Posts Tagged ‘Leith’

One by One the Guests Arrive

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

You will not be alone for long, you will either have a guest or you will have a visitor, the phone will thrum with messages of sympathy, velvety voices that will sound, to you, like razor blades. No one will understand but everyone will be ‘understanding’. It will be 9am in a flat on Bothwell Street and your husband of thirty-five years will have been dead for six hours.

This small death will bleed into the fabric of people’s lives and nobody will be able to wash it away, except by pretending it is invisible. The future will be devoid of all promises. The present, a full stop. Even the past, will be rendered meaningless. Nothing about this day and date will seem remarkable, except to you. Exceptionally, to you. For, in order to continue existing, you will have to move from what has made you into what will make you.

The first weeks will be the worst, looking at the snapshots from his numbered days. The wedding photos – when you said yes to him, it was the sweetest yes he had ever heard – you in your wedding gown looking like you owned everything. Him trapped there forever, like a pressed flower in a forgotten book. You will look closer, trying to inhabit the waste lonely places behind his eyes, sewing nothing to nothing, trying to remember. Trying to remember not to forget.

When you try to sleep you will have that dream you always had, where he is waving to you from the far horizon, the one you mistook for certainty and a long life ahead. You will be startled into wakefulness in a roar of blood and mucus. And nothing about your room, his room, will be familiar to you. It will take the dawn to paint the space he has left in your bed into a shape that you recognise. Then you will be restful, knowing that whatever strange latitudes he travels in, he will always be nearby.

There will be a funeral; your youngest daughter will hide her bloated eyes behind a pair of Jackie Onassis sunglasses (I know this because I will know her). The mourners will feel as conspicuous as a butcher in a slaughterhouse. There will be a dryness to the ceremony – a conveyor belt in Seafield crematorium – that will leave some people praying for rain, but you will already be soaked to the skin. People will remember your composure, your quiet dignity – they cannot know, that quiet is harder than loud – they cannot see, that when you are alone, at last, you will weep as if your eyes are broken. They will not hear his last beseeching question, something he read somewhere – you alone will hear that:

“Why does the darkness come all at once, where was it when the light was here?”

And you will answer, from this place where you are, for a little while…