Thank you for coming with me, he said as he took my hand.
Thank you for letting me come. He’s my friend too, you know.
K’s face tightened, contorted, as the tears welled up.
This is a blog about living, living with loss, but living all the same… but people just keep dying on us.
WOULD PEOPLE PLEASE STOP DYING?! My friend shouted to the darkness as we pounded the roads last night. I had needed to ground myself, to gather myself together after the emotional head-wrecker that is being published in Ireland’s main newspaper – talking about my dead daughter. Elation and devastation had collided inside me around 8.30am and left me useless for the day. There was only a brief window in the evening (minutes) before I had to pack up bags for each of the kids, drop them off at various houses around the city and then return to pack our own bags. We were booked on a morning flight to London, journeying to say good bye to K’s best friend who may lose his fight with cancer any day now.
I don’t know what to wish you for a trip like this, were the words that met me at each house I called to last night. Ever at a loss for words around matters of death and dying. Is it our curse?
I don’t want my last conversation with you to be an imaginary conversation, Leo cried down the phone last week. My life is full of imaginary conversations these days – the conversations I want to have. I had turned to K and told him I was coming on this trip with him.
So, what of yesterday? My brother was published in another paper over Christmas, talking very poignantly of his experiences on PhiPhi island when the tsunami hit 10 years ago. I told him I was following his lead – Have a traumatic experience. Write about it. Get published in a national paper.
Self deprecating humour we can do.
I met my brother the other day. It’s strange he said. It’s written, published, all done now, but I’m still waiting for the phone to ring…
And so I approached yesterday with cautious anticipation. I want to write. I need to find the time to write. A writer read my writing and thought it was really good. Would that be for just one day or would it be the beginning of something bigger? They requested a biog to go with it. I did battle with the words. Even in my writing there has been a silence. There have been words I cannot say, words I cannot form around our loss. Words that might join all the pieces of me up.
But there is a silence around loss that strangles us. We, all of us – the bereaved, the friends of the bereaved, the colleagues, the wider community – are we all trying to mind each other with this silence?
Do not speak of it, the loss, it is too hard to name.
It is a whisper in my work, this loss, not avoided, but whispered. Some students from the college where I work were in the Irish Times yesterday too and a link was posted to their article on the college FB page. Not so with my article. I wrote about art and loss as a mother, but also as an artist, as an educator. The article came from all of who I am. I have become quite good (no self deprecation here) at being a bereaved mother and wife with a living family. Laura is a part of us and how we are. Allowing the bereaved artist and educator voice was yesterday’s challenge. But there is still silence there. Is loss too personal for work? Am I being minded…still
…or are people minding themselves?
The biog wasn’t used in the end, but this is what i said:
Louise is a wife and mother of four children (one who couldn’t stay). She works as an artist and educator within CIT Crawford College of Art & Design in the area of Arts and Health, training artists who are looking for group work skills, social workers looking for art skills and a whole spectrum of individuals in between. More recently, when she isn’t busy mothering or working, she writes.
And she will continue to write, trying to find words for the things we cannot say, exploring a balance between unbearable loss and living life to the fullest, but, for now, sleep. And tomorrow…
some very real conversations with a wonderful old friend.