Friday, 1 January 2010

Goodbye to Christmas

For the moment, the artificial Christmas tree is aglow with white lights. Their fragile sparkle blurs across tinsel and imitation pine needles. The gold pear shines and there's a sheen of gold on the baubles made years back by my niece and nephew. There's even a brief warmth on the blank face of the wicker angel. But when I've finished writing this post, I'll turn off the lights, take down the decorations, dismantle the tree and put it away until next Christmas. I no longer wish to celebrate.

News of a friend's death reached me yesterday afternoon. It was sudden - he was on his way home from Skye where he's spent Christmas with his wife and a friend when illness and death overtook him. The day after he died I'd been wondering when he'd be home and online again - I didn't know that the answer was "never." There will be no more emails, no more poems, no more comments urging the value of liberty and the human spirit.

For me, 2009 has been a year of loss. The absence of friends marks this new year more than the uncertainties of the present.

I'm looking forward without much confidence. My vision for the future is a gloomy one: greater poverty and greater hatred - politicians and the press urging us to a frenzy of self-interest. I see thought discouraged, freedom curtailed, fear proclaimed as a sacred cause and armies sent abroad with bombs in the name of "peace". I fear for the language. I fear for the earth and all its people. It is not a future I wish to share.

Yet, in the early hours I had a dream. I thought I was awake. I lay in bed and there was a constriction about my chest, as though it was bound tight. My friends who had died were close and asked, "Do you want to join us?" I could see only faint reasons to say "no" - death seemed safer and friendlier than this perilous world. I thought of my responsibilities and paused. There are people I love who would grieve at my death, I think, as I grieve for the deaths of friends. Still the company of the dead seemed warm and pleasant. There would be stories to tell and laughter, I thought, and an end to struggle and worry. Yet despite that warmth I felt a small, dull urge to remain on earth and knew, reluctantly, that my place was still with the living.

I slid back from my dream into sleep. When I woke, hours later, it was daylight.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear of a good friend passing away. I wish you the very best of good luck, health, strength and happiness. I would like to see you on Belford Moor sometime ...
kindest regards, kllrchrd

Kathz said...

Thanks. Belford Moor must be beautiful just now in the snow (I assume it is snowing there). It's a very long time since I've headed so far north. My last glimpse of north Northumberland must have been in 2007, through a train window.

I wish you a happy and hopeful new year.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, that is a very sad and depressing blog. I share your pessimism but we must do the little that we can as best as we can. Life is not going to get better for us oldies and that is a depressing thought. Less sex but more joint pains. And we can no longer enjoy ice as we did when we were children. But Men (and women) must endure their going hence even as their coming hither: ripeness is all. xx

Anonymous said...

One thing about death is that you never get to witness the impact of your own... who knows what yours might do? if you didn't have a purpose you wouldnt be here.

I really hope you feel better soon, please don't feel guilty if you have to close your eyes for a little while.

Kathz said...

Apologies for the depressing post. The quotation from King Lear took me to Auden and the conclusion of the prefatory poem to The Sea and the Mirror:

... this world of fact we love
Is insubstantial stuff:
All the rest is slience
On the other side of the wall;
And the silence ripeness
And the ripeness all.

I am feeling a bit better now, and putting on the usual show of being perfectly fine. Fortunately I have reached a comic section of Les Misérables (Marius encountering Cosette and falling in love with her). I'm also sleeping from time to time.

Thank you for your kindness and concern.

Anonymous said...

you shouldnt apologise at all!