What were you doing this time last year. Think back. Remember. It’s hard, isn’t it? To place an event in a specific time or place. The stretchy fabric of time gets a bit saggy as we get older. We lose the detail of our memories. Islands of Meaning become lost in the Sea of Insignificance. Unless of course an event is so meaningful that the stretchy fabric of our memory becomes in some way ossified, brittled, fixed, unwilling to let its charge be returned to the miasma of everyday recollection.
Betsy reminded me this week of the day that Mum ‘got ill’. “You remember Dad. Your back was bad so you went to the back doctor, and then Mum and Tilly and me drove to pick you up, it was sunny and we were on Harrington Road.” She continued filling in the detail for me. “Mum parked the car but she couldn’t do the gears properly and then she couldn’t put the brake on and the car rolled back and hit another car and Mum said “Don’t tell Dad”‘.
It’s all in there. Everything. Crystal clear. I didn’t know about the car rolling until this very week. Maybe Betsy has realised that Mum’s not going to mind if I know or not now. Closure brings relief.
The anniversary of Nick’s death was brutally and unexpectedly hard. Subliminal triggers that cast me back to that three weeks in February last year are everywhere. Crocus, snowdrops, early daffs, the first warmth in the thin sun, and birdsong bounce me back , and forever will, to that terrible time.
On the 2nd of March 2014 our world changed forever. Three hundred and sixty five days and a few hours later we got together to give the remains of her body back to the universe. The earth had travelled around the sun. The planting was haphazard and socially clumsy; she’d have loved it and laughed. The tree in Blaker’s Park is a fitting and delightful place for her ashes to be reabsorbed into living things.
This simple act has brought some closure. It’s as if the final ceremonial part of our process has been done. Indeed it probably has. Never again will so many people who knew and loved her will be in one place. Thankyou for coming and bringing your wonderful collective memory bank of Nicky. Would that science fiction had allowed me to suck in all your memories, I’d love to see her now again through your eyes and see what it was that made her shine for each of you who came. Today, right now, I’d escape this world and wrap my self up in the fabric of your recollections. Just for a while, just to say goodbye, because I can’t have her back.
Closure is a good thing. Tilly is better, moving on, getting stronger (if not Stringer – for the locals, that one) by the day. Betsy is talking more, remembering and asking questions, she’s funny. They both are, like their Mum. For me it brings relief. Whilst her remains remained nothing was complete. Now, it’s done. It feels like the morning after the mourning. We’ve got through the year.
The future is not the one we all imagined, but I can’t stay wrapped up in the fabric of the past. I really can’t. I am going to turn that blanket into a sail. Head up, Smith, shoulders back. We can start to build from here, and besides, there are some cycling trips to plan.
Thanks to Cath Newell for the pix.