Last week we bade C’s mother final farewell in Raumati on the Kapiti Coast. J had been the victim of cruel Alzheimer’s, and so the person we had known had faded and quite gone from her body several years since. Rather too many years in fact: here was much of the cruelty, both to J herself and to her family and friends who had to witness her defiantly strong body linger on bereft of the mind and personality we had shared life with and loved. But last week the body submitted and J died. Hard as the death of one loved inevitably is, in this instance, much the best thing. Fitting and apt in the depth of winter? – perhaps. Certainly the weather mirrored facets of grief – there was passion in the strength and the bitter cold of the wind. Much rain fell and a storm beat sea waves onto the Kapiti coast.
C had learnt of his mother’s likely imminent failing and had travelled up to Raumati the day before. He and his aunt, J’s close sister, were with his mother at the moment of her death. In C’s absence the previous evening i watched the Russian Hamlet for the first time in a great many years, …
… , we defy augury. There is special providence in
the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to
come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the
readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is’t
to leave betimes, let be.
And there are some words of one Fra Giovanni in the 16th century that serve aspects of this time also:
“The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see, and to see we have only to look.
I beseech you to look.
And so at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with prayer that for you now and forever the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.”
On the other hand, just to round out the perspective: on the day after J’s funeral as C and i filled an hour or so before meeting C’s aunt, and then later to return to Wellington for our flight home, we took refuge from winter in the new and excellent local library where, in a style magazine, i came across this pertinent observation –
“They say laughter is the best medicine. They’re wrong; it’s morphine.”