Here I am again, Matthew, it will be your 36th birthday on Monday 23rd April 2012, and as ever, the anniversary approaching, it is like watching for something you know is so painful that the nearer you get to it's arrival, the harder it is to deal with it. Each year I say to myself " I am stronger this time".And in some senses that is true, as our lives learn to live around the gaping, yawning void, where you stood and breathed. When it is an anniversary, of your birthday, or your, and I say this not flippantly, your death day, we are compelled to stand at the edge of the chasm and look into it.
As I look again into the void, which has been there for 6 long, long, years, what do I see? Looking back at you I see the life I once knew, a completeness. Now I live a totally different life, one which holds on to your memory, whilst endeavoring to live here and now without you. One of my favourite pictures is the one of you wading in the river during our family holiday in that last gloriously hot summer. In a few short weeks that summer ended in tragedy. I look out now on the world you used to be able to see. I look at the photos you used to take, and posted on Flickr, and I see the world through your eyes then. I see the picture as you saw it.
|Matt wading in the River Rothay, Grasmere. July 2006. |
To me that now has a significance all of it's own. I see the world as you saw it, in the little videos you made, waterfalls in Yosemite, your feet covered in the overflow from where Bridal Veil Falls hit the rocks at the bottom.
I hear your voice in the cottage in the Lake District, where you had used my camera to video the farmer baling hay.To this day, when I see a farmer in the hay meadows, with the baling machine, I cry. And afterwards at the end you said "Time for a brew I think".
Then as though your life suddenly stretches out behind us, like looking through the wrong end of a telescope, I work my way backwards, through the 30 years you were here on earth. And now there are no more photos of you, no more memories that have been made. They stopped.
Bridge over the Rothay in 2007. One year on from 10th September 2006. I scattered sunflower petals in the water.
|Matt in Cowplain Hampshire, learning to play cricket|
"The dictionary defines closure as
'. . . to be imperious to . . . to choke off . . .
to constrict . . . to bolt . . . to bar . . . to end.'
For survivors, the word closure often connotes that the bereaved are underachievers
who flunked a grief course.
Though the intention is meant to be sympathetic,there is evoked a note of chastisement
for failing to end the mourning process.
In the eloquent words of Dr. Jimmy Holland at New York's Sloan-Kettering Hospital:
'We create a sense of failure as if the bereaved is not doing it fast enough.'
For grief work takes more time and effort than most people ever anticipate.
And even after weeks, months, and years later,
grief may ebb, but never ends . . .
The Song of Songs has an insightful perspective on the death of a beloved.
Instead of a word like closure ('to end'),
are the thoughts of never forgetting, always remembering.
The final day of Passover . . . is a Service of Yizkor ('Remembrance')
for those whose memories will never die.
In the synagogue is a 'wall of remembrance'
of past members who are recalled
with lights lit by their names.
There is no closure.
The beauty of their lives never ends.
The life of the dead is now placed
in the memory of the living.
For 'love is strong as death' (8:6).
~Rabbi Dr. Earl Grollman, in "Closure and the Song of Songs,"
Bereavement Magazine , March/April 2003