Tuesday, January 26, 2010
That dark, solemn figure
Last weekend, a friend to Maty and me lost her mother. Although the woman had been in poor health for some time, her death was sudden and unexpected. It came even as our friend's grandmother, the mother of the deceased, is being prepared for her own final journey, which could come at any time. (Perhaps mercifully, our friend's grandmother is in such a state that none feel it necessary to inform her of her daughter's passing. They will soon meet on the other side.) The death is all the more tragic when we remember that in the spring of last year, our friend's father passed after a long battle with cancer.
This is a sorrowful time for our friend, and we ache for her. She has no siblings. The family into which she was born is no more.
That our friend's mother passed so closely after her husband, our friend's father, reminded me that, often with elderly couples, when one spouse passes, the other is not far behind.
And so, that night, I told Maty, "When I go, I don't want you to follow me right away. You're too young. You need more life."
Said she: "You never know. I maybe go first."
"In that case," said I, "I hope I'm right behind you."
Only then did she see my tears. She gave me a sad, reproachful look. "Stop that," she said.
That dark, solemn friend is always with us, yes? Much of the time, he waits in the distance: a lonely figure on the periphery of our consciousness, never forgotten but often ignored. At other times, he approaches and demands acknowledgment in his terrible way. Sometimes his approach is slow and we see him coming; other times, we turn some corner in our daily lives, and he is there.
And even if we fear him, we also love him. How can we not? He is as much a part of us as are the pale pink clouds at sunrise, skirting the knees of unfathomable Hood. Or the solemn, soul-rumbling throat of Pacifica, resting fitfully after storm.