Thursday, August 26, 2010
There Where You Are Not
The hardest thing about death is the way your senses are trailed by ghosts.
For a very long time, maybe forever, a dead one whispers into your surround and you think you see this one, there, over there. Or you pick up the drift of her scent, the timbre of his voice. The corners of your eyes, the backs of your ears, the edges of your palate, sometimes even the insides of your elbows are in haunting collusion with the dead; together they conspire to keep you on the switchback between sudden hope and crushing sorrow. Even today, nearly 15 years after my friend died in an airplane crash, I sometimes think I see him, in a city where he'd never been, striding down the street in a lemon yellow raincoat, hair flapping over his eyes, grizzled rain on Halifax sidewalks.
Love conjures these ghosts; we look for those we miss everywhere. Unceasingly, as if in prayer.
We returned from Mexico to a house without Linus, but her shade is with us still, in every creak and crack and wail and cranny of the house, in sunbeams and on blankets, in our gestures and responses, our habits of listening, of moving; she remains sewn through the motions and spaces of our daily living.
We will learn new habits, but we will never entirely lose the spectral sense of emptiness that particularizes these places, here, there, where she was and is home no longer.
This is how we feel the proximities of each death: again and again, our hearts rent like fabric, a patchwork of tearing that can only continue until we too, will die.
Linus spaces: chair and blanket, sunbeam and radiator, edge of the bath, food dish for raw liver, chair and bear, cat-clawed chair