I didn’t go to his funeral. Even if I could have, I would not have gone. Funerals are for the living, and I did not know his family. Perhaps the presence of another mourner would have been some comfort to them – another person whose life was better for having known L_. Perhaps not. I don’t know. But I imagine there were many there. And I didn’t want their memories tangled up with mine. And I didn’t want that sense of finality. I’m not ready for it yet – not when our last conversation is still playing in my mind. Only weeks ago. He had a new project and wanted my opinion. He said “I thought, who do I trust and respect, and you were top of the list.” Oh, the glow I got from that… I am still holding it, walking around with it and protecting it like a candle flame. I could not risk that being dimmed by other people’s words.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a sort of a poem. Just a list really, of what was on my window-sill. Included in that list was his most recent book. After I wrote that poem I sent him an email, just to say “I’m glad to know you, and grateful to have you as a friend”. I suppose that is something. But I wish I had said more. I have so many things to be grateful to L for; first book contract, promotion reference, thesis examination of my first HDR student… All these practical, professional things. But it was his warmth, his generosity, and most of all his trust and respect that I am grateful for – something to cherish and to try to live up to.
I replay your words,
and still clearly hear your voice.
How can you be gone?
I have been wanting to write something about L_, but have struggled to find the words and the form. The dVerse Haibun prompt “Giving thanks” was the right starting point. Thanks Frank.