Thursday, 15 June 2017

In Their Absence

My Uncle writes from Canada that his father's house in South Africa has burnt down in the Knysna fires.
The house on the Lagoon holding our family holiday memories.

The photos of that time - the 1960s -  are all in black and white.
But I remember it in surround-a-sound techni-colour.

The deep blue Jeyes Fluid in the bucket to clean the non-flushing loo.
The perfume of the waxy frangipani bushes in the garden.
The racket of the cicadas as we walked down the path to the edge of the lagoon,
where the little rowing boat was moored.
 The whole hot day, the whole sunburnt summer ahead, waiting to be explored.

And my grandfather sitting at the head of the table with a white starched napkin tucked under his chin, smiling his lopsided smile as he peeled a very ripe banana.

You can't burn down the memory of happiness.

Pelargoniums I planted in a pot close to the patio door which I see every day. In memory of my mother who loved them.

The salad I made tonight to take to my mediation group supper. Broad beans, french beans, radishes, carrots,  courgettes, garlic, parsley and fennel. Everything Robin grew on the allotment. In memory of his love for the earth.  And for me.

The new potato, asparagus, sun-dried tomato, olive and chive salad I also made tonight and served in the blue, white and green flowered bowl I bought for my father, which has come back to me, which lives on the kitchen counter and which I see every day, which reminds me of him and his passion for the "green revolution".

Love is a bowl of cherries....

In the chapter of her book, 'Grief Works', about what we need to do to help us grieve, Julia Samuel writes that....
 We have seen in case studies that the relationship with the person who has died continues, although in a radically altered form.
They are loved in absence rather than in presence. Some people may need to do this a great deal, others only occasionally or on special days like anniversaries. A central pillar in the support of our system is  finding ways to externalise that relationship.

e.g. wearing something that connects to them - like an article of their clothing.
eg visiting their grave.
e.g. creating a memory box of special objects.
 eg. writing to them in a journal.
e.g. cooking their favourite recipe

Finding an external expression for the continuation of the relationship, through regular rituals has been shown to reduce negative emotions and increase positive ones.
Over time the regularity of these rituals may decrease.

 Reading this, I realise that the ritual of making meals - even if it's just for me -  using fresh and alive ingredients, is one of the ways I connect to Robin.....and actually all the people I love who have died.

In their absence keeping them...and me... alive in the present.

 Without the poison of my regrets.

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