Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What will survive of us is love

Two friends of mine died on September 25 a year apart. Two such different friends and such different deaths - one a successful businessman with a young family whose life was cut brutally short, the other a sculptor who'd lived a long and colourful life. My heart goes out to their families, for it's still too short a time - a year in one case, two years in the other.

English author Justine Picardi lost a sister this same week some years ago and writes - in her usual lucid and meditative way - about living with the loss in a post titled: What to read in memorium. The 'what to read' is Philip Larkin's poem 'An Arundel Tomb' which ends with: 'what will survive of us is love.'

And there are these lines which Picardi quotes:

Each Summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came...
Which is apposite. For here we are in spring again, light thronging the glass, yellow kowhai littering the ground, blossom frothing the trees, tui crazy with chortling, and I remember driving to the hospital where my friend the sculptor was dying, and stopping to steal a branch of blossom to take with me. Outside his hospital window a line of birds perched shiny in the sun waiting for him to feed them - as he did on a daily basis wherever he was.  I put my stolen blossom in a vase. I sat with him awhile and said good-bye. The birds stared at me implacably.

For my other friend it was autumn. We heard he'd kissed his family, picked up his briefcase and stepped into their leafy London street. He would have felt the nip in the air. Perhaps he was already wearing his winter coat. It was spring here, of course. The day was bright and hot when the call came, and the birds were singing at full throttle.


The Paradoxical Cat said...

Beautiful... My beloved father died on the same day, so a special thank you for this post.

PC x

Mary McCallum said...

Yes, of course! I remember your post last year on that day. I appreciated it then - glad to reciprocate.

Rachel Fenton said...

And memories, like spring days, grow warmer over time until the pain is little more than the prick of a rose thorn where you hold the stem to admire its beauty...
...somehow it is easier to say stuff like that than to say - I am sorry for your loss.

sonja yelich said...

That Larkin poem is one of my
forever favourites - great to see it in a blog.