All I can think is that I’m back to where I was just a short time ago.
I can think nothing new about my neighbour’s death. Nothing new to me. Probably, you can’t either.
Helping with tech. Green tea for a cough. A useful length of garden hose. Cursing weeds. Those damned weeds in his drive. Fireworks every New Years Eve, every Fifth of November. His dodgy brick wall, staying up for years. Helping. Keeping an eye on my house when I wasn’t around. A safe neighbour. Chats about life and getting to grips with being a widower. And a couple of chats about cancer. His cancer. I guess I can throw his old mobile number away now.
Photographs as memories. I don’t have a photo of him. What are you left with? Fickle memories as memories. What else is there.
Photographs as memories and ‘Eyeless in Gaza’. I don’t know what it says about me that I can connect up that phrase to Milton and to Aldous Huxley and on to the band. Probably, nothing.
I’d rather fall asleep remembering the band than I would thinking about the flimsiness of memories.
Unsurprising As An Affirmation
My efforts to be considerate came to nothing. Things can turn out like that. My neighbour’s not coming home to die.*
He died in his hospital bed. He died far sooner than his daughter had been led to believe, had hoped. Doctors can only know so much.
His son told me. A few words on the drive outside. A few hurried, nearly tangled, awkward words. … a good man/be missed/probably best it’s been quick. The normal words. That doesn’t stop them being true.
Just a few words; few enough so we could both turn away in time – in time for us to both shield our tears.
For all of the event’s enormity, there’s nothing to say that isn’t shroudingly obvious. There’s no picture to take that’s not equally unruffling.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps a death that has nothing surprising in its train is an affirmation of a life well lived.
Given that death will come to us all, the real issue should be exploring what to do in the light of that fact. One focus should be looking at why, day-to-day, we seem to struggle to appreciate life’s pleasures – and life’s fragility.
Appreciating that fragility, fully but positively – surely that should be a core goal.