“Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.”-William Shakespeare, The Tempest
As some of you know, my dog, Crosley, and my step-dad, Charlie, were both ill last week. I would like to thank everyone who sent their prayers, good wishes, and happy thoughts our way. We lost both of them on Friday the Thirteenth, just 6 hours apart. I was there for the one, but not the other. My husband held strong 100 miles away, as he cuddled Crosley during his final moments.
Since then, I’ve been reading a lot of Ibsen, drinking too much strong tea, and helping plan the funeral for the man who raised me. Yesterday, in a few short hours, I finished a short story that I started a year ago. Thank goodness that my words have not failed me. Blogging will be hit or miss for the next week or so, but it will not cease. I love my little A Small Press Life community too much for that. Some day, when I am up to the challenge, I will share with you what Crosley and Charlie meant to me.
“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer…and everything collapses.”-Colette
…and there’s nothing you can do about it. On a personal level, the only thing that can possibly be worse than watching someone you love die, is knowing that a second someone you love is about to die and that you cannot be with them, too.
My Great-Aunt Ginger died yesterday. It is my family’s time to mourn now, and so once more I turn to another writer’s words to express thoughts which refuse to be corralled by my own mind.
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” -Lemony Snicket, ‘Horseradish:Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid’.
My husband’s Aunt died today. After soothing his immediate grief, the first thing my mind turned to was poetry, death poetry: one of the three essential subjects of literature (and life), along with birth and love. Every poet that I can think of has touched on the theme, often numerous times. This is a piece by Rainer Maria Rilke, offered here as a lovely and sad filler whilst we deal with more pressing events.
‘On Hearing of a Death’ by Rainer Maria Rilke
We lack all knowledge of this parting. Death
does not deal with us. We have no reason
to show death admiration, love or hate;
his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us
a false impression. The world’s stage is still
filled with roles which we play. While we worry
that our performances may not please,
death also performs, although to no applause.
But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
opening through which you disappeared: green,
evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods.
We keep on playing, still anxious, our difficult roles
declaiming, accompanied by matching gestures
as required. But your presence so suddenly
removed from our midst and from our play, at times
overcomes us like a sense of that other
reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
and play our actual lives instead of the performance,
forgetting altogether the applause.