Today my attention wandered to the WordPress Reader, a screen where one can see a list of latest posts published by WordPress bloggers, feeling a little lost in the process of swapping computer screens, my day having passed fairly unproductively thus far. Perhaps I was instinctively looking for a little plank to stand on in the latest wave.
Last night I heard, at bedtime, that I had lost a friend … I was not aware that he had passed. His funeral was last Friday. It has taken the wind out of my sails. I thought I would grieve today. I don’t know how to grieve today. I am feeling numb. Every now and then some laden tears pop out of my eyes and I feel the agony of loss that I know so well, welling up … and then my throat constricts and I cannot speak and my tears retreat into the deepest part of me, where so much other sadness has yet to be released. Those tears that might have brought some release, at least, had they developed and poured out fully, receded like waves on the seashore … back, back into the low tide, far down away from the beach, into the ocean and out of reach …
I lost a friend. I lost a very dear friend, a special friend. Every friend is special and so I lose track of the specialness sometimes … but we shared a flat in London in the late 1980s and I was at his wedding and he was such a beautiful human being and so very brave. I don’t like to speak about him in the past, so why am I doing that? No, already I have realised that, in death he is alive … his spirit is in the breezes and in the essence of the flowers and in the beauty of his children and in the faces of his birth family … he has not gone … he is, like all the others closer in death than in life, because I can speak with him now without needing a piece of modern technology or the text facility of a mobile phone. Cancer has stolen this friend from our midst; snatched him right off the grid, taken him away too young … prostate cancer claimed my friend. My friend leaves his beautiful wife and three grown children; my friend leaves a myriad of other people who love him too. His life was not in vain; he was one of the most humble and generous men I know. Oh, Life, it’s hard.
I lost another friend a few months ago. Another beautiful friend gone to the ether and to the beyond. I have lost many, many friends and loved ones in my nearly five and a half decades of life and it never ever gets easier … just the waves that lap on the shore grow more significant as one’s own wisdom and experience grows … Never acceptance, no, never that … always pain, and the pain always comes in waves ….
A few months ago I began to write, within my pain of immediate loss, the words: “I lost a friend last night …” but then I could not go on. The writing sits unfinished still, a draft upon a screen … My grief and sadness was acute and I could not find the energy to pour out the words even to help myself. But in the process of the grief, any words that I had I poured into messages to and for others, helping to communicate the news, engaging in the process of holding one another up in the pain. This friend, living in Canada, had battled the most almighty brain tumour, his battle had raged for far longer than he had been predicted to live, his fight was Trojan, his example of strength and warrior bravery stupendous … not unlike the bravery of the friend I am trying to come to terms with the loss of today, a friend from England. Today has been a rough day … I am still roughing it in the storm.
As I glanced fairly lethargically at the list of posts on the WordPress Reader’s screen, I saw a prompt to write about the topic “Brave”. I ‘woke up’ a little, in my fairly lost state, and I asked myself out loud: “What is Brave?” … I feel less than brave today. I can write about courage, indeed I have at length, and have even been called “brave” at times … but today I feel lost. I do not feel brave at all. No, not brave … sad and flat and tired and churned inside, churned with all the loss and all the pain … not brave, bleeding, worn out with unshed tears and tears that have already run and run and run … too spent now to help to carry this new wave.
Perhaps brave is admitting to the world beyond me, yet to myself more than anything, that I cannot think clearly today nor summon up much energy to do anything more than potter about, with the simplest of tasks. Taking on a challenge to write, is me pushing myself. Maybe that is brave. Maybe writing has always been what has made me look brave, or what has enabled me to be brave, I don’t know any more … if I ever did.
I shall publish these words now, not knowing whether they make much sense at all, and then take my focus back to the fragrance emanating from the little vase of flowers sitting on my desk, which I mindfully picked this morning … a few sprigs of rosemary (for remembrance), a few sprigs of eucalyptus gunnii (cider gum) for southern comfort, a few buds of Winchester Cathedral roses for beauty, purity, and meaning that reminds me that grace abounds …
Yes, it is brave to live well on this earth when others leave us behind, life challenges smash us, waves crash us into the ground … but deep inside I know that, somewhere out there, grace still abounds.