Monday, November 26, 2018

Loss and memory

In the midst of our daily joys - the celebration of birthdays, the winning of sports, the reunion of families - there are large griefs. This year we have faced three. First, it was my sister in law’s beloved grandfather who passed earlier this year. For their home it’s the end of an era. He was a wonderful, charming, gentle man - full of affection and love for his family. Then my mother lost her very best friend - my Other Mother - who is mostly responsible for me and V meeting. She sang like a Bulbul (that was her pet name - and to me she will always be bulbulmashi) and taught me that kindness and family was everything. Her children, they are like my siblings and I know that even in the relief that her pain is gone is their (and our) immense pain at her loss. My mother, the strongest bravest person I know, her heart is hurting and there isn’t much that can quite help. And most recently my uncle, Eachan, the kindest, calmest, most wonderful of people in our family. A man of few words, a great love of sport, classical music and above all, his family and friends. He had eyes that twinkled and smiled and spoke volumes - and he loved us all fiercely. My aunt, my cousins, my father, all of us knew this moment was coming but I’d still say the loss was unexpected and utterly painful and in fact we are all reeling from this. If I could bear their pain for them I totally would. 

We are an age now where the losses are coming fast and furious. The parents of our friends succumbing to old age and illness and young people who have no business leaving us too soon. How do we reconcile the loss of these beloveds? I find that there is no ‘one fits all’ answer. It’s all intensely personal and creates holes that cannot be hastily, if ever, filled. I don’t imagine for a moment that those spaces in our hearts and minds will ever be full or smoothed. In time, they might become like knotty bumps, intertwined strands of grief and joy, joined by memory and connection with all those who knew that person. Some are us are very private in our grief, others less so; it’s all perfectly perfect. For me reminiscing, if only to myself, takes the process forward. I think of events or conversations or moments and they make me tear up but also smile. In time we will all talk about these people without breaking into tears or clenching our fists in pain but that time is in the distance. I only write this now because I want to mark this year, with its glaring imperfections and deep holes, to remind myself that even in our deepest losses we have so much to be grateful for. For having known these wonderful people, and being known by them.

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