Whole weeks go past when life seems a little easier, God feels close and the future looks bright. And then suddenly, without warning and apparently from nowhere, a tidal wave of grief will hit me and plunge me back into a place of darkness. This has been one of those weeks – triggered, I think, by a nightmare I had one night.
Friends who have been bereaved of a life partner tell me this is normal, and that I can expect it to continue for some time. My mother recounts a conversation she had, two years after my father’s death, with an elderly, long-widowed friend.
“Will I ever stop crying?” my mother asked.
“No, you won’t dear,” her friend replied cheerfully, “but it doesn’t matter.”
I have been wondering what my late ex-husband would make of all this. Would he be surprised to know how deeply his death has affected me? I think he would. This train of thought resulted in a poem:
Would it surprise you to know
how much I still cry at your passing,
how often I stand looking out at my garden,
seeing in the curling, withered leaves
of my spent bean plants
a mirror of myself?
Stepping outside to uproot those plants,
my hand closes around
the supporting bamboo cane,
scarcely thinner than your shrivelled arm
round which I closed my hand
as I tucked you in that final time
and whispered words of forgiveness
which you acknowledged with a nod,
and in light of which
you might be astonished to know
that like a vapour trail in a blue sky,
the past has been puffed away
by the same wind that snuffed out
the candle of your life.