Loss and grief. Love and pain. I have had my share, but I have yet to feel the sharp sting of loosing the life of someone close to me. Not yet, it is of course inevitable. Like an impending doom. We are all aging, life continues to unfold as the ticking clock will eventually stop. Stop for someone I dearly love. One day my own hands will stop making their rounds. Death is as sure as life. As sure as the sun will set and come up again in the morning. Knowing that it is an intrinsic part of our journey does not make it any less painful.
Loss. Empty whispers left behind to remind you of the space their life once filled. Space now void of their breath. Inevitable one day I will know, for now I can only try to understand.
Below are some words I wrote for a dear friend. A friend feeling the loss of some one passed and forever loved.
For the lack of anything better to say………
My heart and my thoughts, Are with you, this moment, this day. For the lack of anything better to say.
A life. A dove. No longer able to fly. A light. A life. Now extinguished by night. A life. A death. A being breathed her last breath. For the lack of anything better to say.
A death relived through a life, Through your breath. A life relived, Through your moments and pain. Just a whisper away, And you are back to that day. For the lack of anything better to say.
You are in a memory, In a moment. A moment haunted by breath. By the whisper of a dove, That breathed its last breath. For the lack of anything better to say.
The water colour that goes with the poem has been in my head for weeks. The moment there was talk of yellow roses honoring the lives of loved ones passed. The image has been niggling away in the back of my mind waiting to escape. A gift for my dear friend. The dove is many things, life and peace and flight in death. The yellow rose has many meanings, often linked with friendship and happiness. But also a yellow rose means a farewell and the hope of something new.
Today at my kitchen bench while painting the sunlight was streaming in and warming my back. I was filled with this idea of life and something new. In my being were thoughts of my Grandmother. That crazy old broad is still alive and kicking! She is not giving up with out a fight! She was in my mind today while I was painting.
I got so far with it all and just got stuck. I hit a block and didn’t know how to resolve the image. It was not finished, I was just stuck on how to complete it. I was happy with how it was turning out, the rose and dove looked nice enough, it’s just that it seemed empty. Just a silly pretty picture.
I just sat there increasingly feeling frustrated. Thoughts of my granny started filling my mind. Ok, giving over to the moment. I think I should pop round to see grandma.
Got my keys and purse, packed my coffee stuff, she has dreadful long life milk, horrible stuff. As I walked out the door I grabbed all my paintings to show her. Hoped in the car. She lives not far from me. On the way my head was filled with me and all things I wanted to tell her, work, my paintings, how I have been writing lately etc, wanted to tell how I feel like I have this new glorious sense of self and how amazing life is etc, etc, bla, bla, me, me.She opened the door so, so happy to see me. Her beautiful watery eyes were filled with familiar love. She has lovely grey eyes surrounded by years of history (aka: wrinkles), her hair at the moment is like grey matted curls, it has grown back all weird from her chemo. She is fighting her fourth bout of bowl cancer. I told you the crazy lady is a fighter.
I went strait to the kitchen to prepare us a cuppa, thinking about what to start my chat with. She came in behind me with a piece of paper in her hand. I was hoping you would come today. I knew you didn’t have the kids and that you didn’t have work, I had an inkling you would come today, she said with the faintest glimmer of a smile. I haven’t had the best few days she said, I didn’t get the best news at the doctors on Thursday. Fuck, I had forgotten she even had an appointment, fuck, she did tell me. Worst granddaughter ever. She handed me the piece of paper. She busied herself in the kitchen. In that moment I knew I was not here for me, but for her. All thoughts of my own indulgent nonsense dissipated.
I stopped and was still and gave over to the moment. Ok reading, lots of big words I can not even remember now. Ok, the something remained unchanged, something else was unremarkable. And then additional legion in the second region or something like that, swelling in the lymph nodes evident. Etc, etc. So there is more? I said. Yeah, they are restarting me on the chemo on Thursday. Ok.
Cuppas made. Lets sit in the garden she said. She loved her garden, she has always had a spectacular garden. I unfortunately did not inherit her green thumb. I hate gardening. I love gardens, just hate gardening. We sat in her faded green plastic outdoor chairs. I sipped my almond milk coffee and just listened. I listened to her babble away about all sorts of insignificant nonsense. Insignificant but in that moment the most important. She chatted a lot to me about her garden, look how well the roses are doing, they have really taken off the last few weeks. She has all sorts of ugly garden ornaments and ridiculous tin animals in amongst her roses and bulbs. Her roses are of course the stand out divas in her garden. I often leave with an armful of fresh cut roses.
I quickly popped inside to mix the coffee settling in the bottom of my cup, as I went back out I did grab my dove painting, feeling like it was maybe just as much for her. I passed it to her and explained briefly why I started painting it. She looked out at her roses and said, you know the yellow ones are my favorite. The red and pink are so pretty, but the yellow ones make me happy, they fill me with hope, they are just bright and cheery, I love them.
I had told her that image was also about loss. She looked at the picture in her hand. The grey muted tones of the dove, she said, make her think of her cancer but the dove fills her with peace. Even now I cannot think what to say.
When I did eventually get home, I knew exactly how to finish the image. It was just a pretty picture. It was missing my pain, missing heartache. I love my grandma so. Just knowing she is there fills me with so much comfort. The idea of her not being there is unbearable. Unbearable. How could I ever go on with out her. Oh she drives me crazy at times, and she is mad as a march hare. But I feel like because of her I make sense. That probably doesn’t make any sense. I just mean, she a part of the very fiber of my being.
Inevitable. Impending. Loss and heartache. She can not go on fighting forever. What a dreadful reality. Enjoying her crazy arse as I have always done, in this moment. In this moment alone.
All of me in this moment is for you. Dear me, Dear Grandma, Dear Fallen Star, Dearest you and anybody who has suffered.
It was less than twelve months after this that my beautiful grandmother passed away.
water colour artwork- Aj