My father died on the 29th of March, 1999, twenty years ago, and my mother reminded me of this fact by text. "It was the saddest day of my life," she said. "The others were on the whole happy."
I read yesterday about a woman with a strange genetic mutation who feels no pain, nor no anxiety. Her days, one supposes, are all the same, all happy.
Our human ability to feel things, including empathy, is paradoxically what makes us fragile and what makes us strong.
I know that my mother gave my father smoked haddock with a poached egg as his last meal. I know that she was with him in the ambulance, holding his hand, when he died. I know that when we were celebrating his 85th birthday just a few weeks before he died (and when he was fit and bright and dynamic) the lights went out at 9 o'clock and he made us light candles all around the house. The party had to go on. But it was a sign.
And this evening, looking towards the Berkshire Downs, by Swyncombe Church, the sunset was so beautiful that I know he had a had in it. Another sign. A sign to not fear the future, or death. That death should be just another stage of life. A reminder to pay attention to all the beauty that surrounds us every day.
I think of him less often that I used to. But he is always there, just around the corner, like a color or a light, a little bit of him, twinkling just out of reach.