An Old Love Story

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:09 am
snakypoet: (Default)
[personal profile] snakypoet
 A friend on facebook wonders, what is the event she’s marked in her diary as ‘My event’ for August 8. I can’t help her. I can’t guess what significance August 8 might have for her. But the date pierces my heart. 

 

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

arrives again


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.

 

blue skies

you will never see

winter sun


 
snakypoet: (Default)
[personal profile] snakypoet
1. Sensational or Underwhelming? 

I am actually posting excerpts of the memoir (first draft!) on a blog, not here but out in the wider blogosphere, with my own name on it and all. And I post links to the episodes on facebook and Google+. It seems I am a bit of a storyteller after all – just not in fiction. At any rate, people say they enjoy reading it and urge me to keep going.

The last episode got very, very personal about my sex life. My sex life in my twenties, that is; there's not a lot to disclose now. But back then there was dysfunction closely followed by adultery. I hadn't thought to disclose so much detail as I did. I found that I needed to in order to tell the real story.  I was proud of myself when I'd got it all down, for the way I dealt with it and the fact that I told so much of the unpalatable truth.

What surprises me is that there has been so little comment on facebook. I finally struck them dumb, eh? 
 

2. Self Image

 I have spent all my life thinking I was ugly; only attractive to those men who could see past the physical. In the course of writing the memoir, remembering back, I realise that lots of men thought I was attractive enough that they wanted to go out with me – more than I am including in the memoir, because I am only including the men who were important in my life. And actually, there were a fair few of them too. And they were all good-looking fellows themselves. It finally dawns on me that I simply couldn't have been as ugly as I thought.

Why did I think so? I believe I know.

When I was very young – maybe five – I went to stay with my aunty and uncle and cousins in another town, for a holiday. My aunty found my long hair difficult to manage. Dad, who was a travelling salesman, called in when he was down that way. My aunty asked him if she could cut my hair, and he gave consent. It was blonde, and had been nearly down to my waist. She cut it straight across, neck length. When it was time to go back home, Dad came and fetched me. We arrived back at our own place, and my Mum came rushing out to meet us. She saw me, stopped in her tracks, and wailed at him, 'Oh Rob, her hair – it was her One Beauty!' (I swear I heard those capital letters.) 

I think, now, it said a lot more about her than me. But I was five.

Perhaps it says even more about a society where there was one standard of beauty, and if you were female it mattered very much. But it was more than 70 years ago.

And I'm still buying it, one way or another! All the same, it's good to finally realise I can't have been all that ugly after all.
 

June 2015

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