Anyone who has ever experienced the tragedy of grief will understand the title. There is a part of the process that feels impossible. As if you will never be able to move on at all from the loss.
Every tiny thing is hard to do, making dinner, a cup of tea, walking the dog, driving, taking the children to school, shopping. All these mundane events are harder even though I do them hundreds of times a year.
My mind just wants to sleep or have some time to process my friend’s death, but life goes on. And on and bloody on. Finally, I think I understand what W H Auden was trying to say in his explosive, desperate and heart-wrenching poem on grief and loss, Stop All The Clocks. He is writing about the ‘treacle’ or ‘mud’ of grief. Of the inept fury, one feels at other’s getting on with their lives, minutes, hours and days after you have suffered this horrendous wrenching of flesh and spirit. Because, let’s face it, grief hurts like buggery. Physically, it lays you low, way past the scum on a pond’s surface, past the gutter’s edge. Lower than a beaten dog’s eyes.
But life goes on. I’m feeding the baby while I write this. The whole circle of life thing springs to mind and I want to kick it in the teeth. Platitudes are my enemy, half-hearted condolences almost worse. But I’m only spiteful in grief. I understand how difficult death is for people. It is so inevitable and as humans, most of the time, we try and stave off that inevitability.
So there is that. But I am still stuck in my mud of missing. Still stuck looking stupidly at her messenger picture hoping that it’s all been a huge mistake and the green dot will turn on sometime today.
And the most extraordinary part of this pain?
I never met Judith in person. We skyped, we messaged, we talked on the phone. And we were supposed to meet next year. A grand meeting of great friends whose connection will still blaze a trail through my writing.
I have nothing else for now. God! Bless. Give my mama a hug and tell I’m sorry. Ask her to listen to Hurt by Christina Aguilera. May not be high-brow but explains many things.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
W H Auden