Friday, 9 November 2012

Long Pale Corridors

I have just picked up a message left earlier today by a very close friend. She tells me that her father died yesterday. There is so much sorrow in her voice, heart and soul saturated with sadness. Her mother died some years ago and, like me, she has no siblings. The burden of loss is all hers.

My mother died in 1996. I stayed with her for the last three days as she faded away.  It was a wrenching loss. My world literally tipped up on its axis and I lost my balance. My father died in 1997. This often happens. One partner dies and the other dies soon after.

I had strange thoughts. It felt disloyal to be still in the world when they had both left it. They were unconditional in their love. They were my points of reference.

An anthology of poems about bereavement out at the time was called “The Long Pale Corridor”. This felt such an apt title. I found my grief exhausting and isolating. I needed to read and re-read poems like this one by Tony Harrison. They didn’t make me more sad; they were a comfort and company on the journey

Long Distance ii

Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.
You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.
He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.

 I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

 So the prompt for today is “Right now, what would I change about my life?” Easy.  I would like my parents back.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry, dear Jill, that I am just reading this now. But oh, I feel as you do about losing our loved ones. I will deeply grieve when my mother passes, even though she has caused me such distress over my lifetime. She is still my mom, the one who cares about me, through it all. And since my dad is gone now, I find myself talking to me off and on, as if he is still there to listen. Perhaps now he is, after all. I like that to think that. Of course, I want to be like that after I am gone, still listening to my son, too.

    Your poem is so poignant. So real. So full of our possibility of asking what we would want to change in our lives. That's what we still have left, isn't it, after all?