There is a light that never goes out

Road to Queretaro

Photo credit: bertobox)

Gone, and trying to escape the sadness never ends well, my friend suggests kindly.

Meanwhile, I go to school, my house, the security guard at the gate tries to teach me something in Spanish every time I pass. The mornings are like the vapours cooling in a cauldron, fresh and hazy. I realise I need to decide to be good company for my teacher. She’s a good teacher, The language is starting to take shape in my head, I sit in a cafe and eat a gordita frijole con queso.

I meet my young man and have chicken and vegetable soup in his house with his brother and sister, at the dining table covered with lace and plastic. The soup pot has a chicken claw floating in it, but ok, I’ve decided not to be too fussy here so say I’ll just have the vegetables and rice, thanks. We walk to the plaza. Apparently it’s typical here to express big romantic plans and go along with them, but I can’t help laughing and then feel guilty.

I practice yoga. My friend and I start running in the night around an athletics track. The sky is clear and black and there are few stars. I run more slowly than I’d walk, and decide it doesn’t matter anything in my head. My mother’s friend used to talk constantly about her son’s learning difficulties and I would feel sorry for her that he was such trouble, but one day I realised that she loved him not a bit less than she loved her other children. In the video she said she knew us completely.

I meet a man sunning himself on a water hydrant, saying thanks for this day, he tells me. He says the world needs people to love one another to counteract it’s violence. Last year his niece was killed in a car accident. A few weeks ago he met a taxi driver who killed himself and saw his mothers and aunts saying that it wasn’t his time and to go back, so he came back to life. My young man writes to me in Spanish, he knows exactly how I feel, if there is a reason to be sad there are thousands more to be happy.

On Skype I see a window to people, my family, grieving without reservation. I think that they’ve witnessed everything and are carried forward on that train, and I don’t understand anything about what has happened. They say they’ve been talking and talking and talking, and I suppose crying and talking and crying.

They’ve described how loving my father was at the end. A candle they are leaving to burn in the room. The bed made-up. How they all stood out on the nature strip to wave goodbye as the hearse drove away, as she would have done to say goodbye to anyone leaving. And then I guess they hugged one another and turned around and went together into the house, and she wasn’t there anymore and never would be.

(There is a light that never goes out is a beautiful song by The Smiths.)

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When the tide turns

English: Negative low tide at Ocean Beach in S...

My cousin said it is like a labour to be got through. The day before I called home and heard her voice on the telephone and gave a message through my cousin, and they said she knew it was me. Then I walked around and around the compound in the night, almost surprised at the cool dry wind, the traffic sound, the stars in the sky. My aunt the nurse had said you have to let them go and I tried. Watched a video my cousin had recorded of her saying good bye. Then I couldn’t sleep but some time in the night I felt a sudden peace from my inside out.

On the walk I came to the imagery in this passage my mother read to me when I was young from L. M. Montgomery’s novel Emily’s Quest:

Mr. Carpenter closed his eyes and relapsed into silence. Emily sat quietly … Far off, two beautiful, slender, black firs, of exactly the same height, came out against the silver dawn-lit sky like the twin spires of some Gothic cathedral rising out of a bank of silver mist…Their beauty was a comfort and stimulant to Emily…Whatever passed–whatever came–beauty like this was eternal.

…At three o’clock he grew rather restless. Aunt Louisa came in again.

“He can’t die till the tide goes out, you know,” she explained to Emily in a solemn whisper.

“Get out of this with your superstitious blather,” said Mr. Carpenter loudly and clearly. “I’ll die when I’m d–n well ready, tide or no tide.”

…After another silence Mr. Carpenter began again, this time more to himself, as it seemed, than anyone else.

“Going out–out beyond the dawn. Past the morning star. Used to think I’d be frightened. Not frightened. Funny. Think how much I’m going to know–in just a few more minutes, Emily. Wiser than anybody else living. Always wanted to know–to know. Never liked guesses. Done with curiosity–about life. Just curious now–about death. I’ll know the truth, Emily–just a few more minutes and I’ll know the–truth. No more guessing.

… A moment or two later he opened his eyes and said in a loud, clear voice, “Open the door–open the door. Death must not be kept waiting.”

Emily ran to the little door and set it wide. A strong wind of the grey sea rushed in. Aunt Louisa ran in from the kitchen.

“The tide has turned–he’s going out with it–he’s gone.”

When it was morning there I called and she’d died peacefully half an hour before, so peacefully they weren’t sure she had gone or not. So that’s it. I heard something about the night. My dad touched her forehead for me, and said ‘I’m touching it now, R-’. In the background the house sounded peaceful and active with morning and breakfast, and a neighbour had come over to borrow a hammer. I spoke to my sister on Skype, and later, went downtown to meet my young man, and do a class.

Today, language school, grocery shopping, overcast, and a weariness.

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