I suppose it is because I was at a funeral yesterday and I was thinking of death and funerals, when this came to me in the shower this morning. Real stream of consciousness writing.
“I don’t cry at funerals,” she said to herself. But she must have spoken it aloud as her son gently squeezed her shoulder in comfort.
It seemed that she had been to so many funerals. She had seen friends some buried and others taken off to the crematorium. Her young husband had died several years ago and though she had loved him, she didn’t cry even at his funeral.
But here she was watching the young men of the family lift her Grandmother’s casket and walk it out of the church. And here she was crying.
She thought of that wonderful old lady. She had been there for her since her mother had been taken away to hospital screaming about ghosts and terrors. It was she who had taken the young girl into her home. She was not really the Grandmother; just an older, caring neighbour who saw that the young girl had nobody to care for her. She told the Social Services people that she was the grandmother. And they, being overloaded with work and too many children to be cared for, accepted that she was whom she said she was.
The peace and quiet, the loving and caring of this new life totally enveloped the young girl so that memories of her mother, the noise and constant barrage of voices as her mother argued with unknown and unseen imaginary people began to fade and she wished/hoped she could live with Grandmother forever.
She had never known her mother’s family nor indeed her father’s. There had just been the two of them for as long as she could remember. And for a long time, all was well. But then her mother started to abuse people in the street and shops where they bought their groceries. She had constant usually abusive, conversations with imaginary foes often in the early hours of the morning.
For several years, the girl hated going to bed knowing that in a few hours the noise would start and her mother would end up screaming. And often she would awaken to find her mother standing over her yelling at her.
As her mother became worse, she couldn’t concentrate and found herself avoiding school as she stayed home to be with her mother. Many times, her mother didn’t recognise her and would abuse her. The final straw was when her mother picked up a kitchen knife and threatened to remove the girl’s tongue so that she wouldn’t argue with her anymore.
In total fright, the young girl fled to the house next door. It was very early in the morning but the older woman was up having heard the noise, the screaming, and shouting. She took the young girl into her arms and sat her down in a comfortable chair while she called for an ambulance. And from that time she had lived with Grandma.
But now, so many years later, she was at Grandma’s funeral. And she wept openly as the coffin passed her in the church. “Goodbye Grandma, ” she said “Thank you for loving me for so long. I shall miss you.”
There is no end. There is no beginning.
There is only the infinite passion of life.
Note – There’s a review of a new book I received from my daughter. It’s The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe. Set in Stockholm it’s a must read. Click here to read it.