Many years ago I saw Footsbarn, the travelling theatre company, perform Romeo & Juliet in their circus tent. During the show, to represent the sun or moon, characters came on carrying lights on sticks, lights for all the world like round chinese lanterns. Or that is what I remember though my memory is probably very distorted at this remove. Still it is an image that has come back to me as I have become older and as friends and colleagues have let go of the world.
Grief is a hard thing to deal with and seems to be different every time. It can take time to fit the loss of someone into our knowledge of the world and move on. I have found over time that I have carried things with me from those who have gone before. Sometimes this happens unconsciously, a laugh is adopted, breaking out of me at the oddest of times, a laugh that is not mine.
Sometimes a phrase comes unbidden to mind. Nearly every time I wipe a counter now I hear the voice of my old boss Ans who died in 2001, say in Dutch “Natte doek, droge doek!”…”Wet cloth, dry cloth!” Sometimes in a race I will summon my old friend Nick who was a motivator to chirp at me,”Just a little further!Not long now!”
The point is I suppose that all these people live on a little for as long as there are those who remember them, those who carry their light and that’s how I see us in my mind’s eye, as actors on a travelling stage in a circus tent wielding lights, carrying them ahead. Sometimes I smile when I imagine falling down in a heap under the ever-increasing number of lights until it comes time to hand them on.
These thoughts, this image, has returned to me again as grief has visited those close to me last week. All I can do is hope that the comfort of realising that there is a role to play comes quickly to those who are suffering, that they pick up the light and carry it forward into the world.