I think, ‘No, that’s my event.’ But it’s not even mine. It was his – his birthday. He died eight days before it in 1982. (Gods, can it be so long?) He would have turned 25.
When I start to have my ‘anniversary reaction’ during the winter months leading up to the date of my dear husband Andrew’s death, in September 2012 when he was 83, that is not the only anniversary I’m reacting to, not the only death.
My two greatest loves, so far apart in time – how appropriate that it is winter that brings those deaths back for me, with bleak cold.
Then comes the consciousness of being alone. I don’t normally mind that. I keep busy; I like my own company; I’m content. But at this time of year my aloneness confronts me. It becomes loneliness. It becomes an abyss. Do I hear a wolf howling? I shut my ears, make myself busy….
a sudden chill
the date of your death
In the memoir I’m writing, I’ve been frank, so far, about the men I’ve loved. But not this one. This is the one I never speak of – though I do write poems.
Very few people know what he meant to me. (Few know anything of him at all.) Those who do were there at the time; they saw it all play out. Some others may have guessed, but if so they have never dared ask.
Really there are only two who understand completely. It has been remarked on between us possibly three or four times in 35 years. The hurt is still deep; and after all, there is nothing useful or even needful to say. We know. We know we know. That is all. (That is everything.)
our eyes meet
he lives in the unsaid
our friend who died
There was one other. Just one time we spoke of it. We talked for hours; we said everything. We always knew we would. We’d waited years … and still we needed to get drunk together first. He has long disappeared; no contact for decades, no knowledge for either of where the other might be. It’s probably better so.
Then there was a friend I made much later, who read my selected poems and asked, 'Rosemary, who died, in your life?' (This was long before Andrew died.) So I told her the story, in outline. She could barely grasp it. We have never mentioned it again. That was years ago; I think she has forgotten all about it by now.
did we exist
if no-one knows?
– Zen koan
Shall I write the tale at last? What could I say that anyone who didn't live it alongside me could possibly understand? I could relate the facts, but what could they truly convey?
I might tell it one day, but not today.
So was he my true love, the love of my life? Oh, all loves are true! And all loves, when true, are for life. Andrew, with whom I had a life, a happy one for 20 years, is the one I most acutely miss. That other, who died before he was 25 – which was shock as well as grief – has been the longest dead.
After he died, I wrote: All my years / you’ll go on being dead.
All those years ago, I learned everything about intense grief. All these years since, I have come to know that grief never ends, though we learn to live with it.
I would have died to save him, if it could have saved him. I live on. I mourn. I relish life.
you will never see