Saturday, February 12, 2022

On being uncharitable

Yesterday morning we walked along Baslow Edge. There are nine edges in our part of the Peak District and Dave and I are trying to walk along one a week. The sunshine and the views were lovely.

In the afternoon I went to put a bunch of snowdrops on Mary’s bench. Who would have thought that seven years after she died I still miss her? Yes, I am used to missing her. It’s not like toothache, more, perhaps, like a badly darned hole in my favourite jumper. 

Unfortunately for me, there was a woman sitting on the adjacent bench who wanted to engage me in conversation. I was polite and friendly but I’d have preferred to be quiet. She told me about an old friend who died two years ago: how they had met once a week for thirty years and how the funeral was in the early days of Covid with only 12 people allowed at a funeral and so she could not go. And her friend’s husband was rather aloof and she had never asked him where her friend’s ashes were scattered. So I was lucky that Mary’s family had chosen a bench.

Then she asked me about Mary and I couldn’t speak. ‘I can’t talk about it,’ I said, my voice breaking. And I walked away thinking, utterly unreasonably, well she might have lost a friend but I lost Mary, a special friend, and mine was the bigger loss. 

How crazy is that? How can you measure or compare losses? And why would you want to? 

I think my unspoken uncharitable thought was a weird lashing out because she had intruded on my time of quiet remembrance. It’s a simple thing to pick snowdrops from our garden and arrange them with sprigs of ivy and drive to Sheffield to tie them on Mary’s bench with a ribbon, and to sit for a while and think about her. Only when the ritual is interrupted and spoiled is it clear how important it is to me.


Anonymous said...

A badly darned hole in your favourite jumper A most poignant analogy, Sue. The bench sitting woman seems to lack emotional intelligence and was insensitive to the distress she was causing you. The snowdrops at the head of your post are stunning and just right.

marmee said...

Oh sue! Big hugs!

rowantree said...

I'm so sorry your special time with memories of your cherished friend was interrupted. The woman on the bench sounds like a descendant of Coleridge's 'Person from Porlock' and perhaps a lonely (but insensitive) soul.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you dear friends for your kind comments.
I think she was sad in her own way, and she would not have known I didn’t want to engage with her, and when she was talking, I thought ‘Mary would be very pleased I was listening to her and not turning away,’
Dave suggested I go again, and I will, as I have to go to Sheffield again next week.