Monday, 25 August 2008

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving
hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out
of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the
laughter, the love, -
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses.
Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I
do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the
roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Last Thursday (21st August), at 5.50am my mother-in-law stopped breathing in her hospital bed. Her daughter, nodding off beside her in the piss-proof chair started at the silence, and went to call the nurse. Ten minutes later I awoke to the sound of the telephone and a tear-stained voice. Then I had to tell my husband his mother was dead. Then I had to phone his brother and tell him. Then we had to tell our son the last of his grandparents was gone. Then we had to throw on the clothes we'd taken off only two hours before and go back to the hospital.

She was only 72. A cancer that had been removed seven years ago had reappeared in a different place and, this time, it was discovered too late. Bob and I had panicked on Tuesday evening and called an ambulance. The houseman on duty in A&E had told us to call the rest of the family and thus begun our bedside vigil.

Now, we are home for a couple of days, and then it's back in the car on Wednesday for the funeral on Friday.


debra said...

Oh Eryl. This is still, after a year, fresh for me. I am sending you and your family warm wishes and thoughts, healing energy.

Kim Ayres said...

My thoughts are with you

Brave Astronaut said...

Strong prayers and warm thoughts for you at this time

Eryl Shields said...

Thanks Debra, I could use some healing energy.

Thanks Kim.

Thanks BA.

PI said...

It is very sad for you but, as you know, you have to be strong for your husband. It is very sudden but I don't think she would have wanted a prolonged second dose. I'm trying to find words of comfort but in the end all I can offer is my sympathy and prayers.

Eryl Shields said...

You're right Pat, she was due to start chemo-therapy on Friday and was rather nervous about it. I am trying to be strong for Stevie, really I am, but sometimes I just burst into tears for no apparent reason.

Any words are comforting because someone thought to utter them.

The World According To Me said...

I am so sorry to hear your news.
You're in my thoughts. I know how hard it can be to be the strong one. Take care of yourself, and if you need to write about it and want some friendly feed back - you know where we are.

savannah said...

you have my heart, sugar. i am so sorry for your loss. xoxo

Carole said...

The poem you started the post with was most beautiful. So much sadness and beauty in the same short stretch.

My thoughts are with you all.

Eryl Shields said...

World ~ writing about it, or around it really, is the only way I can maintain an appearance of strength.

Savannah ~ Thank you.

Carole ~ I'm glad you like the poem, I stumbled upon it the other day and it seemed to say exactly what I was feeling.

Conan Drumm said...

Condolences to you and Stevie, Eryl. You must have been very fond of her.

Doug Bagley said...

I don't know you but feel for your family's loss.

Eryl Shields said...

Conan ~ thank you, I was very fond of her indeed.

Doug ~ thank you for stopping by, taking the time to comment and for your kindness, it's all very much appreciated.

Dr Maroon said...

Look after yourself and come back to us whenever.

Eryl Shields said...

Thanks Doc, I'm kind of back, bits of me at least, with some changes. Actually maybe it's not me, anyway I'll make a post.

debra said...

Thinking about you today. I hope you're being good to yourself, getting rest, food, and allowing the grieving to take place. It is a process, rather than an event, yes?
Warmth to you, Eryl

Eryl Shields said...

Debra ~ back in my own bed last night I slept for longer than I have in weeks, but woke up aching all over! And I've probably been eating much more than I really should, but things should get back to normal now, I cooked tonight for the first time in ages.

Thank you for your kind thoughts. I suspect the grieving process will go on for some time. It still doesn't feel real.

debra said...

It does take time---as much time as it takes. You've been through a lot, and there's a lot for you to absorb and integrate. Take good care.

Mary Witzl said...

Eryl, my thoughts are with you too. This is so sad.

And I love that Edna St Millay poem. Those are my feelings exactly.

Eryl Shields said...

Debra ~ I'll try

Mary ~ It's a great poem isn't it? I couldn't believe it when I found it, it summed up my whole psyche. I am not resigned.