When a friend dies, part
of oneself splits off
and spins into the outer dark.
...Part of one's body has been riven.
When a friend, Stephen Dobyns
Pfettisheim, Chemin de croix stationXIII, Mary Magdalene weeping
A friend died on Monday.
A dense thicket of hair, a flashing smile, a reckless yet gleeful tackle, a phrase 'beyond the curtain', a portable cassette player pressed into my belly as a gift, a song and a singer, their kindness and hospitality when we were low, a desperate decision.
Witnesses to Presence
We each receive a unique assembly of enduring messages, witnesses to and on life. A life is a current that pulls and draws, we have felt it and so we must, and yearn to, acknowledge presence - being, chest and face, smile and movement. This glint of I AM reflects on to each one of us; as spouses, as friends, even as strangers. We are more than a vast array of atoms, the physical space we have inhabited. We emit presence, even when we are not seen or touched, living elsewhere. Maybe friends do not endure but the sense of shared witness, in short, friendship does.
Death is profund, its echo into life even more so. It feels profound, deep in the belly and gripping the chest. At some level, even in death, he appeals, whispering through memory to savour life, to value day and love encounter. Absence witnesses to something solid we have.
He matters, we matter, our grief tells us so.
I matter We matter
You matter You matter
She matters, he matters They matter
From Talking to grief, Denise Levertov -
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.
I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.