millay