Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Grief and Loneliness

Kind people ask me how I am.  The first answer is that I am alive and Helen is not, so why should I complain. Which I express as "I'm ok".

The second answer, which I cannot long conceal, is that I am grieving still.  All sorts of things set me off.  And I don't mind the tears, they are a tribute to her.

The third answer, which I have kept mostly to myself, is that I am diminished without her in a way that I failed to foresee while she was alive.  I don't mean that I miss the things we used to do together, though of course I do.  I mean that I take less pleasure in the things I enjoy, because I cannot talk to her about them.  I mean that I have less confidence in my judgment, because she isn't here to trust in it.  I mean that I have less motivation to do necessary things I don't want to do, because I can't tell her I've done them.  I mean that I am alone, not in the sense that I lack congenial company, but in the much deeper sense that I am without the person I had built into my life.

I tried to think of a better word for this than 'loneliness'.  Is there one?

Saturday, 9 June 2012


We held Helen's funeral last month at the local crematorium, in accordance with her wishes, followed by tea at her college.  Speakers representing each aspect of her life spoke about the wonderful woman they had known. This is what I had to say:
I mourn Helen's loss. Her loss of the joy of seeing her children grow up. Her loss of the leisure she had earned through her years of work as a doctor and a mother. Her loss of the future we had planned together.
I celebrate Helen's life. She once told me "we have only one life", and that is how she lived, setting herself every day to do everything she could, as well as she could. Helen's life was an achievement which you would think impossible until you've seen it done, and even then you still can't quite believe it. And she did all she did not by fighting the world but while making friends, many of them here today, of all the people she worked and played with.
I thank you Helen for everything you gave me, and especially for your children: J, R, and M, the fine young men who carried you in here, and our wonderful children together, I and S. I am learning from them every day that it's possible to love you and miss you, but still enjoy the many good things in life.
I'm going to read a short poem by e.e.cummings, who died a few weeks after Helen was born.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant,
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Helen.  You're not here to enjoy it with us, but we remember.

We'd planned to go somewhere where we could see the transit of Venus.   I'll get up at dawn and have a look at the clouds for you.