Sunday, October 19, 2014

Suffused with melancholy

Sad, odd times. Good and bad.

A friend died last week. Suddenly. She fell off her bike. All those who knew her are reeling with shock, and overwhelmed by sadness.

Also last week, it was my birthday, and I had smashing presents, and nice times.

Chrissie invited me to tea, and took me to see a tiny travelling theatre company at a local hotel. We sat on the front row and lapped up their adaptation of A Month in the Country, by J.L.Carr. The family member who declines to be named took me for a lovely lunch. I cracked on with the screenplay. And I had some fabulous rides through autumn on the Trail.

Nov 2011 029

But everything was suffused with melancholy. And in between times, banks of gloom swept in. Sadness for the loss of a life still vibrant and giving. Huge empathy for the immediate family.

But there was more than that. Have you noticed how a death close at hand, sad in itself, also has the ability to bring to the fore every other death you’ve experienced, past and imagined? For me, bereavement is one of life’s horrors.

Then, one must think again about how to live. Here’s a favourite quote of Dave’s:

sera nimis vita est crastina: vive hodie

Living tomorrow is too late: live today


In our Quaker classic, Advices and Queries, there is the query:

Are you able to contemplate your death and the death of those closest to you? Accepting the fact of death, we are freed to live more fully. In bereavement, give yourself time to grieve. When others mourn, let your love embrace them.

And the epigraph at the beginning of my novel Zuzu’s Petals holds true -

Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.

Henri Frederic Amiel

Lastly, after being a helmet refusenik for years, I gave in and bought one (even though I am sure my friend would’ve been wearing one.)


marmee said...

I don't know sue...a friend I have known intimately for 36 years died very suddenly last year straight after visiting here with me. We had such a great time, intense and loving and plans were made that she would move closer and then she was gone. I am still reeling and still pick up the phone to call her....

Sue Hepworth said...

That's so sad, Marmee. I am very sorry for your loss of your friend.