Tuesday, January 27, 2015
I remember on one of my many trips to Dublin we were reading side by side on her patio, birdsong trilling around us, the scent from the overhead baskets of tomatoes and strawberries perfuming the sun warmed air.
"You know," she said, "You're the only one in the world I can do this with. Isn't it perfect?"
There are multiple aspects to grief, thousands of manifestations. An enormous sense of never being the same. Ever again. And that's just one.
In spite of myself I go to the labelled email folder last night. Helen. Thousands of emails. It's like a compulsive first bite of something decadent, sinful and addictive.
And I realize some things that weren't obvious to me before.
She played her buttons close to her vest. She didn't let too many people in. Maybe it was the long history we had. Nothing could sever the trust, the implicit faith in that shoulder always being there. That acceptance. The sheer unconditionality of it. I really don't feel that way about anyone else. I always think I will be rejected, abandoned, condemned and shunned once I show you the inner me. It's happened far too many times before. It's my default setting. Therapy hasn't helped. It's like a permanent internal condition akin to an irremovable birthmark. Part of my psyche. And we knew these things about each other. In particularly bad patches we would sign off: "Remember I love you."
And we meant it. All warts exposed, all insecurities, all struggles. It didn't matter.
We'd speculate how we could do better, help each other climb over the stiles of our challenges and pain.
We'd talk each other through depression and bafflement over loved ones' behaviours.
And a little nugget:
A Canadian friend emailed me yesterday and said:
"Remember that day in Ballydehob and my nails were all a mess and Helen went off immediately and bought me stuff to deal with them."
She'd only known my friend for a couple of days.
But her caring expanded to friends of friends of friends.
I miss her so.